Potty training, just the thought of it for many parents brings a feeling of dread and anxiety. In our house though, it was something I ALMOST looked forward to. I knew when it was over, life was so much easier and cheaper!! No more diapers except maybe overnight for a while. Baby potty training is possible, toddler potty training is simple and I honestly believe the earlier you start, the less resistance you will receive from your little one!
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Why I Start Early
Both of my girls were super difficult when it came to diaper changes. It was a wrestling match that often led to me getting so angry at this small normally sweet child. Every time we went on an excursion there was so much to pack up, then there was the high cost of diapers and for my youngest, with her poor sensitive skin, there was the diaper rash and eczema patches that worsened in a wet diaper. I couldn’t wait to be done with it all.
What is the Best Age to Start Potty Training Girls?
LJ was daytime potty trained completely by 17 months. T (poor sweet second child) was done by 19 months. She was teething and had the flu & a double ear infection over the winter months when I had hoped to train her. Every time we got close to really starting she was miserable and that just isn’t the mood you want them in for potty training. Also, it is harder with the second if you do not have another parent to completely take care of the older kids while you focus on your little potty trainer. This did make it stretch out for us for a week or two instead of the 5 days for LJ. T did great, then regressed some for a few days (when I thought we were done), then the next day was potty trained. We went to the zoo, I packed up for multiple accidents and stuck a puppy pee pad under her in the stroller just encase. She wore her padded training underwear and I brought extra pairs and shorts. I had our travel potty packed up because there was a long walk from the subway to the zoo, and you never know when they might need to go. I wondered if I should’ve just given in and put her in a diaper for the day. We have never used pull-ups, always went cold turkey right to potty training underwear for girls, only wearing diapers for overnight. I use our puppy training pee pads when needed for nap times. But I didn’t need any of it! She didn’t have a single accident. She held it on the train, the long walk, during her nap. She used public restrooms without even needing the travel potty. Ever since we have been all good. That doesn’t mean there is never an occasional accident. Whenever we go out, I still bring a spare pair of pants/undies along just in case but have never needed them. LJ only ever had one accident outside the house. Both girls had accidents here and there at home for the first few months but usually because I waited too long to put them back on the potty. It is on us in the beginning! It doesn’t take long though, T has already started telling me when she needs to go now at 20 months and I believe LJ was around that same age when she started letting me know instead of me just watching the clock.
I think the best age to start potty training girls is as soon as they can sit on the baby potty. My girls were both under one year old when I started introducing them to the baby potty training seat. Before bath time or when we were getting dressed or ready for bed, I would put them on it. This just familiarizes them with it and they think it is fun. I will never forget when I put LJ in the shower one day and before I got in with her I sat on the potty to pee myself. LJ was watching me and started laughing as she peed standing there in the shower. I knew then that she got it that peeing was what we do on the potty and I knew she could go on command. I started putting her on it more often after that and when we got back from our vacation potty trained her right away! I think the best time to begin the actual week of potty training is between 15 and 18 months. Look for signs that they are ready.
Please ignore anything that tells you that your child needs to be able to talk, pull their own pants up and down, or even walk. You are going to help them with all those things!! Both of my girls started showing signs they were ready around 15 months. Some signs we saw were:
- An interest in others’ use of the potty, and/or copying their behavior.
- Wanting to sit on the baby potty.
- Pulling at a wet or dirty diaper.
- Taking off their diaper when it is wet or dirty.
- Having a dry diaper for a longer time.
How did we do it?
