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What I learned while potty training my child

Dare I say it…I have a potty trained child. Miss H turned 2 in June and has been showing all of the signs that she is ready: Baby Center Potty Training Readiness. She’s had a potty in each bathroom since she was 18 months, and she sits on it every morning and night. We did this in order to get her used to it for when we did start to seriously train, and also to see if she could/would use it. She peed a few times on it, but she wasn’t truly ready to train until she hit 2. I also made a point to bring her as an infant into the bathroom with me when I went so she could see it. She always watched and we’d talk about what I was doing. I highly recommend brining children beginning in infancy into the bathroom with you to see what you are doing. Talk to them about it and respond to their gestures and later, questions.
So after returning from a vacation, we told her the next day she was not going to have diapers anymore and would start going on the potty. True to our word, the next morning we packed up the diapers, put away the changing table, and started to potty train. She seemed fine with the end of diapers, and never asked for them again. Both her dad and I were excited at her being trained, and also worried that it wouldn’t work. We brought out the potties and started to put her on it every 10ish minutes, slowly increasing the time as the days went on. We had a stack of books next to the potties and we read a few at a time as she sat. We continually asked her if she had to go potty. We also started off naked on the bottom so she didn’t have to deal with the stress of pulling down underwear while she was still learning to hold it long enough to get to the potty.

Sounds great right? Well here was the stressor: We are NOT “on top of our kids” parents. We leave her alone, let her play and let her just BE. We both think that because we are laid back with her and aren’t on top of her all of the time, she is a more adaptable and easy going kid. Don’t get me wrong – we are far from permissive parents. She must behave and be respectful. But she also has to figure out the world and play on her own. Well…potty training requires an “up close and personal” parenting style that NONE of us were used to. I’m not sure who cried or got upset more – her or me. After a day or so of frustration and some minimal success at using the potty, it hit me. I figured out why we were both more stressed than I thought was necessary – I wasn’t acting like the parent she had always had, and neither of us liked it. Ta-da! That was it. I vowed the next day to keep training and stay on her, but to go back to the parent I was and I liked to be.

The next day was totally different. I still sat her on the potty and read books. I still checked with her to see if she had to go. But I did all this as the laid back and calm parent that I usually am. And apart from the day that we decided put underwear on her and soon realized she was still mastering the “hold it and get to the potty” part, potty training was a success. She gets herself to the potty and goes on her own. She hasn’t had an accident since the underwear day (we just waited a few more days to put the underwear on to make sure she could hold it and get them down in time). Today we went to a store for the first time and she sat on the potty there and then held it the entire shopping trip and ride home. She wears underwear and with some help, gets them down in time.

The next step is night training, but we’re not stressing about that – it will come in time. She wears a pull-up (“night time pants” as we call it) when she sleeps, and has actually been dry after a nap a few times. As soon as she is dry more consistently, we’ll go to underwear at night. Speaking of pull-ups – I like them for sleep. Personally, if you are going to potty train your kid, go all in. Get rid of the diapers and go to naked and then eventually underwear. Pull-ups are good for sleep (give them a cute name like we did), but not for daily use. It sends the wrong message because it does feel like a diaper. The key to potty training is to get them to realize that they no longer have a diaper on, so they can’t go to the bathroom in it. They have to go to the potty.

So what did I learn?
1. Get rid of the diapers completely
2. Start naked
3. Put a pile of books next to the potty to read while they sit
4. Stay the parent that you always are (up close and personal or not) – you and your child will be grateful

Some tips/ideas:
1. Bring infants into the bathroom with you so they can see what happens there. Tell them what you are doing.
2. Buy toddlers a potty as soon as they can walk. Have them sit in the morning and night to get used to it. They can also sit while you go (keep bringing them with you!)
3. When they show the signs that they are ready, go for it. If it fails, wait awhile and then try again. No one ever went to college not potty trained. They’ll get it

Here are some useful links to my favorite potty book and other potty training tips:

My favorite potty book:

A Potty for Me!: A Lift-the-Flap Instruction Manual

Some potty training tips

Steps to a diaper-free day

What are your potty training stories? Any good tips you want to pass on? Did you struggle with staying the parent you normally are while potty training?


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