Monday, November 8, 2010

Potty Training Success Story

Here it is. My all inclusive step by step list of what we did and how we did it. I can't believe it myself... but it worked. It's been 4 days now - no accidents. Not even in her pull ups while we are out.

MONTHS ago I had picked up a book at the library written by a mom who had Potty trained successfully. It had certain tips like - don't use Pull Ups unless you have to because they are too much like diapers and might delay your child from getting the concept of wet and dry. So I took note of that and decided when I did it, I would go balls to the wall underpants and training pants.

I'm glad I did.

  • We started out like 3 months ago just trying to go occasionally - not pushing her. I think that was key.
  • We bought the Baby Bjorn which has a VERY Simple design and NO bells and whistles. I had read reviews that said that some of the music ones are distracting and hard to clean and I figure 1) that's gross and 2) it would be like a toy and your kid will probably get sick of it just like any other toy
  • We had the potty out with her toys for months so she was familiar with it and NEVER was scared of it
  • We had tried training pants for a day or two (months ago) but it was too early. She obviously didn't like being wet but didn't have control of her bladder yet. She would tell me as soon as she wet - but it didn't seem like there was any sort of pattern to her peeing or anything - so we stopped and let it go.
  • A few days before we really tried we started talking to her about how big girls go pee pee and poopy on the potty and not diapers. The diapers are for babies.
  • She picked out her own panties - Elmo and Dora for variety and I concentrated on her keeping them dry
Fast Forward to last week.
If you read this, you know I was home sick with a cold 2 weeks ago, so I figured since I still wasn't feeling well, we wouldn't leave the house for a few days - and then figured it was the perfect time to try to really potty train.

So I rolled up all the area rugs and got the 409/paper towels/wipes and m&m's (one per pee and a few if she went poopy), etc ready in the living room.

The first day we started after naptime and had about equal failures to successes - but she totally started to understand the concept of wet and dry. It was a frustrating start - but the key was writing down every time she went and sat so I could try to see if there was a pattern - and there was!!!!

She was peeing every 15 - 20 mins and then nothing for over an hour. I called it cluster peeing! So, with that information, I was able to watch her on day 2 and try to figure out how often I should make her sit on the potty because if you've potty trained before you know that most kids don't like being forced to sit if they don't have to go and the more you force it, the more they resist.

I really think this was important because she didn't get too sick of it. We used the kitchen timer an every time she heard it - she actually got excited and would go to the potty. (not every time... but most of the time)

We did this for 2.5 days and on the 2nd full day - she was no longer cluster peeing as much - she had figured out how to control it so that she "got it all out" and didn't have to go as often. I still had to watch her like a hawk and pay attention to make sure, but she seemed to be getting it.

  • By day 3, we went out to Target and I brought the portable potty seat. I put her in a pull up and was expecting her to go in that. I was prepared for disaster as she always hated public bathrooms for diaper changes, but amazingly she went on the first try. Her reward for going at Target was a lollipop. She stayed dry the whole day and even tried twice more at a different store.
  • I think it was important to get her in the public bathroom early because there was no reason to be scared of it. My husband actually had read that online and I thought it was crazy and was terrified to do it, but am so glad I did!!
  • Then on day 4 my husband and I both took her out to the store together to pick out MORE panties and had her try in the public bathroom again. If you look at the picture closely you will see Elmo, & Dora panties and Thomas boys briefs.. We couldn't get her to leave the store with anything but Thomas and I personally don't have any gender issues with boy stuff versus girl stuff and they don't make Thomas panties so I figured if that's gonna keep her dry - she can wear them and I have to admit... it's pretty adorable!

  • Day 5 - was a family party which included a drive and long time in a pull up. I was nervous about the drive and about pooping because she hadn't done it yet on the potty and I knew she had to go.
  • We put her in a pull up and started driving and she kept saying pee pee potty - so we asked her if she had to go and she said no - a little later on she said she had to go - so we told her to hold it and we would set up the potty in a minute - we pulled over into a parking lot and set up our AWESOME portable potty (the Potette) in the back of our CR-V and couldn't believe it when she actually went!
  • I had shown her the portable potty at the house so it wasn't the first time she saw it which I thought was important. I set it up with the SUPER COOL absorbant throw away baggy thing pictured above with the turtles and umbrellas on it. And I had set it up on our toilet so she would see what it looked like when we had to use a bathroom in public. I think these were key steps to making sure she didn't freak out seeing it for the first time in the back of the car or at the store.
We survived an entire 45 minute drive, a whole 3 hour party and 45 minute drive back and she had no accidents and when we got home that night she went poopy potty for us - which we were so excited about.
  • Since I thought that was going to be harder than peeing - I bought her a special toy - a Thomas Train track and we told her if she went poopy potty, she could play with the train track and apparently it worked because she went and then immediately asked for it. so, for now we let her play with it after she goes and then put it away at night and take it out again the next time she goes.

