The potty training post

Q:  I didn’t do infant potty training.  Do I have to wait for Brazleton’s signs of readiness?  What are some good books on potty training?

A:  No, you definitely do not have to wait.  Brazleton’s potty training guidelines were funded by Pampers and are not based on solid scientific evidence.

Books:

Diaper-free before three (if you’re organized)
Diaper Free Before Three is a great read because it has all the actual science of potty training and makes a person much more confident to start training whenever they feel ready.   The first half of the book is the science of why “readiness signs” aren’t correct indicators of readiness and other potty training info.  If you’re starting potty training before 2 years or before 18 months, this is a great one for making you feel confident that you are in no way scarring your baby for life, even if you don’t use her method.


The Diaper Free baby (if you’re more go-with-the-flow)
You can skip the chapters on infant training and go straight to the ones for “older” children.  The Diaper Free Baby is the distilled wisdom from an online forum on potty training.  It gives lots of nice how-tos on part time potty training, and gives you confidence that you are in no way confusing your child with going part-time.  It is also nice in terms of confidence because it clearly explains how there are several potty training windows and not just the standard one.

For the children:

Have you seen my potty?

Everyone poops

History and some science

Prior to widespread disposable diapers (back in the 1950s and earlier), the average age for potty training was 18 months. Today, for boys, it is 3 years 2 months. The recommendations to wait until age 2+ and the signs of readiness were introduced by T. Berry Brazelton who was working for Pampers at the time.  Of course, Brazelton was also reacting against harsh potty training methods that had come earlier and actually did psychologically scar kids, but it wasn’t the age element that was the problem in those cases, but the method.  But, by moving the average age later, that did help keep some of the pressure off in addition to increasing disposable diaper sales.

According to Diaper free before three, if you start older, training happens faster, but if you start younger training happens earlier. So if you start at birth, you can have a completely trained kid at 12 months (with 12 months of training), but if you start at 3 years 2 months, you might have a completely trained kid at 3 years 3 months (with one month of training, but >3 years of diapers).

If you start earlier, you will have to clean up more messes, but you will stop wiping poo from bottoms earlier.  If you start later, it will take less time and you will clean up fewer messes but your child will train later on average.

There’s no right or wrong and you will not be hurting your child so long as your focus is gentle and non-demanding no matter when you start. Think of it like offering food but not forcing it on the baby.  There’s several windows of opportunity

Interestingly, anecdotally it seems like younger kids learn poop first but older kids learn pee first. I’m not sure why that is.

What we did

We were not organized enough to use the method in Diaper Free Before Three, though we do know folks who used it to great success.  Her method is the same method that is used to teach developmentally disabled older children and even adults, and works very well.   I LOVED the book even though we didn’t use her method in its entirety and would recommend it for anybody.

We used parts of her method along with the much more relaxed Diaper Free Baby. Specifically we un-diaper trained first, by going diaper free for about a week and getting very excited whenever DC peed (“You’re peeing!”).  It was a big surprise to hir at first, “What is this stream of water coming from my body?”  We did potty time at specific experiences like right before bath or right before going out etc. We weren’t organized enough to do it at the same time every day or the same amount of time between pottyings like Diaper Free Before Three recommends.

We switched to underpants and cloth while we were training, and that helped a lot. But as in Diaper Free Baby, whenever it got stressful we’d put on a disposable. Ze also had disposables at daycare until ze’d gone a full week without an accident at home.  We also cued peeing by singing the same song every time DC peed, so that pee was associated with the song.  (The books recommend making a ssssssss sound as your child pees.)  This was fantastic when we were hitting the potty at say, a restaurant or right before going out when potty breaks could be scarce.

We started part-time at 15 months. Ze started full-time in daycare at 22 months. Ze was mostly dry in school sometime after that when ze moved into the daycare room closer to the potties. At 4 and a half ze still needs a diaper at night. Ze goes months without an accident but whenever ze has a growth spurt or has a big developmental change ze’ll have a few accidents over a few days.

For us it was really gradual, sort of like weaning or really anything else ze’s done. One day we looked back and realized there hadn’t been a problem in a long time but couldn’t really pinpoint when it was. Ze just gradually had fewer and fewer accidents and gradually needed to be reminded/helped less.

