Now that we’re almost three months into potty training Sybil, I feel like I can finally share the potty training must haves that worked for us.
Before I get into the list, I wanted to talk about my experience potty training two kids with different personalities. I decided to train Lawson on a Friday, started Monday and considered it a success by noon. Okay, maybe that’s a touch aggressive, but it was a very easy process. He almost immediately understood it and didn’t look back. For reference, Lawson was 3 years, 2 months old when he was potty trained.
With Sybil, I knew the ideal age to train was around 24-30 months. So a month shy of the 30 month mark, we gave it a shot. I lasted one week before quitting. We were both frustrated and over it. I really struggled with whether or not to quit. I felt like a failure and that she should be able to do it at her age. I mean the book said she should, right??!
Fast forward six months when we decided to try again. It was like night and day. She understood from the beginning (even if she didn’t want to sit on the toilet). She does still have pee accidents more frequently than I’d expect (sorry about your couch Uncle Zack!) but it’s mostly when she’s in a new or different situation. I’ve learned to look out for them and be proactive about making her pee. She doesn’t want to stop playing unless we’re at home so there’s a lot of reminding and forcing her to go.
If you feel like you should have already potty trained your child or tried but don’t think it’s working, remember they’ll get it when they’re ready. Also, don’t underestimate how important it is for you to be in the right mental state. Be positive and know going in that it’s going to take time and effort.
POTTY TRAINING MUST HAVES
ONE // Oh Crap, Potty Training: So many people recommended this book. It was the only one I read so I don’t have a comparison, but I would recommend it to anyone. The methods worked well for us and it was a quick, easy read.
TWO // Baby Bjorn Toilet: Oh Crap recommenced this toilet as it helps them be able to pee, and more importantly, poop. It also has great reviews on Amazon. We have one on each floor and also bought them for extended stays at grandparents house. Now with two kids, I’m getting tired of emptying and cleaning it, but it works so for now I’m sticking with it.
THREE // Seat Cover: We use a seat cover when we’re out and about to put on top of the toilet seat. It makes the seat opening smaller and helps them feel more secure.
FOUR // Super Pooper and Whiz Kid Potty Power book: I didn’t find this book until after training both Lawson and Sybil, but I wish I had. It was too cute to pass up so I recently bought it. They love it and we read it multiple times a day.
FIVE // Underwear: This seems like a no brainer and it is, but finding the right size was harder than I expected. Lawson started and still wears size 2-3 from the Gap. He loves the days of the week set. Sybil also wears size 2-3 from Gap and has tried Hanna Andersson and H&M. They are all too big.
SIX // Daniel Tiger Potty episode: If your kiddo is a fan of Daniel Tiger, I’d definitely recommend this episode. I didn’t intentionally set out to watch it but it was on PBS around the time Sybil was training. From then on the “if you have to go potty, stop and go right away” jingle became a regular part of our day.
We didn’t attempt to potty train either Lawson or Sybil at night when we started off. After Sybil had been day trained for two months, she started resisting wearing a diaper at night (pajamas too, but that’s another story). Eventually I quit fighting her and let her go to bed without it. I was very nervous as she’d never woken up in the morning without a wet diaper, but she did it. She hasn’t gone back to wearing diapers, although she does pee in her bed on occasion. Usually it’s a very little bit before she wakes up, realizes what she’s doing and runs into the bathroom. She’ll occasionally wake me up to go into the bathroom with her, but otherwise does it on her own when she needs to.
Once Lawson realized his little sister didn’t wear a diaper at night, he decided he didn’t want to either. He is a very heavy sleeper. Seriously, once when I was letting Sybil CIO she screamed for 45 minutes and he slept through the whole thing. We’ve tried waking him up to pee overnight, but he is so sleepy that he can hardly stand much less pee. This generally results in him peeing in his bed once a night. I’ll update this post once we’ve figured it out. If you have any advice, please send it my way!
THE FIRST WEEK
Lastly, I thought I’d document the first week of training Lawson and Sybil in case it’s helpful. To the extent the process differed for them, I’ve tried to note it. Otherwise you can assume it was similar.
DAY ONE // After breakfast, diapers and pants come off. It’s time for a naked day, at least from the waist down. L&S heavily resisted taking their diapers off. There were tears. I let them watch lots of TV. As soon as I saw them peeing, we raced to the toilet. Again, they didn’t want to sit on it the first few times but I forced them to. Within a few hours, it got easier and they’d at least start for the toilet on their own. Progress!
For the first couple of days, I had juice on hand to give them (we don’t usually have juice at home). The idea is to give them a lot of liquids so you have a lot of chances to teach them how to go on the toilet. For some reason, juice passes through much quicker than water. Be prepared to have all eyes on them if you use it!
DAY TWO // Today was all about poop for Lawson (Sybil followed the same process, but on day 3). We spent hours on the toilet with me sitting right next to him. Reading books, singing songs, whatever I could do to make him comfortable. Be cautious of their little legs falling asleep if they sit on the toilet for too long. It happened to both L&S and they understandably freaked out the first time. I make them get up and wiggle their toes/shake their legs if they sit too long. Even though I spent hours next to them, L&S both pooped for the first time when I left the bathroom. I would need to “check on something and be right back” because while they want you near I think they finally relax enough to poop when you’re not.
In the spirit of listening to your child’s cues, Sybil really wanted to wear underwear and pants on day two. Rather than fight it, I let her. I wouldn’t say it was a mistake, but she does continue to have more pee accidents than Lawson did. She had a hard time getting her pants down fast enough, especially as I watched her less closely.
DAY THREE // At this point, they both ran to the bathroom by themselves when they needed to go.
With Lawson, this was the day he put on clothes (we started with loose pajamas). It’s also the first time we went out of the house. Initially we went out for 20 minutes in our courtyard and then for a longer period that evening when we met friends for dinner. Even though we brought him inside to pee every 30-45 minutes, he was having too much fun playing and had an accident towards the end of the night. He’s had a handful (or less) accidents since.
DAY FOUR // By day 4, L&S initiated taking off their diapers in the morning. When asked if she wanted help as she ran to the bathroom, Sybil replied “nope”.
DAY FIVE // This was Sybil’s first trip out of the house. She didn’t want to pee on a big toilet and eventually had an accident at the library even after attempts to pee while we were there.
DAY SIX // We went to the pool and Sybil wore a swim diaper. She did the next 2-3 times we went to the pool or beach and then quit wearing them. She had another pee accident at the end of the day.
DAY SEVEN // We were at the mall when Lawson had to pee. I asked if he wanted the seat cover and he told me he’d pee standing up instead. And that was that. He’s peed standing up ever since.
As I mentioned above, Sybil does continue to have pee accidents every now and then usually at the end of the day. I still watch her cues, especially when we’re out of the house, and make her go to the bathroom even when she says she doesn’t need to. After some arguments, I finally figured out she’s much better about it when I hold her hand and cover my eyes with my other hand. She told me I can’t look until she flushes the toilet. Hey, whatever works!
And there you have my potty training novel! After changing diapers continuously for almost 4.5 years, it seems we have left that stage of parenting behind. To the shock of no one, we’re not sad about it.
Wherever you are on your potty training journey, good luck!