Oh the dreaded potty training! As you guys know we did potty training with Molly a couple weeks ago and soooo many of you ask if I would share my experience, so that is exactly what I’m doing today! To be completely honest with you guys I was really nervous to start. I knew Molly was capable of potty training but I was NOT super confident in my ability to teach her how to do it! I think part of me just resisted it because I thought (and still kind of think) that keeping her in diapers would’ve been so much easier. For those of you with kids still in diapers, you’re probably thinking – “Easier? How could it possibly be easier to keep them in diapers?” Well, when they go in their diaper, all you have to do is clean them up and throw it away. It’s pretty quick. When your kiddo starts using the potty you have to worry about accidents and clan up accidents (they WILL happen). And you have to sit them on the potty a dozen or more times a day – every time you leave the house, before nap, after nap, before bed, in the morning and after they drink a lot of water. I’m sure Molly will use the potty less once she gets the hang of it. But right now it’s exhausting and time consuming!
Honestly since we started potty training I think I spent a total of three hours a day in the bathroom with her alone. It’s much more of a commitment! I know it will get easier but right now it just makes things a lot more difficult. Currently, if we need to leave the house I know I need to start the process of getting out the door about 45 minutes before we actually have to leave. That’s because I not only have to get Riley ready and out the door, but we need to sit on the potty, make sure we have a change of clothes, bring the potty in the car with us, and a bunch of other things. But even though it’s a time commitment it’s something I wanted to do well before she turned 3. And that’s because many of the parents I spoke to have told me that after 3 it can be quite a challenge. Your kiddo is set in their ways and not as easily persuaded to change. And I’m happy to report right off the bat that she’s doing great a little over two weeks in! She picked it up rather quickly and has had minimal accidents. I’m so proud of her and I’m excited to share with you guys what works for us.
There are a ton of different books on potty training. And I did TRY (try being the key word here) read a couple and of course I read a ton of stuff online. To be quite honest, I found the online stuff the most helpful because it was concise and a quick read. One of the potty training books I tried to read was over 100 pages long and 90% of it was stuff that was totally unnecessary. I thought to myself, “How the heck is any parent supposed to have time to read a book on potty training that’s over 100 pages long?” It just seems ridiculous to me! So don’t bother getting a book. Save your money and use it to buy all of the gear you’re going to need once you start potty training! Because you’ll need quite a bit of gear! And I’m sharing everything that we bought and used in this blog post.
Keep in mind that what works for us might not work for everyone. Every child is different and to be quite honest I think Molly picked it up rather quickly. Maybe quicker than most. Or maybe not. Honestly I have no idea. All I know is that I was surprised when it all clicked right away. I think she was just really ready.
So when is your child ready? I’m no expert on this and I’ve heard different schools of thought. Some people say kids as young as 22 months can be ready. I personally don’t think Molly was quite ready until 2 1/2. Still, we waited a few months after that to start because of trips we had planned. I definitely do not recommend that you start potty training if you have a trip planned or any big changes or events happening. Such as a move, a new baby, or even a long road trip. My completely uneducated opinion (Ha!) is to start somewhere between 2 and 3 years old.
Whenever you decide to start just make sure you’re mentally ready to do it. Don’t go in with the mindset that you’ll “try”. You either do it or you don’t. And you have to be ready to just go for it! It’s funny because the week leading up to us starting with Molly, I kept trying to psych myself up saying I was ready but I had so many doubts! But even though I wasn’t necessarily ready, I knew she was and I just kept reminding myself of that.
So about a week before we started, we started telling her about the fairies that were coming to the house. That’s right, the fairies were coming to take all of Molly’s diapers to bring them to Diaperland! And the diapers would be given to little babies who need them. Molly is such a sweet girl and loved that she would be helping other little babies. The morning the fairies arrived, I wrote her a colorful note from the fairies thanking her for giving her diapers to babies who need them and she also got a small gift as a thank you from the fairies. That morning she didn’t resist in any way and was excited that they had come to our house! We kept some diapers hidden away for naps and bed (but I’ll get to that later).
