I am so proud to say that, after about a week and a half, Emma Ramey is all but fully potty trained!
I've been kind of a skeptic of the "3-day Potty Training" methods everybody posts on Pinterest. I mean really, who believes that you can undo a lifetime of diaper use in less than a week? Well, it turns out that toddlers are smart cookies. They're also very malleable cookies. I've read that potty training is the easiest between 18 months and 36 months, just depending on when you child shows readiness signs (interest in the potty and using the bathroom, dry diapers for 1-2 hours at a time, telling you she's used the bathroom in her diaper), and I totally agree - I can see it being much more difficult if a child was "set in their ways." So I'd recommend taking the plunge as soon as you see your child is ready!
I want to try to tell about our experience with potty training, while still keeping some things private and not blasted all over the internet. Because really, who wants stories of their first poop available to everybody on earth? So if I come across as vague, please just know it's because I'm taking some pity on 13-year-old Emmie, whose friends have access to the internet. If you have any specific questions, you're welcome to email me and I'll be glad to answer them!
I read several blogs/articles before we got started. I am by no means an expert on this, so these helped a lot! Here are a few of my favorites!
A couple of months before we planned on training, I bought a potty seat (see below) and we started talking about going to the potty. She was very excited about going to the potty, and she even went a few times before we actually potty trained. But I didn't force anything - if she was interested in going, I played off of her cues.
The night before we started potty training, I told Emmie that the Potty Fairy was coming to see her that night and bring her everything she needed to start using the potty. I told her that, when she was awake, she wouldn't be wearing diapers anymore because she was a big girl now. I mentioned that the Potty Fairy brought treats to give her every time she used the potty...she was really excited about that!
The first morning, we woke up went out to see what the potty fairy brought - treats (M&M's) and big girl underwear. Then, we went to sit on the potty. As soon as she was finished (whether she pottied or not), we put on big girl panties (and, since we were just around the house all day anyway, that's all she wore...no need to do extra laundry!). I let her pick out which ones she wanted to wear first.
After that, every 25 minutes, she sat on the potty for about 5 minutes. (I'd strongly recommend sitting on the potty for about that long, at least at first - we made the mistake of not doing that for a few days and it hurt the process). If she actually used the bathroom, I made a huge deal out of it...jumped up and down, clapped, danced...and she got a treat (piece of candy). If she didn't, I didn't scold her at all - I just said that we'll try again later. We usually read a book while she was on the potty - our favorites were Mercer Mayer books and Dr. Seuss beginner books - they were the perfect length! Books were great to distract her from the fact that she was there...it actually made it fun for her, which was huge.
We did this until nap time, when we put the diaper back on (sitting on the potty immediately before we put the diaper on). After nap, the diaper came off first thing, and we sat on the potty, and started the whole process over.
If she had an accident (which is going to happen with any child), I didn't get angry - I just told her that we don't do that in our underwear, we do that in the potty. I'd let her pick out another pair of underwear and tell her that the character on them didn't want to get wet, so if she needed to use the bathroom, we needed to go to the potty instead.
After about a week of this, she was fully potty trained! I still had to ask her a lot if she needed to go, and I still made her sit on the potty every 45 minutes or so, but there were no accidents...yay!!
A few pieces of advice I'd give anyone that's going with this method:
Stick To It
I'll be honest, after about 5 days of potty training, I was ready to give up. I had conceded to the fact that she just wasn't ready yet. We had dinner with a few Sunday School friends Sunday night, so I decided to put her in a diaper for the first (awake) time in 5 days...just to have a few hours off and not have to worry about it while around friends.
Well, we got home Sunday night, and her diaper was completely dry, after a few hours of wear! She then happily went to the potty. It's almost like something "clicked" that day. So, I decided to give it a few more days, and by about Wednesday, she wasn't having accidents at all.
So, even if you think it isn't working, I'd suggest sticking to it for up to a week. Not every child is the same, so not every child is going to respond to the method the same way. Of course, you know if it's just a disaster and your child isn't ready...this isn't what I'm talking about. But if it's not working perfectly (like so many of these blogs claim) after a few days, don't give up!
Probably the biggest mistake we made is slacking off a little after a few days. At 2 days in, our schedule was working like a well-oiled machine, and she was having very few accidents. I took that as a sign that we needed to slack off...big mistake. She regressed a ton, which is the main reason I almost gave up Sunday night.
