This is post number two in my potty training guide and it’s all about our first week of potty training. I decided to write about the first week because it was both the worst week ever and amazing. We decided to only attempt daytime potty training because our little guy is still in his crib and he sleeps so well that we don’t have a good reason to move him. You can check out post one (about preparing for potty training) here.
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Fair warning, this is a LONG post. I just wanted to put in as many details as possible. If you take anything from this potty training guide I hope you get these takeaways:
- Don’t give up if it doesn’t happen right away
I mentioned in my first potty training guide post that we picked a day to start potty training. Leading up to that day we introduced books and video clips about the potty to get him used to the image and idea of the potty. We did not show him any of the potty training supplies we purchased before the big day. This was the recommendation by Oh Crap Potty Training.
Here is our experience with the first week of potty training:
When we finally got to potty training day, which was a Saturday, we told A that he was a big boy and wouldn’t be using diapers anymore. We left him naked from the waist down for day one with the idea that once we learned his signs we could put his pants back on him. Dan and I prepared to have accidents galore so we put the potty in our kitchen and tried to keep the little guy in the kitchen. Our house is mostly carpeted so it seemed to make the most sense.
What we were not prepared for was a toddler who had the ability to hold his pee and would refuse to go. All the advice we read was not to make too big of a deal over the potty training thing and not to constantly ask if they have to go. The first time he started to pee we picked him up and brought him to the potty. He basically stopped and didn’t pee for the rest of the day (other than his naptime diaper). I have never seen anything like it.
We tried lots of tricks that day to try to get him to pee. From running water to sticking his hands in warm water, to giving him water to drink. Nothing worked. I read that a method you can use for a toddler who is scared of the potty is to use a solo cup. We tried this once when he was running his hands through the faucet but when we brought the cup up it freaked him out and he stopped.
After day one I was basically horrified and wondering if we made a mistake. I had a million questions running through my head…did we start too early? Can he get injured from holding his pee for so long? Do we give up and start again later? I decided to give it a few more days and in the meantime scoured the Oh Crap Potty Training website for hints.
The biggest thing I got out of day one is that my son IS basically potty trained (he has the ability to hold his pee), but that we had to figure out a way to make him comfortable using the potty. The Oh Crap Potty Training website also mentioned that it can take many kids up to a week to get through the first three steps so I should wait to consider giving up.
My guess is that we freaked him out and made too big of a deal about the potty. It’s really a fine line with a lot of trial and error.
Day two went about the same as day one. It was very stressful and frustrating. I am sure our stress level was not super helpful. We couldn’t really identify his signs for peeing yet so he was still pants-free. I definitely sent Dan a few messages about quitting and putting him back in diapers.
On day three I took a different approach. I decided to put A on the potty every hour. He thrives on routine so I thought if we built in potty time to his day he might be more comfortable with it. By the end of the day, he seemed OK with sitting on the potty but still wasn’t consistently peeing. At this point, I was so ready to put the diapers back on.
This was a Tuesday. I wasn’t home because I go into the office on Tuesdays so Dan got to tackle potty training on his own. We put his pants back on because we were putting him on the potty every hour anyway.
This day was basically my breaking point. Normally Aiden would go to home care but we decided to keep him home since he was still not peeing consistently, or comfortable with the potty. I went to our local supermarket and bought juice and Gatorade. When we got home I gave him one of each. It took about 20-minutes and I started to see him pick up his legs almost like he was marching. I realized this was his pee sign! I took him to the potty and he did it and 30-minutes later he did it again. I gave him more juice in the afternoon and watched for the pee dance. If he didn’t show signs within two hours, I sat him on the potty just in case.
The interesting thing that happened after this day for a few days was that the little guy would only go to the bathroom for me. He wasn’t as comfortable with Dan. I think it’s because Dan was working so he wasn’t potty training as much. We got around this by having Dan work on the potty training when he was home and after a couple of days, he was fine.
On day six he went back to home care. Luckily, we have an amazing provider who has already potty trained one child and her own son was the right age to start as well. She had success with using stickers as a reward and she recommended I try it. I got some stickers and dropped them off with him. It seemed to help so I decided to continue it when we got home. We had a potty training chart. Every time he peed he would get a sticker. If he pooped he got two stickers. We did not start with the sticker reward method but I wish we had. Oh Crap Potty Training made it seem as if it was not necessary; however, I wish we would have tried this earlier. I also found these fun potty training incentive wood coins on Etsy and I wish I would have found them earlier so we could use them because they seem like a great idea!
I definitely suggest finding something to incentivize potty training for your little one. My next post will have a free downloadable sticker chart so be on the lookout for that. If you want to be notified when the next post in this potty training guide series comes out join my mailing list here.
After day Six
Things slowly got better after day five and six. The sticker reward lasted a few days and then we moved on to small pieces of graham crackers for about a week. Again, we did one piece of graham cracker (like a third of a section — not a whole section) for pee and two for poop. He loves graham crackers and this is the only time he would get them so it really progressed things along.
It took a good month for us to get used to his signs and have him use the potty regularly comfortably. We brought our Oxo travel potty (thankfully it fits in his diaper bag) and a small container of graham crackers everywhere (the Re-Play containers are perfect for this!) and he was fine using public restrooms.
I realize this is a long post, but I thought it would be helpful to outline that first week. I know some people expect that it will take three days and if it doesn’t it means your child isn’t ready, but I personally don’t believe that is always the case. I think it is a new transition and toddlers are going to go at their own pace.
Potty Training Guide – Here are my best tips for potty training:
- Do not stress your kid out. This is way easier said than done and you probably will do it anyway, but just keep it in mind. This was the number one tip from Oh Crap Potty Training, but when you are in the beginning and middle of potty training it’s stressful!
- We did not use pull-ups. In my opinion, they are too similar to diapers. He either went commando (the first few days) or he wore actual underwear. If we went on a long drive he wore training pants.
- We were consistent. Once we took the diapers off we never went back (except nap and bedtime). I have heard of some people putting diapers when going out for the day or putting on the diaper for poops. In my opinion that would seem confusing and could create a bad habit.
- We rewarded staying dry. One thing that I got out of the Potty Wise book was that rather than giving a reward only when they use the potty could create a bad habit. We would give our toddler a cracker if he stayed dry for a car ride or during a trip to the store.
- We made it routine. Our little guy is all about routine. We would build the potty into his day. We would go when he woke up, before nap time, after waking up from nap, time, before we left the house, before we left a restaurant or store, before bed, etc.
- We made it fun (or tried to)! I can’t tell you how many songs we have related to the potty especially when it comes to poop. Our little guy loves to sing and dance so we often rely on music, dancing, and fun to teach him new things.
Potty training is difficult. It is not particularly fun (especially in the beginning) BUT once your little one gets it, it is amazing! They now have a new found independence and you can say bye-bye to diapers.
Have you potty trained? Did you find success using any of the tips in this potty training guide? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Love Aiden’s Potty Training Super Hero shirt? It’s a Layla Bug Design original! You can request one here!
Here are some additional resources for Potty Training: