Potty training was hands down one of the hardest things I’ve gone through with Grayson so far. Even through those first few months of having him as a newborn, this certainly tops it all. I lost my temper more than once, I got frustrated, I yelled and there were times when I just had to walk away and give myself a second to regain a sense of calmness. There was so much stubbornness between the two of us, so many “no’s”, so many “all done’s” (when he didn’t even do anything), so much repetitiveness, so many accidents, so much laundry. However, after two weeks of hard work and concentration, our 2 and a half year old is officially potty trained! I can say that even though we still use pull-ups for naps (he wakes up dry most the the time from naps) and night time, right? I hope so, because I call wearing regular underwear all day long with no accidents, a HUGE accomplishment and I’ve never been so proud of such a little human being in my whole life.
I posted on my Instagram a few times about potty training and I got so much positive advice and encouragement that I wanted to write this post to share what worked and didn’t work for us. I hope when another mom is frantically googling “how the heck do I potty train my toddler”, they can reference this post and maybe one or two of the things I write down, work for them too.
Get excited about new “big boy” underwear: I didn’t have Grayson pick out his own underwear but I know he’s obsessed with Paw Patrol and he’s had a sudden interest in dinosaurs, so I got two packs of Paw Patrol underwear and one pack of day-of-the-week dinosaur underwear (similar here). I made a huge deal about how exciting it would be for him to wear these and he loved calling them his big boy undies. I even refer to pull-ups as big boy underwear, so that all coorelation to diapers would be gone. He/we have not seen a diaper in 3 weeks. Yippee!
Have them go naked the first day or two: On day one, I made the mistake of trying to put Grayson in regular underwear right away, thinking if he got it wet, he wouldn’t like it and would want to go right to the potty. That unfortunately, wasn’t the case (wishful thinking right?). He would get upset when he wet himself but he still couldn’t really control it or understand any other way of going to the bathroom (understandable). to him, the underwear was still a catch all, just like a diaper. We went through 6 pairs of underwear in 3 hours before I learned my lesson haha! So, after that he went naked (from the bottom down) for two days straight (Saturday and Sunday). We had many, many, many leaks and a few full on puddles on the floor but he was slowly starting to ask to go to the potty after he realized he went a little bit on his feet or whatever he was playing with.
Don’t ask, tell: This was difficult for me for some reason. I made the mistake of asking Grayson every 10 minutes if he needed to go potty and 98% of the time, he’d say “no, I’m busy”. Then 2 minutes later there would be a puddle on the floor and I’d rush him to the potty but he’d already he done. He didn’t like when I forced him to sit on the potty every 15 minutes either, so it was just a constant battle between the two of us for a while. It wasn’t really until he went back to daycare and his daycare provider started a routine of taking him before and after every meal (genius!), so it just became a new thing he was supposed to do during the day (approx. every hour and a half). I have to give her most of the credit there but we continued that routine at home and it worked like a charm, so I’d totally recommend starting something like that right off the bat.
Don’t make too big of a deal about accidents: Accidents are going to happen the first few days or even the first week or two. You don’t want to yell at them about having an accident (which I can’t say I totally followed this the entire time, but guys, this process is hard!) but you don’t want to say “it’s okay” either because then they might actually think it’s okay. Just point out that they had an accident and reinforce that peeing and pooping now happens in the potty. Maybe take them over to the potty and point it out so they remember/associate what you are saying with a “thing”. Clean up the mess and move on. It’s frustrating but it’s going to happen (a lot) and you just have to get used to that.
Give rewards if that works for you: I started off letting Grayson pick out a sticker after each time he went on the potty. He really loved it and got really excited for one every time he went. However, after a little bit, I started phasing them out and just gave him constant verbal cues of how proud of him I was (cheering him on, clapping, jumping up and down, hugs, high fives, etc). At times, he’d go on the potty and then ask for some fruit snacks or to watch trucks on the iPad and I’d give it to him too. Especially if he went poop. He was doing so well and I wanted him to know it!
Go straight to the big potty, skip the toddler size: I think this definitely depends on the child but for us, looking back, I feel like Grayson just thought of the toddler sized potty as a new toy. Not something he really needed to take seriously. For so long, he’d just randomly run to the potty, sit on it for 2 seconds and then get up and starting clapping, even when he didn’t actually go potty. He kind of turned it into a game instead of a routine and it became very frustrating. So, again, big props to his daycare provider because the first day he went back to her after our weekend of potty training at home, she just plopped him right on the big potty and he didn’t have one accident that day. It was like a light bulb went off in my head when she told me that. We don’t use one of those inserts for the big potty either. We just put him right on the edge with a stool for his feet, make sure everything is tucked in and he holds onto the sides to keep himself up. I’m always there just in case but he’s never looked like he might fall in so I’m rolling with it haha. He also goes right away, instead of sitting there for 5 minutes because it can’t be the most comfortable thing in the world ;)
Look for cues: Whenever Grayson has to go to the bathroom, I find him holding himself or doing a little dance. Once I see that I pull him away from whatever he’s doing and take him to the potty. He sometimes resists but I always reassure him that we will go back to playing right after he goes potty. It’s also usually around the same times of the day since he’s in that routine now and he holds it until he normally goes.
Consistency is key and we are still working on it everyday (reminding him to keep his underwear dry and reminding him to tell us when he needs to go)! It felt like forever, but in the grand scheme of things, he caught on to the whole thing really quickly.
Our goal was to have him out of diapers before the new baby came and we did it! I still have to buy pull-ups for naps and night time but not having two babies in diapers just sounds heavenly (and CHEAPER!) ;)
I hope some of these tips help the next mom wanting to break down in tears because they’re cleaning up their 17th puddle of pee off the floor. It does get better, I promise! :)