Roughly after a month of diving head first into potty training, I can finally say we are fully day potty-trained! There were a number of nay-sayers in my corner who kept telling me my son was too young, but just like with cloth diapers, I'm happy to have stuck to my guns. And I learned a few things along the way I hope will be helpful and encouraging to other parents entering the great adventure that is potty training.
There are four critical things I learned about potty training. As I struggled, other moms would tell me these things that I eventually found to all be true.
But first, the potty training method we used is the Go Diaper Free method. Since we had been doing part-time Elimination Communication since 12 months, when I learned Go Diaper Free also had a Potty Training book, I decided why not.
There's a popular book out there called "Oh Crap Potty Training," and from what I can tell, these two methods are essentially the same. Basically, as soon as you commit, you abandon all diapers and pull-ups, spend 2-3 days in naked booty mode observing your toddler's signs and carrying them to the potty every time they start to go until "something clicks." At that time you go commando, and then you can start to put them in underwear, too.
Go Diaper Free sells "tiny undies" on their Tiny Undies site, that apparently are the most comfy, best fitting underwear for kids. We especially like the bear print ones that have different colored leg holes and an upside down bear printed on the front to help little ones learn how to put their underwear on. Our kiddo loves them!
Okay, okay...so on to the stinky lessons!
Have patience mamas and dadas. There was a week or two when every time we seemed to make progress, we would then have a rough day. But as in life, progress is not always linear. Just like when your bebe learns to eat on their own, it's a little messy when they first try to use their utensils, or even their hands. Thankfully, even though we abandoned diapers on the booty, our son's cloth diapers came in real handy for cleaning up messes!
2. Kids don't like to soil themselves.
This was the thing my nay-sayers didn't get...babies and kids don't actually like soiling themselves. This is the first thing I learned when it came to Elimination Communication and potty training has really shown this to be true. They simply get used to going in a diaper, because that's what we teach them. So, the simple fact of not wanting to wet themselves or poop themselves will encourage them to learn how to use the potty...even if it seems like it may not click at first.
And at first, my son clearly hated peeing on himself and even avoided trying to get himself wet whenever he peed during naked time. But pooping was a different story. At first he wouldn't say or do anything. He was always like this in diapers, too. However, that soon changed and if nothing else, he would at least always tell me when he needs to poo. If he's having too much fun, he will hold his pee until he bursts...but poo? He will run to me if he needs to poo.
3. Eventually it just clicks.
The hardest part for me was getting my son to tell me when he needs to go. I knew he understood when and how to use the toilet, but he just didn't seem to want to communicate. We simply use a seat reducer, because it's what we've used since he was 12 months old, and so he needs help getting on the toilet, even with a stool. That means he needs to let me know when he needs to go.
Several mamas told me it just randomly clicked one day for their kid, and usually after a month of potty training. So, I waited for this one magical day to occur and you know what? It did! Interestingly, also roughly a month later. There were a few moments in between when he would randomly tell us he needed to go or start to head to the toilet, but around the month mark was when he was clearly and more consistently letting me know...or at the very least, clearly signing.
4. Let Accidents Happen.
At a certain point, I learned I was over-prompting--meaning, I was too good at reading his signs/offering the potty too often, and it meant he didn't need to tell me when he needed to pee. So, mama had to back off and let him have a few accidents in order to encourage independence. Funny enough, literally the day after I decided to start backing off, our son started letting me know. At first he only let me know when we were out, but had accidents at home. Then the following day, we had zero accidents at home and out.
By the way, it seems like it's common for some kids to be more successful out and about than at home. And that's probably because when they're out, they know they don't want to and should not pee themselves. I think maybe with our son, he also wants to avoid making a mess outside? Not sure we'll ever know the truth...but those are my inklings.
And that's our potty training journey summarized in four of the biggest lessons I've learned. Basically parents...remember that potty training is much like anything else in life. Patience and perseverance...repetition until it clicks and sticks...mistakes are necessary in order to learn and grow...and no one likes to pee or poop their pants.
Also, once your kiddo is potty trained, it doesn't mean no accidents forever. Just remember back to when we were kids and our parents had to pack us an extra pair of clothes for these reasons.
So, if you're about to dive into the potty game, or you're struggling...hang in there! You've got this!
Got your own potty stories? I'd love to hear them!