Early half-a**ed training was really a ton less stressful for us than most of the people we knew training hard-core and later. That’s the nice thing about starting earlier– you can half a** it and there’s no pressure (AND you skip the terrible twos/threes). Plus it is really helpful for getting into preschool if you can get it done by 2 years 9 months.

Btw: If you get size 3 padded gerber undies (they hold one tiny pee until the kid’s bladder gets bigger) you can wash and dry them on hot the first time and they’ll shrink. That is WAY less expensive than buying undies that actually fit a small kid.

I would have started earlier if I had known we could, if I had read the actual research instead of just relying on T. Berry Brazelton. We went very gently and ze gradually got better and better (with little regressions whenever ze hit a milestone or something big changed in our lives). The whole process was a lot of fun for everybody, unlike the constant fighting most of my coworkers with older kids were complaining about. And since we were starting early there was absolutely no pressure to get anything done and we spent a lot less on diapers (and random unrelated side purchases at Target) while we were doing it.

So:  Bottom line:  Read these amazing books.  Start potty training whenever you want.  Do it full-time or part-time; it will all work out in the end.  Just keep it stress-free and low key.

Any potty training memories or theories you would like to share?

45 Responses to “The potty training post”

  1. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    Unless a child has an extremely severe developmental disorder, they *will* successfully learn to shit and piss in the toilet if they are raised in an environment where toilets exist and adults use them, no matter how egregious the “training” behavior of the parents (or lack thereof). So, don’t waste your money on f*cken bookes espousing “theories”, and just be kind and gentle to your kid. Done.

    There is very little that children need to be “trained” to do. This idea is f*cken absurd–and self-serving to those that want to sell their stupid f*cken bookes and products–that if parents don’t adopt appropriate “training theories” for every single f*cken aspect of normal human development their kiddes are gonna end up as feral raised-by-wolves savages.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      You would be right in this case, except for one thing: diapers.

      Diapers are unnatural. They’re Western, and used for the convenience of the parents.

      The books and theories are necessary to un-diaper train kids. Otherwise they can and will be in diapers until kindergarten. Some decide they want to change around age 3 on their own, but many do not take the initiative. If you want your kid in a preschool at age 2 years 9 months that only takes potty trained kids, then you’re SOL.

      So yes, if you infant potty trained (and yes, that movement dislikes the word “training”), then no books are necessary (except so that you can read the research to feel more secure that your hippie lifestyle is ok and actually more prevalent than the Western one you are fighting against the tide of). If you used diapers, sorry, you do kind of have to figure something out.

      Also: You wouldn’t be such a negative nelly if you’d read Have You Seen My Potty. The book is hilarious.

  2. Anon Says:

    Hm, I don’t think my parents ever really “potty trained” me or my sister. I believe the story goes that at a certain point my grandpa was changing my diaper, and he was doing it “wrong”, so I was instructing him how to do it “right”- and someone suggested I start using the toilet then, and I said okay, and a week later I was using the toilet full-time. My little sister was much the same way- she was jealous that I got to go to school and she didn’t, and my parents told her you can’t start pre-school until you’re potty trained, and she was using the toilet within a week. So I guess this goes with the easier if the kid is older theory…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yes, it can take very little time when the child is older.

      It’s a lot more years of diapers and wiping poo off rear ends and Target trips, but a lot less cleaning messes off the floor.