What You Need First
Let’s start with some of the things that I absolutely think you need before you start potty training! The first thing is a ton of potties! The amount of potties really depends on how big your houses. But I think you should have at least two travel potties, and if you can afford it three. Meaning you’ll keep one in your stroller that you use for walks, keep one in your car, and one in partner’s car. This is because anytime you leave the house you basically need to have this little travel potty on you. For example, my family likes to go on walks a lot. We go on a family walk pretty much every evening. So we make sure to put a little travel potty in our stroller so that when Molly needs to go potty when we are out on our walks we can quickly pull it out and let her go wherever we are. This is because she still learning. Eventually we want her to learn to hold it until we get to a bathroom. But for now this works for us. I pulled out this little travel potty when I was at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend so she could go! Obviously I brought her to a private area to use it. And maybe some are you frown upon doing it in such a public place but hey she needed to go and I didn’t have a change of clothes for her if she had an accident so I whipped out the potty. When you’re a parent you got to do what you gotta do sometimes!
Like I mentioned above, you’ll also want at least two potties for your home. If you’re strapped for money, I would say you could use the travel potties in your home as well, the only problem with that is that you have to remember to take it with you every time you leave the house. I’m super forgetful and knew I would forget all the time so I purchased multiple to keep in different spots. But the reason you want multiple little potties (at least one upstairs and one downstairs) is that during the first few days of potty training, the INSTANT your child starts peeing or tells you they need to pee you need to get them on the potty in under five seconds. That’s how they’re gonna learn where the peepee goes. And I say peepee because poop is much more difficult and I’ll get to that at the end of this post. I have a big first floor in my house and the bathroom is on the complete opposite end of the house from the family room so I needed to have a little potty right in the family room when we were potty training.
I also highly recommend this owl cover or this padded cover for an adult size toilet. And you might decide that you don’t want to use a little potty and only want to use a cover on the adult toilet. That totally works if you have a smaller home or a bathroom that is close to where you spend the most time in your home! And the toilet cover will be a lifesaver when you’re on the go and need to use a public restroom. Because let’s face it, eventually you’re not going to want to carry a little travel potty everywhere you go. You’ll want to just be able to whip this thing out of your diaper bag or purse so your child can use an adult size toilet. I say diaper bag if you have an infant as well. I still carry a diaper bag because well, Riley’s still in diapers! So I just throw it in my diaper bag with his stuff. We also use it at home so she can get used to using a big toilet. We also use it at home because we didn’t want the first time Molly used a big toilet to be outside of our home. It could be intimating to a little kiddo and they might be to scared to try.
You’ll also want a stepstool in your bathroom. We have one in Molly’s bathroom – yes, she has a bathroom attached to her bedroom. I realize how lucky she is and we are. And there’s a stepstool in the main bathroom on the main floor. We use this not only so she can step up to the potty herself, but also so she can step up to the sink afterwards to wash her hands. Trust me, you’re not gonna want to pick your child up to wash their hands every time they go potty. Because right now Molly is going potty 8-10 times a day. I think that’s because she just goes a little bit at a time right now while she’s learning. But we spent a lot of time in the bathroom and she spends a lot of time washing her hands! You need to stepstool – trust me! Here are some I like. I got the white one:
You’re also going to need outfits that are easy for your child to get off to go potty. Your kiddo will be naked a lot the first few days, but after that you’ll need pants that are really easy to push down. And make sure you use the word “push” and not pull down. Because in actuality what they’re doing is pushing down their pants. And that’s easier for kids understand. I really like the outfit Molly is wearing in these pics for potty training. The pants are loose so they don’t feel like a diaper on her. I explain below why we kept underwear off Molly whenever possible. The pants also have an elastic waist band which is easy to push down. And the shirt is short enough that when she sits on the potty it won’t get caught inside the potty.
Another product I highly recommend is the piddle pad for your car seat. My friend Willa recommended this product to me (she also recommended the owl toilet cover and a travel potty. Thank you so much Willa!). The piddle pad is inexpensive and will help you clean up so much quicker if your child has an accident in the car! If you don’t want to spend the 9 bucks on this (I totally get that there is a lot of other stuff to buy and it adds up!), you could also just put puppy pads under your child in the car seat. But you pretty much end up spending just as much on those and the piddle pad is reusable and better for the environment.
Those are the things/products I really think you need to start potty training. I’ll reference other products and things we bought that were helpful throughout this post but not necessarily a game changer.
