When I decided to begin potty training Ruthie, I had no idea where to start. I went out and excitedly bought her some big girl underwear with her favorite characters on them, a potty seat, and a stool. Then, when I got home, it dawned on me that I had no idea where to start. I did some trial runs of putting Ruthie on the potty, but the results were inconclusive.
So, like any mom nowadays, I turned to google and Pinterest for help. Apparently, the so-called three day method is all the rage these days. I was pregnant with my third with a toddler and a baby at that time, and after reading up on the three day method, I decided that was definitely not an option. I could not be watching the baby while waddling after the toddler to catch her every time she started having an accident. So the potty training plans were put on hold until after the baby came.
This last week I resumed the potty training. I decided to just pick and choose the advice and parts of the methods I saw on the internet, and just tailor it to suit Ruthie’s needs. I noticed that there are a lot of resources out there claiming to unlock the secrets of potty training that were actually trying to sell you an expensive book, product, or DVD series. Now, I’m all for trying to make a buck, but this just seemed to be taking advantage of desperate mamas. I am by no means an expert since I have just begun this process, but I will offer you what I have learned so far, FOR FREE! Because I am generous like that.
1) Pull ups are great if you are going somewhere and don’t fully trust your potty trainer yet, but don’t use them TO potty train. The key to potty training is for your child to realize when she is peeing and pooping, and pull ups are too close to the feel of a diaper for her to do that. The three day method advises that the child goes bare bottom for the first day, but with girls I was too afraid of urinary tract infections to let her sit around bare butt all day. The underwear worked just as well because it was still pretty obvious when she was having an accident.
2) Reward system. I give her one marshmallow for pee and two for poop. It seems to be working. I even give her a marshmallow if she started peeing in her underwear and finishes in the toilet. She has gotten to the point where she will feel a little bit of wetness in her underwear and immediately run to the toilet. We’re still working on her going to the bathroom before that point.
3) Pooping. Other moms tell me that this is the skill that comes last, but Ruth seems to have taken to this better than the peeing. She will go straight to the potty and poop without any prompt from me sometimes. Other times I see her straining and take her to the potty. Which brings me to:
4) Distraction. If I know she needs to pee (like after a nap or if she hasn’t gone in a while), and she refuses, then I ask her what songs she would like to sing on the potty, and we sing songs until she pees. If she has been squatting and straining like she needs to poop, then I sit her on the potty with the iPad watching Curious George until she poops.
5) Praise. She seems to respond well to my praise, but I think the marshmallows work better. When we just did praise, she would pretend to pee and then start celebrating by herself. It just added to her confusion when we tried to correct her untimely celebration. I have been sticking to the calm correction when she has an accident and telling her the characters on her wet underwear are sad that they are wet. She will say that back to me, so I suppose that is making an impression.
6) Timer. Now, a lot of things I read recommended you take the child to the potty every 20 minutes or so for the first day or two. This DID NOT work for us at all. I did it religiously all day the first day, and not once to she go pee or poop in the toilet whenever I did it. It became a horrible battle of wills, and we both ended up frustrated and irritated at each other. What ended up working better for us was for me just to wait for an accident and explain to her what we were trying to accomplish every time she did it. After about three days, the resentment wore off and she understands what I expect from her, and she will pee immediately when I put her on the potty before leaving the house, eating meals, going to bed, or if I just feel it has been too long.
7) Sleep times. We still use diapers for naps and night time. She is still in her crib, and I didn’t want to change too many things at once. She usually wakes up dry from naps. I get her to pee right when she wakes up.
8) Stuff I’ve needed.
•undies (the more, the merrier. You cannot have too many undies. You will go through all of them in a day in the beginning).
•Two potty seats, one for each floor of your house. Cleaning out those little potties did not appeal to me, and I wanted her to be used to big potties. Also, you can take one with you for when you do leave the house. You know, in a few years.
• Flushable wipes. Obvi.
• Fun hand soap. Children thrive on routine, and the whole potty, wipe, flush, wash thing seems to help it stick in her head.
• Stool. This has been great for when I’m nursing the baby and Ruthie has an emergency. Although let’s be honest, at this point they’re all emergencies.
• Travel potty. Mine you can use as a seat for a big potty or stand it on its own with a baggy underneath it. Haven’t used it yet, so we’ll see how useful it is.
We have been diaper free for a week, and I have been loving not having three in diapers! Totally worth the effort. Please feel free to comment with any potty training tips you have learned! We can create a free momma potty training brain trust.