Early Potty Training Tips and Thoughts


Does this picture not say exactly what potty training a toddler is like? Yes, this was my bathroom...

 So a few of you seam to be gleaning from my Early Potty Training experience with my son. Let me preface this by saying my child is not yet completely potty trained. However, Cai is already 18 months and we are literally {this close} to me saying he is day time potty trained. Still, I offer advice cautiously, because this is not the "only" way to do something and I don't believe that at all! I just had a hard time finding GOOD early potty training advice, so I feel obliged to share. If I were that mom with 4 kids that all potty trained differently, I would probably be a better resource. Nonetheless, I have learned some things already, so I thought I would go ahead and put it in a post, so that I can remember for my other future children, too.You are welcome to enjoy it, too!

If you had told me that my 18 month old son would be potty trained when I started at 16 months, then I probably would have thought you were crazy, and to be completely honest, I still can't believe it. We are definitely NOT perfect and he is learning so he still will make mistakes, but the last two days, we have used maybe 2 cloth diapers all day long and they didn't even get wet, except for nap time. Today, we went to Target and he stayed dry our whole trip. We did visit the big bathroom and try to go, because he told me "pee pee" while shopping, then never actually went, but he waited until we got home to go and he went.

Since my last post about how we are back into our cloth diapers and were switching to Pull ups only, I have changed my mind. I DO THINK THAT YOU DO NEED TO SWITCH  DIAPERS TO TRAINING PANTS like Pull ups when you actually start hard core potty training, but my honest opinion is that cloth is MUCH BETTER to switch to. I REALLY think that doing that switch back to cloth has been what has helped us to be where we are at in potty training. Cloth feels like clothes or underwear. He can tell when he is wet faster and when he is dry and I know he knows that. I would ask him to feel his cloth and feel how dry they were and tell him that we don't pee pee in our cloth pants and then I would ask him where he should go and he would point to his potty. The first few times you have to show them the answer, but after doing this pretty consistently, he would then show ME where he needed to go. When he would poop or pee in his cloth, then I would tell him something like, "We don't pee pee in our cloth pants. Pee pee or Poop goes in the potty." And I would kind of give him a stern look like I was a little unhappy. I realize some might disagree with this. I did not CONDEMN him and a lot of the times I would say "We all make mistakes, but let's try to use our potty next time." Then, I would put him on the potty and Praise him excitedly for going in his potty. The drastic change of "not a happy mommy" vs. a "happy ecstatic mommy" helps him to see the difference easily. I did not call his training pants diapers. I wanted him to understand they were different. Bum Genius cloth is the brand we have.

Your mindset when doing Early Potty Training is that you need to understand that it will be a process, not something quick and easy. You are teaching life long skills and that can take some time. Most children take around 8 months to completely potty train. Like I said, it has taken us only 2 months of being consistent and our son is just about there.

Patience = Early Potty Training

Here are some tips that I have put together that may help your if you are trying to Early Potty Train:

1) The personality of your  child is going to determine how they potty train.
  • That seams like an easy one, but don't overlook it. No two children are alike. No two children are going to potty train the same. You know your child best and so you need to develop a routine that fits them. If your kid LOVES stickers, then use stickers as a reward! If they are motivated by candy, use some M&Ms and try not to think about the sugar aspect... it won't take very long and then they will be going on their potty and you can scale back the sugar. At the same time, don't underestimate verbal praises. That is key to a happy potty trained child. Lots and LOTS of praises for jobs done well done. And don't forget about awesome hugs and high 5's either. MY son LOVES some high 5's. Those are better than M&Ms any day! Also, sing some songs. Make them up! Whatever! We sing "Way to Go, Micaiah! Way to Go! Poop Poop! or Pee Pee" a couple times through. He LOVES it!
2) Getting your Child to GO on the potty.
  •  People have asked me this question  or say this statement when they find out we already potty train... I just don't understand how you can get them to GO on the potty!
  • To get started, I had no clue what to do and I quickly researched some methods. There are tons. One that I thought was rather normal was the "let your child run around naked" approach. I did this for the first few days, but you have to be prepared for messes. Honestly, I know it works, but I think there is a less messy approach, as well. Letting Cai run around without a diaper did allow me to figure out WHEN he was going, usually he was watched like a hawk and caught in the act. I kept his potty close and then would rush him onto his potty. Most of the time he would wait a second, then keep going. Some kids stop and kind of get stage fright right here. My thoughts on that would be to give them a second a lone if they would sit on the potty. Reassure them that it's okay to go into their potty and kind of turn your back or walk away a second. If they get up, wait for them to go again, and move them to the potty. Repeat your actions until they go on the potty. It may take a little time, but you verbally telling them it's okay to go into their potty will help them understand that it is okay. Just communicate really well. 
  • So HOW do you really get your young child to GO on the potty? My answer? Be a role model. Put their potty next to the toilet and literally SHOW them how to do it. Have them sit down on their potty and then you go yourself. Talk about what's happening and how the pee pee goes in the potty. They will catch on quick, especially if you AND other family members show them how it's done. We aren't shy in our family about going potty, so use it as a learning tool if you feel comfortable. Really being a mom... how can you even have time to pee alone? HAHA!
  • Lastly, distract them while on the potty. The longer they actually sit on the potty, the more chance you have to get them to go on it! Read some books, especially potty themed books. Buy some fun flash cards. Have a little basket next to their potty to house books or flash cards or stickers or training pants and wipes.
Our favorite potty themed book:
 This book is awesome! We have the one shown with the buttons they can press as you read along! It's great! They make both boy and girl versions and it's only about $7. Use a Bye Bye Baby coupon and get it for $5!

