Toddler Potty Training


Look, mommy wars aren’t my thing. I say it all the time: As long as you have the capacity to love, and the desire to do your best, you are an excellent mom. I mean, wow. You’re awesome. 

We all do what works for us and are trying our dang best. 

Is that enough of a disclaimer? I hope so. 

Ok, moving on. We seem to have caught lightening in a bottle…twice. Both of our kids have potty trained around 18 months. I really don’t know what I’m doing different to make that happen, but people keep asking, so I’ll just tell you what we do and put it out there. Take it or leave it. 


We cloth diaper. Maybe this helped them to be aware of when they were going earlier? I don’t know, maybe that has nothing to do with it. I know plenty of babies who are cloth diapered and geniuses and go on to potty train on a more conventional schedule, so who knows. It just might be a factor. Rumparooz just came out with some awesome potty training undies too! I wish they had these when I potty trained Daniel. I’m totally getting them when Joey is ready. 

We bring out the potty chair at about 13-14 months. Just to be interactive and fun. Sit on it to read a book before bath time or in the morning. Super cheer if anything happens on there, but don’t scold or force anything. This is when we lay the foundation of fun and open up the topic for communication. “Oh you pooped in your diaper, that’s ok. Maybe next time we should try to poop on the potty.” I get ignored and I’m pretty sure baby just rolled his eyes at me. Oh well…laying the foundation…

We “try” potty more often around 16 months. If I see a poop face (moms, you know what a poop face is), I try to catch him in the middle of the act and put him on the potty. If we catch anything in there, we have a rave of a dance party and cheer! If not, no big deal at all. Just clean up and move on with the day. If I have to go and he’s going to come in there with me anyway (always) I just put him on his potty while I go and tell him what I’m doing. Not every time, just regularly enough to get him used to going through the motions. I’m just normalizing the whole potty deal, keeping it fun and low pressure. If you think it’s poop o’clock, stroll over to the potty with a fun book or a trucks video on your phone and have him wait one out for a few minutes. Always say bye bye when flushing. This is a huge hit. 

So the next stage is go time. There is a window where I either have to just take diapers away or keep diapers and put the potty on the shelf. Otherwise I might send mixed messages. For Lila, this was at about 18/19 months old. For Daniel, this was at 17 months. Once they started telling me that they were going potty or had to go, I had to go for it. This is when I just try to stay home as much as possible for a few days to give them lots of opportunities for success and learning. They go naked from the waist down and I’m pretty hands on and encouraging every half hour-ish. I want them to experience success as much as possible in these few days to build their confidence and communication. I say “it’s time to try to potty!” On that third day or so, I back off. Even if it sets them up to have an accident, it’s when I give them the reigns on the whole deal. “I’m going potty, do you want to come and watch trucks?” Sometimes he’d say yes and sometimes he’d say no. I mostly honor that unless we had to go somewhere. 

When you gotta go and you're on the go!

                                  When you gotta go and you’re on the go!

Speaking of that, the first few times we left the house, I brought a potty in the car. I remember when I did this with Lila. She was just recently out of diapers and we went to the Kenosha Farmers market an hour away. I put the potty in the car and lined it with some shopping bags and padded it with paper towels. This way, we could just pull over and let her try in the back of the truck without having to panic and go to a shady burger king to pee. I also brought a cloth diaper insert (you could use a kitchen towel) to put under them so if there was an accident, I didn’t have to clean the carseat. Because, that is one of the worst chores ever and I will avoid it at all costs. 

I also bring a potty seat with on the stroller when I run. I take the kids on 6 mile runs at this stage in my marathon training and I have a few places along the way that are discrete enough to stop for a potty break if he needs. Life saver. Stroller saver. Sanity saver (sometimes. Other times, him threatening that he has to go all the time makes me crazy.) 


Another move I have, is the night time potty. I keep a potty in the room with them. Daniel naps naked so he can get up and go on his potty next to his bed. (I currently have him in pull-ups over night until we consistently wake up dry.) However, when it’s time to take night diapers away, (I won’t keep them much longer) I just put a flashlight in the potty and it “glows in the dark” So it’s not hard to find or think about at night. Keeping a potty in their room is a great way to help them remember to go when they wake up. Lila was so funny when she potty trained. We wouldn’t hear a peep out of her and we’d go check on her in the morning and her room would stink, she would get up early and silently, just to poop alone. I get you girl, a little privacy would be nice once in a while…

I don’t really give treats for potty. It’s not my deal, mostly because I try not to give my kids sugar anyway. It’s like feeding seagulls, once they find out you possess treats they squawking is unending.  I do give them vitamins and Daniel gets his “fishy” (fish oil) vitamin when he poops on the potty. He doesn’t know that he’d get it anyway because omega 3s… 

Potty training is hard. There are pros and cons to early training just as there are pros and cons to conventional training. I think that when your kids train has zero to do with your quality of parenting or intelligence of your kids. It’s just a choice each parent makes with each child according to their needs. My kids have room to grow in a lot of areas that your kids rock at. So I could really care less where they poop. 

Also, there have been accidents, learning experiences and BAD DAYS. Recently, there was a really tough moment with potty training…in public. I finally forced myself to write about it and share. Bad, so bad. Guys, it was bad. So, don’t think that we’ve had this perfect experience. (you won’t after I tell you what happened after I complete therapy) We are still working on it! 

This is just for those who have asked me what my moves are with the potty thing and I am totally willing to share! Also, I figure the internet doesn’t need a ton of pictures of my kids on the potty, or even in their big kid undies (even though I have plenty!) So, I hope you don’t mind the irrelevant picture of me and my bud as the cover photo. He is a person and one day he may grow up and be less than thrilled that his mommy posted pictures of his adorable hiney and his business in the potty. (however, if you’re a grandparent, all bets are off)


Leave a Reply