  • I couldn't be happier or more surprised. I really think that watching her pattern and literally stalking her every move for the first 2 days made it easier to anticipate when she would go and not force her to sit for long periods of time.
  • Amazingly after the first day with no accidents she started waking up from BOTH naps and bedtime completely dry and then going pee pee right away. So, as of tonight she is back to regular diapers at night (just in case) and pull ups during naptime.

  • I am hoping to stop having to use pull ups during naptime by next week - to make sure she gets it - but lucky for us.. she doesn't go in them - and waits!:)

Here she is with her poopy prize and wearing her Thomas the Tank Engine underwear - (obviously not shown)

I couldn't be a happier mommy right now!

I hope this helps anyone thinking about potty training or who is frustrated going through it right now. The same things won't work for every child... but I do think that.
  1. Introducing it early is important (without force)
  2. Watching your child for patterns once you start
  3. Finding the right motivator for your child... some kids like stickers, some like TV - use whatever you have to is my theory - especially since Katie stopped asking for M&M's every time starting at day 3 - so she wasn't getting them as much
  4. Using portable potties and introducing them at home helps
  5. Try both the little potty and a training seat on your toilet from the beginning, so they don't get used to one thing and refuse the other.
  6. Finally, I think you have to be dedicated and patient. You have to be willing to stop and try to get them to go potty at the store - versus just letting them go in their pull up - because they won't understand why they should do it at home, but not when they are out.
Goodluck with potty training and please please please feel free to comment with other ideas and suggestions to help other mommies out there too!


  1. Well done, mama - and very well done, Katie!!

  2. How old was she when you introduced the potty? I am thinking we might just start getting the idea in her head but I don't want to force it. She's hitting the 16 month mark at the end of January and I go back to work at the beginning of February so I am thinking it would be best if I introduced it while I'm still home. And then when it looks like we're ready for our next steps I can take some time off or schedule it around longer weekends. Thoughts?

  3. Trish... I think the end result for all kids is different. However, I am a HUGE believer in introducing the potty as early as you feel like it.
    I think I bought Katie's when she was between 14 and 16 months old maybe? And we left it out with her toys for awhile so she learned how to sit on it and then about a month later I started having her take her diaper off to sit on it. We lucked out a few times and she actually peed in it which was great - but we didn't push the training at that point. Where is she during the day? Daycare? I hear it's harder when they are in daycare/home but you should be able to work with your daycare provider to make sure you do things the same with her which will help her learn.
    I say, go for it - get a SIMPLE potty (I think the singing ones are a bit annoying and distracting for some kids) and get her a book to go along with it - there is also an elmo DVD about using the potty that katie used to watch too.. I say, the sooner the better if you are up for it:) GOODLUCK!!

  4. Annie - I just bought the potty and plan on putting it in with her toys to get the ball rolling! She's almost 16 months now so I do think that we should at leastt start to get her comfortable. She's going to be home with a nanny (getting two kids in diapers out of the house before 6:45AM, when I leave for work, was going to be impossible so we're trying this out). I am sure I can get the nanny to start working on things when she seems ready. Or I will wait until a long weekend or take a couple of days off so I can do it myself. I kind of feel like it is something I want to do with her, as a mom, not leave it to the nanny.

    On the nanny note I'm so torn with this whole thing. I am looking forward to going back to work but I am really enjoying my time with them and I can see how much she thrives on me being home. She is so much more verbal than she was in daycare (she's also older so that might be some of it). Anyhow I am struggling with the stay at home mom vs. the going back to work thing. The grass is always greener, I know that, but that doesn't make the decision easier. I start thinking about money and time and division of labor, etc. and I am so confused! I'll keep you updated on it all. Keep on postin'!!!