Potty Training Tales

After plenty of hesitation, I finally caved and began the potty training process. Dallas turned 2 in February and showed signs shortly thereafter that she was ready (telling me when she had gone #2, taking her diapers on and off, asking me about the toilet, etc). I could have tried as soon as I saw the initial sign she was ready but with a very mobile baby at home with us - I kept avoiding. I’m saying this to say - if you are pregnant or have an infant baby that is not yet mobile - and you have a child showing interest in PT then I would NOT wait. Do it now! I waited until Remi was moving about freely and it made it much more difficult.


Tip #1: TEMPER your expectations early on. The first day with Dallas I was certain that she would be trained by night’s end - ha! Due to my high expectations - I became stressed more easily and so did she. PT is hard. Change is hard. Toddlers are hard. So, you put all 3 things together and you have a battle ahead of you. The best thing you can do is roll with the setbacks, stay positive with your child, and hopeful with yourself.

Tip #2: Implement rewards when you see progress -even for the tiniest victory! Dallas got 2 M&Ms every time she peed in the potty. She got 3 when she went #2. The first time she went #2 in the potty we took her to Target to buy a new doll. We told her this the first day we started PT and that was a big motivator for her. I know setbacks and accidents can be frustrating but try your best to speak positively about PT. You want the experience to be an exciting one and something your child is looking forward to - not dreading. I had a moment ( or 3, OR 4) where I became very discouraged on the 3rd day. Speaking negatively and making Dallas feel like I was disappointed was not going to help in any way - so why do it, right? I kept with the positivity and reassurance that this wasn’t easy but she could do it! This kept her mood light, emotions out of it, and made her feel empowered to keep trying.

Tip #3: KEEP GOING! If you are seeing any progress at all - the tiniest bit of breakthrough - keep at it! The morning of the 3rd day Dallas had a break down and did not want to try to potty when her watch (more on that later) went off. Big Fat Tears. I felt very discouraged and started to worry she was not ready. I backed off for an hour and out of nowhere she runs up to me and says “I need to potty mama”. Shocked - I watch her run to her bathroom, climb up her ladder, and go #1. Okay - let’s do this thing! All I’m saying is - don’t give up!

Method We Used:

After doing a fair amount of research we decided on doing a blend of the 3 day method and what I felt would work best for Dallas. So, to make it easy I’ll just share step by step what we did throughout the day for the first THREE days. (Side note - Dallas was not fully PT in 3 days - it was more like 7-8 days.) However, I feel that the first 3 days laid the groundwork for our success going forward.

The day before we began to PT I showed Dallas a package of new “big girl” panties I bought for her. I explained that she would wear them soon just like mom. I spoke very excitedly and made it a very big deal. This was to expose her to the panties so that after day 3 she would - hopefully - be ready to wear them.

Dallas spent the first 3 days completely naked in the house - no panties, no shirt, no pants - nothing. When she woke up on her first day of PT I took off her diaper and said “Bye diapers! We are potty training today!”. I took her immediately to the potty and had her climb the ladder to her seat. (Her potty seat had been sitting in her bathroom for a couple of weeks and she knew how it worked so this was not something foreign to her. I’ll link all of this stuff later). She did not pee the first time she was on the potty that morning. We went to have breakfast and I brought out her POTTY WATCH! The potty watch became a super helpful motivator in that it created lots of ownership for Dallas that the PT was something she was doing on her “own”. She wore the watch herself and I explained it would beep every 30 minutes throughout the day. Every time it beeped - we would rush to the potty to see if she could go #1 or #2- I was happy with anything! I made this super exciting by saying “Oh your potty watch is beeping—lets go see if we can pee!”. This helped create and maintain excitement around the process. So, as glamorous as it sounds - we went to the potty every 30 minutes for the first 2 days.

We set up a reading basket by the toilet so Dallas could read during her training. This helped alleviate anxiety - especially with going #2.

We set up a reading basket by the toilet so Dallas could read during her training. This helped alleviate anxiety - especially with going #2.

The first and second day of PT were exciting to Dallas and she enjoyed getting to partake in this new adventure. The third day, however, was a different story. Dallas grew tired of trying to potty and this new PT trek mom was putting her on was interrupting her play. She became emotional. She cried. I cried. So, by late afternoon on the 3rd day I laid off the strict “you must sit on the toilet and try” every 30 minute routine. However, since I knew we wouldn’t be trying every 30 minutes I honed in on asking her more frequently if she needed to potty. In addition, I upped her liquids and asked her every 15-20 minutes if she needed to go. This helped and we ended the day positively!

From the 4th day on Dallas started wearing panties and full clothing again. We also left the house each day so she had multiple opportunities to hold her pee/poo while we were in a public setting. Additionally, this provided a chance for Dallas to voice that she needed to go while not at home. This can be intimidating for toddlers - to relieve themselves in a public restroom. It took Dallas a few times to do this. We stopped in 2-3 public restrooms before she ever went. Don’t get discouraged - they will get used to it.

I think continual communication with her those first few days were key to her success. She had a few accidents the first 4-6 days and we kept things positive. Reminding her that she needs to tell us when she has to go and she needs to at least try to go before she leaves the house was huge. I talked to her so frequently about holding her potty until she tells mom she needs to go it became annoying - and honestly, I think that was a game changer for Dallas. Potty talk, potty talk, potty talk. Make a big deal when they go in the potty and make an even bigger deal when they walk to the potty on their own and go. The first time Dallas walked to the potty by herself without telling me first I literally jumped and danced in the bathroom with her for 5 minutes. She loved it and felt empowered. Don’t make a fuss about accidents - they WILL happen. Constant communication - literally have conversation about going potty, not going potty, how proud of them you are, how its okay to have an accident but next time make sure you tell mom you need to potty- it goes a long way.

Helpful Purchases:

1. Potty Seat w/ Ladder - Is it aesthetically pleasing? No. Is it functional and necessary? Yes. I like it because Dallas can go independently. Additionally, I like that there is isn’t any clean up/rinsing/ washing with this because the littles do their business in the big toilet. It folds up nicely and can stand flat on the wall.

2. Potty Watch - this was super helpful for the first 2-3 days. It has a timer that goes off in intervals (we did 30 minutes). I like it because it fits the tiny toddler wrist but can also fit an adult.

3. Portable On-The-Go Potty - This has been especially helpful for road trips (long and short!)

4. Toddler Panties - These fit so much better than the ones at Target!

Haley Brandstater