The first day she was completely naked all day. Honestly, she was naked for pretty much the first week. Or at least bottomless. That’s so you can get your little one to the potty as quickly as possible. Instead of putting her on the potty every 30 minutes, one method that worked really well for us was to quickly rush her to the potty when she started peeing. So essentially the first day you watch your kiddo like a hawk! Meaning you never take your eyes off of them. This is really hard for me because I work from home so I’m usually attached to my computer and phone. Plus it’s always so tempting to check Instagram. Ha! This first day you really just want to watch your kiddo. So as soon as Molly would either look like she was starting to pee or actually started peeing, I would pick her up and rush her over to the potty. Incredibly, I only had to do this twice and then she started telling me she had to go pee! I was so proud of her! I don’t think this necessarily will happen so quickly for everyone. So don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen for you! Just stay at it the first day. Some people use the method of putting their child on the potty every 30 to 60 minutes to see if they will go and a couple of my friends had a lot of success with that technique. One of my friends even got this watch that your kiddo can wear – it has an alarm that goes off every set amount of time that let’s your child know it’s time to go to the potty. I didn’t think I needed it when Molly first start since she picked it up so quickly, but now that we are 2-3 weeks in I am realizing this watch might be super helpful. SHe’s has a few accidents because we weren’t diligent about telling her it’s time to go potty (which you’ll need to do often after the first few days – peeing on the floor is more common the first few days) or she wouldn’t tell us because she was too busy playing.
So like I mentioned above Molly got it pretty quickly the first day. She honestly only had one accident where she peed on the floor! But one thing that I found kind of surprising the first day, even though I shouldn’t have, was that little bits of pee trickled out pretty constantly throughout the day. Every few minutes I would notice little drips on her legs. So I don’t really consider that an accident since it was just kind of steady. I think it’s because our kids are not used to having to hold it all! So they just let it come out all day. Every time I would see a little bit on her leg, I would put her on the potty. So needless to say, I was picking her up and putting her on the potty multiple times every hour, ALL day long. And don’t get freaked out about pee! Trust me, I was kind of freaked out at first. Until I read something online about how sterile pee is and how it’s nothing to be afraid of. I even read something that said it’s super good for your skin! And can even heal your skin! Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know, but everything I read definitely eased my worry about getting a little bit of pee on things here and there throughout my house. That said, we did cover our couch in sheets and blankets just in case there was an accident on the couch. And a little bit of pee trickled out on the couch once, but not a full emptying of her bladder. You should be watching your child so closely on this first day that that wouldn’t even be possible. Because you would catch it right away.
And you want the day to be normal but also fun. Normal because you want potty training to seem like something that is normal because it is! Something that we do every single day. And because of this we didn’t offer Molly treats for going peepee. We ended up offering them to her for poops but that’s only because she didn’t poop on the potty for the first four days. And again I will get to that in a minute. But peeing on the potty came pretty easily to her so I’m glad we never offered anything otherwise should be getting an M&M every half hour with how much she goes pee everyday. And that’s definitely not a habit I wanted to get into. So I highly suggest trying to keep rewards out of it and only use them for pooping if you really need to like we did.
We did have a lot of fun activities that first day! She had her new toy that the fairies had left her, we watched a movie, we colored together for hours, and really overall we just bonded. Because you’re watching your child so closely, it really is an amazing opportunity for you to connect with them on a deeper level. Look, I’m a stay at home/work at home mom. So I’m with Molly all the time! But I’m never fully present. And as hard as that is to admit, it’s just the truth. I was checking my work email and looking at Instagram or taking care of Riley. So I can never just completely focus on Molly. But on potty training day I had help with Riley so I could focus completely on Molly. And I put away my phone and my computer and fully surrendered myself to being 100% present with her. And we got closer. Ever since we potty trained she gives me three dozen hugs and kisses a day. And every time, she will tell me how much she loves me. She would say I love you multiple times a day before potty training. But now it’s almost as if she can’t say it enough! Something about our time together really helped us come together as mother and daughter. And I’m grateful for it.
