Let me preface this entire post by saying that I despise talking about bathrooms. When it comes to this sort of thing, I’m a little Prairie Mary, but if I’m going to write a post about why you need a yearly gyn exam, I figure I can do a piece about potty training as well.
Somehow – miraculously – all three of my girls potty trained before the age of two. The average age that a little girl gets potty trained in this house is 20 months, just slightly over a year and a half. When it happened with my daughter Remmy, I was like “This is a fluke.” Sophie potty trained early, and I was all “Whoa, surely another fluke.” When Minnie was born and her actions were basically her nonverbally shouting “I am not following in my big sisters’ footsteps in regards to anything,” I for sure thought she’d be the one to wait until she was three and a half. But no, she surprisingly followed suit.
While I’m three for three when it comes to potty training early, please be advised that all of my evidence is anecdotal. Your mileage may vary. I was first inspired to potty train Remmy because she was 17 months old when Sophie was born, and having two in diapers was just like O__O. So maybe you’re expecting a new baby, or maybe you’re dreaming of the day that you’re no longer dealing with diaper blow-outs.
Here are some tips if you wan to know how to potty train in 3 days that I have repeated via text message, phone call, email, in person, and via carrier pigeon to friends over the years. Now it’s in one spot and I can just shoot people links. (Maybe this post is more for me than for you.)
1) Block off some time.
For the most part, the girls potty trained within a weekend, but I like to clear out about five days of not really going anywhere so we can all be home and near bathtubs and stuff.
2) Set the stage.
We started the day off with a bear in a pair of undies. (They each have a bear they sleep with at night/naptime.) “Look! Bear is wearing big girl undies. Do you think Bear wants to go on the potty?” I show her that we take undies off before going on the potty, put the bear on the potty for a second, pull the bear off the potty, show her that Bear “went potty” (a little water in the potty is fine, you guys; no need to get authentic up in here), do the whole wiping protocol (I’m getting nauseated typing this out, must endure), pull undies back up.
Then I get suuuuper excited for Bear. “Bear went on the potty like a big girl, woooo!” and I crush a beer can in my hands and throw Mardi Gras beads around the bathroom. Just kidding, but we clap for Bear, and then Bear gets a treat. (It’s varied in the past, based on allergies. A small animal cracker or a mini marshmallow has worked for us.) As we’re fist pumping and shouting “Yeeaaaa boyyeeee” in the bathroom, I excitedly say, “I have big girl undies for you, too! Do you want to go on the potty?” and they’ve always said yes. They try, they go, they get a treat. This is how the party starts. Sorry the previous two paragraphs are making me sound like a sociopath.
3) Reward dry undies.
I grab a little egg timer and set it to go off in random intervals. 15/20/30 minutes. (You can use your phone, but some kids might get a kick out of seeing the potty timer and decorating it with graffiti or leftover Barbie hair or whatever.) In between asking “Do you need to go potty?” I let the timer ding, and then check to see if her pants are dry. If they are dry, she gets two treats. I’m letting her know that yes, it’s important to go on the potty, but it’s also really, really important to keep her pants dry.
4) Undies or bust.
Don’t mess around with Pull-Ups, except for at bedtime. Buy a few packs of undies (you’ll likely go through a lot the first day) and stick with them. (I like these organic undies – great because my two bigger girls have eczema – but Carter’s are my second faves. They’re not paper thin like all of the regular princess branded undies I’ve found.)
5) Make it a fun day.
We buy a new sippy cup. We buy diluted juice boxes. We rent a new movie. We chill in the living room and eat snacks, drink a lot of liquids (so they have to go to the bathroom more often, thus more opportunities to learn), read books (love this potty-themed book one by one of our fave authors), and play. It’s an exciting day! Make it rain confetti everywhere! (No, don’t do that. That’s messy. We’re not animals.)
6) Keep it simple.
A 19 month old isn’t going to understand a speech from you on the importance of making it to the bathroom on time. When an accident happens, I simply say five words “Pee goes in the potty.” I repeat that line – but only that line – as often as necessary.
7) Get the right gear.
Along with that “keep it simple” mentality, don’t buy the potty with a million bells and whistles. I’ve seen them with toilet paper attachments and magazine holders. Bathroom germs + all of those crevices = noooooooooooooo. Our simple Baby Bjorn potty has endured three potty training seasons and still looks clean, respectable, and dust-free in the corner of our bathroom. It’s also a good idea to get a travel potty for when you’re on the road and the only nearby bathroom is in a gas station that needs a separate key. IKEA has a really simple potty for $10 (if no IKEA near you, this one’s only $10.95). We keep one and a pack of wipes in the babe-mobile.
If she stays clean all day? And her diaper has stayed dry for several naps? It’s time to remove it. When it’s time, use the same method at night. Until then, even if you put him in a diaper to sleep in, encourage her to call you if she wants to go potty during naptime or at night.
When going out, put her in a diaper or training pants if you’re not sure about her and know you’ll be gone for a long period. However, if you’re only going out for a few hours and have quick access to a bathroom, go ahead! Tell her to go pee right before you leave, and bring a change of clothes with you. Bring a portable potty travel seat and a box of wet wipes if you’re traveling by car. If you’re going a long distance, make regular pauses. Don’t make her drink too much right before you depart.