Potty Training 101

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

It has officially been 10 days since potty training commenced in the Hill house and I feel confident in saying that my two-year-old is officially potty trained.

Now, let me define what potty trained means to me:

  • She wears regular panties all the time except at nap time and night time.

  • She sits on the potty when we ask her to and sometimes tells us she needs to sit on the potty.

  • She gets rewarded for pee and poo in the potty.

  • She has had only 1 potty accident in the last 5 days.

This may not qualify as potty trained in your book, but she is barely two-years-old and I am happy with where we’re at over here!

Before I get into the nitty gritty of our process, let me give you a few pointers that I learned the hard way.

1. Choose your bathroom wisely. If you have the luxury of choosing which bathroom you’re going to use for potty training, consider the following questions:

  • Where do we spend the most time?

  • How frequently is this bathroom used by non-potty trainers?

  • Can I fit a chair (for yourself) in this bathroom?

We chose to set up two potty training bathrooms, upstairs and down, because our time is pretty split between the two. Also, I didn’t want to get caught carrying a pantsless two-year-old up or down the stairs as pee runs down her leg.

2. Protect your upholstery. This may seem like overkill, but in the first few hours to days of potty training, your child may still be learning how to empty his or her bladder. Just because there was a little pee pee in the potty does not mean there won’t be more in their undies in 2 minutes. It seems cruel to make your child stand all day for however long it takes for them to be potty trained, so save yourself (and your sofa) the hassle by laying down towels in your child’s favorite lounging spots.

3. If you have a dog, consider a different kind of potty-language. If you ask your dog if ‘she needs to go potty’ then you might want to use a different phrase with your toddler. I’m not going to go into too much detail on this one, but if you have a dog, you probably know

what I’m getting at.

4. Don’t overwater your child. It may be tempting to give your child more or less water than normal during potty training. In the end, this will not help you transition back into your day-to-day routine. Let your child drink when and what they usually drink. This will help you develop a potty schedule that will last for a long time.

5. Don’t give yourself more laundry. If a pair of undies get a little wet, rinse them in the sink while your child sits on the toilet and hang them to dry. If you don’t, you may run out of undies by the end of day one. You can also use this time to explain to your child that ‘we can’t wear these panties anymore because they are dirty now’ and encourage them not to get any pee on their next pair of panties.

6. Make sure everyone is on the same page. If anyone else is going to be participating in the potty training process, make sure they know what the rules and routines are. I know you’ve heard it before, but consistency is key and you want your child to develop good potty habits no matter where they are.

The next step is set up. Here are the things we ordered from Amazon in preparation for our potty training adventure.

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Potty Training Mini Toilet in Pink | We’ve actually had this toilet for a while and experienced mild success with it. Way before potty training started, we would have our daughter sit on this potty before bath time every night because she would always pee in the bathtub. In all honesty, she rarely peed in it and still peed in the tub a lot but this may have been beneficial in warming up to the idea of potty training.

Non-Slip Potty Training Seat for Round and Oval Toilets | We chose this option for our upstairs bathroom. While the mini toilet fits well in our large master bathroom, the upstairs bathroom is rarely used so having her seat on top of it is not very disruptive. It does come with a hook to hang on the wall for when someone else needs to sit.

Child Step Stool | This stool matches the training seat we chose for upstairs. We sometimes use it to let her climb onto the toilet herself (with a lot of assistance so her hands aren’t all over the seat) but it mostly stays in front of the sink for hand washing. We already had a similar stool for our downstairs bathroom.

Frozen Panties | Disney Panties | Training Panties | We chose to order some panties with characters our daughter loves to ensure that she was excited about wearing them. Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would probably just order plain colors because the amount of time it takes her to pick which ones she wants to wear is a bit ridiculous. However, if your child is resistant to wearing big kid undies, you may want to find some with his or her favorite characters on them! We’ve chosen to save the training panties for outings and have only used them once. These training panties are absorbent which are helpful with messes but not helpful with a child who may need to feel when they have a drop of pee come out. For our daughter, it only took a couple hours for her to realize that pee in undies is much more uncomfortable than pee in a diaper. Here are some Disney undies for boys. I might get these baby shark undies for Natalie too even though they are for boys, she is obsessed!

