My big girl, “Goose”, turned two this past Spring so potty training has been a hot topic with her and all of our friends. I was kind of procrastinating because I was working full time, not to mention very pregnant and very tired. Well, after “Belly” was born I just couldn’t handle two sets of diapers anymore.
After getting advice from a few other mommies and a dear family friend who potty trains for a living, we developed an effective plan. It is my pleasure to impart the firsthand wisdom I’ve gained from our bathroom escapades and encourage you on your journey to toilet independence!
These are the steps that worked for us:
1. POTTY TALK
I began by introducing the concept of using the potty instead of diapers. Goose had just turned two, but some kids are ready way sooner and others much later. I bought her several books about the potty and wearing big girl panties, we watched videos of kids and cartoon characters using the potty, and we talked about the potty constantly. You will say “pee pee”, “poo poo”, and “potty” more times in those few days than you have in your whole life.
We also let her pick out a few packs of panties and kept them in her drawer so she saw them everyday. If you don’t already have a waterproof mattress cover, be sure to get one before the potty training officially starts.
2. SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY
Look for signs that your child is ready to ditch the diapers. Maybe he sits on the potty in his diaper, maybe she wakes up from nap with a dry diaper, or maybe they just engage in potty talk with you.
One morning Goose woke up and said, “I want to wear big girl panties!” so we just went with it. We got rid of ALL of her diapers and busted out the panties day AND night. Initially I put her on her little potty every 15 minutes and then gradually increased the time until we were going every 60-90 minutes. We also took her once during the night just to be on the safe side.
Accidents will inevitably happen in the very beginning, but don’t scold or show frustration. Just keep talking about how pee pee goes in the potty and not in panties or the floor or the bed. It also doesn’t hurt to have a fresh supply of cleaning products close by just in case.
By this point I was already home full time. If you’re working, find 3-5 uninterrupted days where you can focus solely on potty training, maybe during a long weekend or vacation. If you have other children, try to have someone available to help you with them. When we started, my husband happened to be off of work for a few days so he was able to help with Belly. The more attention you give your potty training child during this time, the faster they’ll get the hang of it.
3. REWARD AND CELEBRATE
Goose definitely had her share of misses the first three days, but when she did pee in the potty we celebrated like maniacs! We made up a potty song and danced with her so she knew how proud we were that she was trying her best. For the first week, we also gave her a sticker to put on the wall AND she got one M&M every time she peed on her potty.
She was reluctant to poop in the potty at first, so she got extra special treats for that, like frozen yogurt. She has a mostly sugar-free diet so that was a big deal! Sometimes she’d sit on the potty for 30-40 minutes and nothing would happen. No problem, we’d just try again later. Have a tablet, books, or washable toys handy if your little one needs some extra time.
She still doesn’t always tell me she needs to go (although she’ll wait to use it until I take her) so now I just reward and celebrate the times she initiates her trip to the potty.
4. DON’T GIVE UP
After our first intense day of potty training, my husband asked me, “We have to do this with every kid?!?” Haha! But seriously, we were exhausted! It’s so easy to get fed up when there are accidents or just because potty training is really consuming mentally, but it’s all worth it a couple days later when you see your child learning and you don’t have to buy another box of diapers. If you stop the process and try to start over, it’ll get harder and harder each time. Remember, all your child has known their entire life is diapers and it takes time to change a habit. It’s normal to feel discouraged, but your persistence WILL pay off!
These are useful once your kiddo has gotten the basic idea of using the potty:
-We found an awesome folding seat that makes it so easy for little bottoms to sit on the toilet anywhere you go. Goose practiced using the seat at home for a few days and has had no problem sitting on it in any bathroom since.
-Always make sure your little one uses the potty before you leave the house and before naps or bedtime.
-Know where the nearest bathroom is anywhere you go. Sometimes you only have a minute to get there before it’s an emergency.
-Cut off liquids at a certain point during the evening. We tell Goose no more water after dinner.
No matter what, be consistent, positive, and praise all efforts! Then, have some Ben & Jerry’s waiting to reward yourself for your hard work 😉 Phew! Good job, Mom!