Potty training tips, a list of 12 essentials to have on hand, our favorite products, some helpful resources and our story of survival!
Potty training is a rite of passage, an important milestone in every kids development and also two words that strike fear into parents everywhere.
Especially for those of us who have been there, survived, and then must face it all over again with a second child. Or third or fourth.
Of course, every child will eventually use the potty. Kids don’t go to high school in diapers.
But still, the struggle is real, y’all. This phase is no joke. And I think we can all use all the support, resources, advice, and potty training tips we can get!
No really, don’t forget those last two. Those are for you and your sanity is of the utmost importance!
As for some of the products we loved, here are a few:
Potty seat (we had 2 and that was really helpful)
Disposable toilet seat covers for when you are away from home (traveling, at a friend or grandparent’s house, etc.)
Step stools (these come in black, blue or pink) – We have 3 or 4 to use in various bathrooms, the kitchen, in the kids’ rooms to turn on lights, etc.
Sesame Street potty song – keep this pulled up on YouTube!
I also suggest you do a lot of reading. More than just this article here. Baby Center, Parent’s Magazine, Parenting.com and other groups have resources and potty training tips that are great to read.
Every kid is different and there’s lots of ways to go about this. I think it helps to read lots and figure out what feels right to you.
And now, for what it’s worth, here’s what we did with our kids:
M: She was ready early and we potty trained her in one weekend when she was about 2 years, 3 1/2 months old. We went for the 3-day marathon potty training approach.
We stayed at home all weekend. On Saturday, we went to the potty every 15 minutes. Every. Fifteen. Minutes.
She would sit on the potty seat, we would talk or read a quick book or watch this Sesame Street video. It’s emblazoned forever in my mind.
She loved the video – and it was a special treat to get to watch something on my phone, so that was good incentive to get her to the bathroom.
We had a sticker chart and that worked really well. She’s very motivated by rewards and following the rules, always has been.
She got one sticker for pee, two stickers for poop. (You could do three for poop for a kid who’s a little hesitant about that part.)
The first day, I think we gave her an immediate reward – to sort-of tie the behavior to the reward for her. It can be stickers, a small toy, a food treat or piece of candy, whatever works for you.
On Sunday, we went to the bathroom every 20-25 minutes. And asked incessantly in between trips.
Honestly, she did just OK. No major accidents but I remember my husband wasn’t convinced she had the hang of it.
“Are you really going to send her to school tomorrow in her underwear?,” he asked me on Sunday night.
I knew her teachers were on board and I knew the third day would probably let us know how well she got it. So I sent her in her underwear and crossed my fingers.
Her teachers told me at pick-up that she’d used the potty at school, no problem. We all continued to stay on top of her all week and for another couple of weeks – always asking if she needed to go potty, if she wanted to sit and try, etc.
We kept up with the sticker chart for a couple of months. (Though with each new chart, she had to get more stickers in her row to get the treat… to phase it out.)
She was a champ. After that first weekend, she never had a single accident.
Pros: It went quickly and, well, it worked. All that matters, right?
Cons: It was exhausting. That was a LONG weekend and I didn’t want to ever hear the word potty again.
Tips and takeaways:
- You must remain positive. It’s probably part of the reason it’s so tiring. But you don’t want them to think you are frustrated or upset, because that can make them hesitant or even scared and set things back.
- Make life easy. Have food and easy meals prepped ahead (or a friend ready to drop something off) and clear your schedule as much as possible.
- We put a ban on sitting on the sofas and any delicate furniture for the first couple of weeks while she potty trained. We sat on the floor to read books or she sat on my lap.
- It takes some kids a lot longer to poop in the potty. Hang in there, be encouraging and be patient.
- Similarly, going potty in a public restroom – or anywhere away from home – can be scary and intimidating for a little one. I like to put down a liner (or just some toilet paper if you’re in a pinch) and make sure to get them all comfortable and then hold on tight while they’re sitting there. (Usually it’s a fear of falling in since there’s no potty seat like at home.) They may or may not be able to go the first few times, even if they need to.
I also had a 2-month-old when M was potty training and it was not fun trying to juggle both, but it’s do-able and it’s nice to have just one child in diapers!
M was a heavy sleeper so we used pull-ups at nighttime for months and months. Once she was in her big girl bed and we felt like she could make it through the night and get herself to the bathroom if she needed in the morning, we switched her to underwear at night, too.
J: His teachers suggested he was ready around 2 1/2. I wasn’t sure. I waited till he was about 2 years, 7-8 months old, and gave it the same full weekend try.
Total failure. I don’t think he peed in the potty beyond a small dribble. And that was probably coincidence.
He went to school in diapers that Monday. They say boys are different, and they are right.
We waited several months for round 2, when he was almost turning 3. I thought he was ready. He thought he was ready.
I made the decision that this was it and he was going to either use the potty or be making a lot of messes in his pants. No going back after the weekend.
Result? Check with me next week cause we’re doing it this weekend. Eek!
(UPDATE: J did OK over that initial weekend. We ended up letting him be naked on the bottom because every time he had underwear on, he would have an accident. Once he was naked, he started telling us he needed to go and we headed to the potty. It was about a week before he was pretty reliable about getting to the potty. And it was several weeks before he pooped in the potty. He either held it for his pull-up at nap or bedtime or had an occasional accident. But he, too, got there!)
I hope these potty training tips and resources help you prepare. It’s always nice to hear the experience of someone who’s been there. And I promise, you’ll see the other side of this!
In the meantime, good luck, and don’t forget to stock up on those supplies!
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