The idea of potty-training two twinbling toddlers at the same time has always felt a touch terrifying to me. I wrote a post in the past about all of the groundwork that I did to ease my anxiety about this coming developmental event, and I’m happy to report that we recently began training and the girls are doing really well with the potty!
Because I relied on so much advice and other first-hand accounts as I prepared for potty training, I thought that I would share our experience. This first post details all of the lead-up to the big day/week, and I feel pretty strongly that these lead-up tasks/items have been just as important in the process as the actual days of going diaper-less. I will later follow up with a post about the actual potty training experience and throughout these posts, I will include my take on things that I think really helped but also things that I think I did wrong or were unnecessary.
I hope that this account will be helpful but I also want to be very clear that I am definitely not a potty training expert and I fully recognize that there are many different approaches and methods. What follows just happens to be what worked for us so far, and to be very honest, I am not yet claiming full victory – with a cross-state move and lots of change coming for the girls this month, I’m fully expecting a regression… But the silver lining is that will just give me more material for future blog posts, right?!
When the girls were about 17 months old, I purchased the book Oh Crap! Potty Training. I had just had lunch with one of my favorite twin moms who had successfully potty trained her twins and she was a huge fan of the book. I read the book casually over the next few days, liked the approach, and decided that I would follow this method when the time came.
The book recommended that we start opening up about bathroom habits so that the girls would start to latch on to the concept. So at around this age, I started encouraging the girls to follow me into the bathroom and watch me do my business. They loved this, and in particular they got a big kick out of putting one square of toilet paper each into the toilet and saying “bye bye!” to it as it was flushed down.
I also started to show the girls pee and poop in their diapers as I was changing them so that they started to understand what was going on down there. Again, the idea was just to start building awareness and I was very careful to never call things “gross” or “icky” or anything negative because the last thing I wanted to do was to attach a negative stigma to natural bodily functions.
Around this time, I also focused on fixing some pooping problems that each girl was facing. One of our girls started to show a dairy intolerance so we adjusted her milk intake. The other started to become constipated regularly and was crying during bowel movements because it hurt so much; we introduced a daily Miralax supplement to her milk on our pediatrician’s recommendation. I was very focused on fixing these problems so that we wouldn’t face these obstacles once we were trying to get the poop in the potty.
I lean on books pretty heavily with the girls to introduce concepts and ideas, and I purchased several potty books around this time and added them to the girls’ library. I bought A Potty for Me! by Karen Katz, Potty by Leslie Patricelli, and P is for Potty! (Sesame Street). I liked all of these books and recommend all of them. I also got some second-hand books from a neighbor that included Princess Polly’s Potty and Big Girls Use the Potty by Andrea Pinnington. To be honest with you, I didn’t like these books as much because they focused on some aspects of potty training that I was planning to skip – namely, having your child pick out a potty and pick out panties before starting the process. They also use some British language (diapers are “nappies”, etc), which was just a bit irritating to have to swap out in my head while I was reading the books to the girls because I didn’t want to confuse them with the different words.
Around this time, I acquired three BabyBjorn potty chairs. I was lucky in that someone was handing these down and so I picked them up on the cheap. I stored these chairs in the girls’ closet and they never noticed them and I never showed them to the girls. The Oh Crap! method suggests keeping potty chairs away from kids until you’re ready for show time (reason being that they should not confuse the potty as a toy or storage unit). I am very happy with this decision and do not regret it. It also was nice to have these potties ready to go once we later decided to attempt training; I didn’t have to scramble to research the best chairs and make a hasty purchase.
I also purchased each girl the Melissa & Doug Drink and Wet doll, which comes with a bottle, pacifier and small potty for the doll. I snagged these dolls on sale around Christmas-time and they were their big gift from us. I’m not sure that I would have purchased them if they weren’t on sale, and they weren’t a really big hit for the girls so I don’t give this one a hearty recommendation.
At about 20 months, I came across a book called Dexter the Underwear Pup by Swathi Gandhavadi Griffin and purchased it. My girls love dogs and the main character in this book is a dog named Dexter, so I hoped that this would be a good addition to our potty book repertoire. I also was growing a bit tired of the very simple potty books that we already had and this one had really nice pictures and a more interesting concept. The girls immediately glommed on to this book and we read it practically every morning. This was easily my favorite potty book in our stack throughout the process.
Around the 24-month marker, one of my girls started showing tremendous interest in going potty. She regularly wanted to take her diaper off, she asked for more frequent diaper changes as she started to recognize the wet feeling, she would tell us when she was about to poop in her diaper, and most hilariously, she started to sit on the little doll potty mentioned above and pretend that she was putting her pee and poop in the doll’s potty.
Because our other girl was not showing the same level of readiness or interest, we did not begin potty training at this time.
About two months later, we still were not seeing much interest or readiness from one of our daughters. But our other one was now telling us, “I want go potty!” and was starting to physically take our hands and ask to sit on the toilet in the bathroom. After this went on for a few days, we spoke to our nanny and she agreed that we should try to potty train before she lost interest. We cleared our weekend and mentally prepared.
More to come on the day the diapers came off…!