What about the pees and poops.....??

Out of three children, I have successfully (and more or less, singlehandedly, but don't tell anyone I said that) potty trained two of them. And the other one is only nine months old so he doesn't even count.
No, it was not "easier because they were girls/boys." I trained one of each.
No, it did not happen "when they were ready." It happened when I was ready. Because my children are - get this - CHILDREN!! And I make it a habit of doing what I think is best for them, and not necessarily letting them decide for themselves.
Okay, so to start with, I want to share a little disclaimer.
If you feel offended about what i say in this post because you happened to do it a different way, or break one of my "rules", and it worked out fine, whatever. Don't be offended. I'm glad it worked out for you. I'm just trying to give a general bit of information, according to my experience, of what works. I'm not trying to bash anyone who did it the opposite way of what I did!

For starters, let me battle some misconceptions.
1) Your child will let you know when he/she is ready.
This is a very common "factor" in parents deciding when to potty train these days. They assume that they will wait until the child is 3-4 years old and then it will be easy, because the kid will be "ready" and "understanding." I call B.S. on that one.
Who wants to spend 2-3 years changing REAL poop? Not I, said the me.
Also, I don't understand this mentality, simply because we are talking about babies. You don't sit around and wait for your child to tell you they are ready to eat healthy, to brush their teeth, to get dressed, or anything else like that. You make the decision because you are the parent. You are in control of what is best for them and what is in their best interest. I don't think this is any different. Obviously, it doesn't HURT them for you to let them decide. But, alternately, part of what is best for them is making decisions that will keep your household and your day running smoothly. Trying to change a diaper on a three year old is inconvenient, unethical, and just plain gross.
2) My child is way too young to start potty training.
At a very young age, your child is *possibly* physically incapable of holding their bladder or bowels for long periods of time. I like to compare this to other things your baby learns to do. Can your 5 month old walk? Probably not. But does that stop you from "practicing"? If you're anything like ne, you will still grab her little hands and drag her across the room with her feet dangling limp behind her and clap while shouting "Yay! You walked all the way to grandma!!" As parents, we make a huge effort to teach and practice all these skills with our children. Potty training should be no different than the other things you teach. Starting to read books to your baby prepares them for reading later in life - setting your baby on the toilet and encouraging them to pee or poop there is essentially the same skill that will eventually need to be learned. And on that note, you might be pleasantly surprised at your child's ability even at 9 months.
3) My child is still having accidents, so I should put a diaper on them to minimize the mess.
Putting a diaper on your child in not at all conducive to potty training. It basically does one (or two) of two things; make cleanup of the inevitably continued messes easier for you alone, and teach the child that it is okay to still stand in the middle of the room and pee. It is pretty much a huge step backwards. It gives you and the child an easy way out.....an easy way right out of potty training.
4) Pull-ups make it easy and convenient.
Pull-ups pull moisture away from the body, making your child much less aware of whether they have had an accident. It also, for some children, makes them feel that it is okay to have an accident, since there is no mess and no one is upset. I don't suggest ever using a pull-up.
"Okay smarty-pants," you might be saying out loud to yourself, expecting me to answer you, even though I'm only a blog, "what is the right way to potty train my gremlin?"
Well, this is what I did, and it worked really fast.
Around 9 months or so, I started feeling out the potty situation. Little plastic kid toilets are cute in theory, and are easier for your child to climb on and off. But the drawbacks are 1) They are more expensive than a moveable potty seat, 2) they have to be dumped out, which can be really gross, and 3) some children refuse to use them. My son, for example, had no interest in sitting on a little tiny potty. He always said that he wanted to sit on the big one.
So if you are unsure of how your child will react to the little potty, I would suggest skipping it altogether and springing for the potty seat. What I did was set the baby on the toilet for about 5-10 minutes at a time. Ideally, you would do this every day, but I won't lie - I'm not consistent or organized, so this was something I did maybe two or three times a week. My mom actually did it even more often than me, when she was hanging at my house.
If the baby happens to pee or poop while on the toilet, you should cheer and clap and all that jazz. Some people recommend trying to time your baby's poops and pees, and put them on then. How the hell do you know if the baby is going to pee or poop? I have no idea. I never used that method. If you can, more power to you.