  3. Perpetua Says:

    After trying on our own to guide the 2 yo to potty training, we bought on the recommendation of a friend Lora Jensen’s 3 day potty training guidebook. She targets 22-26 month olds, but it can be used on older kids (everyone I know used it on older kids with smashing success). Basically, she argues that if you follow her method to the letter your kid will be using the potty in 3 days. Boom. Day and night. (no pull ups no night time diapers, nothing.) It totally worked for us. DS (2.75 at the time) was completely potty trained in 2 and a half days and we never looked back. He has an occasional accident, but that’s it. He very quickly started getting himself up in the middle of the night and to the bathroom and back to bed without even waking us up. Jensen’s system is very practical and common sense, but not necessary common sense in a way you’d just figure out yourself. It points out to the parents that the “point” of potty training isn’t for the kid to figure out how to sit on the toilet, it’s getting them to understand how their whole evacuation system works (since diapers obfuscate that). So it teaches the child how to learn when it means to have to go to the bathroom and what to do when they need to. I can totally see that some kids when they’re older can just figure this out for themselves, esp if they have motivation (wanting to be like an older sibling especially), but many can’t as long as they are in diapers. It’s an intense 3 days, but I’m never going to muck around with some gradual system again. We’re counting the months until we try it on #2, and it will be *much* earlier. I was really dreading potty training and it turned out to be the easiest thing we’ve done as parents, by far.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The three day method is really popular on mommy forums– it definitely seems to work better with older kids than with younger kids. If you have a 3+ year old, it’s probably a good one to start with. (Though it still doesn’t work with all kids, especially if you hit them during a persnickety stage or they’re not used to junk food!)

      I think younger kids take a bit longer to develop control.

      • Perpetua Says:

        What’ s the connection between junk food and the 3 day potting training? (It’s not really important, but I got confused in the middle of that sentence.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Isn’t the 3 day training the one where you give your kids lots and lots of salty foods and soda, water, juice? Or is that just an improvement that mommy forums have come up with? (Actually, I think I also heard that improvement on NPR many years ago.)

      • Perpetua Says:

        Hey I just followed the link back to this earlier post and thought I’d answer your question – no, Jenson’s method has nothing to do with junk food or juice. We used none of those things.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Must be one of those “improvements” that people add.

  4. Everyday Tips Says:

    My friend and I had our kids 1 week apart. She started potty training around 20 months, and that resulted in constant accidents and cleanup. I think she judged me for not starting training sooner, but I already had another baby and I wasn’t about to take on even more work when I didn’t think my son was ready for it. He showed no signs of readiness whatsoever, and over time, was developmentally delayed in fine motor skills, language, etc, so it made sense a delay in potty training was possible.

    Needless to say, I ended up with 3 in diapers because oldest wasn’t ready at 3 either. We had some success, but not 100 percent. We did sticker systems and all kinds of things, but I do think a lot of it is up to the kid. He was 100 percent by 3.5. Maybe if I wasn’t always pregnant or nursing I would have tried harder.

    On the other hand, my daughter and youngest son were both trained by 3. So, I do think it is a combination of ‘training’ and disposition of the child.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Are you sure she judged you for not training earlier? I think a lot of folks think they’re being judged when people just want to share how well what they’re doing is working. There’s a lot of happiness from not having to wipe rear ends, even if one has to clean more floors. (Some people feel the reverse. I think the big difference is amount of carpeting.) That doesn’t mean she was judging.

      The signs of readiness are totally bunk, and actually end up occurring right about at the terrible twos age when it is more difficult to train. But there are many windows of opportunity at many ages. First signs of readiness are generally not at one of those windows. But Pampers was pleased.

      • Everyday Tips Says:

        Trust me, I was being judged on many levels. She was a stay at home mom and I worked. If she did something one day like go to the zoo she would say ‘see, these are the things you get to do when you stay at home’. (Like I had no idea I could go to the zoo if I was home?) I think she was in a competition with me for some reason. I had other friends that had kids the same age, and I never heard comments like that from them.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Oh that lady. Well, best to put her out of your mind. No doubt she was insecure.

  5. Cloud Says:

    I have no theories. We started at about 2.75. She had it figured out in a couple of weeks. And then she decided that she didn’t want to do it. She was really good at day care, and just wouldn’t use the potty at home. Except the poop. Once she figured out the poop thing, she never had a poop accident. She hated them. But oh, the pee accidents! They were frequent. We cast about and tried various things. What finally worked, when she was well over three, was to say that she had to change herself after an accident. She fought that for a weekend, and then POOF! it was all magically better.

    Then, a few months after that, she announce that she didn’t want to wear a pull up to bed anymore, so we switched to undies at night, too. She’s never wet her bed. This is not bragging on my part, because I had nothing to do with it.

