Potty Training. The two dreaded words of toddler parents everywhere. While every stage thus far in Harper’s life has come with it’s own unique set of challenges (breastfeeding, sleep training, teething, you name it), potty training has for sure brought ALL.THE.CHALLENGES. Anything that comes after this? Bring it. I have potty trained and therefore, I can do anything.
On a less dramatic note, one of the main reasons I started this blog was to share with other new moms all the things I had learned (the hard way), with the hope of saving others some of the stress that comes along with figuring it all out. Since the day we started this potty training endeavor I have been sort of writing this post in my head, thinking about all the things I wanted to share. So here it is: Potty Training from A-Z. All the things Google just didn’t have answers for. Everything I learned and some things I wish I didn’t have to learn. You get it.
The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training Your 2 Year Old
So here’s the thing. The potty training really starts before you begin the actual act of potty training. Wait, what? Yes, I realize what I said. As with all new things, it’s so important to talk about it, set the scene, explain why, visualize, etc. before just jumping into it. You can’t expect to go from diapers to undies overnight without preparing your toddler for this huge change.
About a month before we started potty training in earnest, we got a potty seat for our toilet and a little step stool. But way before we even got the seat Harper was showing interest in the potty and understood what it meant to use the bathroom (any parent knows it’s impossible to go to the bathroom solo). So when she was just shy of turning two we realized it was time.
So here’s how we did it…
Step 1: Get a potty seat and a step stool. We opted for the seat that just rests on top of the toilet because I was so not about making more work for myself by cleaning out a second potty.
Step 2: Switch to pull-ups. Trust me. When you are trying to get your toddler adapted to using the potty, you want to be able to pull their diaper on and off as easily as possible.
Step 3: Establish a routine to help them get used to using the potty. For us, that meant having Harper use the potty before and after mealtimes and before we left the house. We did this for a few weeks before we went into full potty training mode.
Step 4: If at first you don’t succeed, (cry, donuts, wine? cry) try again. We opted to try the 3 Day Potty Training Method and I made the mistake of trying to do it on my own while my husband was at work. WORST MISTAKE. Turns out potty training is an all-hands-on-deck kind of thing. Definitely not a one-woman-kind-of-job. So after I realized it just wasn’t working, we put it on the back-burner for a few weeks until my husband had some time off and we could try it again.
Step 5: Try again! If you also opt to try the 3 Day Method you’ll want to put away any and all diapers (except for nap and bedtime). It’s best if they don’t see diapers near their changing table. It’s big kid time! Have your toddler wear nothing but a shirt (or naked if they’re fine with it), and take them to the potty every 20 minutes or so. We did this for 3 days straight.
Yes, you will want to go crazy.
Yes, you will question if it’s actually working.
Yes, you will want to give up.
But don’t! By day 3 you’ll be surprised how much they’ve learned! For more specifics on this method, check out this article on BabyCenter.
You’ll also want to have the following items handy:
- All Purpose Antibacterial Spray and Paper Towels (because there will be accidents everywhere)
- Some kind of small treat to reward your toddler when they actually make it to the potty (or bonus – tell you they have to go!) We used mini chocolate chips.
- Waterproof sheet protectors to protect the couch, booster seat, car seat, etc. from accidents.
- Toddler underwear. Harper loves Minnie Mouse so we ordered these from Amazon to help get her excited about this new change.
- 2 Piece Outfits and Pajamas. While onesies and jumpers are adorable – they do not make for good potty training clothes. Once you’re finished with the initial 3 day (pants-free) training, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to use the potty.
So you’ve done the whole 3 day or 1 week or whatever kind of potty training method. How do you know if it actually worked? I think success definitely looks different for every family.
About a month later Harper doesn’t always tell us if she has to go, we are just super vigilant and look for signals (like doing the pee-pee dance). However, as time goes on, she has started to tell us more and more. We have also begun to ease up on how often we take her to the potty and we’ve started to rely more on her letting us know she has to go.
- At first, don’t rely on your toddler telling you they have to go – and if you ask? Expect the answer to be “no”. For the first few weeks after potty training, take them to bathroom consistently (after they wake up, before mealtimes, before you leave the house, when you get where you’re going, etc.).
- Know that accidents will still happen – it doesn’t mean that the training didn’t work. Like anything, it will take time for them to get used to this change. There are so many factors that can cause accidents like being overtired, being in a new place, playing outside, etc.
- For most toddlers, potty training for # 1 and potty training for # 2 are two entirely different things. Getting Harper to pee in the potty was simple. Going # 2? We’re still working on it. From what I’ve learned from reading and talking to other moms, this is totally normal and in time, when they are comfortable, they will do all their business in the potty. For now there are a few different approaches you can take to help your toddler go # 2. Check out this post on Happy Hooligans for more info!
Have any potty training wisdom to share? Comment below with your best tips!
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