When I started early potty training my oldest, it wasn’t so much that he was ready, but that I was done with diapers. He was 2 months shy of turning two, and one day I just decided I was done. Although he was able to tell me that he needed to be changed, he had never told me before he went, just after. His diapers were also always full in the mornings. Mason was NOT ready by the typical cues.
In my opinion, potty training is much more about the parents being ready than the kid. I have truly loved and enjoyed every stage my kids have gone through EXCEPT potty training. That part, I could totally do without. It’s frustrating, time consuming, and down right gross. I’m not gonna sugar coat that part. BUT, I will assure you, you WILL leave the house again. You WILL survive.
Here are my tips for early potty training:
Timing is everything.
My first born was trained by age two, but now that I’m knee deep in my third trimester with baby #3, timing will have to be a little different for my middle child. He will be a month away from his second birthday when his new baby brother arrives. That is NOT the time to start potty training. Not just for him, but for this mama. It’s just not realistic to be nursing a newborn every two hours, while juggling a toddler learning the ropes of the potty. For me, a newborn, a five year old starting kindergarten, and a busy (almost) two year old learning to pee and poo on their own sounds like a recipe for disaster. No thanks! Sorry, middle child, you have to sit in diapers for a bit longer, until this mama gets settled into her new reality of 3.
When I embarked on training my first born, I fell into the sneaky trap of believing that all kids can be training in a weekend. Three days, was the magic google and pinterest number. High five if three days actually worked for you, because it did NOT go that smoothly in our house. I’ll admit that after three days, he understood the goal, but he did not have the control yet.
Although, I don’t believe it clicks in three short days, I do strongly believe that cold turkey is the way to go. One day, I packed up all the diapers, bought him fun Thomas underwear, and didn’t leave the house for three days (eye roll). It was not pretty. There were a LOT of accidents! But, I quickly came to realize that accidents were the only way he was able to actually feel the sensation of needing to go. Unlike in a diaper, they actually feel the immediate effect of that sensation in underwear. Of course, in the first few days they need lots of reminders, but try not to hover. If we constantly remind them to go, they never get to feel the feeling of needing to go for themselves. Accidents teach them this.
When I said cold turkey, I meant it. Day and night. No diapers. No pull-ups. Yes, it really is as scary and messy as it sounds. This job is a messy one, but I promise it works, and will save you years of pull-ups. You will have to commit to mid-night sheet changes. For Mason, he was day and night trained in about three weeks of no diapers; with very few accidents. In a pull-up at night, they will typically sleep right through accidents, but without it, they wake up and learn they need to go to the potty instead. By a couple of weeks, they gain so much control, and will be able to go all night without waking to go potty. You WILL sleep again. In the moment, it felt like an eternity, but looking back, it wasn’t so bad, and the reward is oh so sweet.
Stickers were a great incentive…for about a day. Then, chocolate was the golden ticket in my house. One chocolate chip for pee, and two for poo. Just find the reward that your child gets most excited about.
Little potties and potty seats
I used the little potty on the floor for about a week with Mason, and will not be using them again with my next two. #1. They’re just disgusting. #2. Mason freaked when he had to use a public restroom potty vs. his cute little frog potty. For the next kid, I’m skipping straight to the big potty. Same with potty seats. Although potty seats help them gain independence at home, they might resist going on potties without it. Next time, I plan to go straight to the big potty right off the bat, and skip the fits of transitioning all together.
Sit or stand?
I have zero experience with standing to pee, so I decided to stick with what I know. Plus, I couldn’t get over the thought of his precious little parts resting on the toilet seat because he wasn’t tall enough to stand above a toilet. YUCK! Sitting was the way to go for me, at least until he was tall enough to stand and clear the toilet seat. Warning: when boys sit, they HAVE to push it down.
In their bed
I removed all extra bedding and stuffed animals from his bed. This way, there was way less that needed to be washed in the middle of the night. It was also a way to reward him once he was accident free at night. Once he had control, he got his stuffed animals back.
Drinks before bed
In our house, no cups leave the kitchen after dinnertime. Our nightly routine is dinner, bath, bedtime. Mason uses the potty before bath, and again right before he gets into bed. This tends to be enough for him to last until morning without a potty break.
Once you start, don’t go back to diapers. Trust me, there were moments I begged the hubs to drive to Target at 2am to buy diapers, but he helped me stick with it. Push through, friends, it’s totally worth it! They will NOT go off to college in diapers!
What are your tips for early potty training?