Sink Extenders and Fun Soap | I also wanted to make sure hand washing time didn’t become a source of resentment. Our daughter definitely wasn’t accustomed to washing her hands that many times a day but she loves it now. The stools and sink extenders make it easy for her to reach, and this soap I found is to die for! It’s purple, foamy, and it smells SO GOOD! I wish I had bought two so we could have one upstairs and downstairs.

Waterproof Toys and Books | This was our way of getting Natalie excited to sit on the potty in the first few days. She is ONLY allowed to play with these toys when she sits on the potty. In the first 3 days, there was lots of time spent sitting on the potty with no pee, no poo, and no rewards. So these toys helped the potty stay a fun and exciting thing rather than something that took her away from the fun.

Rewards | We chose to start off with multiple rewards because we were really hoping for a fast potty training process. Our daughter gets one M&M and 1 sticker for pee, and 2 M&Ms and 2 stickers for poo in the potty. I found two matching containers with lids to keep in each bathroom (out of her reach) so that we could quickly praise and reward her when she uses the potty. In the first few days, I would put an M&M in her mouth while she was still sitting on the potty to ensure that she associated the reward with the action of peeing. I create my own sticker chart with a piece of scrapbooking paper, a ruler, a sharpie, and some stickers from my craft closet. This is another great way to incorporate your child’s favorite characters. In retrospect, Natalie was so jazzed about the stickers, we probably could have used them alone as her reward. Now that she has filled her sticker chart (which is stationary in the upstairs bathroom) we mostly stick to the M&Ms. We do LOTS AND LOTS of praising in addition so once the M&M jars are empty, we pray that will be enough of a reward for her.

Now that you have all of your supplies, you should be all ready to begin potty training your toddler! I will tell you our exact process and what worked and didn’t work for us. Please keep in mind that every child is different and will have different needs, but if you have no idea where to begin, you can try what we did!

The night before potty training, we let Natalie open up her potty training ‘present.’ This was just a large amazon box with all the things I mentioned above inside. No, I did not wrap it. She was so excited about everything, even if she didn’t know what it was!

On day one, we immediately sat on the potty after waking (no pee,) and then put on our big girl panties. She wore only a shirt and panties for the first several days. After breakfast, we tried again (no pee.) It was my bright idea that she needed to sit on the potty every 15-20 minutes to avoid an accident. I did not take into account the fact that she hadn’t had anything to drink all night and just didn’t have to pee yet. I do not suggest making your child sit on the potty this often as it was a huge battle with zero success. I put her water in a very fancy cup with a straw and encouraged her to drink it. This is when I learned tip number 4. Which she did. And then she had no less than 4 accidents within an hour. If I were to do this again, I think I would spend 1-2 days before potty training with my child wearing only a diaper, and watch to see how often the line turns blue. It only took me a day to learn that Natalie usually pees 1-2 times between breakfast and lunch, right after lunch, 1-2 times between nap and dinner, and right after dinner. Once we got into this flow things went fairly smoothly.

Day two was the worst. I believe Natalie was flexing her newfound skill of bladder control and would hold her pee while sitting on the toilet only to full-on wet herself 5 minutes later. I can tell you, the hardest part of potty training for me is being able to dote and praise your child for peeing right after they made you mad. But if I can do it, so can you. Praise that baby for every drop of pee that goes where it is supposed to go. We also learned on day 2 that tooting is funny, and tooting into an echoing toilet bowl is extra funny, and trying to toot into a toilet bowl can help you start to pee, and sometimes it can help you start to poo! That was quite a surprise for both of us!

From day three on it has been pretty smooth sailing. We probably sit on the potty close to every hour, although I ask her if she needs to potty much more frequently. There have been several times that she has asked to sit on the potty herself! She has to sit on the potty after a meal or snack no matter what. I don’t ask her if she wants to sit on the potty, we just go. As I mentioned, it has been about 10 days and we are just getting to the point where she will pee soon after sitting, so less and less toys and distractions are needed now. In addition, I have noticed that she will now try to pee no matter how full her bladder is, whereas she used to hold it until she really had to go. This is a great milestone because sometimes you need to go now, not knowing when the next time you’ll be able to go is!

If you’ve made it to the end of this dissertation on potty training a two-year-old, I hope you’ve picked up some valuable tips to use in your home! Just keep in mind that each child is different, praise is powerful, and every parent and child alive have survived potty training before, so you can do it too!

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