Let me start off by saying that my daughter is a rarity – not most, almost 18-month-old children just wake up one day and decide on their own that they’re ready to be potty trained. Please don’t hate me – I do realize how lucky I am! She started showing signs well before this, so I had already purchased a potty seat and little potty well before she“asked”. My intention was to familiarize her with the concept (and gear) and start the conversation with her early (at about 15-months-old), in hopes that she would be ready before her baby brother was born in June. Luckily, I think it worked! Only a couple of weeks before she turned 18-months-old, she said “pee pee” while grabbing at her diaper. Not thinking much of it, but merely out of curiosity, I set her on her potty and she went (poo poo actually)! From that day forward, I started putting her on the potty whenever she asked for it, first thing in the morning, and last thing before going bed, and she did great!
Knowing very well that this may be my only window before the arrival of baby boy, I started to prepare (mentally and emotionally) and purchased all the necessities to do this thing! Here’s what I bought:
- Potty Train In A Weekend by Becky Mansfield – I knew I didn’t want to drag this out any longer than I needed to, so I planned on doing it in only 3 (long and exhausting) days. However, I did make one alteration to Becky’s approach – we did use pull ups (instead of continuing with regular diapers) at nap time and bedtime after we introduced training undies.
- Potty by Leslie Patricelli and Everyone Poops – which we started reading about a week or so before we started actually potty training to get her excited about it – and she absolutely loved these book – especially Potty!
- Hanna Andersson Traning Unders in Organic Cotton, Burt’s Bees Baby Hipster Panties, and Zoocchini Organic Cotton Panties – yes, they’re more expensive then most other undie options out there, but if you know me, I’m kind of a stickler for just about anything my children are essentially living in. So, we made the splurge.
- Naty Nature Babycare Eco Pull On Pants – for nap-time and bedtime. Side note: I ended up switching to The Honest Co. Training Pants because the others kept increasing in price.
Once I had every tangible thing I needed, I read, and I came up with my game plan! Here’s what happened:
I’m not going to lie, I really thought she would make this a breeze on me. Ugh, it was much more difficult than I was anticipating! She fought me just about every time I tried to put her on the potty. Getting her on that thing was impossible to do every 20 minutes – we averaged at about every 30-45 minutes. And boy did she have accidents (mainly in the morning) – like messy, poop everywhere style accidents! However, we did have 3 successful runs all before her 1:30 nap, with no accidents and 4 more successes during the afternoon/evening shift. She even asked to go potty while we were having dinner, and sure enough, she peed! So, I’ll consider day 1 a success, an exhausting, patience-testing success!
- When she fought me to sit on the potty, I started reading her Potty book to her to get her excited about it again. I also had her stuffed animals, Barbies, etc. pretend that they needed to go potty and that they needed her to show them what to do. Both concepts worked like a charm!
Oh my gosh, she totally gets it! We’ve had zero accidents! I managed to avoid an accident when I noticed her doing her little “potty-stance”, and just asked her if she had to go potty and she eagerly replied “pee pee” and ran over to the potty! Talk about a major hooray-moment!
- Try to become in tune with your child – read and understand their individual gestures (aka “potty-dance/stance”) and learn your child’s potty-schedule. Knowing these two things was an absolute life-saver!
- If your child seems to know if she/he needs to go potty – just ask her/him! My daughter really seemed to understand if she needed to go or not, so I had the luxury of being able to ask her if she has to go potty. If she said “no” I believed her and asked her again about 45 minutes later.
We started off our morning the same as day 2. I attempted to introduce her undies once she had successfully gone pee pee and poo poo in her potty. What I wasn’t expecting was the absolute fit she threw when I tried to put her undies on her! Huh?! She’d been talking about and seemed very excited about her undies for over a week! She’s not much of a crier – and boy did she cry! After I finally got the undies on her*, there were a couple pee pee accidents which was to be expected. Luckily, she noticed instantly and said “pee pee” and ran to the potty.
- Reminding her that Mommy, Daddy, Mima and Papa all wear undies too, started to get her interested in the idea of trying them on. But, *it was giving her the choice of which undies she wanted to wear was key! Ohh, Miss Independent!
So, she was for the most part potty trained in 3 days! Hallelujah! What I didn’t expect was how much work it was going to be having an 18-month-old potty trained. You literally have to ask (and try) to go potty before you leave to go anywhere, right when you get somewhere, and about 10 times in between! I totally thought my life would be easier having her potty trained, and with a big pregnant belly – it’s definitely harder! So be prepared!
Regression Phase: Yep, it totally and unfortunately happened to me!
When people found out that she was already potty training at 18-months-old, several people liked to throw in their two-cents and tell me what a waste of time it was, because she would most likely regress once baby boy arrived (yeah, that’s really what I want to hear after I’ve literally been up to my elbows in pee and poop for a couple days – thanks!) And, I didn’t believe them. I was all, “not my sweet girl!” Unfortunately, for me, they were right.
Shortly after baby boy came home, she started going potty right in her undies and calling herself a baby. I get it. Totally normal. But, so hard to grasp when you know she’s fully capable and understands it. So, I followed our pediatrician’s advice and just pretended like she was never potty trained at all and just follow her lead and let her go back on the potty whenever she was ready. Easier said then done, but we did the best we could. Then one miraculous day (several weeks before her 2nd birthday), she started telling us when she had to go potty and asked for her undies back! Woo hoo! Some rewards with stickers and she’s potty trained…again!