    I came away from the whole experience thinking that we could have done some things better, but that a lot of it is up to the kid and her personality.

    Our toddler (21 months old) is showing some interest in the potty, so we’ll probably bring the little potty in and let her start using it. But I am just not ready for the hassle right now, so I doubt we’ll put much effort in until she is over two. I find diapers easier than potty training, I guess.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’re still working on night-time. Back when ze was in a bassinet or cosleeping ze would NEVER wet while asleep. It would always be the first thing ze did when ze woke up. But when ze started sleeping in hir own bed, I guess the sleep got deeper or something. Ah, if only we’d infant trained. But at the time it seemed overwhelming, especially since we would have had to train the local mother’s helpers who already thought we were nuts for working and uh not having a crib (we *meant* to buy one…).

      • Cloud Says:

        Like I say- we had nothing to do with the night training thing. That was all her. We had been putting her in pullups with underwear under or over (I can’t remember which) for a week or two- because one of her friends came over and was doing that- and she just decided that she didn’t want the pull up.

        I think you are right about the deep sleep thing. She is not a deep sleeper. She will wake up and call for us if she needs to go potty. But mostly, she goes before bed and then is fine through the night.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        As far as we can tell, night training has nothing to do with training and everything to do with physical development. Though some people recommend waking the child to use the potty, limiting water, etc. But that sounds like effort.

        Last night though, DC woke me up at 1:30am distraught because ze couldn’t get hir diaper back on after using the potty.

        That may be related to us moving hir water bottle to the bathroom sink rather than next to the bed.

  6. bogart Says:

    We started around the same age as Cloud, and we started very briefly, unstarted, and restarted, not for any intellectually substantive reason but because right after we’d started, everyone in the family came down with the cold-from-h*ll and we didn’t feel like dealing with it. In retrospect, starting (time 2) around Christmas (cold weather + long car trips) wasn’t the brightest thing I’ve ever done, but we all survived.

    We had cloth diapered mostly. I’ve heard that makes it easier because the kid feels the wetness, but the modern cloth diapers are darned effective at soaking it away. I think cloth diapering actually makes it easier because the parent’s already used to dealing with pee-soaked fabric: diapers, trousers, what’s the difference (not much)?

    I’d posted a query on the mom board I was on and basically learned that most people there had tried a wide array of approaches and gotten a wide array of results, many disastrous. I figured I could achieve disastrous without needing a complex system (M&Ms, timed sit-on-toilet breaks, star charts, whatever), so our system was this: I told DS he needed to learn to use the toilet because he was growing big and that is what big kids do, took off his diapers (except at night; we took to referring to that as the “nighttime diaper” to make it clear it was distinct from other times) and basically never looked back. There was plenty of cleanup, but we have laminate floors, leather furniture, and had been using cloth diapers. Oh, he did still wear disposables at daycare (2 days/week only) for awhile.

    It took me awhile to figure out that, among other things, DS apparently has a bladder bigger than mine and really can go, say, 6 hours without peeing. Also I learned never to tell him he needed to pee (even if he was bouncing up and down naked while pee dripped out…) but to tell him that *I* needed him to sit on the toilet — foucsing on what I can control, not what I can’t. The former can be argued (“Your honor, I object! This woman” — pointing at mama — “has no data about either the contents of my bladder or its dimensions!!!” — DS is going to be a trial lawyer, I believe), the latter, not so much.

    Once DS’ diaper stayed dry pretty much every night, we quit using it (I think by mutual agreement, I forget). There have been a few accidents, but not many.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Hahaha! I can just see that on Perry Mason.

      When we started there was no way DC would have understood a rewards system. Though I understand they work well with, not older kids, but more I dunno, world-wise kids? DC was slow on the idea of rewards, time-out, etc.

  7. hush Says:

    Great post. We’ve used Dr. Lekovic’s “Diaper Free Before 3” method for both of our children: had the potty chair available by 12 months old and brought it with us on vacation, gave them some naked running around time each day, read potty-related books with them (DD is currently a fan of Alona Frankel’s “Once Upon A Potty”), let them watch and learn from us using the toilet, provided undivided attention while they sat on the potty – but never used food or trinkets as rewards, got rid of the disposable diapers for daytime use as soon as we could and put them in cotton training pants, and finally some cool, big kid underpants of their choosing. Oh, and elastic waist pants so they can change themselves.