Monday, I really buckled down and went back on our schedule of pottying every 30 minutes...and just like that, it worked like a charm.
If you're doing this, I'd really recommend setting a potty schedule and sticking to it for about a week. Then, you can gradually ease that back. Which leads to my next point...
Gradually Change Things
Once your child is doing really well with pottying on schedule for a few days, start pushing back the time between potty trips a little. Emmie wasn't very good with telling me she had to go - so I had to stick to a schedule past a week. For the first week, we went every 25-30 minutes. After she was doing well with that for a few days, I pushed it back to every 45 minutes. If she told me she had to go before 45 minutes, we went of course, and then I just counted 45 minutes from that time.
I also gradually backed off giving treats every time we went. In the beginning, she got 2 "treats" (pieces of candy) each time she pottied. After a few days, I pushed that back to 1 treat, and after a few more days, I took them away. She barely noticed the difference!
Anytime you're changing up something that's working, change it slowly.
Rewards are a good thing! I know there is some debate over whether or not to reward your child for going to the potty - but for us, this part was essential. In my opinion, small children have very little intrinsic motivation for these kinds of things - they've used a diaper their whole life, so what's the point in using a potty? So, we rewarded each time she actually used the potty. If she went and didn't have to potty, we didn't reward that - but I can totally understand rewarding each trip the potty if your child has some kind of aversion.
I used the notes app on my phone to record everything she did that day - how many times she pottied, whether she pooped or peed, how many/what kind of accidents, etc. It made it really easy to go back and see what kind of progress she had made, or if she was regressing.
Play off of your child's cues
Each child is going to be different, so each child is going to have different cues as to when they need to use the potty. Pay close attention to your child for the first few days...you'll quickly learn when they need to go!
Also, don't force something that just isn't happening. If your child won't have a thing to do with potty training, it might be best to hold off and wait a few months before trying again. Not that there's anything wrong with waiting - it's just that each little person has their own timetable for when they're ready!
Public Restrooms are a Different Ballgame
This is something I didn't really read much about, and has been a definite problem in our potty training. Emma Ramey isn't big on loud noises, so the first time to be in a public restroom and hear the loud flushing was a little bit of a shock to her. Ever since, she's had a huge aversion to them. Like, I'm talking stepped one foot in the (empty, quiet) Target restroom a few days ago and told me it wasn't happening.
So, we've kind of had to plan our outings around where to potty and if we could be home within a reasonable time. Just know that this might happen to your child too - now that I've researched it, it's not all that uncommon. I'm going to concentrate on getting her in a great routine of using the potty at home, then we'll try public restrooms later on. Once again - no need to push something that just isn't happening!
Here are a few of my favorite purchases for potty training!
Once we started venturing out of the house, these were amazing. They're exactly like they sound - plastic underwear that you put over regular underwear, just in case of any accidents. Just know though - especially since we're training in summer, it's really easy for toddlers to get sweaty in these. Don't confuse that with them having an accident! :)
This is another great thing for venturing out of the house. It's a pad that goes in the bottom of the carseat to soak up any accidents that might happen. This way, you don't have to completely disassemble the carseat every time there's an accident in the car. Worth every penny!
This is a small, compact potty that you can put in the car, in case your toddlers "feels the urge" and you're not near a bathroom. They come with several disposable bags that soak up anything quickly. It even comes with a carrying case.
Since we started using the big potty from the beginning, we really needed this to give Emmie some independence when she needs to use the restroom. It's the perfect size to put in front of the potty so your toddler can use the bathroom by his/herself. It's even contoured to go around a toilet.
This is probably our favorite potty training item! It's an insert that goes over the regular toilet seat for a toddler. I wasn't big on the idea of cleaning out a little potty each time she went...so we went with this option instead. This way, we didn't have to transition her to the big toilet either. It comes with an Arm & Hammer air freshener, but we've honestly never used it...but it's a nice feature!
I think a big part of potty training a toddler is letting them have fun with the experience. A lot of people let their toddler pick out the underwear, which is great...but I knew Emmie loved Disney Princesses and Minnie Mouse, so I ordered her those packs of underwear. I'd recommend having 15-20 pairs for potty training...trust me, you'll need all of them. :)
Like I said, please email me if you have any questions, and I'll be glad to answer them! And of course, if you're a little bit more seasoned in this department and would like to add some advice, comment below.