I don’t want to sound like a braggy, know-it-all first time mom when I say this because every kid is different, but Ellie will be 2 on Saturday and she’s been potty trained since March. It didn’t happen without some trial & error and lots of pee puddles around my house, but she got there fairly quickly and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.
Let’s be clear: I did not force this on my child. I’m a firm believer that kids will let you know when they’re ready to be potty trained, and she did exactly that. She had gotten pretty picky about her diapers anytime there was even a hint of moisture in them, so I started to suspect she was heading that way, but there was one event specifically that made me realize it was time. Long story short, she woke up from a nap one day naked as a jay bird in her crib. I couldn’t find her diaper which was concerning based on the funky scent in the air. I found the diaper (empty other than pee) and when I pulled her blanket back, I found the stinky surprise. Not only had she pooped the bed, she had covered it up and burst into tears when I found it because she was ashamed. We started working on potty training that day.
I didn’t really read a ton about potty training, I didn’t invest in any special equipment (aside from a little potty) and we didn’t make it happen in 3 days like other blogs have mentioned, but I did find one resource that seemed to make all the difference in making things click with her. (I’ve just spent the last 2 hours trying to find the resource and I can’t! If anyone has read it, please post the link below, I want to give credit and send folks to the original article because it was so very helpful!)
Basically, you pick a favorite animal or baby doll and use it to demonstrate to your kid that they need to use the potty. You put undies on the animal/doll, set it on the potty, pour some water in the potty, and then celebrate! I don’t know why this worked, but after I did this with Ellie’s stuffed koala, it was like she finally understood. Aside from that, this is what we did:
- Stop using diapers
Aside from sleep time, Ellie did not wear diapers during this time. She was naked a lot and when she wasn’t, she was in her big girl undies. As much as I was not a fan of cleaning up her accidents, I didn’t want to confuse her with keeping her in a diaper.
- Let them pick out their big kid undies
Ellie is obsessed with Trolls, so she was pretty excited when I told her she got to pick out her own set of Trolls panties. She couldn’t wait to get home to try them on. I think giving her something to be excited about added to the motivation for her to learn. Any time she had an accident, she had to put her Trolls undies in the dirty laundry and it broke her heart a little bit. More motivation to keep them dry!
Side note: I invested in several packages of undies because in those early days, there were LOTS of accidents and I couldn’t keep up with the laundry. Having plenty of extra clean ones on hand made a world of difference.
- Make regular trips to the potty
She hated having to stop what she was doing, but I found that making her at least try to go every 30 minutes was helpful. I know they make potty watches, but I didn’t want to spend extra money on it and then have to fight her to take it off every night at bed time. *shrugs*
- Rewards system
Did I mention that my kid loves Trolls? I found some stickers at the Dollar Tree that featured her beloved Princess Poppy and the rest of the fuzzy-haired gang, and we used those as rewards for trying to go. She got one sticker for sitting down and trying, two for going #1, and three for going #2. We kept a little chart near her potty and she got to pick the stickers herself and put them on the paper, which she loved. Toddlers and stickers are like peas and carrots!
- No punishment
I was adamant about not punishing her for having accidents because they’re exactly this. There’s a time & place for punishment, but potty training ain’t it, y’all. She was visibly disappointed in herself any time it happened, so we would just tell her it was alright and we kept repeating, “Pee pee goes in the potty,” which was also recommended in the article mentioned earlier (that references using the stuffed animal.) Instead, celebrate like it’s 1999 when they get it right!
And that’s about it. Admittedly, she still wears a diaper at nap time and bedtime because it would be a disaster if she didn’t, but that’s it! Let me reiterate: your child will let you know when it’s time! Comparison is a thief of all joy, just because Susie Homemaker’s precious 15 month old miraculously is 100% potty trained doesn’t mean yours has to be too! Take it all in stride, mama.
Good luck & happy training!