On day 2, we were able to ease up a little bit on watching her. But the thing is, we bonded so much the day before that I honestly just wanted to watch her all the next day. It was fun for both of us! But I did allow myself to check my email and take my eyes off of her for a few moments here and there. But I did this because she had already picked it up so well that I was comfortable being able to do that. If your child hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it by day 2, I don’t recommend taking your eyes off of them! Stay just as present! And because you’ll need to be so present possibly two, even three, days in a row and maybe more. I recommend starting on a Friday or even Saturday when both parents can be home for the first couple days. If you start on a Friday and both parents work, I highly suggest one of you taking the day off to begin the process. The first day is always the most exciting so that’s why we decided to start on a Friday. I knew I could stay fully present with Molly by myself while Kevin was at work. And then by day 2 the novelty of it all kind of would start to wear off, that’s why we thought it would be important for both parents to be home so we could both keep an eye on her. That’s what worked for us but another method might work for you.
We let her wear a shirt on day 2. But she remained bottomless. But on day 2, she really told us when she needed to use the potty. Another thing that changed on day two is we started to bring her over that to the party instead of waiting for her to pee if she started doing the potty dance. And your child will have some sort of signal letting you know that they need to go potty too. For Molly she crosses her legs and bounces up and down. The typical potty dance. Your child might have a different signal. Keep an eye out for it! So when I would see Molly do the potty dance I would not ask her if she needed to go potty. Every single thing I read about potty training urges parents not to ask and instead, tell them it’s time to go potty. So that’s what we did – we would see Molly do the dance and say it’s time for potty. I think this is where that watch I mentioned before might come in handy. Because I will say there was a few times she resisted even though I told her it was time. I feel like having the watch will make your child more likely to go because it seems fun rather than having to listen to mommy and daddy. If that makes sense.When night time rolled around on day 2, I was pretty concerned that she hadn’t gone poop on the potty yet. I could tell she really needed to go. In fact, the morning we woke up on day one I could tell she needed to go number two. So the fact that she hadn’t gone and it had been 48 hours really concerned me. Especially just because I could tell she was in so much discomfort! I’ve even go so far to say she was in pain! She kept saying that her belly hurt and that her butt hurt. I let her know that she would feel better if she let the poopoo out and she honestly tried. But nothing would come out. I think she thought she was pushing when she was actually holding it in. So the night of day 2, I put a diaper on her and told her she could use it to go poopoo. Sure enough she ran in the other room so I couldn’t see her and immediately pooped in her diaper. I didn’t consider it a failure at all. In fact I consider that a success because I just wanted her to get relief. And I knew she would get it eventually.
So let’s talk about poop. Like I mentioned above we had some struggles with it. It took her until day 5 to actually go poop on the potty. After night 2 when I let her poop in the diaper, she again went all of day 3 with no poop. She had gotten the peepee thing down perfectly! No accidents and absolutely love going to the potty to go pee. She got so excited to bring her a little potty over the toilet, dump the contents inside, and flush the big toilet! By the way, I haven’t mentioned this yet but make sure you let your child do this. Getting to pour the pee into the toilet and flush is a lot of fun for them and you want to make sure they get that reward after using the potty.
Anyway, so we made it to day 4 and once again still no poop. I was nervous so of course I was googling everything I could possibly find on the Internet! Specifically I was googling what to do if your child will only poop in a diaper. And I read something that said to cut a hole in the back of a child’s diaper so that when they pooped they would get the sensation of the poop falling out rather than getting smashed against their butt. Which is what normally happens when a child wears diapers. So I thought I’d give it a try. So on the evening of day 4 when Molly was in a lot of pain, we put the diaper on her with a hole in it while she stood over a little potty. Sure enough she pushed out a poop pretty immediately. And to her surprise and while I was helping her brace herself sort of leaning back over the potty, the poop fell into the little potty below. She was so surprised! But thrilled! However, your child may not be as thrilled and if that’s the case I’m not really sure what to do. Ha! I can only share my experience. But after this she started going poop on the potty! I think she just needed to know that the sensation of it coming out without the safety of her diaper was OK! Nothing bad was going to happen.
Before I get on to her successful poop on the potty, I want to talk about what she did that I found surprising. Every time I would Google things about kids not pooping on the potty I never found anything that was completely similar to what Molly was going through. What Molly would do is she would say she needed to poop and she would go sit on the potty and try to do it. So she wanted to go poop on the potty! All the things I read is that kids were either afraid of the potty, weren’t too interested in having to sit on the potty long enough, or asked for a diaper when they needed to poop. I’m sure there were some other examples but those are the ones I remember. I couldn’t find anything about a kid wanting to poop on the potty and sitting on it a ton but it just not coming out. On days 3 and 4, Molly would seriously run to the potty every 10 minutes saying she needed to poop but nothing would come out. She would sit there for 30 minutes trying and nothing would come out. I mentioned this earlier in this blog post, and it’s a long post, but I think she thought she was pushing it out when she was actually using muscles to hold it in. So really my only advice if this is your child is to keep a potty nearby and just keep encouraging them to try. I also highly suggest giving them privacy even if they seem like they don’t want it. She would ask me to hold her when she was on the potty and I would do that here and there, but I would also try to walk away or look at something else when she was on the potty. I read that kids often need privacy just like adults do for this very personal experience. Your child will most likely need privacy, especially if they would go somewhere private when they would poop in their diaper. Many kids retreat to a corner or a certain area of the home to poop that’s because they understand that pooping is a private thing.
On day 5 is when we got our first poop in the potty without a diaper! Once again she was very backed up and she was pacing back-and-forth in the kitchen. She kept saying I have to poop and she would go sit on the potty. After sitting with her for hours she went back-and-forth from playing for five minutes straight to the potty for five minutes over and over. I finally turned my back and start answering some emails. It’s when I did that that she finally went! I didn’t see it she just did it on her own! I think I had become so obsessed with helping her go poop that finally with just walking away she was able to do it on her own! Definitely try this! And don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. I knew I need to give her space and walked away many times before this. But for some reason this time when I gave her the space she was able to figure it out. And I was so so so proud of her! She got a big ice cream cone right afterwards! And that’s because yes we had told her at this point because we were desperate for her to go that she would get ice cream if she went poopoo on the potty.
We got a few more small rewards like candy or a little toy for other poops in the potty but we are phasing that out now. We want her to think this is a normal thing that she does and not just because she gets a reward.
Naps and Bedtime
I read that some people tackle potty training as a whole and don’t use diapers at all – even for naps or bedtime. I am not one of those people. And I know what you’re thinking. “You just made a big deal about the fairies taking Molly’s diapers and bringing them to Diaperland. How can you put a diaper on her during naps and bedtime?” The answer? She didn’t question it at all! I read that she wouldn’t and I didn’t really believe it but sure enough when I went to put a diaper on her at nap time, she didn’t even question it. I went ahead and told her that we had a few nap time and bedtime diapers that the fairies left behind. But I don’t even think I needed to tell her that. I will eventually phaseout the nap time and bedtime diapers of course. (We also plan on using a travel diaper if we ever go on a long trip or get on an airplane anytime soon). But I am happy to say that multiple mornings Molly has woken up with a completely dry diaper! I honestly think after a few months of this, we will just stop using the nighttime diapers and there will just be a few accidents here and there (hopefully just a few). Which is all part of the learning process!
So here we are 10 days post potty training and she’s doing great! We introduced underwear five days after trying and that’s because she needed to go to school. Of course as we are walking out the door to go to school she had an accident and peed in her pants. I’ve actually found that every time we put underwear on her she’s 10 times more likely to have an accident. One of the things I read suggested not putting underwear on your child for the first month. Let them go commando. So we try to do this at home. She’ll wear pants with no underwear or a dress with no underwear. But we still put underwear on her when she goes to school. Speaking of, you’re going to need a lot of underwear! We got Molly these training underwear and some Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ones too. I haven’t gotten the stepstool with the smaller potty attached yet. But I’m starting to think long term this will be helpful for her so I’m thinking about getting one. And while I was looking at products for potty training I saw these little urinals for little boys. Is this not the cutest thing ever?! I’m already thinking about getting one in the future for Riley because I just find it so adorable. I found this one too that flushes! Any parents of boys ever use anything like this? I’m curious and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Anyway, I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff but I wanted to get a blog up about my experience in hopes that it helps other parents out there who are about to tackle potty training! And as always I love it when all of you share your tips not only with me but with all the other parents reading this. I love that this blog has become a community for moms and dads to get together and share their experiences and help each other. So please share words of wisdom or any questions you have in the comments below! I’ll try to answer your questions and I’m sure other parents out there will read them an answer too!
UPDATE: For those asking about my shirt I am wearing a size Medium! And it’s on the shorter side so you’ll want to wear with high waist pants! But that’s all I wear – helps hold in my mom bod 😉