    Although that sounds like a lot, believe me, it really felt like it was NOT a lot of work at all – it just became part of the routine. I think Lekovic’s suggestion to get rid of all daytime disposable diapers by 2, and to get the kids into cotton training pants with plastic covers is spot on. That being said, where I live, pull ups and the like are EVERYWHERE, but cotton training pants and plastic covers I actually had to order online…

    Our data points: DS started at 33 months and was mostly day trained by 35 months (he still wears a pull up at night at 43 mos, and is wet about every 3rd night), and we recently started training DD at 19 months and are still at it.

    We should have started earlier with DS, but we had his sister when he was 23 months old, and decided that was an inopportune time to start – although knowing what we know now from our experiences of potty training our 2nd child, we may have been completely wrong about that, actually!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Exactly, it really did not feel like a lot of work! Nothing like what all my colleagues with older kids following Brazelton’s signs were going through. Very glad to have dodged that nightmare. By the terrible 2s (or early 3s in our case) pottying was just one of those things ze did. Not something that would even occur to hir to fight about. Doing it before or after that stage is a whole lot less exhausting!

      There’s so much misinformation out there– that you HAVE to do it at exactly Brazelton’s signs of readiness and if you do it before you will traumatize your child and you MUST do it full-time and you must be perfect and organized. When in reality there are many many paths to full-time potty use, and the Brazelton path is actually one of the worse options, just from a timing standpoint.

      We got some plastic covers, but they didn’t really work (they were like a big puffy hat with leg holes and a tight elastic band), and DC didn’t like them. So we just were very careful around carpeting.

      If we have a #2 we’re definitely starting p/t training earlier! Now that we know you can do it p/t without destroying your child.

  8. Ianqui Says:

    Ah, potty training. Everyone’s (least?) favorite topic. I’m glad you wrote that “DC was slow on the idea of rewards, time-out, etc.”–all of these books and web methods assume that all kids can be motivated by these kinds of rewards. Yo didn’t care much about stickers at first, and would definitely never eat a piece of candy, so it took us a while to figure out something that would work. It wasn’t too much better than candy–he lit up when we offered that he could watch an episode of Charlie and Lola if he peed (this was when we were mostly trying at home and had 10 mins after a pee to watch C&L). With these interim rewards, we also got an expensive long term reward to work–toy subway trains. Now he looks at the catalog of subway trains, points to the ones he doesn’t have, and says “You can get a G train if you make 7 peepees!”

    All that said, potty training has been slow and drawn out for us. He’s way too much of a space cadet to do it definitively. He still has plenty of pee accidents, and he doesn’t seem to care when he does. This is why getting him to change himself probably wouldn’t work at all. Fortunately, he has been taking himself to the bathroom to poop lately, which is such a godsend after the weeks of poop accidents.

    So we’re getting there, I guess, but the people who swear by bootcamp methods haven’t met my kid. We actually started out that way over Memorial Day weekend with some or other book I’d taken out of the library, and after three days we’d hardly gotten anywhere. It has taken until now for Yo to stay dry about 85% of the week.

    Overnight, though? Perish the thought. We’re gonna be in overnight pull ups for many months to come.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Ours tended to get distracted.

      Some of the books say you must use rewards and some say you shouldn’t at all. I do think it depends on the kid and the timing of training. My sister could not care less about potty training, so getting her to take control of it was not working for my parents (who very much wanted her to be able to go to Montessori at 3). Bribing her with a lacy pair of fancy underpants that she couldn’t wear if she was just going to wet them was all it took for her to stay dry and never have an accident.

  9. julier Says:

    My only theory, comment, is that every child is different and will train in his own good time. I have identical twins who were trained by all the same people starting about the same time. One was diaper-free before 3 and the other one was still having accidents after she turned 4.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      interesting
      Though, the research does show that on average, if you start earlier kids train earlier. If you start later, they train faster. In actual randomized controlled experiments from pre-Brazelton times.

