What Works for Us: Potty Training (join in the discussion)

Let me start this post off by saying I AM NOT AN EXPERT (in any area–but especially this one).  I’ve only successfully potty-trained 1 child in my life…and that came with a major failure 6 months prior!  I’d really like for you to join in the discussion by leaving comments of helpful advice (or perhaps just hilarious stories) that you have from potty-training your child!  Since every child is SO DIFFERENT when it comes to potty-training, there will not be any method you can reproduce with 100% success.

We thought we had it easy when shortly before Big Brother turned 2 he started telling us when he needed to go potty.  We would sit him on the potty chair and he absolutely LOVED getting to go potty like a big boy!  He had very few accidents in a 2-week time span.

But then the potty chair, potty treats, and potty praise lost their novelty.  He decided it was too much effort…and preferred to go in his diaper (or smear it all over the bathroom while I was changing Little Brother’s diaper).  With a 2-month old baby, some serious baby blues, and a husband gone almost every night finishing up his Master’s degree, I decided the battle wasn’t worth it.  The diapers went back on!

Looking back, I honestly don’t think Big Brother was developmentally ready.

Fast-forward 6 months…I knew Big Brother was ready.  I’m not really sure how…but probably because every time I would put him down for a nap, he would poop.  It seemed as though he was doing it on purpose to be able to delay his nap.  It was simply a battle of the wills now…and I was ready to take him on.  :)

I “scheduled” potty training to begin the following Monday and pretty much cleared our schedule of any activities that entire week.  I told Big Brother for 3 days prior that on Monday, he would have no more diapers.  After about a week and a half of following the suggestions below, Big Brother had been accident-free for a couple days!

Here are the suggestions given to us by others that helped us tremendously:

  • Wait until he/she is ready.  Only you know when your child is ready, but typically children under 2 years old are not developmentally ready to be potty-trained.  My mom, who raised 5 children, and my dad, a family physician for 26+ years, both have said that when children start lining toys up in rows, this is a good indicator that they are ready to be potty-trained.  This seems totally unrelated, but it turned out to be true with Big Brother–right around the time he was potty-trained was when he began lining his cards up in a long, straight line.  Go figure!
  • Stay home.  When potty-training, it is really important that you are at home for the first few days.  They need to be close to the potty at all times.  Clear your schedule of all activities out of the home–it will only be temporary!
  • Set a timer.  For the first week, set a timer for 25 minutes.  Every 25 minutes, take your child to the potty.  Whether or not they say they need to go, take them anyway.  You’ll be training yourself for the first week or two, but eventually your child will catch on and start telling you when he needs to go.
  • Use training pants.  They have a thickened center, making accidents MUCH more manageable.  Plus, they don’t have the super-tight elastic that leave marks on your child’s skin.  Although we still use diapers at bedtime (including naps) throughout the potty training process, I am not a fan of pull-ups.  They are too much like a diaper and the child can’t feel when he/she is wet.

Gerber Training Pants 2T Boys  Gerber Training Pants 3 Pack, Size 3T, Girl 2009

  • Reward, reward, reward.  Reward your child each time he uses the potty!  Jump up and down in excitement, make a sticker chart, or give bits of candy.  Whatever it takes to motivate!  We use these lollipops for every successful poopy in the potty.
YummyEarth Organic Lollipops, Assorted Flavors, 30-Ounce Container
  • Fill ‘em with fluids.  You want your child to be as full of fluids as possible so that they will go to the bathroom more those first couple of days.
  • Use a doll or bear to demonstrate.  Some parents have found it helpful to use a doll/bear to “act out” the process.  Let the doll/bear pretend to drink from a cup, then pretend to go potty a few minutes later, and finally give the doll/bear a reward.
  • Sit backwards on a big potty (for boys).  My friend Sarah told me about doing this with her boys when they were in public places and didn’t have a stand-alone potty chair.  Basically, little boys just climb up on a regular toilet and sit backwards.  This automatically points “it” into the potty, making virtually no messes.  We have a stand-alone potty, but this is typically the way that Big Brother goes to the bathroom until he is able to stand up and go.  I know it sounds crazy, but it totally works (for us anyway)!
This Potty Pod from Prince Lionheart is our favorite potty chair!
What suggestions do YOU have for potty-training a child??? 
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