Monday, May 15, 2017

Potty training before two

I didn't originally plan on sharing about P's potty training journey for a few reasons.  1.  I am not an expert and who knows if what works for us will work for you.  And 2. I really don't want to write all about pee and poo!  Sooooo many of you had questions on Instagram though, so I decided to share what has worked for us and hopefully you will take something away that might work for your babe!  This post is lengthy, I tried to be as detailed as possible... So I'll give you my short version (ya know for you impatient ones ;)) and the long version.

Short version:
Introduce the potty a few months before you actually plan on potty training.  Be super casual about it, let them sit on it when you're using the bathroom or getting ready.  Don't expect them to actually use, just let them get comfortable with it.  Make sure the potty is NOT a scary or stressful thing.  When you decide to go for it for real, carve out three days where you do not leave the house.  Prepare for it ahead of time and make sure you have everything you need before the actual day comes (see list below).  Keep them naked from the waist down (not even underwear at first!) and keep your little potty seat close to you wherever you are in your house.  At first you should set an alarm and sit them on it about every 20 minutes.  Once they start to understand whats going on, just start asking them regularly if they need to go potty.  Give them their favorite drink and pump them full of fluids-the more they have to go, the more practice they're getting using the potty.  Accidents should never ever lead to them getting in trouble, remember the potty should not be a scary place.  If they do have an accident, take them straight to the potty and remind them that that's where they should go potty.  And finally, set up some sort of reward system that is age appropriate for your child!

Ok and now the long, more thorough version:
Let's start at the very beginning.  Sloan sat on a potty seat when she was about 16 months old while we were visiting my best friend.  I thought it was so cute, she looked so big up on the potty and she loved how big it made her feel.  When we got home she kept asking to sit on the potty so I ordered a seat for her.  I knew that she was probably too young to potty train, but figured it couldn't hurt to have her sit on the potty here and there.  Potty training wasn't really on my radar as we were getting ready to move from Seattle down to Portland, but she sat on it whenever I was using the bathroom and peed on it from time to time.  Once we were settled down in Portland she started asking to use the potty all the time.  She pretty much stopped wearing a diaper while we were at home, but I still just wasn't in a rush to potty train (we had just moved and were trying to get settled AND I was newly pregnant with P and super sick all day long).  We did this for a few weeks and right before she turned 19 months, she started refusing a diaper all together.  So, I knew it was time to potty train for real.  We stayed home for one full day and she used the potty all day without any accidents so I declared her potty trained and I started searching for the tiniest panties I could find.

I'm telling you all of that just to tell you that Sloan basically potty trained herself.  I followed her lead and she made it beyond easy on me.  It also left me feeling super clueless when it came to potty training Phayre though!  I was so nervous to potty train P, but to my surprise she has actually been super easy!  I have no idea if our potty training scenarios have been "normal".  I am happy to share what we did and what worked for us, but like I said... I am not an expert!  If you have any additional questions, please leave them in a comment below!!

Phayre started noticing Sloan going potty and showing interest around 18 months so I pulled our little potty seat out and started sitting her on it here and there.  She'd sit on it for a minute or two and quickly wiggle off yelling, "pee pee all done!"  She did this a few times a day for about a month before she actually peed in the potty.  She started peeing on the potty here and there, but not often.  Usually she'd just sit for a few minutes before getting bored and popping up.  By 20 months she started running to me every time she peed or pooped in her diaper and wanted changed right away.  Her vocabulary was also exploding and she was starting to string sentences together.  I knew it was time to potty train her, BUT we were getting ready to go on vacation in a few weeks (Disneyland) so I held off (could you imagine running a newly potty trained toddler through Disneyland trying to find a bathroom... nope, no thanks).

So since we're back home and all our post vacation laundry is done, I decided it was time.  I've been letting P run around naked and sit on the potty regularly since we got home, but we went all in last Friday.  P has done amazing and I'm so excited to say that she is officially potty trained!

Here are some tips and tricks that have worked for us...

-I waited until I knew P was ready.  She is super verbal so I knew she had the ability to tell me when she needed to go.  She was really upset by a dirty diaper and wanted it changed immediately.  She also so badly wants to be a big girl like her big sister, so that definitely helped!  We had been "practicing" for a few months and she had gone on the potty several times, I knew she was comfortable using the potty.

-I made sure we didn't have any plans for three days so that we could stay home and she could be naked all the time.  Try not to leave the house for three solid days so that you can take your babe out in underwear with confidence (Ok ok I broke this rule twice.  We had swim lessons and did end up going out to dinner on the third day, but only because it was Mother's Day!).

-Be prepared!  Before the actual day comes, make sure you have everything you may need!

Pre-Potty Training Checklist:
-Potty seat or toilet inserts
-Rewards (treats or a sticker chart and stickers)
-Potty books (see our faves below)
-Their favorite or a new beverage that they'll drink a lot of
-Games and toys to keep you busy-staying home for three days straight kind of sucks!
-Underwear, don't pull these out until day three though!
-Flushable toddler wipes

-I learned the hard way that at first they just need to be naked.  Panties are super cute and they love them, but they will treat them like a diaper.  P was totally naked from the waist down for the first two days (minus the first morning when I learned this lesson).

-Give them LOTS to drink so that they have to go potty a lot.  The more opportunities they have to go potty, the more learning experiences they're having.  P has never had apple juice so I let her have juice for the first time (I mixed water with organic apple juice) and she loved it.  She chugged it and went potty A LOT.

-P never ever got in trouble for having an accident.  You don't ever want going potty to become a scary or negative thing.  When she did have an accident, I would take her the potty and sit her down and remind her that her pee pee needs to go in the potty now.

-At first I set an alarm for about every twenty minutes and sat P on the potty.  Within about three hours she started telling me when she had to go and I stopped setting the alarm and just started asking her regularly if she had to go.

-When I would sit P on the potty, I would have her sit and try for about five minutes.  I would read potty books to her and we'd sing songs.  Her favorite potty books are Princess Potty (there is a Pirate Potty book too), Potty, and Potty Fairy Princess (there is also Potty Superhero).

-I had the potty inserts on all of our toilets, but I also had a little potty that came with us from room to room so that it was pretty much always right next to her.

-I brought our Gathre mat with us all around the house.  She ate her meals on it, played on it, and watched cartoons on it.  She had one accident on it and it was so easy to wipe clean (plus it saved our carpet from the accident!).

-I got Sloan as involved as possible.  She was jealous at first that P was earning treats and she wasn't. So I told her that every time she "helped" P go potty and cheered her on, she could earn a treat too.  Sloan was thrilled to be involved and P was even more excited and motivated to have her big sister by her side.

-When P did go pee on the potty, Sloan and I would absolutely FREAK OUT-screaming, jumping, and cheering her on.  P loved every single minute of it :).

-I still put a diaper on her for naps and at night.  When Sloan potty trained early, my pediatrician told me it probably wasn't age appropriate for her to be able to stay dry while sleeping.  My pediatrician also said that you can't teach a child to stay dry during rest, it is a connection in their brain and they will do it when they're developmentally ready.  ***update: Phayre never peed during rest so after about a week of staying dry during rest, I stopped putting a diaper on her.  She stays dry through nap and at night so we are officially diaper free!!

-The day before we started potty training, I let P pick out her potty treats from the store.  She chose skittles and mini kit kat bites.  She gets one candy every time she pees.  Teaching them to poo on the potty is MUCH harder, I bought little princess figurines and at first she got to choose a little figurine when she pooped on the potty.  Eventually she started getting the hang of it so that turned into a candy treat as well.  Choosing a reward system that is age appropriate is really important.  An older child can understand a sticker chart and even work towards earning something with their stickers.  Because P is only 21 months she needs instant gratification so a little piece of candy is perfect.

-Now that we are finally getting out, I always bring our little potty chair and lysol wipes in the back of my car.  If she has to go potty while we're out, I always know I have a potty close by.  I even bring it in our stroller basket if we're going on a long walk.  I bring the lysol wipes so that I can clean it after each use.

-Consistency is KEY!!  This is why staying home for three days is so helpful.

To give you a clearer idea, here is how our first day of potty training went:

7:30am: Phayre woke up and I brought her into my room and took her diaper off.  I immediately sat her on the potty, she did not go.

7:36am: P pooped on my bedroom floor (accident #1-awesome start to the day).

7:37am: I sat P back on the potty, she didn't go.  When she got off the potty, I put her panties on.  She was thrilled to be wearing big girl panties!  I gave her a cup of milk and she chugged it.

7:38am: I text Eric and said, "Maybe P isn't ready to potty train.  Maybe I'm too pregnant to potty train her right now?!  Should I give up and try this another time?"  He claims he was in a meeting, but I'm pretty sure he ignored my text ;).

7:55am: I sat P on the potty, she didn't go.

8:00am: P peed in her panties (accident #2).

8:01am: I sat P on the potty, she didn't go.

8:25am: I sat P on the potty, she didn't go.

8:37am: P peed in her panties while eating breakfast (accident #3).  At first I thought she might just be distracted because she was eating, but then I realized she was using her panties like a diaper.  I did not put a new pair of panties on her after this accident.  She started drinking apple juice mixed with water during breakfast.

9:00am: I sat P on the potty and she PEED!!!

9:25am: I sat P on the potty, she didn't go.

9:50am: I sat P on the potty, she didn't go.

10:10am: I heard P say, "potty, potty" so I sat her on the potty and she PEED!!!

10:40am: I sat P on the potty, she didn't go.

11:00am: I heard P say, "pee pee, pee pee, potty." so I ran her to the potty chair and she PEED!!!

At this point she had communicated that she needed to go twice so I stopped setting my alarm to take her.  She wasn't communicating it really clearly, it was more like she was thinking it aloud to herself. I had to pay really close attention, but I was able to hear when she needed to go.  I kept her super hydrated for the rest of the day so that she had lots of chances to practice.  She didn't have any other accidents the entire rest of the day.  I continually asked her if she needed to go potty and reminded her that she didn't have a diaper on.  She also started communicating the need to go much clearer by the end of the day.

Day two:

Phayre continued going pee pee on the potty and telling us when she needed to go.  I kept the potty seat close to her at all times and she didn't have any accidents.  By the afternoon I could tell that she needed to go poop.  She kept sitting on her potty seat and then she'd get nervous, pop up, and say "all done, all done!"  So I did exactly what I did with Sloan, I turned on her favorite movie (Monster's Inc) and sat her down on her potty chair in the middle of the living room.  Ten minutes into the movie she finally relaxed and went poop on her potty.  I FREAKED OUT in excitement which she LOVED and then she got to pick out a princess figurine.  She very quickly associated pooping on the potty with a toy.  That night she ran to her potty, pooped, and started screaming, "POOP! PWINTCESS TOY!!!"  I was actually shocked she caught onto pooping on the potty so quickly, but it did take a movie and getting her relaxed that first time.  She had zero accidents on day two!

Day three:

On day three I continued doing everything the same.  She was naked all morning and I kept the potty seat in whatever room we were in.  She didn't have any accidents so we decided to go out to dinner (because it was Mother's Day!).  I'll be honest... Eric and I were both pretty nervous.  We took her potty right before we left and brought her little potty in the car.  As soon as we got to the restaurant I took her potty and then again when we were finished eating.  She didn't have any accidents on day three so she officially gets to start wearing big girl panties :).

I hope that this has been helpful!  I think P caught on pretty fast and I feel lucky that potty training her was pretty painless.  I don't have much to compare it to though so I don't know if she's the norm when it comes to potty training.  I also wouldn't have been in a rush to potty train her if I didn't think she was ready (she's only 21 months old!).  If you have any other questions drop them in a comment below and I'll be sure to get back to you!  Next up... getting our big girl into her big girl bed!

Xo, M


  1. Thanks for the detailed post! I think my 19 mo old is ready. Question regarding leaving the house after (hopefully not during) the three days: when you say you brought the potty with you, did you leave it in the car and come out to use it? Or bring it in with you?

    1. I just keep it in the back of my car. I drive an SUV so it's easy for her to use in the back. I will usually have her sit and try when we get somewhere and again when we leave... anything to avoid a public bathroom!! It's also great for an emergency when she has to go and I'm driving. I can pull over and she can use it really quick so we avoid an accident in her carseat!

    2. Thanks! That's what I was picturing. And great idea for car rides. I avoid public restrooms myself so I definitely don't want to be putting my baby on one haha

  2. This is amazing - well done Miss P!!! An awesome post for those in the midst of potty training x

  3. What kind of panties did you get her? And do 2t panties fit her? I can't find anything smaller!

    1. I couldn't find anything smaller than a 2t either! I bought her panties at Gymboree that were xxs (2t) and they run snug and fit her!

  4. When did you put panties on her? Day 2 or day 3 when you left the house? I could've missed that part but I know you said day 1 you didn't after the accidents.

    1. I didn't put panties on her until day three when we left the house to go to dinner! Basically leave them naked and at home for as long as you can stand it, it really does help!!

  5. When you first introduced the girls to the potty, would you have them take their diaper off of just sit them on it clothed? And when you were potty training those 3 days was it potty chair only or did you use the potty seat/toilet as well? How did you transition to the regular toilet?


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