      So each kid does have their own susceptibility to training, but they still can be shifted by different training methods. So the EC kids generally train sometime around a year. Brazelton kids generally around age 3. Pre-Brazelton, average age was around a year and a half, post-Brazelton, average age after three years. Culture makes those big shifts, but individuals still have differences.

  10. bardiac Says:

    As I read this, I’m reminded of how often my Mom talked about diaper training, long after I was an adult, to other adults, in my presence, and much to my dismay. So I have to say, the methods and timing may do no damage, but if your kids read this as adults, they’ll be horrified. Of course, you may find that handy. /nod :)

  11. scantee Says:

    Is adherence to the Brazelton method regional? I don’t know anyone who follows it where I live and only vaguely knew of the signs of readiness.

    My 3.5 showed readiness around 22 months. I was eight months pregnant at the time though and neither myself nor my partner had the interest or stamina to train him at that point. He used the potty fairly frequently, like once a day, but we didn’t make a thing of it until he was 27 months. At that point we did something similar to the three day crash course method and he picked it up very quickly. He night trained a few months later. All nice and well, right? Well, he’s had many regressions since then and we’ve had to go back and sort of retrain him each time. I don’t think it has much to do with age more with his personality, this probably would have happened no matter when we first trained him. The frustrating part is the night training. This past winter he rarely had a night accident and now suddenly he has them more nights than not. We’re not going to go back to diapers after having him be free of them for over a year so it’s just dealing with a lot of laundry.

    I’m going to attempt training my younger son in September when he’s 22 months old. He knows what the potty is, when he’s peeing and pooping and seems to enjoy the whole routine of going to the bathroom. Even if it partially works we’ll probably go diaper free because I’m someone who would rather deal with accidents and laundry than poop filled diapers.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I have no idea if it is regional or not. Where we are now, everybody made snide comments about us torturing our child (not that we ever brought up the topic).

      Sounds like your younger son is being trained right now!

      • scantee Says:

        Your comments on parenting are so interesting to me because your environment seems so very different than mine. Around here- mid-sized, midwestern, urban area-people tend more towards, well not AP exactly, but a style of parenting that shares some of the practices as AP but is more focused on just thinking through parenting decisions and styles.

        Guess we are sort of training our youngest. For me Training equals not wearing diapers for periods of time and we’re not quite there yet.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Dr. Sears also buys into Brazelton. There is that whole EC community (our friends in the SF bay area were in a group that was really into that– they did it part-time but made fun of their hardcore hippie friends whose house always smelled like pee), but they tend to push infant training. Do your folks talk about Althea Solter a lot?

        What you’re doing is actually part-time potty training according to the books and fits just fine in the Diaper Free Baby methodology. That’s about what we started doing… got out the potty, had some discovery time about peeing… slow and gentle.

      • scantee Says:

        Other than one conversation with an EC friend of mine, I’ve never really talked with anyone about potty training other than the cursory, “we’re potty training Child.” Most people don’t really follow a theory or method rather they do some version of what we’re doing; have a potty around and talk about using it and then make a big push when the child seems to “get it”. The parent’s sense of when the child gets it is what accounts for different starting ages for the big push.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yup that’s different. Though if you’ve never talked, how do you know if they follow theory or method? We also got a lot of questions once ze was trained from desperate parents wanting to know how we did it.

        ‘Round these parts it’s a lot of complaining about the hassle. If they ask when one plans to start and one says one has already started (or worse, they catch you taking your kid to the potty, or note the lack of diaper), they say, “Isn’t that a bit young?” sometimes “All you can do at this age is really train the parent, not the kid” or “I hear that there’s a lot of regression when you start that young.” To which one replies, “Hopefully we’ll skip the terrible twos/threes,” which allows said person to go back to happily complaining.

        Potty training is probably second only in popularity as a subject of conversation as the ubiquitous and constant asking about the child’s sleeping habits. For the first year or so nary a day went by without someone asking if ze slept through the night yet. Not sure why they focus on that so much around here.

        I prefer the midwest where the main subject of light conversation is always the weather. Can’t change the weather.

