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Ultimate Potty Training Guide – What We Learned

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Because potty training can be one of the most dreaded tasks known to a parent, I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve learned along the way.

We started training with the Babybjorn smart potty and continued to use diapers. I considered using pull-ups, but they were much too expensive and my son just wasn’t getting the concept of how they work. At first, he seemed like he was really catching on and I felt pretty good that he understood how to use the potty shortly after he turned two. However, we haven’t really progressed from knowing how to actually wanting to use it all the time. He liked sitting on the potty, reading, and even going!  But the novelty wore off after a few months, and it became a struggle.

About a month ago, we tried using the smaller insert seat for the big toilet, instead of the training potty. That generated some new interest and he even requested to use the potty numerous times. Unfortunately, that too has worn off.  So, I hit the internet to see what I might be missing.

Potty Training Guide

Rewards can help

Previously, I bucked the reward system, but I think that needs to be revisited. We have been big on praise, but that isn’t getting the job done. He loves stickers, so I guess I will be adding more to our supply.

Consistency is key

I haven’t been consistent on putting him on the potty partially because he doesn’t always want to and I don’t want to fight him to get him on the potty. I have been fearful of making the potty something he hates. I’m hopeful that he might be more willing if he knows there’s a chance he’ll get a stickers reward. I know his schedule well, so it shouldn’t be hard.

Avoid stressful times

moving, new baby, or just the most hectic part of your day.

Stock all bathrooms

I learned that if you have multiple bathrooms, you should ensure that you have potty equipment in all of them. This helps you get to the closest location quickly and teaches him that there isn’t just one bathroom to use, and keeps things from getting boring.

If you’re stuck in a rut like me, these are just some of the tips that might help. Just know that this can take some time and patience.  When they are ready, they will do it!  Good luck!

What We Did

I started with the BabyBjorn smart potty that was sent to me to review. I love just about everything from BabyBjorn, so I was stoked about this seat. I was especially happy with the larger than average splash guard…as that really came in handy. We kept the potty in the family room and opted for the “naked weekend” approach to potty training. Here’s what I learned:

Never, ever, ever start potty training while you are in the first trimester of pregnancy. No matter how hard you want to get the job done, an upset stomach, extreme exhaustion and a feeling of impending death do not mix with potty training.

Naked weekend isn’t for everybody

When I first starting thinking about potty training, I thought the idea of the naked weekend would be perfect. It’s essentially the same process as house training a dog. I’d put him on the potty on a regular basis and any time he started to have an accident, I’d hurry up and put him on the potty. There are just a few problems with that approach: 1. You have to keep your eyes on your child 100% of the time…that means no free time for mommy or daddy to play on the computer, sit down for a second or even go to the bathroom. 2. Another problem we encountered is that my son really likes to climb, wrestle and roll all over the place….and his favorite place to do that is on me. So, there were times when my face was just a little too close to his unmentionables than I would have liked. Not to mention that it probably would have been best to drop a disinfectant bomb in the room after that day was over.

Watch the fluid intake

I read that you should give your child plenty to drink so that he has a reason to potty. Per that advice, I gave my son a big cup of water when he got up that morning. Oh my goodness, did that end up in disaster. I swear he had a steady stream for more than 2 hours. We just couldn’t keep up. My advice is to continue the status quo until you establish a routine and know for sure if your child needs more fluids in order to go.

Sometimes it’s best to stick with diapers

I thought we’d ditch diapers cold turkey and go straight to underwear. That might work for some kids, but not mine. He was not at all bothered by the fact that he was wet and ultimately it just meant that I had A LOT of accidents to clean up. It also meant that we couldn’t leave the house…which was torture for both of us. The straight to undies approach might work if you’re one of those calm parents who can patiently wait it out…but for me, I was ready to ditch the whole effort by the fourth day.

No, it’s not OK to Have an Accident

The first couple times my son had an accident, hubby and I empathetically told him that it was OK and we cleaned it up. Before long, my son was letting loose on the floor and telling us, “It’s OK.” Um, actually, it’s not. A better approach might be to have your child help you to clean up the mess, while calmly explaining that next time we’ll try to make it to the potty. A calm “Oh no” works for my son, but it’s always best to temper your approach to your child’s individual personality.

