I guess he’s ready. That’s what today told me.
I had prepared by:
1. Cleaning out his little potty in our bathroom that seems to accumulate dust and hair.
2. Making “candy” I could feel happy about giving him as reward (info later in post).
3. Putting a bin of books next to the potty.
4. Moving the bathroom rug to a spot cozy enough for his feet to rest, and my body to sit on for the better part of the day reading books and waiting.
5. Placing a timer in the bathroom to be set every thirty minutes to “try.”
6. Rolling up the living room area rug so the house would be concrete floors only, for easy accident clean up.
7. Reading three different potty training books over the weekend. All very different perspectives; I gleaned bits and pieces from each one.
8. Making sure my schedule was completely clear this week, so we could stay home all week and focus on this task.
What I did NOT do:
1. Buy pull ups or underwear. I decided to just wait to see how the first few days went. I’ve heard from several friends that the best potty training method is to spend a dedicated week working on it, and to have the toddler naked from the waist down. This makes frequent potty visits easy, and makes them very, very aware of any accidents they have.
We have cloth diapered Jax since he was born, so he is used to the feeling of soft, cotton fabric against his skin (we use prefolds, not the moisture wicking fancy diapers). It means he is also used to the feeling of wet, smushy cotton against his skin. I felt that underwear would just feel the exact same to him as his cotton diapers, and wouldn’t “tell” his brain that something was different and he needed to pay attention.
Plus I’m not planning to take him out of the house this week. If things go well, I will figure out if I want to use disposable or cloth pull ups, or underwear, or whatnot. That part is still a bit overwhelming.
When we woke up this morning, I let him know I was going to help him learn how to use the potty today. He seemed nonchalant. I reiterated this idea several times over the morning while we ate breakfast and tidied up the house.
Prior to today, we’ve been reading potty books for a couple months now.. We have spent time talking about how he will grow up and learn to use the potty, and practicing sitting on his little plastic potty in our bathroom (usually when I’m going using the toilet he will sit on his potty with his clothes on).
However, he also knows that when he grows up, he will learn to drive a car and use sharp knives, and as a firstborn without older siblings to model for him, he seemed prepared to wait until we let him know the time was right for either one. I felt that without some prompting, he might not realize that the time for peeing in the toilet was coming along much sooner than driving a car.
After breakfast I took off his diaper and put him in just a tee-shirt. I let him know he wouldn’t wear a diaper or shorts today, so he could learn to use the potty. At my suggestion, he willingly went over to try. Shortly after he sat down, he started crying that he didn’t want to. I thought perhaps it was the newness and suddenness, since he is a person who likes clear expectations and accomplish-able tasks.
So I busted out the reward concept. I told him if he put his pee or poopy in the toilet, I would give him candy.
That was an instant motivator, and for the next hour he pretty much refused to get off the potty because he was determined to get candy! (A rare treat around here).
I tried suggesting he take little breaks and try again later, but the minute he got up, he would go back in to try again to get candy. He seemed a bit discouraged. Then my mother in law texted me to give him lots of water. Eureka.
I filled up a sippy cup with juice (Odwalla carrot and blueberry apple which is squeezed fruit and pulp), and another sippy with herbal tea that Jax loves. After downing a good amount of each, about thirty minutes later he went! I was using the toilet at the same time, and reading him books. He announced that he went pee, and he had! Two bits of homemade candy and he was a happy camper.
“You can have more when you put more pee or poopy in your potty!”
The second time he was successful, he was sitting at the table to eat, then told me he needed to pee. He got down from the table, ran to the bathroom, and peed in the potty again.
He spent all morning visiting the potty of his own accord, saying he needed to pee. I would guess he sat on the potty perhaps every 10-15 minutes without any prompting (though I was prepared to do so). I had set the timer a few times, but each time he had already visited the potty several more times than the timer indicated, so I stopped using it.
Before nap time, he had peed in the potty six times and had zero accidents. The last four pees were without any help from me at all. He just kept trying, and when he was successful, he came running to tell me and get his candy.
All that focusing must have worn him out because he took a three hour nap, and of course his diaper was wet after naps. (I have zero expectations in the sleeping dry area until he masters awake dry first).