        Actually, come to think about it, we get a LOT of questions about what we did to get outcome X. Both here and when we visit a completely different part of the country. In the Midwest, not so much. I like the way Midwesterners tend to mind their own business, though I’m sure that’s just because that’s how I was brought up. I bet Southern Californians think we’re cold and rude because we’re so uninterested in what other people are doing.

      • scantee Says:

        It’s certainly possible that people are using some sort of system but I never hear anyone one mention it when the subject of potty training comes up so it doesn’t seem to be a “thing” around here. As with most things, I’m sure there are pockets of people here who are convinced there is a right way to potty train and want to tell you all about it (and how you are doing it wrong) I just never encounter those types.

        Midwesterners certainly seem to have a more mind your own business attitude about things than people from other parts of the country but whatever they’re keeping to themselves when they’re in front of you they’re more than making up for in the things they’re saying behind your back.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That’s a depressing thought.

        Not #1 and #2 though… we don’t say anything behind people’s backs that we wouldn’t say to their faces. Combine that with we don’t say anything at all if we can’t say anything nice… I think that ends up with a blog called Grumpy Rumblings.

  12. prodigal academic Says:

    My older kid just didn’t want to use the toilet period. I still think this kid doesn’t–we still have to use diapers at night at age 4.5. At age 3.5, we threatened this child by taking away every privilege not required to sustain life whenever the toilet was not used and then like magic (after a few tests of our resolve), there were no accidents. There was no “training” involved, just motivation. I think it is like that for older kids (but most can be bribed, unlike our kid).

    We tried lots of other stuff that didn’t work (bribery of all sorts, having them clean up accidents, running around naked, timing things, sticker charts, etc). We knew our kid was capable of using the toilet, but didn’t feel like it, so we pulled out the big guns. It was much easier than everything else we tried. And this was a kid who used cloth diapers! DC just REALLY didn’t care about being wet or dirty and also enjoyed cleaning up accidents. What works is so individual. Lots of people are afraid of scarring their kids with any kind of punishment for “accidents”, but since we were pretty sure the “accidents” were deliberate, we tried it and it worked. I wouldn’t have done it with a younger child, or one who seemed to have control issues. I am hoping #2 is easier, but I doubt it.

  13. First Gen American Says:

    I guess I’m in the less mess camp. With the first, he was peeing all over everything when we tried diaper training him, so with the second, we’re waiting a little longer. I told the older one he can’t have a birthday party if he’s not out of diapers when he turns 3. That worked pretty well actually. Not sure what will motivate the other one. I was told by many parents that you just need to find something the kid really wants and use it as a reward. Between a birthday party and an elephant ride at the zoo, we had the winning combo.

  14. Lindy Mint Says:

    Thanks for the book recommendations.

    Training with my oldest didn’t go so well. We ended up employing the potty training resistant method (Google it and it shows up all over the place) when he was 3.5. My youngest is 2.5, and we’ve started the training process, but have been too lazy to go all out. I may need to pick up these books to get motivated.

    We also liked the children’s book, A Potty for Me.

  15. Molly On Money Says:

    My daughter started training herself when she was about 18 months old, during the summer. It was warm, we lived in a rural area and stayed outside ALOT (you just can’t ruin much when you pee outside)! When I put her in daycare at 2yrs old they insisted she wear a diaper. I understood, when she had to go, SHE HAD TO GO! (I could sympathize- I could barely hold it in either!) She went back into a diaper full time but by the next summer rolled around she did it again and this time was able to hold it. It seemed like it was a physiological thing- her bladder just wasn’t big enough or she didn’t have the control to hold it when she was 1 1/2 yrs old.

  16. frugalscholar Says:

    My two kids were potty trained at the same time–boy was 3, girl was 1. I think they trained themselves–can’t remember.

  17. Link self-love « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured Says:

    […] we had some pretty good ones… on uh, the science of potty training… why we have everything,  important relationship lessons, the persecuted majority, […]

  18. Adventures in Elimination Communication « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured Says:

    […] we started gentle potty training with DC1 around 15 months, even though we really should have started at 12 months when ze […]


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