A few months ago we began the potty training journey with my older daughter (she was 33 months at the time). We had tried a few months earlier and after three hours, five accidents and her telling me that she wants to “be a baby and wear diapers for forever” I relented and went back to diapers. At the time I felt like a failure or like I had given up too easily, but after waiting about 6 weeks and success coming easily, I realized that the timing was just right. Here are five tips for success based on my recently potty training adventure.
Wait until your child is ready
This is probably my number one tip since this literally made the difference between tears and success for us. When I had tried to push potty training when my child was not ready and all she did was resist me more. After our initial attempt, I put away the potty, quit asking and waited for her come to me and tell me she was ready. It only took about 6 weeks until she got up one morning and told us she didn’t want to wear a diaper and was ready to use the potty. The first day of “training” she had two accidents, the second day one and since then she has only had a few accidents total. All together I think she has had less accidents in two months than she did in the first three hours of our original attempt. Of course, you can teach your child to use the potty before they tell you, but in my experience it’s much easier to wait until they are ready.
Provide the Proper Incentive
When I was researching how to teach my daughter to use the potty I read all about candy incentives so I kept buying M&Ms and would end up eating them myself because they weren’t the proper incentive for my daughter at the time. In addition to putting away the potty, I also had to put away the candy, stickers, etc. so that when we reintroduced it during potty training that it would be new and exciting. When I realized she was ready I brought out an assortment of candy and let her pick her prize (since for her the control over the picking is important). In the first few days, I also bought special stickers and let her pick one to go on her potty.
Like a lot of kids, my daughter was a little afraid of using the potty, so I made sure to provide special entertainment that she could only use while on the potty such as potty books and The Potty Show app on my phone. In the first few days, I also just let her sit on the potty while she played and even let her watch TV while on the potty (we normally just watch one show a day, but I allowed a little more so that she would get comfortable sitting on her potty). The goal is to not only get them comfortable with sitting on their potty, but also to make them think it is a special place.
Once your child uses their potty successfully, make sure that you celebrate to the max! Our celebration included dancing, singing, high fives, hugs and of course calling grandma and daddy at work (this is of course amusing for mommy also because you know your husband is shouting out “I’m so proud of you for pee-peeing on the potty!!”). I would also reiterate that I was so proud of my daughter and that she is such a big girl for using the potty. We would then run to the treat jar followed by the sticker selection and ceremoniously place it on the potty.
Prepare for Travel
One of the things I was most stressed about was leaving the house after the first 2 days of success. I was worried about having accidents in the car/stroller and having to find and actually use a public restroom. For the car seat, I found out that my car seat manufacturer (we have Britax car seats) actually made a pad to go into the car seat to protect it against small accidents. This really gave me a lot of piece of mind, even though we haven’t ever really had to put it to the test (just check that whatever one you buy is approved by your car seat manufacture or else it can invalidate your warranty and may be a safety risk). For once we are out of the car, I bought a travel potty (the one I bought is called the Pottette Plus) that can either stand alone as a potty or can be placed on the seat in a public restroom to give your child a smaller seat and clean seat to use. After I bought it, I set it up and let my daughter sit on it for a little bit so that she would be prepared to use it when we were out. The last thing I do is make sure that when we are out (like at a friend’s house) that we find the bathroom together so that she is prepared when she feels like she needs to use the potty.
These are some tips that worked well for use and while it was a big milestone (and a sad one as a cloth diaper parent) we have had a very easy transition and a lot of success! What are some of your tips for successful potty training?