The only advice I got about potty training was to read the book “Oh Crap”.
I didn’t read the book… oh crap.
So, if you are reading this, my first advice to you is to read the book Oh Crap before you try to potty train. But if you are like me and want the low down on what you really need to know, I have made it right here for you.
After potty training our two-year-old, here is what I needed to know.
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1. Do not put the potty in the playroom
Or anywhere else besides the bathroom. I would start with a little potty. I know there are those kid seats that fit onto the toilet, and we have one and love it, but you need to start with a little potty.
2. Pick 3-4 days with no commitments
You want to have no appointments, required activities, trips, vacations, etc. Get your grocery shopping done before these few days. We picked a few days in the middle of winter when we were snowed in anyway.
3. No pants, diapers, or underwear (this step is critical)
Now for the 3-4 days, let your kid run around butt naked from belly button down. This step is critical. If they are wearing something, then they will think they can pee because it will feel just like a diaper. Until they make the connection with the feeling of needing to pee and peeing, it is just too confusing for them.
When they start learning to use the potty at first, they probably aren’t going to tell you they need to pee, and they probably can’t get their clothing off by themselves. Instead, they will just go to their potty. If they are naked, they will have a lot more success of actually using the potty.
4. Pick a good play space
Find a good room or floor of the house to play in. You want to be present the whole time. You also want to make sure that if they pee, it is okay. Cover your furniture with towels and pull up rugs if you will be upset when they get peed on.
5. Do not ask “do you need to pee?”
Over and over and over again. Honestly, they can’t even answer the question yet anyway. Additionally, think of how annoying that would be. It might freak your kid out or make the whole experience unpleasant.
6. They will pee
And most likely it won’t be on the potty. But that is okay. They will probably stop and watch it run down their leg not really sure what even happened. This is great. You need to be so excited about this.
When they pee, says “yay you went pee!” and bring them straight to the potty. Have them sit on the potty for a bit, maybe read a board book about potty.
The first time, they might not get any pee in the potty but as long as you keep them naked, they will start to pee and feel it immediately. As they keep practicing making that connection with the feeling, they will automatically start stopping earlier and earlier and make their way to the potty.
And then use your reward system.
7. Pick a reward system
A lot of parents do stickers or something like M&Ms. I think stickers is really good especially if you get their favorite character or something. Just make sure you can keep up this reward system for at least a few weeks so don’t go overboard. We bought a gigantic book of small stickers that could be put on a poster board we put on the wall.
8. When you finally leave the house
No underwear or tight pants such as leggings. They will automatically think they have a diaper on. I put my kid in sweat pants. Be sure to bring back up pants and socks (since it will run down their leg).
And honestly, your kid is going to pee their pants the first time. Try to make your first outing somewhere kid friendly where there is a potty close by. Most kid places are super understanding, I promise your kid won’t be the first to pee there.
When you get there, ask if they want to go and check out the cool potty. You can make a big deal about how cool it is that they get to use it. You can also ask them if they want to try it. If not, that is totally okay.
Follow the same rule as before, when they need to pee or start peeing, be excited. Tell them that they need to pee so let’s go find the potty together. It will take about a week of wearing clothing out and then they will have made the connection between feeling the need to pee while wearing something. You are basically step by step un-training them to pee in a diaper.
9. Naked at home and only sweat pants out
For at least a month after you start, you want to follow this rule. Basically, this will give you the highest chance of hits over misses. The more they recognize the feeling of needing to pee (or peeing a little) and then using the potty, the better they get at it.
10. Avoid the pee before we leave
Without a doubt, after driving for 5 minutes, your kid is going to need to pee. I would just travel with a car potty in the trunk instead of getting into battles about peeing before you leave. Here’s why. By demanding they pee when they don’t think they have to can change potty training into a power struggle. The last thing you need is that.
Also, you want them to tell you when they need to pee and not only when you ask. Keeping it as their responsibility to tell you results in fewer accidents overall.
11. Know about why the big regression happens
Your kid is now potty trained and you don’t have to tackle a toddler to the ground anymore for diaper changes. Life is great and then all of a sudden they are having accidents left and right. You never manage to get to the potty without wet underwear.
This is actually great news. They have moved on to the next step of potty training. They are trying to learn how long they can wait until they need to pee. This is 100% normal and is actually a good thing. They will continue to test out just how long they can wait before they really need to go.
During this phase, you might start asking a lot more frequently if they need to pee and they will say no. Then not even a minute later sometimes they are yelling, “I need to pee!”. While this is extremely frustrating, know it is normal and a good thing. Let them do their thing and soon they will learn just how long they can wait, and you will be through it. It can take a few weeks or even longer.
12. What about nighttime?
So, when we potty trained our oldest, we decided to not do night time potty training at the same time. Here’s why. We had a baby and I was already getting up a lot at night. I needed the sleep and knew that if I wasn’t up for it, that I shouldn’t do it. The last thing my child needed was me being upset that she peed at 3 am and having to wake up and change the sheets.
Secondly, because she didn’t nap much, I didn’t want her up for the day at 5 or 6 am when she needed to pee. A lot of my friends who did night potty training struggled with a tired toddler because after going pee at 5 am, they were up for the day. My toddler needed to sleep till 7 or 7:30 am to get enough sleep for the day.
We didn’t use diapers at night and instead opted for pull ups with the cooling sensation. We called them her nighttime underwear and it had absolutely no effect on her daytime potty training.
We knew that by making this choice, we thought we would eventually have to do nighttime potty training. Instead, our kid just automatically did it a year later.
Pursue potty training Today
Potty training seemed like a daunting task that I didn’t want to take on. And honestly, it isn’t that bad once you learn about the process. Those 3-4 days of being home with a butt naked kid really made the difference.
Following up with a reward system was key to keeping my kid’s motivation high. Lastly, I had to know that they were going to have accidents and that was part of the learning process and that it was okay.
You got this and if you are still feeling nervous, you can of course get the book Oh crap.