My two children potty trained themselves before age two. I did not push them to do it, I simply followed their lead and encouraged them once they showed me they were ready.
There was no taking my toddler every 10 minutes to sit on the potty (that sounds like torture). There were minimal accidents and no 2-year old power struggles. Everything else is currently a power struggle at age 2 with my youngest child, but not potty training.
(Shortly after writing this post, my youngest had a MAJOR regression due to being afraid to poop. Withholding is apparently very common, because toddlers don’t like the pain that sometimes comes with it. When I read this post and followed Dayna’s suggestion, the problem went away.)
Although I cannot guarantee that my suggestions will work for every child, I do feel that there are definite ways that you can encourage early potty training. And all of these steps are super simple to implement. Just imagine not having to buy any more diapers. I know, sounds amazing,right?
Here’s what I suggest you do:
Change poopy diapers ASAP
What you want to do is to make your child dislike the feeling of having a dirty diaper. If you clean your child up right away every time, chances are she will start to dislike the feeling, and want a clean diaper. This will help your child become aware of what is happening with her body.
Let your child watch you (daddy, siblings) use the potty
Okay, so this might be a silly tip because if your house is anything like mine, no one EVER gets a chance to go to the bathroom in private. Are there children who actually give their parents privacy in the bathroom? If not, just think of it as a potty training aide.
Acknowledge when your baby has gone
It’s pretty much impossible to miss the moment that your baby or toddler poops. So LABEL IT. Give it a name so that your baby can start to realize that something just happened. You also want to smile and keep it positive. You never want your child to be ashamed of going to the bathroom.
Talk about it
My second child went through a period being disgusted when she would poop. I simply reminded her that everyone does it. I asked her if mommy, daddy, sister, grandma, etc. did it, and I believe it calmed her fear.
Have a child’s potty visible way before your child will train
If your child has access to a potty, she will have the chance to explore it, and it will be normal and nothing new.
Or better yet, get this toilet step trainer with ladder. My second daughter is extremely independent (and thinks she’s 10). She absolutely would not sit on a “baby” potty. With this seat, she can safely get up on the potty all by herself (and I don’t have to clean out a baby potty!).
Play and read about using the potty
Kids are fascinated with bodily functions. Encourage your baby or toddler to become interested in using the potty by reading about it. We have two books about using the potty. Where’s the Poop? is a lift-the-flap book that will have your child laughing and realizing that everyone (even the animals) poops! P is for Potty! is another lift-the-flap book that any Sesame Street fan will love.
We also have this drink and wet doll from Melissa and Doug. Both of my children are obsessed with it, even after being trained.
Pay attention to your child’s cues
A lot of moms that I know have children that use the potty inconsistently, or that did but no longer do. If your child is showing you that she is interested, you need to take advantage! Both of my children (around 18-20 months old) started pulling at their diaper when they peed. Even if your child’s diaper is already wet, sit her on the potty anyway.
Allow your child to go diaper free
This is the biggest reason that I have had success getting my children to potty train themselves. It’s difficult for a toddler to realize that she has to use the potty while wearing a big, bulky diaper. Your child will be much more likely to let you know that she needs to go if she is naked. Once your child starts pulling at her diaper or telling you that she peed, start letting her go naked. And if you’re worried about your child being cold, these baby leg warmers are the best (and so cute).
For my first child, even after she was consistently using the potty, putting underwear on her caused her to have accidents. My second child did great even with a diaper on when we were out and about.
Will your child have accidents? Maybe. Just keep your eye on the prize, mama. Potty trained= no more money spent on diapers!