I wanted to start potty training G at 18 months (ambitious, I know). But then he decided to climb out of his crib and I wanted
him us to get used to the new-found freedom of having taken off the front of his crib before diving into potty training. This doesn’t mean I waited to prepare for the big transition from diapers to underwear though. I started preparing for potty training when G was about 15 months, when he started showing sings of being ready.
This didn’t necessarily mean sitting G on the toilet right away. When we first started out, it was more getting him excited about the idea of using it.
I bought a potty seat early on
I didn’t want to get a separate potty I’d be forced to wash out every time G went to the bathroom. I can totally see how they are beneficial, but after dealing with dumping and dunking poopy cloth diapers for about a year I was more than ready to start flushing all the messes away.
I started with the Mommy’s Helper Flip ‘N Flush Potty Seat. I loved it because it fastened to the existing toilet lid. Mr Boots and I could flip it up when we needed to go and had no issues closing the lid to the toilet. It wouldn’t fit on all our toilets (we have funky toilet lids, apparently), but luckily it attached to the downstairs one where G spends most of his time anyway. We tried sitting him on it, but he hated that. However, he loved playing with it and it was a good seat for him to explore the toilet with until I was really ready for him to use it before bath time (we’d just sit him on it briefly to see if he’d do anything). Unfortunately, he outgrew this seat by 20 months (the opening is super small!) and I found I would need a splash guard that wasn’t squishing his business.
When I realized that the Flip n Flush wasn’t going to work, I did a lot of research. Apparently, most seats work for girls, not all of them work for boys. I settled on the Baby Bjorn Toilet Trainer . It fits on all our toilet seats, is easy to get off and on, and is sturdy for G to sit on. I also bought a Prince Lionheart seat to go on the toilet upstairs, but it slides around the toilet seat (it only has two tiny suction cups that is supposed to keep it in place. No good for a wiggly 21 month old). The seat also seems to sink into the toilet when G sits on it. It’s fine for the one or two times a day G will use the toilet upstairs, but it isn’t my first choice for extensive toilet training when the child might be using it multiple times a day for 5-10 minutes at a time.
The potty training books were lost on us. I bought Fun to Flush: Potty Time when G was about 17 months. He loves flushing the “toilet” but I don’t think it really made him understand the concept. My MiL bought him Prince of the Potty, which is a super cute book, but again, G didn’t care.
Keeping door open when I used the bathroom
I think this helped a lot, and I started when I started staying home full time. When I had to go, I’d announce it. Eventually G was taking me by the hand and leading me to the bathroom. I’d explain what I was doing as I was doing it. He’d help flush and then want to wash his hands with me. He also went through a phase where he’d insist on taking toilet paper and wiping my legs and knees for me.
I still do this. In fact, sometimes the only way to get him to try and go is for me to state I need to go. I’ve had to kick him off a few times because I couldn’t hold things (yay pregnancy!).
I was hoping that G would be happy sitting on the potty with a book. But that wasn’t happening. So, when books failed, we turned to technology. Since I saw and read other parents do this, it made me feel less guilty. I knew G had to go, G knew he had to go, we needed something to keep him sitting for more than 20 seconds.
I bought the app Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel for the Kindle that G enjoyed for a long time (because I refused to look into others). One of the activities is a bathroom scene where you can put toilet paper in the toilet and flush, turn on the faucet so Daniel washes his hands, and help Daniel brush his teeth.
Now that we’re one month into this adventure, more apps have been added to the Kindle. G enjoys PlayKids TV: Videos for Children and Toddlers which has episodes of Super Why and Caillou, among a bunch of others I’ve never heard of. He has also enjoyed the free version of Kids Animal Train which has helped him learn about farm animals.
G enjoys watching videos of Trains on Mr Boots’ iPhone when he’s home. I was letting G watch videos on my iPhone, but then he accidentally dropped it into the toilet. So… I should have also bought that waterproof case I insisted was too much money when I got my replacement phone several months ago. I highly suggest you do this if you haven’t already. You can’t be too careful. Heck, even if your child is 2 days old get a waterproof case — G broke my last one because he kept getting a hold of it and putting it in his mouth, causing water damage. (I can’t decide if I want to spend $200 getting mine replaced or wait until May and get a brand new one. I can still make phone calls and that’s what I care about most, but no fun videos on the phone now.)
G’s getting to be a champ at the iPhone and Kindle now. He even showed my mom how to use the Kindle when she was watching him for me one day. Now that he uses these things to keep him on the toilet for more than 20 seconds, I am limiting his use of them outside the bathroom.
When we finally dove into actually potty training, I bought Pull Ups and quickly realized that they hold too much for G to know he is wet right away. Sometimes we couldn’t tell if he had stayed dry. When you read other suggestions that tell you to stay away from these, know they are right! I will use these when we go out or at nap time or short outings once he shows more consistency in dry/not sopping wet diapers.
I also bought Gerber Training Pants. They hold a small accident and I like that they are economical. I started with 6 and quickly realized that on bad days that wasn’t enough. Once I felt we could venture out of the “bottomless phase” I bought 8 more. Now I have enough to wash them every other day along with the 3-4 cloth diapers he uses within a two day time period now. (It’s so nice not to wash a bunch of diapers, but it’s also sucking because I can’t really wait until I have a full load.)
Letting your child sit on the toilet for 20 minutes at a time isn’t good for them. G definitely is chaffed from sitting on the toilet, though it’s getting better now that we don’t have to make him try every 20 minutes. He’s gotten good at peeing within 5 minutes of sitting on the toilet, so I’ll set the timer on our oven for 5-10 minutes to give him a chance to poop and tell him when the beeping starts, it’s time to get off. This has helped a bit, though if he’s really into whatever is on the phone or Kindle it can be a challenge getting him off willingly.
Potty training is my least favorite thing about parenting so far. I’d much rather bring in someone else to do this for me 🙂