A happy heart makes the face cheerful...Proverbs 15:13

Monday, March 14, 2011

Potty Training Tips and Methods.

We are finally on our last potty training journey. Our youngest just turned 2 in December and I have been waiting as long as I can to start. Well, for one, potty training is just…evil. Regardless of the monster that potty training is, I really haven’t pushed it yet because it saddens me. It’s a sign that my “baby” isn’t so baby any more. This is my very last baby. Pity party, I know!!!

As I started to think of the best way to get him trained I started to think back to the methods we used with our first 3 kiddos. We used 3 very different methods with 3 very different outcomes.

1. Cold-Turkey:

We went with this approach with my oldest son. The moment I found out I was pregnant with #2, I was determined not to have 2 children in diapers. So, we went cold turkey. We got rid of all things disposable. We bought packs upon pack of his favorite character underoos and never looked back. This was simple because he was the only child. It was easy to get him to the bathroom every 30-40 minutes, before we left the house, when we got to where we were going, before we came home. You get the picture. We were lucky to have him in a daycare that took hourly potty breaks. Had we not had that, this method would have not been so successful. We had our son fully trained within 4-6 weeks. He still had some poopy accidents here and there, but that’s pretty normal. Here are some helpful tips for this method:

  • Remove ALL diapers or pull-ups. If they are in the house you will find a reason to use them.
  • Invest in mattress covers and mattress pads.
  • Keep clean sheets near the bed each night for a quick change.
  • Cut off liquids after a certain time. Do not allow cups in bed. The more that comes in, the more that goes out.
  • Instead of towels, use disposable puppy (potty training) pads on the child favorite chair or car seat, or for a seat at a movie theater or restaurant.
  • Stick to it!!! This one can be tedious, but the results come fast.

2. Reward/Timing System:

We tried this method with our 2nd son. We tried the cold turkey at first, but adding a second child to the mix really made it difficult to keep up with. In this method I used a kitchen timer and we would go every hour or so. Also at just random times, whenever I remembered. When he would go on the hour, he would get a sticker, treat or I did the potty dance. Now that I think about it, he would pretend to go, just to make me do the goofy dance. We tried underwear throughout part of the day and pull-ups at night. This method was effective, but it took quite a bit more time. I would say it took closer to 6-8 months to have him trained. This child is a harder sleeper, and lazy I might add, so night time wets continued, but only on occasion. Here are some tips for this method:

  • Allow the child to set the timer. It makes them more excited to go back in and potty so they can reset it.
  • Let them pick their stickers and or prizes. Be careful with the treats you choose. Once they are trained they might expect the same.
  • Limit nighttime drinks and no cups to bed. When we took the cup, he got attached to his pacifier to supplement, but after he trained he was easily broken of that as well.

3. Slow and Steady:

This was by far, the longest of the 3 methods. With our 3rd child, we did what most parents do with their 3rd child and just let them go as they were ready. One difference with this child was that his little brother came when he was 18 months old. This made it more difficult for the both of us. We did go out of diapers and straight into pull-ups. What’s the difference? The price… and that’s about it. Other than the advantage of being able to pull them up and down as underwear, they are basically a more expensive diaper. For some reason we stuck to them. I set no timers. I set no liquid limits. We just let him train…slowly. This method was mainly a lazy, don’t want to rush her baby, blame it on having a baby around, mommy method. He did semi train before he was 3. However, a few months after he turned 3, I ran out of pull ups. I decided no more and guess what? He just stopped having accidents. I put underwear on him one night and it was like magic. He could have trained much sooner, had I encouraged it. I would say this took nearly a year if not a tad more. Some tips for this method:

  • Don’t use this method!! I know it seems like the easy thing to do and they do learn eventually, but it takes forever. Believe me, it is worth the dedication just to have them trained more quickly!

Here some other tips to help with your potty training:

  • Introduce them to the potty long before you plan to start training. I normally would start sitting the kids on the potty at about 18 months. Not extensively. Maybe before a bath, or when they wake up. By doing this they get comfortable with this big scary thing, before they are forced to use it.
  • Remember that every child is different. Find what works best for you child
  • Maintain an effective potty routine
  • Try a potty watch. These watches are made for the child to wear. It can be set to go off at certain intervals.
  • Try to avoid the “You will sit there until you go” or setting the timer for 10 minutes and making them sit until time is up method. This can often discourage them.
  • With all 3 previous children I have offered the potty seat (the mini-me kind that sits on the ground). They just didn’t work for us. For one, I have boys. They can’t even keep pee in the toilet when sitting down. They were always just a mess. All mine enjoyed using the potty seat that you seat on the big potty. I think it made them feel like they were big like everyone else. However, I have recently discovered mini- kid urinals that can sit on the floor or attach to the wall...hmmm.
  • Read a bunch of potty books. make a special trip to the library. Make it a big deal!
  • Try a “ motivational potty kit” with their favorite character or try a chart system.

So, what have I decided to do for our last potty trainer? Well I am still deciding. I am not going slow and steady, that’s for sure. However, with 4 kids and homeschooling, cold turkey might not be the best option. Either way he is ready. He takes the diaper off every time he wets and brings me a new one. That’s a sign to me. There is no more avoiding it.

What is your favorite potty training method?

Other helpful potty training sites:




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