I hate to be the one to tell you this, but potty training is not for the faint of heart. I’ve heard those stories about toddlers waking up one day, refusing diapers and completing the entire process in three days. Unfortunately, that is not our story. Our potty training journey has been more of a marathon than a sprint. Harper started showing interest in the potty in January of last year, but we were in the process of moving so I put it off. Then we got to Orlando and I was focused on settling in. Then I got pregnant and couldn’t stomach the thought of cleaning up all of her accidents. And then finally, about a month after she started preschool, her teacher basically forced us into it. She said, “She’s ready! We’re taking those pull-ups off!” And thank God for her! If she hadn’t given us a push, we would have three kids in diapers next month!
That day, we went to Target to buy our supplies and started the next morning. We had a few setbacks along the way (a stomach virus, me being on bed rest, etc.), but we didn’t give up. It took about four months, but she is now fully potty trained! I learned a lot throughout this process and I wanted to share my dos, don’ts and must-have potty training products with you all.
Do read Oh Crap! Potty Training // Everyone raves about this book and for good reason. This method really works. I didn’t follow it perfectly, but I did follow the major rules. I also used it a lot for troubleshooting. It’s also a good idea to buy your child a potty training-related book like Even Superheroes Use The Potty. Daniel Tiger also has a potty training episode that Harper loved watching.
Don’t go back to diapers/pull-ups // Harper still wears a pull-up for naps and at bedtime, but during the day it’s panties only! At first, we would put her in pull-ups when we were going out or to church to avoid accidents (to make our lives easier, if I’m being honest), but she would completely regress whenever we did. Consistency is key here.
Do let your child pick out their own undies // Harper loves to choose her own underwear. I bought her multiple packs of toddler undies with the Disney characters on them. I keep them in a small basket in her top drawer and I let her pick out which pair she wants to wear each day. My cousin got her a superhero pack for Christmas and she gets so excited to pick which “Super” she’s going to be each day.
Don’t leave home without a change of clothes // There will be accidents! I never leave home without an extra pair of underwear and shorts/pants for her. I love using these Bumkins pouches for extra clothes. I have a Cinderella set and an Ariel set and use one for each of the girls. I also keep a matching wet/dry bag in my diaper bag. If she has an accident, the dirty clothes go into the wet/dry bag and then the whole thing goes straight into the washing machine once we get home.
Do offer rewards/incentives // I have heard from so many people that a reward system was the key to their potty training success. I bought stickers and candy to give Harper as an incentive, but it didn’t work for us. She just ended up asking for stickers and candy all day long. We did, however, tell her that she couldn’t go to school unless she was potty trained (it’s a requirement for the 3s class she’ll be in next year) and that seemed to do the trick.
Don’t skip the training toilet // A lot of people skip the training potty in favor of a potty seat that fits on a regular toilet. I personally think it’s best to buy both. We bought this training potty and put it right in the living room. She needed a visual reminder and she liked that it “flushed.” We also bought this potty seat for the toilet in the kids’ bathroom. She used the training potty for the first month or two and then we switched her to the potty seat when I got tired of cleaning the other one out. We also purchased this amazing travel potty seat. It is the only one I’ve found that never ever slips. It’s also foldable, easy to clean (wipe it with a wet one after each use and then wash it in the sink when you get home) and comes in its own travel bag. Best $14 I’ve spent in a long time!
Do encourage your child to go potty often // This is the biggest tip I can give. Ask your child constantly to go to the bathroom. Every 20 minutes in the beginning. Ask before you leave the house, when you get to your destination, while you’re at your destination, before you head home and when you get home. That may sound excessive, but toddlers are easily distracted and don’t like to pause whatever they’re doing to go to the bathroom. They need a little push (or a light drag, let’s be honest). I still remind Harper to go once an hour, even though she’s good about going on her own now. She’s still a three year old with the attention span of, well, a three year old.
And those are my potty training tips! I’m definitely not an expert, but I have learned a lot of this the hard way. If you have any tips, please leave them in the comment section below. It’ll be time to potty train Avery before I know it!