My son turns three in a few months, and finally, after months of making excuses, we’re going all in with underwear. He’s been using the potty on and off since he turned 2. But experience with my first told me to wait until I knew he was really ready to get rid of the diapers completely.
There is nothing more discouraging than having to run out to buy some diapers after you swore you had gone through your last pack ever. So we’ve marked our calendars, prepared his daycare teacher, and told my mom to stop asking us, “Is he still in diapers?” every week. Here’s what we’re doing to get us through potty training as quickly and easily as possible.
Not making plans
Really, this is the main reason we’ve been putting it off. The thought of potty training when we have to be outside of the house makes me sweat. I had to make sure we had nothing to do for at least a full weekend to get this done. That way, my kid will never be more than 10 yards away from his potty, and I’ll be less than 10 yards from the washing machine.
Rewards: Candy, stickers, or anything that's a special treat
With my first it was Skittles, so far with his little brother, it’s been chocolate chips. Chocolate chips were the only pseudo candy item we had in the house when he first went on the potty, so we stuck with it. I’m making sure we have plenty, and maybe getting a different candy for when he goes #2.
I know it’ll be important to reward him promptly and routinely after every single time he goes. A few weeks ago I underestimated the need for these rewards, and as a result he went from sitting on the potty twice daily to hardly ever. Lesson learned.
Setting an alarm
I tried a few potty training apps with my first and the option of setting a timer really saved me. I’m going to make sure I sit him on the potty every 30 or 60 minutes, depending on how long ago he had a meal or snack.
Remembering his schedule
Even if we don’t say it, we all take mental notes about our kids’ bowel movements. There’s no shame in remembering how often your kid poops and what color and consistency it was. In fact, it’s pretty important to think about these things to make sure they are staying healthy and eating enough.
I know my boy goes about 2 times during the day. Either in the morning between 8 and 9, or in the evening after 6. Sometimes both. Leading up to and during these times, he’ll be getting an earful from his mom about how it’s potty time and it’s going to be awesome when he does a #2. Thankfully, he won’t remember these conversations when he’s 20.
Stocking up on underwear
And not just any underwear. This underwear has to be comfy and special to him. Since he looks up to his older brother so much, I got the little guy the same boxer briefs his brother wears. He knows he has to use the potty in order to wear them, and he’s already been itching to be a “big boy” without his diaper.
By making the underwear a big deal, I can tell him “you don’t want to get that big boy underwear wet, right?” and I know he gets it.
Keeping some tricks handy
I like to read up on tricks that have worked for other parents and just keep them in my back pocket if things get hard.
Things like putting a cheerio in the toilet so he can aim for it or having dad pee with him might give him some extra motivation if he needs it. Understanding that night time diapers are still our friend. - I don’t mind the pull-ups at night for a while, and I’ll probably even put them on him for nap until he wakes up dry every day for a few weeks.
I’m only tackling one thing at a time, and this week it’s using the potty while he’s awake. The most valuable thing I learned the first time around was that once you know their ready, do your best to keep at it no matter what. And don’t beat yourself up when they have accidents. It’s going to happen, and you will get through it.