When you think of potty training your toddler are you excited? Ha! Or do you envision bodily fluids all over your house, your child and yourself, and feel more like, “Oh, crap, I don’t want to deal with this”? Maybe you can guess from that question, how I feel (or felt before talking to a pro)…
Jenny Phelps—a Certified Potty Trainer and the owner of Oh Crap! Potty Training with Jenny—hopes more parents will be excited about potty training if they have a plan and the tools to be successful. She reminds us of how excited we were when we first gave our babies solid food, and explains that potty training can also be an exciting milestone. If we can make potty training easy for kids, we can set them up for success, and the whole process can be a victory for us and our kids.
If your little one is between 20 and 30 months old, then that’s the magic window for potty training (more on that in an upcoming article), according to Jenny. Just follow these steps, and get ready to ditch those diapers for good!
- Get Naked. During this stage, you’ll want your child to spend the whole day naked or bottomless. First, set up a space where your favorite rugs won’t get ruined if your child has an accident, and place a potty very nearby. Rather than setting your child on the potty at set intervals, which can put pressure on them and lead to resistance from them, watch for their cues (for example, that deer-in-the headlights look). As soon as you see cues indicating your toddler is ready to go potty, then quickly but calmly, place them on the potty. For some kids, they figure out the potty within about three days, but for many it takes longer—try your best not to put pressure on them.
- Go Commando. During this stage, your child can wear pants or other clothing, but you’ll want to skip diapers and underwear. Again, the key to success is making this easy on everyone, so try to stick with loose clothing and avoid zippers. If your child can’t remove their own pants yet, you can still potty train, just be sure to keep a close eye on them so you can remove their pants when they’re ready for the potty. Last, progess doesn’t need to be totally linear—it’s OK if one day they’re commando and the next they’re naked again. Many children are ready to graduate to underwear after a few weeks, although you can do it sooner or later, depending on your situation (e.g.: some parents switch to underwear after just two weeks, for example if their daycare requires it).
- Practice Outings. Congratulations, by the time you’ve hit this stage, you’re past the hardest part! When leaving your home with a newly potty-trained child, offer your child the potty right before leaving. Also, once you get to your destination, show them where the restroom is, to reinforce that there’s a bathroom nearby and that they should tell you when they need to go. It’s also really helpful to carry a travel potty in your car. For your first few outings, try to stick with short trips, then you can venture out further and for longer, once they get the hang of it.
- Tackle Nights and Naps. Many parents find it’s easier to focus on daytime potty training first, then tackle nap-time and night-time potty training later. If your child is consistently waking up dry, that’s a sign that they’re ready for nights and naps. Or if they’re hitting 3-3.5 years old, even if they’re not waking up dry, it’s a good time to give them a little nudge. Try limiting liquids before naps and night-time and place a pee pad underneath them (again, let’s make this whole thing easier for everyone!). Then simply explain the new plan to your child, remove their diaper, and go for it!
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Thanks very much to Jenny Phelps for sharing her helpful tips with us! For more on Jenny’s potty training tips, classes (including online), consulting services, or blog, visit http://ohcrappottytrainingwithjenny.com/ or check out the book “Oh Crap! Potty Training”, by Jenny’s mentor, Jamie Glowacki.
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Jenny’s favorite potty products are listed below (and on her website):