Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Secret to Potty Training Success

Yeah, I really have no idea what the secret to potty training success is. But that got your attention, right?

What I can tell you is, we started Ladybug's training "for reals" just a week and a half ago, and she is doing amazingly well. And I've had several friends ask what our strategy was.

So now I'm going to share it with all you lucky people!

It all began back in May…

Yes, 8 months ago.

Step 1. Buy a potty and potty related paraphenalia in a fit of excitement as soon as she turns 18 months old.

Step 2. Have your child spend 3 months using the potty as a storage bin for toys and wearing it as a hat.

Step 3. One day randomly, just 2 weeks before a family vacation, your child will decide to use it for its intended purpose, just to get your hopes up.

Step 4. Try the popular "3 day bare bottom method" after getting back from vacation. Give up after a day and a half because you're tired of cleaning up pee.

Step 5. For the next 3 months, waffle between ignoring the potty and strongly encouraging her to use it via bribery.

Step 6. Realize that you haven't made any progress in 7 months. Also realize your husband has a week off from work and that you have minimal outside of the house plans for that same week. Decide to give the hardcore training method another go.

Step 7 - Day 1. Let your kid go naked from the waist down. Don't expect to leave the house anytime soon. Spend all day cleaning pee and poop off the floor and being incredibly enthusiastic when even a tiny drop gets in the potty. Or even when she just notifies you during or after a pee. We also tried a sticker chart this day. She will seem to be making progress, will be willing to sit on the potty when prompted, and will be proud of herself when she goes. Hooray!

Step 8 - Day 2. Bare bottom again. See absolutely no success. Encounter incredible resistance to anything potty related. She may even hold her pee until you put a diaper on for nap time. Question why you ever started doing this in the first place, diapers really aren't that bad! She may even learn to use the process against you. Consider quitting.

Step 9 - Day 3. Get some good advice from a friend and decide to push forward. Ditch the stickers and bribes. Put pants and socks on your child. Hallelujah! She doesn't like the feeling of wet clothes. You go through her entire wardrobe of pants and do laundry three times, but she makes tremendous progress.

Step 10 - Day 4. You feel trapped in your house and need to venture out, no matter how ill-conceived. You put a pull-up on her when you leave the house, even though you know you're not "supposed to." But she's doing so well by now that she even tells you when she needs to go, even when she's out of the house and wearing a diaper. It'll be a false alarm, but still! Yay!

Step 11 - Day 5. You pawn her off on the grandparents for a few hours while you take a well deserved break from cleaning up pee.

Step 12 - Day 6. Dad goes back to work. You're on you're own. You decide to be brave and venture out to the library, diaper free. You pack up a giant bag containing travel potty, wipes, paper towels, and thousands of pairs of pants and socks. You ask her every two seconds if she needs to go. Finally she says yes and you have success going on the travel potty in the library restroom without a single pair of wet pants!

Step 13 - Day 7. Cautiously declare victory and bravely resume normal schedule of activities, travel potty and related accessories at hand at all times.

Step 14 - Day 8. Accidentally forget potty and accessories when leaving the house in a rush to pick up your husband who is stranded in the cold with a flat tire. Your daughter will need to go while hanging out in Dunkin' Donuts waiting for AAA to arrive, but will refuse to use the big potty. However, she will be awesome and hold it until you get back home an hour later.

Step 15 - Day 9. She is now so good at the process that she effectively uses it to manipulate you at bedtime. She may also wake you up in the middle of the night, completely naked and carrying a potty full of pee into your bedroom. Multiple times.

Step 16 - Day 10. She will hold her pee for 6 hours straight in the morning. Then make 5 false alarm trips to the potty during the one hour you are at a restaurant for dinner.

Step 17 - Day 11. Officially declare victory for real! Make plans to buy big girl underpants the next day and hope they don't feel so much like a diaper that she relapses.

And that brings us up to today!

Just follow those 17 simple steps and you should be well on your way to an effectively potty trained toddler!

Wish us luck with the underwear tomorrow! What kind do you think we should go with…Hello Kitty or Superman?


  1. You know, I've heard they learn best if you potty train between 22 - 28 months… so it sounds like you finished your 17 steps just at the right moment. =)

    My daughter turns 28 months old today… do you think I could get it done in 1 day? =)

    Just kidding… Probably should have worked on it 2 weeks ago when we had vacation… =)

    Congrats, and GREAT JOB!

    1. You could totally do all that in one day, no problem! :) Good luck!

  2. I remember doing this with my son. Eventually it's just about making the decision and sticking with it, right? My daughter is about three weeks out from this process. I need to stock up on the wine.

    1. So true, it's all about the dedication. Good luck!

  3. Oh my god. I was hoping to see some magical method in this post and you just scared the shit out of me. I was looking for a cool potty earlier today and am finally ready to tackle potty training. Now I kind of want to curl up in fetal position and cry.

    1. Haha, so sorry! Didn't mean to terrify you! It really wasn't bad once we decided just to push through those couple of tough days. You can do it!

  4. Aaa! The cabin fever of potty training. And the white knuckles on the first day out, sans diaper!

    1. Stressful! But only for a couple days thankfully.

  5. hahaha! Potty training is hard work! Well done dear :)