My Potty Training Survival Guide
Back when Ryan turned 2, we made our first attempt at potty training, but we quickly realized that he wasn't ready, even though he showed many of the signs and seemed interested in using the toilet. Instead of making it a painful experience (for all of us), we thought it'd be better to revisit it later, especially since we heard boys can take longer to train.
Fast forward a few months, and Ryan is now 2.5 and started to show interest again around Halloween. For the past few weeks, we've been working on potty training again, and I'm happy to say that it's taken a month, but we have been accident-free for a week now and his pull ups are dry at night!
This go 'round has been a success so I want to share everything with you in hopes that it will help you, too.
We chose to start the training on a Saturday morning, even though I was attending the LA Baby Show with Leo. Since it wasn't fair to expect Ryan to learn the ropes while out of the house, my husband stayed home with him that morning.
We chose this weekend because it was warm, and we planned to use the two-day method, where you have your toddler naked from the waist down for the first two days of training and load him up on fluids and take him to the potty every 15-20 minutes. (I was definitely relieved when we moved past that and into undies!)
The most important thing is to give your toddler your undivided attention for two days to avoid unnecessary accidents which makes the process super exhausting. If you have a baby in the house, like me, make sure to have someone on baby duty so you can focus on potty training ONLY for two days.
Note: The products featured below may contain affiliate links, but the opinions are my own and I'd recommend these products to you anyway!
Before you start potty training, get the gear:
For the bathroom
- We used the Baby Bjorn toilet seat cover because we felt it was important to get Ryan used to the regular toilet. If your child seems afraid to go on the "big" toilet, though, you may choose to use a potty seat instead (check out the "on the go" section below for my favorite all around potty seat!)
- The Baby Bjorn foot stool was a necessary addition so Ryan could use the toilet all by himself in the bathroom he shares with his baby brother.
- We also used an Ubbi Potty Hook to keep the bathroom neat and tidy.
For on the go
- The Potette Potty was a lifesaver for car rides, trips to the mall, preschool, and visiting family. Since we never knew when he'd have to go, the portable potty made it super easy for us to stay consistent while away from home. (Don't forget to buy extra liners, too.)
For our toddler
- The softest, most comfortable underwear we could find were Lucky & Me Organic Boxer Briefs. We love the Graysons, but they have other styles, too, and you can find briefs for girls here.
- Bambo Nature Training Diapers for nighttime coverage.
Just for fun
- Annie's Organic Bunny Gummy Bears are Ryan's favorite and were a great reward treat, and one that I didn't feel guilty about!
- Daniel Goes to the Potty, a Daniel Tiger story featuring a flushable toilet, a catchy tune ("If you have to go potty, stop and go right away!") and a reminder that there are bathrooms everywhere you go.
- Poop Emoji Stickers for your reward chart or just to be silly with!
My top potty training tips:
1. Use positive reinforcement.
Ryan didn't like it when we overdid the celebration after every successful visit to the potty. It made him more anxious when it became such a big deal. Keep your child's temperament in mind when cheering—some may prefer it to be a low-key celebration. (We've been giving him stickers and these gummy bunnies as a reward!)
Be sure you're reinforcing the behavior and not just the action, too. "Your undies are still dry!" "Thank you for telling me you needed to go.""I'm so proud of you for using your potty at school"
2. Get comfortable underwear for potty training.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Lucky and Me, but the opinions are my own and in no way influenced by the company.
So many of the toddler undies at the store seemed stiff, scratchy, and completely uncomfortable. We wanted Ryan to feel better in his underwear than he did in a diaper—not worse. That's why we were thrilled when we discovered Lucky and Me Organic Toddler Briefs. (There are briefs for boys and girls available as well.)
These organic undies are so high quality, you can feel it! They're super soft and haven't shrunk or faded in the wash, either. I'm also not ashamed to admit that part of the reason I bought them over other briefs was because of how good looking they are. There's fun colors and patterns, and none of the harsh dyes and chemicals used in some other brands.
Rochelle Perera is the mama behind Lucky & Me, and I can appreciate her story so much. When she was potty training her daughter, she looked everywhere for simple, comfy, fashionable undies but ended up with a drawer full of scratchy character bottoms instead. So she drew upon her background in the fashion industry and set out to create her own brand with sustainably sourced materials from ethical factories.
She did the research for me, and I did the research for you. I love these undies! Nothing else compares.
3. Create familiar surroundings.
When Ryan wasn't feeling totally comfortable sitting on the toilet at his preschool, we took our potty to him! It helped him focus on paying attention to his body and identifying when he needed to go, rather than his nerves around going on the toilet at school. Having something familiar from home made him feel more trusting of going in an environment other than home.
We also use this potty on the go—in the car, at the mall, Disneyland, grandma and auntie's house. It's been super helpful to have an on-the-go potty because we're rarely home all day!
Recognize that your child may not feel comfortable using the potty anywhere and with everyone just yet. Once in a while, he wants his dad, but mostly he still wants me with him when I'm around. He also had some trouble feeling comfortable with his teachers at school.
4. Make potty training fun!
We decorated Ryan's Potette Potty with Paw Patrol stickers which made him more excited to use it. We also found poop emoji stickers at the dollar store that we stuck on his shirt and his legs while he sat on the toilet.
He thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world and it eased the tension of going to the potty, especially when he was scared of pooping. (Side note, I wasn't totally prepared for him to be afraid of where the poopy would go or being scared of it falling into the toilet, so be prepared to reassure your toddler that he'll be able to flush it away and have a poopy dance party afterward!)
Some other ideas include books—like this Daniel Tiger one with flushing noises—or bubbles that are only for potty time.
5. Don't overreact to potty accidents.
We noticed that when we showed disappointment, Ryan didn't do so well after that on that day. When we didn't really react to accidents, but just cleaned him up and changed him and got him moving along, he did much better. He would even ask to use the toilet the next time. Patience is key!
6. If possible, potty train when other children are training, too.
Ryan's best friends are twins who are six months older than him. Since they had just wrapped up potty training, Ryan was really interested in it because his friends were doing it. We even had one of the twins show Ryan how he does stand-up pee pee and celebrated that in a big way.
At school, he's one of the first ones in his two-year-old classroom to potty train, so we relied on his teacher's support to continue our efforts at home while Ryan was in school.
7. Make adjustments for bedtime.
Knowing that it may take longer to potty train at night, we made the decision to use these training pants at night, but we called them nighttime underwear, so he knows that they are only for bedtime and not a diaper (but, they really are a diaper and work amazingly). We also limit liquid intake, use the potty before climbing in bed for the night, and put on the training pants just before tucking in.
8. Keep a potty training journal.
I knew that I would be sharing this journey with you Mamas, so I started to write down notes throughout the process. What I didn't know is that the act of journaling was so helpful to actually see the progress and transformation over the last month!
Because I've been keeping track, I noticed that we haven't had any daytime accidents in two weeks, and that his nighttime pull up was dry every day over the last week. We even made it through a day trip to Disneyland earlier this week with no accidents! I'm hesitant to say it out loud, but I think we are officially potty trained!
What was your potty training journey like?
Do you have any tips you'd like to share with other mamas? Or, struggling with training and looking for new ideas? Join the Happy Mom Tribe on Facebook and connect with other mamas who are working through similar struggles and milestones.