Potty Training

A few of you asked me about when to start potty training so I thought since it went so smoothly at first for me and then all of a sudden, it didn't (in fact our lovely trip down Potty Lane Road turned into quite a wild ride over here for a while), I thought I'd open it up to everyone to give their two cents on the matter. So mommies everywhere, got some advice? Please do share in the comments. Inquiring minds so indeed want to know! Meantime, here's what I think:

(**Personal disclaimer: I support everyone with their own opinion on the matter, even if it's different than mine. Whatever works for you is the right thing for you, I do not judge.**)

For me, personally, I think it's time to start potty training when a child is able to know when they are pooping or are about to poop and can say the words poop or pee, because that means they will be able to learn how to go about their business and will even be able to tell you if they need to go. Communication is a big plus in potty training, to me.

This, for us, was when my oldest was 2 1/2. Some, like my younger one, may be ready for it sooner. (I'll let you know when I embark on that trip.) But my older son's school recommended the book Diaper Free Before Three. Now, I didn't really go with the whole potty train a 9 month old thing as the book advocated, because honestly, I was already cleaning up a bunch of poop off the floor at age 2 1/2 and I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have read all the poop and pee cues right for my 9 month old and therefore I'm pretty sure poop would have been a much larger part of my life for a much longer period of my life and pretty much, that wasn't for me, but you can feel free. But I really did love the book for the rest of its potty training advice, and do highly recommend it.

But right around 2 years old, we did do some prep work. We had gotten a musical potty just to sit on with and without clothes, just to have him get used to sitting on it. I would read to him and we would sing songs and nothing ever really happened. I wanted the potty to be a happy place. Then we bought a child potty seat to go on top of the big potty and sat him on that, both with and without clothes. Not expecting anything, just sitting on it a few times a day to get him used to it.

Then we officially started the "training" during the Thanksgiving break last year when he was 2 1/2. I, as the book advised, literally just stopped using diapers cold turkey (mostly, anyway, and how's that for an unintended Thanksgiving pun?) and it really did work for us, because within three days, he was going pee pee on the potty and his teachers were in awe of my amazing toilet training skillz.

Little did they know of course, that the poo was a whole different story. It was hit or miss for a few months with poo, but the pee was a complete success. We had no diapers at all during the day, we made scheduled potty trips so he wouldn't go too long and have an accident (he did still need prompting to go) and we put him in a diaper at night and during naps. Because he was on kind of a poop on the potty strike, he saved his poop for his naptime mostly, when he was wearing diapers. How coy.

But a few months later, he started to wake up dry, so we eliminated diapers entirely.

This is around the time the poo issue came back with a vengeance and the poopy potty strike occurred and we had a lot of underpants casualties. Then came out every imaginable tool from every imaginable resource. The charts, the stickers, the potty dances, the bribery rewards, the trip to Chuck E. Cheese (yup! wasn't above bribery here), and mommy may or may not have lost her cool (and I will tell you first hand that did NOT work in our favor so I advise you to refrain from yelling even if it is the 143rd poo patty you've cleaned from the floor because it has rolled out onto the floor and he is laughing and it appears that he is now doing it on purpose.)

The other book that I read cover to cover in one sitting, is the one I turned to in desperation, when we had some setbacks, and it was called, and quite fittingly so, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Potty Training Problems.

It suggested that I have him take a more proactive role in cleaning himself up, if he is old enough to do so, and guess what? That worked like a charm. Turns out he thought it was hilarious when Mommy cleaned him up, but not so hilarious when he had to do it.

So, in sum, what worked for us? Quitting diapers cold turkey (so as to not confuse the child with going back and forth from diapers to undies although many books will agree that naptime and bedtime for diapers is ok until they start waking up dry, but you can go with your gut.) Our school was also against pullups but I do know that plenty of people have had success with them. And also, be aware, when it seems like your child is old enough and completely knows what he is doing and how to do it and he still poops his pants, remain calm. It can get quite frustrating, and if you have a sensitive toddler like I do, the poop strike will only get worse if you get upset.

Along with helping in the cleanups, I am not ashamed to say that I rewarded him with a little candy for successes, which many people frown upon but I don't care, he works for candy and I'm ok with giving him one tiny candy corn for a poop in the potty. You can judge away on that one, but we're accident-free for a couple weeks now and I can see now that we're done. Finally.

Officially, diaper free around three-and-a-half. It took 10 months total.

So no, he or she won't be walking down the aisle or graduating in a diaper, I promise. We, despite our few setbacks, are proof of that.

So come on moms, what worked for you? What didn't? Whose advice did you take? What books did you use? Please share!

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