Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Potty Training Tips: In the Trenches

I had absolutely no idea what potty training would be like. I don't think any first time parent does. The truth is, it is different with every child - and that is so true of most parenting endeavors. We are smack in the middle of potty training, though I would like to think of it as the end with my daughter being 32 months already! Finally there are barely any cloth diapers to wash, what a relief considering I'm due with baby #2 in a month and I'll be doing it all over again. She has been waking up dry and asking to go to the potty everywhere we go instead of going in the diaper. We're diaper free at home and for walks outside, loving the teeny tiny undies!

So was this an easy process? By no means. Was it fast? Not even close. Was it a learning experience? As everything in parenting is. Though my tips may not work for every toddler, they're worth trying. It may take months, it may happen overnight, just keep at it. 
  • Don't be pushy: I believe potty training is just something you can't force on a toddler. They'll let you know when they are ready. It will be obvious. 
  • Either start really early or late: Putting our baby on the potty really early helped with the transition. I think she easily changed to going #2 on the potty because she was doing it since she could sit up. It minimized the cloth diaper washing I had to do and it got her used to the potty early. She was completely comfortable with it by the time she was two and it wasn't something new. But, if you choose not to put a small baby on the potty then I think it's best to wait until they are around 26 to 30 months. Every toddler develops differently, it may be early for some and late for others. 
  • Rewards are optional: We didn't feel that rewarding a child for going on the potty was necessary. It worked just fine without any stickers, candy, toys. I personally think it sends the wrong message. I feel the same way about chores around the house. This is something that's part of life. Hey, I don't get rewarded for going on the potty!
  • Just do it: Sometimes you just have to sit them down on the potty without even letting them know you will. What works for us [when she doesn't really want to] is talking to her about something irrelevant while I sit her down. Distraction works like a charm and the moment she sits, she goes. This makes going on the potty seem like not a big deal, just a normal every day thing. 
  • Join the fun: We all know kids learn by example! Perhaps they'll be good at copying you if you keep a potty in the bathroom and put your toddler on it each time you have to go. My toddler was more likely to go if I went with her. 
  • Cloth training undies: Having a few good cloth training pants has eased the transition to the potty. We're almost at the point where we don't need them anymore, but they played a big role to get her to understand that she can't just go anywhere now - that things get wet. With waterproof training pants at least it will not be your floor, carpet, or rug. 
Do you have any tips? What worked for your toddler?

Photo: Josh Klute

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