We used the potty train in 3 days method. I read this book before training LJ years ago and just kinda went off memory with T. Basically we go diaper free for the first day or two and follow them around until they start to go and grab them and put them on the baby potty training seat. When you finally catch them in time and they go on the potty we go crazy with songs and clapping and huge smiles. They just beam with excitement. At this age, they don’t really have an opinion about where they go potty but the amazing reaction they get when they go on the potty is so much motivation. In about 2 days they are going almost every time they are put on the potty and mostly holding it in between. We set them on the potty every 10 minutes in the beginning and slowly as they get it we stretch it to every 30 minutes. The next day we introduce them to the Green Sprouts Training Underwear. They are the most absorbent potty training underwear for girls that I have found. We have the Gerber ones too but they are better for when we are at the point where we almost never have an accident. Both brands are obnoxiously girly or boyish but from what I can tell they are the same so you could use either. I had both girls regress slightly until they got the hang of it being the same thing with the underwear on. Of course, I am putting them on the potty and taking their undies off for them anyway. It took longer than 3 days for each of them but the process was over really in 3-4 days and then it was just keeping it up until it totally clicked.
We use the Fisher-Price Royal Stepstool Potty at our house. I got it for T because we moved from a small apartment to a townhouse and we needed one for the main level and the bedroom level. We already had a baby potty which we like too but the sound on the Royal Potty was really helpful in the beginning when you aren’t sure if they actually went. Pretty soon T was clapping and smiling as soon as she went so it wasn’t as necessary. We have a potty seat that goes on top of our toilet seat too, we never used it much but my girls are really tiny so they liked the baby potty better. If your kids are taller and can pair it with a stool and not have to dump their pee or poop it is much easier!!
Keep it Fun!!
Potty training should be fun for your little one. We did puzzles, sang songs, and read books while they sat on it. They love the one on one attention and go crazy for the happy dance and song when they go pee-pee on the potty. I literally have a pee-pee song playlist on Amazon Music on my phone to play whenever we try to go on the potty. With T, we have an Amazon Echo Dot, LJ will ask Alexa to play the potty time playlist whenever I ask T if she needs to try. It is great for setting reminders to put them on the potty as well!!
So we do use treats. But not every time and we use healthy things like puffs or yogurt melts. I bring them out when we are having a little trouble stopping playtime to try and use the potty or when we finally go after not having any luck for a few tries. I find it helps but isn’t necessary. The real reward is how happy they see everyone when they go. At the age we are potty training them they don’t really understand stickers or charts and they are just so proud of themselves when they go. T starts clapping and smiling and giggling as soon as she starts to go and waits for me to sing her the song and clap. Both of them loved it when they started to wear their big girl training undies too!!! As parents, our reward is the money we save and being totally done with potty training before our children have an opinion about where they go potty. It is always a little fun too when people can’t believe your little one is potty trained. The whole experience is positive and done before you know it! To me, there is nothing cuter than hearing a big “yay” and clapping coming from T when she hears me going potty. She just thinks everyone celebrates when they go on the potty!!
So you have read my experience and I hope maybe I have inspired you to at least give early potty training a shot. You have nothing to lose. If it really doesn’t work for you you can always pack it all up for a few months and try again later! I have read so many articles telling people to wait until much older and my experience just doesn’t support that theory. I encourage you to check out Becky Mansfield’s blog Your Modern Family. She is the author of Potty Train in a Weekend. She has many articles on the subject and you may find it helpful. I loosely followed her method with my girls. If you are interested in training your little one even earlier (called elimination communication) check out Diaper Free Baby for tips and more. I tried this briefly with my first and do believe it is possible but I just didn’t stick with it long enough. Please comment below and I am happy to answer any questions you have and I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with your own potty training journeys!!
I remembered after I wrote this article if you have girls that are super tiny like mine, especially LJ, you may need to buy special little undies for them when they are out of training underwear. We made do for a while with some 2T’s but I finally did break down and order some Tiny Undies. They are awesome and I really wished I had bought them from the start and waited to buy any others. They are great quality and I literally just stole them out of LJ’s underwear drawer and put them in T’s (that’s what made me think of this)!!! They are the 18-month size and LJ still fits in them!! They have held up now for over 2 years of wear and are still going strong! We even had trouble with the training underwear being big on both of them, Tiny Undies sells tiny trainers as well but I have not tried them. As an added bonus they are all gender-neutral, mostly solid colors and a few prints that do not perpetuate gender stereotypes as most children’s underwear do! They also have great resources for elimination communication and potty training at 18 months as well!
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