Diapers are a necessary part of everyday life in our household! With two under two and soon to be three under three we are condensing all the diaper years together. We recently potty trained our two year old (at 26 months) and have some REAL potty training hacks to share for anyone looking to lighten the diaper load (ha!). The key for us was checking off all the signs that our girl was ready before starting, and jumping in. Check out all the preps and steps below for the ultimate guide to potty training your little one from start to finish!
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First things first, how to know when your toddler is ready to potty train.
There is no magical age at which you should or need to potty train. If school requirements start becoming a concern, you can cross that bridge but otherwise you should take the cues from your child as to when they are ready. Your child may potty train early or they may hold onto diaper life far into toddlerhood. We waited for all of these signs to be checked off our list before beginning training our daughter:
She began telling us when she had a dirty diaper, and more importantly, before she went in her diaper. This was the biggest factor for us in realizing she was becoming aware of her potty needs.
She began having a regular schedule in terms of her wet/dirty diapers. We were able to predict roughly when she needed to poop during the day after a few consistent weeks. She also started wetting her diapers at more regular intervals indicating she had more control.
Do you have a little shadow with you everytime you need to use the bathroom too! I have two shadows for every bathroom trip and we knew our kids were interested in bathroom habits.
Our daughter started taking off her diaper everyday during her nap and started having accidents during nap in her crib. When we would go get her after naps she stated “No diapers.” We started seeing this pattern consistently during nap for several weeks in a row.
Potty Training Guide: Getting Started
Once we checked off these 4 bucket items, we felt prepared to jump into the deep end of potty training! Before you start, here are some of the overall lessons we learned during our potty training venture:
- There will be accidents and it will be temporary
- You will say things like, “Is this water or pee on the floor? and possibly sing lots of potty songs
- Cleaning poop from a small potty is way grosser than cleaning a dirty diaper
- Being naked becomes the norm
- We are nowhere near ready for nighttime training, so we use one diaper for nighttime
Potty Training Gear
Well before starting, we bought both a kid-sized potty as well as this adorable toilet seat (comes with an awesome hook for the toilet) to be prepared with either option. So far, she only wants to use the small potty but she is 100% with it, which is a win for now! We bought the potty seat right around the 18 month mark and just left it in the bathroom. For the first few months, the potty became part of the background and when we started training her, she was familiar with where it was and what it was for. We also spent those months talking to her about potty habits so that they became part of her routine and her vocabulary. When she followed us to the bathroom we talked about using the toilet, and asked her questions about herself when the opportunities came up. Making everything seem normal in her life made the start of training a no brainer for her.
One thing to note: we did not want any of our kids to feel badly about wearing diapers, especially with their closeness in age. We did not say things like “diapers are for babies” or “diapers are yucky.” When she started removing her diaper on her own and we officially committed to training, we just said, “No diapers today.” Keeping everything normal and positive worked best in our house, especially with our 16 month old watching everything and baby #3 on the way!
Potty Training Motivation
We also stocked up on some special potty treats for the beginning as encouragement with candy reserved only for the potty. We used the mini M&Ms because they were so small and we could give her one after using the bathroom without making it into a big deal. In the end for us, the the key to success was not treats, but screen time instead! Go figure. We do not let our girls use iPads/phones normally, so our daughter used the potty as motivation for using the phone while she went. When I say using the phone, I mean watching Baby Shark on repeat! We took the cues from her and since this motivated her, we used it. Sometimes you need to go with the flow!
We read this book for a few weeks prior to starting and also kept a small basket of some favorite books in the bathroom if needed. We also stocked up on wipes in the bathroom (easier for cleaning, and not too drastic of a change to TP) and pull-ups for any trips out of the house.
Potty Training Guide: Jumping In
We jumped into potty training all at once to make it as easy and effective as possible. Upon waking up from bed, we tossed the old diaper and kept pants off for 2-3 days. We would ask her to go on the potty every 30 mins-1 hour for the first two days, and use her motivator when she went. If she did not go, we would say “No pees this time” and moved on. After about 2 days of us CONSTANTLY paying attention to nothing but directing her to the potty (weekends work well for this!), she started requesting to go herself. By day 3-4 she we were seeing around 1 accident a day during intense play time, or being far away from the potty. By the next weekend (~7 days) she was going on her own for every potty trip.
All in all, our potty training experience went fairly smoothly. We did not criticize for any accidents and kept our emotions controlled. We would high-five when she went on the potty, and say “No pees this time” when she did not. When she needed a change of clothes, we changed them with no issues. For her, keeping things light made everything go faster and more successfully!
Potty Training Success
While we are an accident free house and our girl is maintaining herself well with her potty habits these are our next hurdles:
- Our daughter now prefers to never wear pants. Since we are dealing with COVID-19, we do not leave the house currently and she struggles with pulling down her pants for each potty trip. At some point we will need to break it to her that underwear and pants are societal norms that she must comply with.
- Our daughter does not like pull-ups or underwear. When she does wear pants, she is always commando.
- She is refusing nap time because she wants to make sure she can go to the potty.
- Public restrooms are still uncharted territory.
I hope these tips in our potty training guide help you with tackling potty training with your little one! If you have hacks for tackling our newest hurdles make sure to reach out to me!
All the best,