Timelines are always different

Your friend might have potty trained her child in a weekend, when he was 2…but it might take you three months while your child is pushing three. All children develop potty training skills at different speeds and some just don’t have the physical maturity until well after they’ve turned three. This is not a reflection of your parenting skills or your child’s intelligence. While you may be feeling pressure from family or friends, just remember that it’s rare for a child to go to kindergarten while still in diapers. When your child is ready, it will happen.

Go with your gut

I read a lot about potty training and talked to several other parents to establish my approach. But, after a disastrous first attempt, I now know that what works for some kids might not work with mine. You have to consider your own personality along with your child’s approach to learning. For our second attempt, we’re going to go with a more laid-back approach that will allow for more flexibility. My son is still wearing diapers and I put him on the potty periodically throughout the day. The goal is to work our way up to training pants and ultimately undies….but I’m not going to push it with the blitz I originally planned. Wish us luck!

What about you? Do you have some good pieces of advice you’ve learned along the way? Please share, because we all could use some help.

Successful Potty Training Tips

1. Celebrate when they’re successful

Toddlers love celebrating things. So celebrating when they’ve had a successful potty trip to the bathroom, encourages them to continue the action.

Make a big deal about it. Give them high fives and jump around. Sing songs. Or use stickers on a potty chart.

2. Be Consistent

Consistency is KEY to Potty Training. With any method, consistency will be key in getting a child to eventually be Potty Trained.

Make sure your spouse is on the same level as you on this and understands how important it is to stay consistent. A spouse or family member who doesn’t continue to enforce the same rules when you leave the house, allows the toddler to think that continuing to go in their pull-ups is okay.

3. Casual Dress

If possible. Stay home at least the first few days of potty training. Have your toddler wear simple easy clothes that can be taken off easily when going to the potty. Or better yet, let them run around in their undies.

My daughter loves, absolutely loves not wearing pants when we’re at home. It’s very rare that she is wearing pants if we aren’t going to leave the house that day. It’s very helpful for potty training.

4. Use a Potty Chart and Stickers

The use of a potty chart and stickers was a big turn in potty training Ashlynn. She is highly motivated by stickers and lollipops.

We first tried without the chart, there were some success and some accidents, but once a potty chart was put out, Ashlynn was highly motivated to use the potty more often and on her own.

We use the printable potty chart from Twin Cities Mom Blog Click Here to get the chart from their blog.

5. Big Kid Undies

Some prefer using Pull-Ups for starting. Pull-ups are great but for Ashlynn, she still has the mindset that they’re okay to continue to go potty in without using the potty.

Ashlynn now has Paw Patrol and Disney Princess big girl undies that she wears. Two of her favorite things, which made her very excited to wear them.

Now, when she starts to have an accident, she will feel her undies get wet, and know that she needs to go to the potty. She’s even gone to the potty herself, and come to tell us afterward.

6. Travel Potty Seat

We have a kids seat step stool combination that we use on our toilet at home for Ashlynn. When we leave the house we have a Mini Mouse seat that can easily fit in a diaper bag or backpack.

Sitting on an adult toilet seat without a kids seat scares Ashlynn. So having a travel seat when we leave the house is really essential for us.

7. Bribe

If all else fails. Bribe.

It’s okay to use bribes to get your toddler to use the potty training. It even works.

Ashlynn is extremely motivated by candy or lollipops. On days when she feels like being stubborn and tries to refuse to use the potty, we bribe her. And she happily uses the potty without any argument.

8. Try Different Methods

There’s no right or wrong way when it comes to potty training little ones. If one method isn’t working, try another method.

Some of the more common methods include 3-day method, the Gentle Potty Training Method, The Montessori Way, Self-Initiation and Potty Training at 18 months.

9. Stock Up

Have plenty of the items needed for potty training on hand, so there are no last-minute dashes to the store. We went through an entire pack of undies her first day, I was so happy I had bought two packs. We also picked up a huge book of stickers at the grocery store, we let her choose which sticker book she wanted. Rewards. Since she is highly motivated by candy, we picked up a huge bag of lollipops.

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