If your kid is scared of the toilet, as my son was at first, hold them close to you as they sit on the toilet. If you don't have kids, this might sound kind of weird. But those of us who do have kids understand that you will do anything, no matter how awkward or unconventional, for your kids. 
After a while, your child will be comfortable with sitting on the toilet and after even longer than that (it took several months, and I did it sporadically) before your child will recognize what it is that you want them to do in the toilet.
My son was about 18 months when I was ready to move forward. See... I said "I was ready" not "he was ready." It is mostly time to move forward if I suddenly notice how angry I am about buying diapers. Since I am cloth diapering my newest little guy, I don't know for sure how I will know when to move on. But anyways, I take the kiddo into the store and see if they are super excited about picking out underwear. One of the best ways to encourage this behavior is a cute, cheap little movie called "The Potty Movie". It goes along with a book called "The Potty Book". It is super cheap and you can get it on Amazon. There are two options, "The Potty Movie for boys" or "for girls.". And it is cheap enough that you can get both if you need them (I did).
The character in the story, at one point, is excited to pick out underwear, and it helps get the kids excited. So when your child is excited, you go and let them pick out the underwear they like.
I had a big talk with each child (yes, at under two years old) that the underwear would mean no more diapers - ever again. They seemed okay with that, because after all, "diapers are for babies."
So really, the next and final step, is never put a diaper on them again. You will be tempted to put a diaper on your kid if you are grocery shopping, or church, or the park, or spending time with family. JUST DON'T DO IT.
When my son was being potty trained, I bought tickets from Oregon to Alaska. Everyone told me I should just put diapers on him for the flight so I didn't have to worry about it, and make it easier for me (I was flying with two kids, I was nine months pregnant, had 6 carry-on suitcases plus a purse and laptop, and was alone). But I refused. Being a mom doesn't mean making things easier for yourself. It means doing whatever you can for your child. And making them confused and hindering their potty learning journey just to make it easier on yourself seems kind of selfish. So I dealt with it. But I never put let him have a diaper "just because" again.
It's that simple. They will be able to feel when they are wet, making it easy for you to point out that they need to go to the potty when they have to pee or poop, and you can go put them there.
Granted, you will be cleaning pee and poop messes off and on for a few days. I suggest spending some time outside if possible.
If your child responds well to treats, I don't think there is any reason not to use them, but just remember, your child may still expect treats even after they have gotten the hang of it all, and you will have to deal with that when the time comes.
Another thing you may have to deal with is night time accidents. My daughter was fully potty trained, day and night, in a few days. She never had any accidents at night - unless you count the night a few months back when she sleep-walked into the bathroom and took a pee without pulling her underwear down. That was friggin priceless. My son, on the other hand, still pees in his sleep. At this age, a lot of kids (usually boys more often) are not physically capable of holding it. So what is the best choice for night time? Well, I still don't suggest pull-ups. I suggest cloth trainers. First off, you are probably sick to death of spending money on diapers. And like I said, Pull-ups keep them from being able to feel being wet. Don't argue the ones that have disappearing pictures or a chilly breeze when they pee in them. It's still money that you're pissing in, rolling up, and then throwing away. My advice would be to invest in 1-3 cloth trainers. Dash has a couple fleece covers that I put a microfiber insert into, and he has a couple "All-in-ones" too. He doesn't need more than a few, because he doesn't pee in them every night. They are cheap, too. You can buy three diapers to reuse for less than one pack of disposables, if you know what to look for. And if you don't, you can always email me!
If your child is a heavy wetter or frequently manages to get their diaper off at night (like Dash does...dangit) you can put a layer of plastic under the sheet. I have heard of many ways to do this. Some people use garbage bags. Some people buy the plastic sheeting that you use for gardening. They even make - get this - plastic sheets. I am cheap though and I used a Twister game mat.
Anyways, that's about it for potty training. I hope that it helps anyone who has questions about the process!


  1. I love this!

    We are only on baby #1, and he's only 5 months old. We also use cloth diapers, so it's not about the money, but I'd like to potty train early. I want to raise an independent child, and I think by changing his diaper for him until he's 3.5-4, I'm teaching him to be dependent and lazy.

    It bugs the poop (ha!) out of me when I see 3-4 year olds still in diapers. Yuck. I was potty trained at 19 months old, so I know it's possible.

    Thanks for this post. I'm going to tag it as one of my favorites.


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