After that long nap, Daddy came home. Daddy is way too much fun these days, so Jax had one pee accident on an upholstered chair, and a second pee accident in the bath (no surprise there). Then he went to bed, so Daddy didn’t get to see him go in the potty, and we didn’t have any successes following nap time. Considering how well the morning went, I at least feel certain that he’s ready, and we’re on the right track.
He didn’t poop all day, in any location. He’s in bed now, and I’m curious to see if he will poop during the night (which he otherwise hasn’t done for over a year), or first thing in the morning, or what will happen. This is a kid who usually poops 2-4 times per day, and is never constipated. I feel certain he didn’t poop today because he hasn’t figured out how to do it in the potty, not because he didn’t need to go. In fact, I bet several of the times he would say he needed to pee, and would try, but not go, was his body wanting to poop.
Update: He woke at 10:30 pm tonight with a poopy diaper. It took him a long time to fall asleep tonight, likely because of his lengthy nap, so I imagine he pooped while he was trying to fall alseep. He’s clean, and back to sleep again now. Hopefully no more poopy tonight!
I feel pretty upbeat about how today went. I had prepared myself for accidents all day long, and perhaps one successful pee in the potty. Having made as much quick progress as he did, tells me he is physically and developmentally ready. Now the two of us just have to figure this out together!
The candy I made him is from the lovely book “From Scratch” by Shaye Elliott. It’s a cookbook for “whole foods”, which I would describe as a way of cooking that is truly from “scratch.” She doesn’t have a recipe asking for salsa on top of something, and she even has recipes for things like homemade mayonnaise. I get frustrated by just how much “food” sold in the grocery store seems to have more artificial ingredients than it does actual food. I also know that Jax already eats a lot of fruit and dried fruit, so rewarding him with raisins wasn’t going to be an adequate motivation. In the recipe book, Shaye says a friend of hers developed this recipe when potty training her toddler, and it seemed like a great idea to me.
– Butter (organic, free range if possible) – saturated animal fats from healthy animal sources have actually been shown in recent years to be necessary for physical and dental health, especially in children
– Cinnamon (I get my spices from Mountain Rose Herbs online, as they are organic, fair trade, and about 25% of grocery store prices).
– Honey (I use local, raw, unfiltered honey)
The recipe has you blend it up, put it in a pastry or ziploc bag, cut the corner, squeeze into little “buttons” on parchment paper, then freeze. Once frozen, it was easy to scrape them into a glass jar and store it in the freezer (bonus, Jax can’t reach it there). I gave him two candies each time he peed in the potty, and plan to give him three or four for poopy in the potty.
I haven’t tried to think about having to stop with the candy once he’s got the hang of it. I will just take one parenting challenge at a time, thank you! Potty training is big enough right now.
The books I read are the following:
2. That’s How I Roll
review (very brief, perhaps a fifteen minute read, my least favorite)
1. This book was my favorite, because the parenting advice I’ve found most helpful so far, is essentially developmental insight or psychological explanations for a child’s stage or behavior. Every child is different, which we hear all the time. But this means that you could read one hundred pieces of specific “do this, this way” advice, and perhaps one or two might “work” for your child. I’ve found that if I can understand what his basic development need is, or what is “behind” his behavior, I am able to discover with a unique solution to address that need, rather than addressing the behavior. God in my life helps so much too, because I truly believe that of my best parenting solutions have been something I heard God whisper to me to try.
The book talks about basic toddler personality types, and how to help channel those in regard to potty training. It does not suggest any particular method or “how to”, and also emphasizes that kids are physically/emotionally/mentally “ready” at different times, and if they aren’t ready, you just aren’t going to have much success, so better to try again in a few months. She talks about how this takes time, and the “do it in one day” methods tend to fail.
The book doesn’t have the greatest reviews on Amazon, my guess being that people wanted something more “how to.” For me, it was perfect.
2. This was my least favorite. She has a very clear cut “how to” and reiterates that parents who attempt her method and fail, have left out one of her steps. She says you can’t leave any of them out, or you will fail. She also tries to be funny, but I didn’t find her funny.
Here’s her method in a nutshell:
– Take toddler to store and let them pick out super cool undies, any kind they like. Also get plain white boring undies.
– Tell toddler today is the day, and don’t change your mind about it, or go back, ever, this is the no going back day from this day forward, no matter what happens.
