7 helpful tips and tricks for potty training toddlers….and not an original idea among them!
As I mentioned, I’ve lived on the bathroom floor for five days because it’s Potty Training Week at our house. INSANE WEEK is what it’s been. But we’ve made huge progress and I’m truly proud of the boys.
I’ve tried a lot of potty training tricks with my toddlers (ages 3 and 2) this week. NONE of them are original potty training ideas. I’ve been listening to potty tales and horror stories and been filing away tips in my brain ever since my eldest was born and I began dreading the day I’d have to potty train him. It’s always scared the livin’ out of me.
Today I thought I’d do a quick takes on the seven things that have helped me the most with the potty training adventure. If this comes across as “I’ve tried potty training for one week and now I’m an expert who will share my proven secrets with the rest of the mom world,” I will hate myself forever and probably quit blogging. Because I’m not an expert mom at anything…least of all potty training.
However, last week I was piling three jumbo-sized boxes of diapers into my Target shopping cart, and changing diapers on three children every few hours every single day. And night. And a week later two of them are out of diapers completely (except for nap time diapers – which have been dry on both of them every day this week – and overnight diapers – which have been mostly dry too). I’m sharing these tricks that have worked for us because I know I’m not the only mom who feels scared you-know-what-less about potty training, and if one or more of these things helps your tots like they helped mine….well then, huzzah!
So for what it’s worth – here ya go. My top picks for “7 Helpful Tricks for Potty Training Toddlers”
1. The biggest hurdle was ME, not them.
I guess I’m more of a girly-girl than I thought, but the cleaning up accidents and coaxing bottoms to sit on a toilet and the bathroom smelling like little boy pee (etc. etc. And ew.) all must be on “Steph’s List of 5 Least Fav Things” because I’ve been very VERY afraid and grossed out at the thought of potty training. And so I’ve waited. And waited. And my eldest is now three and a half and we just finally started.
I realize now that it was super important for ME to be psyched up and ready for this. I had to make the decision that once I took the diapers off we were not going back to diapers. I had to be okay with the fact I was going to spend most of an entire week in the bathroom with kids and would not be making my uber fashionable trips to Target (read Tar-jay) and the grocery store and (the saddest part of all) no Trader Joes…for a whole darn week. (Chocolate covered almonds with sea salt…oh how I miss you!) I had to remind myself of all the extra cash that would be in my monthly budget if I got two kids out of diapers. (And thus remind myself how fun Target would be NEXT week!).
Once my will was engaged and I was determined to “get ‘er done” the biggest part of the potty training hurdle was crossed for us. Because I was engaged…and they pretty much were forced to follow along with the program.
2. Get on the potty every 10 minutes.
I learned this tip from my friend Christine of the blog Once Upon Reality (mom to six). She told me to set the timer for 10 minutes and get them back in the bathroom. Once they master that, move the timer to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, until they can figure out when to go on their own. This really helps us (and that’s why I was on the bathroom floor more of the week…coaxing boys to go every ten minutes or so). EXTREMELY time consuming method, but the boys caught on really quickly doing it this way. And we’ve had very few accidents.
3. Diet changes.
I read that salty foods are good for potty training because it makes them drink more. So I loaded them up with chip snacks for salt, and it really did make them drink more. I also gave them lots of berries and grapes and Larabars to keep things moving regular-like, and lots of juice to keep them super hydrated and peeing often. (My kids normally don’t get juice on a regular basis so they sucked it down non stop, and thus were able to pee very often.)
We’ve bribed our kids like crazy this week. They get a sweet treat for every pee and a bigger treat for every #2. For sweets we’ve done things like fruit snacks, Dum Dum pops, a few mini chocolate chips. For the poo treats they get to choose between a new Hot Wheels Car or a new puzzle (Dollar Store). My boys are SUPER motivated by sweets and toys, so bribery has totally worked.
When the boys are out of overnight diapers and are 10000% diaper free, their “big present” is going to be a train ride with Daddy on the city commuter train route. Our boys LOVE walking downtown watching the city train, so they are super excited and super motivated for a train ride of their own.
5. Watching TV shows in the bathroom.
We moved our iPad into the bathroom this week and we let the boys watch shows while they try to go potty. This has helped the most when they’re trying to go #2 (can I just say I can’t believe I’m actually blogging about “#2”?? Gross and yuck and what I have I become!? Ha.) For quickies we do alphabet train videos and preschool songs, for longer sessions there’s always an 11-minute Curious George available on YouTube, and when they need to sit for a while, they get to keep company with Mister Rogers or Daniel Tiger.
6. Having them play right outside the bathroom door.
When it wasn’t time to try going potty, I made them play on blankets right outside the bathroom door, so that we could run to the potty when we needed to, and also so that they wouldn’t stain my carpet, nice rugs, or furniture with an “accident.” We had a few pee accidents on the blanket (on top of our wood floor) but that was an easy cleanup of throwing the blanket in the washer.
I didn’t make them play on the blanket the whole week, but I did insist they do their puzzles, trucks, and games on the blanket for the first two days.
7. Daniel Tiger’s “Potty Episode” and the Potty Training Song.
The Hubs and I recorded the “potty episode” of Daniel Tiger from PBS Kids, and our boys LOVE watching it. Daniel sings a very catchy song about “If you have to go potty, STOP and go right away…” and it became a potty training mantra for both of my boys. They sing it almost every time they go potty…which is probably going to drive me insane but at least for this week, it’s been worth it!
You can also watch just the “potty song” part of the episode on YouTube here.
BONUS Tip: A treat for moi!
I can also testify that a key to our potty training week has also been a bribe for ME, too. Tonight the Hubs is taking me out on a date y’all. A REAL date without a baby or a diaper bag or a nursing bra. With a real babysitter and everything. I’ve been dreaming of that well mixed cocktail I’m going to order in my gussied up outfit all.week.long. It’s the only thing that’s kept me on that bathroom floor at times this week.
So it’s the end of week one and I think that’s about all I’ve got in this gross-topic department. If you’ve got any potty training tips I’d love to hear them in the comments below. This is, after all, only the beginning of my years of potty training adventures. Woo. Hoo.
Happy Friday y’all. And for those of you in the toddler trenches like we are over here, happy potty training!
P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, both of my boys had a pee accident while I was typing this post. Totally my fault. But throwing a towel on the floor was kinda worth the chance to have a blogging break. :0)
Linking up with Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.
Also, I’m not much into “blogger awards” but I was rather shocked that Little Bit of Paradise was nominated in two categories for the 2014 Sheen-azing Awards. I don’t know which one of y’all nominated me but that was super sweet and thanks for the compliment! Voting is open now if you’d like to check out the nominations here.