My sister Brittnay’s Potty Training Magic: How I potty trained my 21 month old

Potty training isn’t exactly something I was looking forward to. Especially having a little boy. At least from the many pieces of advice I have received from people, even random strangers whom I did not solicit advice from.

My sister Brittnay used to work for a daycare center and claims to be the “Potty-Training-Guru”! So, naturally, I went to her for advice.

Her theories seem very simple to me. Know when it’s the right time. Go cold turkey, without using pull-ups. Be consistent every time. Be patient every time. Have faith and believe in your kid!

Here is her advice and how I implemented it to get my 21 month old potty trained.

Change your baby often

This, Brittnay told me, is a great way to show them early that feeling dry feels better than being a little wet down there. It teaches them the sensations and doesn’t force them to get used to being wet.

I was a freak about getting my kid out of a wet diaper, even if only a little wet. Sure, it may save money to leave your kid in a sopping wet diaper–but would you want that? Are you okay with your kid having diaper rash to save a dime?

Look for signs that they are ready

For Sterling he would pass gas and say, “poop”. And I would know he was going poop. He knew what poop was (the sensation), because when we would see him make his poop face, we would talk about poop. Maybe your child goes to the corner or has their own little thing that alerts you both that it’s “potty time”. Whatever it is, if you both know when it’s happening, it’s probably time to give it a shot!

Talk to them about what is going on and take them to the restroom with you. We keep our bathroom open and let him come in and out to show that we all go potty. His dad has also shown him how to pee sitting down, as that is the way he is learning to go.

*I did read this book (a quick read),  “Potty Training Boys the Easy Way: Helping Your Son Learn Quickly Even if He’s a Late Starter”. They recommend beginning after 20 months, as toddlers are just learning how to control their bladder muscles at that stage of development. Another helpful piece of advice was not doing it when there is a lot of change/stress in the home such as a new baby, move, etc. It works best when everyone is easy going about it!

Use just the toilet, not a little potty chair.

If you use a little potty chair, that is one more thing you will have to ween them from. If you can put them on the potty right away, you will be able to use the potty in public even quicker. I tried my sister’s recommendation, but my boy is still a small little fellow, so this is a little scary for him.

I bought a stepping stool and a little potty seat that fits securely on top of the toilet. I love it because he can relax and read/play without worrying about falling in. Once we have this process down pat, and he feels more confident and secure, we are going to move just to the potty! We also plan on buying him a stool in the next few days so he can feel empowered to go on his own in the coming months, as we approach two.

**Update, at 24 months we are no longer using the little potty seat. He stands up on a stool to go pee-pee and has no trouble sitting to pee or poo**.  

Start gradually when you see they have to go. This way you can gauge their ability before you fully take the leap and ditch the diapers.

When you see the signs, whether they are making a stream in the tub or ducking in the corner, take him/her to the potty right away. Try not to be too abrupt or alarming and talk to them about it. We had our first success on the potty during bath time.

One night, while noticing him do this, I put him on the potty and said, “We don’t poop in the tub! We poop in the potty”. After three times of putting him on the potty and telling him that,  I caught him at just the right time and his poop dropped into the potty. This was all merely by accident, but I was still proud of him and made sure to give him lots of praise! He remembered.

After that, if I saw he was looking like he might poop, I would take him into the bathroom and put him on the potty. The first few times he didn’t quite get it. And if we didn’t make it in time, I would throw his poop in the potty and say that is where you need to go poop and I would let him have the honors of flushing the toilet!

After a few times of trying to catch him at the right time during the day, it finally worked and stuck. And after two weeks of going poop in the potty every time, we decided it was time to make the transition.

Use props and things to make it FUN. PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!

For some reason, books really work for Sterling. Reminds me of how people read the paper or look at their iPhone! Sometimes he may bring a toy and take a few minutes. However, after a few minutes of nothing, we’ll try again later.  We also praise a lot. If he even tinkles a little he squeals, “YAY!” and claps as hard as he can. If they don’t go potty that’s okay too. Try again in an hour or when you see they are making their poop face!

When you’re ready to take the plunge and commit to training, COMPLETELY ditch the diapers (and pull-ups unless you’re only using them at night).

Brittnay explained that when you allow your kid to wear pull ups most of the time, but you’re also attempting to “train them” it sends a very confusing message. It says, “It’s okay to pee and poop in your pants sometimes and not others.” Kids love to play and are unlikely to wish to stop to use the restroom. If they have the option to go poop/pee in their pants, why wouldn’t they!?

As a parent, you have to get real, and be patient. You cannot expect your toddler to be consistent if you are not consistent. You can’t have them in underwear all day and then take them to the store in a pull up because that works best for you. Yes, it requires a lot of patience but it works! BE CONSISTENT.

We used pull ups two days before going cold turkey so we could get him used to stepping in and out of underwear. He was so excited! I showed him my underwear and daddy showed him his underwear, and he saw that he too had underwear! I can still hear him saying, “undawear”. We will be using pull ups the next few weeks, only during the night time as we get used to going potty. I plan on cutting these out within the next two weeks.

Going Cold Turkey: The Process For Us

I planned it for the weekend.  We woke up as we do every morning, and went directly to the potty.

I said to him (per my sister’s exact recommendations), “Sterling! Guess what!? Today we are done with diapers! No more diapers. You are a big boy. You have done so well using the potty. You get to have your very own underwear!”

The underwear is Thomas the Train, which he LOVES. He wanted to hold them the whole time he sat on the potty. I read to him and within seconds, out came a poop and out came pee.  We praised him as we always do!

The entire day, I made sure to take him at least once an hour to go to the restroom. I would make sure to tell him we were going instead of asking, and also I do my best to seem excited about it! I try to say things like, “My big boy who wears Thomas the Train underwear is going to go to the bathroom!” and when he realizes HE is the big boy wearing the Thomas the Train underwear, it just kind of works!

He had one little accident where he peed just a little, but this “wet sensation” was new to him, so he didn’t full blown pee his pants. That was the only accident he had all day! I explained that his underwear was wet and he needed to remember to go pee pee in the potty. Each hour following, almost every time I took him, he went pee pee! I was so proud and as always made a fuss. He has had a few small pee incidences since then, but he is doing great!

Have a good attitude and be patient!

Have a positive, excited attitude about this time with your child. If you are excited, they will be excited! If they have an accident, and they will (and might have many!), be patient and positive. The last thing you need is them associating the potty with mommy or daddy being mad/upset.

Show them that you believe in them and you are proud of them. If you have practiced going to the potty plenty and you see that they get the gist, you shouldn’t have any reason to doubt it. Good luck!

After this post, I wrote this one as a follow up :).

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