Not to jinx myself, but I feel like potty training so far has been a really great, positive experience overall! After a little bit of a slow start, Miss H has really embraced the whole concept of the potty. Here’s the Hopscotch family’s potty training tips (note: I’m obviously not a potty training expert — Miss H is not fully potty trained yet, and every child is different! This is just what has worked for us).
Introducing the Potty Early
We bought a potty seat for Miss H when she was about 19 months old. Instead of getting one of the freestanding potties, we purchased a potty seat for our toilet. Neither one of us liked the idea of cleaning out a little potty but we did like the idea of Miss H getting used to sitting on the real, up high potty. The downside, of course, is that Miss H can’t easily get up and down off the potty by herself, but for us the pros of a potty seat outweigh the cons.
Once we had the seat, we would put Miss H on it every night before her bath and ask her if she needed to pee. We knew she understood the word and why she was on there, but she clearly wasn’t comfortable with sitting on the potty. When she started to fuss, we’d just take her off and put her in the tub (and she usually promptly peed in the tub, little stinker!). It was probably a solid month of sitting on the potty once a day before she finally peed!
Once Miss H peed on the potty for the first time, she got a treat. It took a few times before she understood the connection, but once she did she was always super excited about getting a cookie! (We used little bunny graham crackers as our treat.) We also made sure that there were other exciting aspects of using the potty: wiping! flushing! washing hands! Each of these steps was made to seem exciting and part of the routine. Miss H embraced the routine of it all and loves it. After a couple of months of consistent potty peeing, we downgraded the cookies to dehydrated fruit (umm, she’d been getting far too many cookies because she was using the potty a lot!). After a few weeks of the fruit, we stopped giving the treats altogether and she hasn’t asked for a treat since. I was really afraid that it would be tough to remove the correlation of “potty pee = treat” but it was surprisingly easy.
Watching for Dry Diapers
One readiness sign that I noticed right around when we started introducing the potty was Miss H having consistently dry diapers after naps and in the morning (after 12 hours overnight). Once Miss H was getting more comfortable with peeing on the potty in the evenings, we started putting her on the potty after naps and first thing in the morning. This is now a part of our regular routine and it’s a very rare occasion for Miss H to be in a wet diaper during sleep times.
Language Skills/Talking About the Potty
Miss H’s vocabulary is quite good for her age so she quickly started saying, “I have to go potty,” “I have to pee,” or “I’m peeing.” She’s generally pretty good about telling us when she needs to go, and we try and be good about asking her when she needs to go (because often if she hasn’t gone in awhile and she’s playing with toys she won’t tell us until the last minute and then gets upset when she pees in her diaper).
We bought Miss H some cloth training pants (or “undies”) that she’s started wearing around the house. This is one area, however, where we need to be more consistent with them so that Miss H gets more comfortable with the concept and with not having accidents in them. For some reason if she starts to pee in her diaper she’ll get really upset about it, but peeing in the undies doesn’t always seem to bother her! Mysterious. But we do try and put her in her undies right after she’s used the potty, in the hopes of giving her the best chance for success (i.e. keeping them dry/giving her a long stretch wearing them before she needs to go again). We also talk about how exciting it is that she’s in undies, but we have to remember that we don’t pee in our undies. It’s a work in progress!
You’ll notice everything I’ve shared has been about peeing. We’re still working through pooping in the potty. From everything I’ve read and heard, this seems to be a bigger road block for potty training. So we are doing our best not to force the issue; I don’t want her to have negative associations. When Miss H says, “I’m pooping” we ask if she wants to poop in the potty. She usually says no, so we don’t force the issue. Instead, we let her do her thing in her diaper then she comes with us and can flush the poop down the potty. However, last weekend she did poop in the potty twice – once for her nanny and once for me – so I’m hopeful that we’re getting somewhere. When she pooped with me, we talked about how exciting it was and she received a cookie for her good work. She was so excited about the cookie (as that was a great motivator for peeing in the potty). We also have “special wipes” that we told Miss H we can only use for potty poops – another incentive! Since we cloth diaper, the sooner we’re done with poopy diapers the better!