3) Put them on the POTTY regularly!
  • Once you've actually gotten them to GO on their potty pee or poop, then you've got your frame work for moving on. I would say the next step is to develop a potty training routine of relative times you actually put them on their potty. I'm not a super super structured person. I don't LOVE routines, but at the same time I do have some routines that help us. Some moms have to the minute specific routines. I'm not that mom, but if you are go ahead and schedule yourself away with actual potty training times. For me, I wrote down relative times to get Cai to sit on his potty, regardless of if he had gone or not. They were: 
    • Right when he woke up (he almost always was wet and dirty...do it anyways). 
    • After Breakfast (especially if he didn't go when he woke up)
    • Before Morning Snack
    • Before Lunch
    • Before Nap Time
    • After Nap Time
    • Around Afternoon Snack
    • Before Dinner
    • Before Bath
    • Before Bed
  • I really think that's enough framework for establishing a pretty good potty training routine. If you want to get time specific go ahead, but it's not an absolute law and shouldn't be seen that way. Of course common sense goes a long way. If they JUST went in their training pants, then you could talk about how you would prefer them go in their potty, etc. 
Our Potty of Choice:
 The Baby Bjourn Potty Chair has lots of colors! It's about $30 and seriously is the best! If you get overwhelmed in the potty chair section with toilets that light up or make sounds, let this be an easy choice. Those other potty chairs are fun, but really unnecessary. I like that this potty doesn't look super "kiddy" in our bathroom. It is great for boys, because of the high lip on the front, they won't splash out and it is easy to clean. Another good choice that is even cheaper is one we use at church. The Fisher Price Precious Planet Potty is $17 and pretty cutesy if you like that sort of thing. haha!
4) Let them participate as much as possible.
  • Part of them understanding this whole new big wide world of going on the potty is DOING it and being in ACTION! Have them help you dump their poo in the big toilet. Help them flush. Wave "bye bye" to the stuff as it goes down the drain. Let them splash in the sink and use their "bubbles" to get their hands clean. If they make mistakes on the carpet, have them use a rag to clean it up themselves. They need to learn to do it, too! 
5) My other thoughts:
  • One great aspect of starting early is that you avoid a few negatives that I can see with doing it at the recommended age of 2.5. (Wait...seriously? 2.5?) You are avoiding attitudes or a child that will just flat out refuse to go. A toddler in their "teens" still has a strong desire to please you, that starts to go away as they get a little more strong willed and independent. 
  • I started Cai at around 16 months. It was VERY slow going at first. I felt like a bi-polar woman when talking to my husband. "Am I just plain crazy? They say boys are harder! Should I just stop doing this crazy thing I came up with doing? I don't think he is EVER going to potty train. Do you think I'm crazy? I don't think he's ever going to get out of diapers! I'm nuts. I'm really nuts. Should I stop?" What I have learned is that if you feel like this, then you are NORMAL! Don't stop what you are doing that will just make things harder. Look for the SMALL signs of progress and BE PATIENT and be excited for how WELL your little one is doing! People around you might not understand what you are doing, but who cares. You know that you are going to get results eventually and so just press on. It may happen sooner than later, like in our case! 
  • If I were to do this all over again would I start at 16 months with another child? I'm not sure, to be honest. I might wait until closer to 18 months to start, but only because I am able to see him CONTROL his holding skills for closer to 2 hours at 18 months. I think being able to hold it is a skill that takes some time to develop, but he can most definitely hold it at 18 months. Most people seem to early potty train at 18 - 20 months. I found some people that did start earlier, but not very many. I think there might be wisdom in this, but at the same time my son showed some interest in going potty earlier. He would dirty himself, then get a diaper to get changed at 15 months. That's a pretty big sign that they are pretty close to being ready to potty train and a good time to start PLANTING THE IDEA of potty training into their little brains. Then, again, I had absolutely NO problems with any time of a power struggle with starting at that ripe age of 16 months either.
  • Be patient (I think I have said that like a thousand times). Be consistent. Be happy. And you can't go wrong! 
I sure hope that helps! I don't know if I covered all the bases here, but this is one pretty long post. Let me know if you have any other thoughts or questions. I'd love to help! Thanks! 

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