A few years ago (I cannot believe this blog has been going for so long), I did a series all about my potty training adventures with my two daughters. I am thankful to say that my house is a diaper free zone, and that means that my littlest, the energetic little boy in our family, has finished his potty training. Since I have friends that are also braving potty training, many for the first time, I thought I would do an update post about potty training, along with specific tips for potty training little boys. If you want to read any of my original posts about potty training (which are way more detailed), click here.
When to Abandon Before You Begin
There are several instances when you should avoid starting potty training. If there is any major life change coming, for example. Our oldest daughter had been potty trained at 16 months, and then we moved. It was a disaster and back on the cloth diapers went. She didn’t end up being ready again until she was two. I guess she got over her irritation with the wet cloth diapers at some point after the move. That is just one example, but here is a quick list of times to avoid potty training (if you can).
-You are planning to move within three weeks.
-You will be traveling anytime in the next three weeks.
-The child has not exhibited any of the steps of readiness: waking up with a dry diaper in the morning, being able to go without liquids two hours before sleep, being able to communicate effectively to tell you when they need to go.
-You are not in a place mentally or emotionally where you can support them through accidents.
-You will not be able to be with them 24 hours for the next two weeks.
You will need to get the following items to prepare for your 2 week potty training adventure.
-2 waterproof covers
-Training underwear (7 pairs)
-Plain underwear (7 pairs)
-Character underwear your child would love (7 pairs)
-A reward system. I used gummy bears, but if you are anti sugar you could use craisins or something else that is tasty
-A reliable alarm of some sort (I use my iPhone)
-An extra sheet for their bed
All or Nothing
I take an all or nothing approach to potty training, meaning that I do day time and night time potty training all at once. I think it is confusing to put diapers on them at night after working so hard to keep them out of diapers during the day. Here are the steps to this approach.
The night before you need to pull up all the rugs, make sure you have the toilet seat (or mini toilet) ready. Use one of your waterproof covers to make a “safe zone” for your child to relax on your couch or cushy chair. That way you aren’t risking ruining your furniture. Wash and dry all the tiny underwear. Seriously, they are so cute.
Your child wakes up whenever they wake up. Put trainers on and encourage them to drink a lot of water so they will have to pee. Explain the “safe zone” on the couch, and also put the other waterproof cover on their mattress under their sheet. Take them and put them on the toilet every half hour. If you notice they are going in their underwear, try to get them on the toilet before they finish going. Your entire goal for day one is to get them to realize when they are peeing, so they can start controlling it. Then there are two different things that can happen.
They miss completely
You stay positive and encourage them, “That’s ok, maybe next time you will get it in the toilet. Mommy loves you.”
They get anything in the toilet at all
Listen, even if they have made a huge puddle on the floor, if they have succeeded in getting even a few drips into the toilet, whoop it up! Celebrate. Do a dance, or sing a song. Make sure they know they did something positive, and then give them a reward from the system you already decided on.
They tell you they have to pee and then actually go in the toilet
You Praise the Lord and do a happy dance. This never happened to me personally, but I know that it does happen. It is way more likely if there is an older sibling because they want to do everything their older brother or sister is doing.
Keep doing this over and over. Make sure you set your alarm to go off every 30 minutes and keep them hydrated.
Make sure you do not give them any liquids for two hours before bedtime, and then don’t put them to bed until they go to the bathroom for a final time. This can be taxing, but the point is to avoid bed wetting.
Day one is usually the worst as far as accidents. It can be ridiculously exhausting, but remember, your long term goal is a potty trained child, which is well worth your efforts.
Wake your child up early and put them on the toilet to pee. I start at 5:30am, but sometimes that would anger my children, and since they wouldn’t go anyway, I would move wake up time back to 6:00 or 6:30am. I know, it’s early, but eventually they will know how to hold it for longer periods and can wait, or they learn how to go by themselves. Afterwards you can let them go back to sleep for an hour or two. Start repeating the 30 minute alarm once they start drinking water again and repeat the steps from day one. If they successfully go three times without wetting their underwear, you can switch from the trainers to the plain underwear. Make sure you emphasize that they are big girl or boy underwear and make a big deal about it. At this point you can show the them the character underwear. Let them know that if they go for an entire day without having an accident, they can wear the character underwear. If they have an accident in the character underwear, they go back to the plain underwear and stay in them until they have another day of no accidents.
You basically repeat this process for two weeks, and you should have less and less accidents. I also like to give a special reward for going poop on the toilet. I had some fun gummies for that this time around that were slightly bigger and in different flavors than the normal gummy bears.
Bring a Change of Clothes
Once you start going out of the house again, always keep socks, an extra pair of underwear, pants or shorts, and wipes along with a plastic bag for soiled clothes with you at all times. This makes accidents (which will happen) a lot less of a hassle. By this time your child may pee some in their clothes, but won’t empty their bladder like they would have when you started potty training.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.
A Note About Potty Training Boys
I want to emphasize that if you are potty training boys, at some point you need to teach them how to pee standing up. I think sooner is better than later, but whatever works for your family. If you are teaching them sitting down first, make sure you emphasize that they need to point their penis down into the bowl or you will end up with pee everywhere. If you are teaching them standing up, teach them how to aim into the bowl. You can use cheerios for shooting practice. If they are uncircumcised, you need to teach them how to gently pull back their foreskin before they start going, or their pee can shoot in all different directions. This will also help them to keep their foreskin clean.
I wish you the best of the luck in your potty training adventures. And remember, if all else fails, you can take a break from training for two months and then try again. And before you leave for an outing with your newly potty trained kiddo, check out this post.
Happy Potty Time,