– That same day, take away toddler’s sippy cup and move them to a normal cup, even if they still spill their cup all the time, because if they just “sip” on their sippy cup all day, they won’t quickly fill their bladder up like they would with a normal cup, which will prevent their bladder from getting full and making them need to go potty.
– Buy the seat that goes on the normal potty, not a potty chair, because you don’t want to have to clean the potty chair.
– Buy M&Ms or candy of your choice. Give them one candy for “trying” (sitting on the potty), two candies for pee, and three candies for poop. Also have a “big” toy item ready to give them after a few days of good success.
– Put their cool undies on. Take them to the potty every 30-60 minutes. Encourage them to drink water. When they have an accident, throw away the cool undies that got dirty, and put the plain white undies on. Explain the cool undies can’t be cleaned and they have to learn to keep them clean or they will be thrown out. It is okay if this makes the toddler cry because you want them to have motivation to keep the cool undies clean.
– Stick with it. First day expect 10-12 accidents, and maybe one success. Second day expect 4-6 accidents and several successes. By day three, toddler should be having 1-2 accidents per day and everything else success.
– Your kid will be potty trained with a week or two at the most.
There were just too many things that grated on me (besides the forced humor). Some kids might be intimidated by the big potty, and want a little potty, and that’s okay. I also felt that sitting on the big potty while Jax sat on his little potty was helpful to him.
No matter what I do, Jax always spills a normal cup within three minutes of getting it, no matter how exciting the contents of the cup are. He also only drinks water or fluid when he is really thirsty, then he drinks a LOT all at once. So I don’t see a reason to take away his sippy cup (which is really a stainless water bottle with a straw, not a true sippy). I also don’t see a reason to make too many big changes to a toddler all at once. If they are at all attached to their sippy, as many toddlers are, I wouldn’t want to make that huge change at the same time I was making another huge change (potty training).
I can’t lie to my kids. I don’t like using “stuff” or throwing away their stuff, as a method of “training.” It seems more like threats or punishment, which isn’t generally advised for potty training. I also think that peeing in undies would be a big physical awakening to a kid who’s used disposable diapers, but no change at all for a kid who’s been in cloth.
Finally, some kids just aren’t going to be ready when the parents think they are, or want them to be. So the instruction to stick with it and never go back just isn’t reasonable. If the kid is really struggling and you are having all sorts of resistance, it’s better for everyone to just stop and wait a few months to try again. There are developmental issues affecting the capability of the child to toilet train, just like their capability to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, and anything else a parent might want (or not want!) their child to accomplish.
3. Pantley’s book is broken down in a “quick” section and a longer section. You can read the quick section and not read anything else, unless you have a particular area of struggle you want a bit more detailed advice about. Reading both sections feels incredibly redundant, as there are identical sentences and paragraphs, some of them just fleshed out a bit more with an anecdote, joke, or tiny bit more detail.
She seems to take a middle ground approach. She gives some ideas of different ways to try things, emphasizes pausing if the child doesn’t respond well, and emphasizing it can take time not to try to rush or pressure the child. She has a combination of how-to’s, but not as specific as book #2; and some developmental insight, though not as thorough or helpful as book #1. She also says it might be helpful to clear your schedule for a week or several days in a row, to focus on it, and that works for some kids who are developmentally ready.
Surprisingly, none of them even mention the idea of partial nudity (waist down) as being a method that works for many toddlers and parents.
They all agree not to punish accidents or other unwanted potty behavior. They all agree that nighttime and nap-time dryness is a physical and physiological development that cannot be rushed or altered. They all take the tack that you just have to wait and one day the kid will do it, and it should happen before age six, but commonly does not happen until age four or five, years after the child is day trained.
My sister, and other friends I’ve known, have spent a bit of time with a three or four year old, to help them night train (especially boys who sleep heavily). When the parents go to bed (maybe 10 or 11 or 12 at night), they wake the boy and take him potty. They also set an alarm for somewhere around 2/3/4 am to take the child potty again. My sisters have both been able to night-train their four year olds using this method. So while it’s not necessary to expect a two-year old to be dry through the night, it may also not be necessary to just “wait and see” until a child is six, for them to figure it out on their own.
I’m proud of Jax, and I’m also at peace knowing that I’m not pushing him for something he’s not ready for. He showed me today that he is ready, so now we just get to walk this journey together, however long it takes him. In the mean time, I’ll keep making butter buttons.