Perhaps you’re completely tired of changing diapers. Maybe you have another baby on the way and you’d like to be on diaper duty for ONE kid. Or, maybe you just love an extra challenge in life.
Whatever it may be, you find yourself wanting to potty train.
I’m here to tell you that it can be done. And it can be done long before your tot is “ready”. I’m a firm believer that potty training is just like any other training we do with our kids. Yes, they need to have the fine motor skills to hold a spoon and feed themselves, but we do train them to eat real food. Yes, they have to be stable enough to take that first step, but we train them to do so. Same goes with tying shoes and riding bikes. We train our children for these things. And we train them to use the toilet to go potty in.
(Of course, I’m also fully aware that every child and family is different. There are sometimes reasons beyond our control that a particular child will not or cannot train easily to use the toilet to potty in. Every child has their own abilities and temperaments. Also, family lifestyle plays a role. Some families just cannot take the time to train a younger child because of schedules that won’t allow for staying home for several days. All of these are okay.)
In general, you can train your toddler to use the potty and it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. My 3 oldest were all potty trained before the age of 2. My kids are pretty close together in age, so I was adamant about not having 2 or more in diapers at the same time!
If you're looking to potty train your 18 month old, know that it can be done!
My youngest daughter was 18 months old when she was potty trained. It took a long two weeks for her to completely understand the concept and start using the potty, but it was totally worth the constant pee puddles because she was potty trained (by potty trained, I mean that she could hold her pee/poop long enough to get to the toilet, she could let me or another adult know she had to go, and she rarely had accidents) a month before our baby arrived!
Potty Training Tips:
Begin with the end in mind: Like any good business plan, you want to think about the end result. Obviously, a potty trained kid. Thinking about what you want to accomplish, the end result, will help you stay focused on the task and keep you from letting those unsuccessful days stop you from going on.
Create a game plan: What day will you start? How will you approach the whole thing (leisurely, letting her go at her own pace? Or just attacking the situation head on?)? What tactics will you use to get your kid to the potty and keep her there? Will there be an award for success (sticker chart, piece of candy, high five)?
Talk it up: Tell your tiny tot what the plan is. Whether they fully understand what you’re saying or not, let them in on this new adventure. Talk it up for a day or two (or longer). When someone else in your family is using the toilet, tell your toddler what is happening and then say “In [so many days] you get to put your pee pee in the potty too!!”.
Gather your supplies: Potty training is a messy endeavor. It just is. So do yourself a favor and go buy all the fun cleaning supplies before you begin. We just used the stuff for cleaning up after pets, but you can also find products with natural ingredients, or do a google search for making your own products if you’re into that sort of thing.
2 of my 3 kids potty trained in carpeted areas. I didn't prefer this because it was easier to miss. But you work with what you have.
Get cleaning supplies, wash cloths or paper towels, maybe some air freshener. But then include your tot in getting the fun stuff: the potty seat, big kid undies, stickers, the bribery snack! Let him help you and hopefully it’ll create even more excitement for the big day (of course, depending on your kid, he may not even care about those things, or even be aware of the "fun stuff".)
Come up with a key phrase: Have a mantra for your toddler, something you say every time he pees (whether on the potty or not). For me, I would always say something like “Good job! That’s pee pee! Pee pee goes in the potty now!”.
Just a general phrase that lets your kiddo know that what they are currently doing (peeing) is a good thing, but it actually goes in the potty and not on the floor (or anywhere else for that matter!).
Put on a happy face: Listen, potty training (and it’s many failures) can take a toll on a person. I know first hand how incredibly frustrating it can be to constantly clean up pee off the floor. When your toddler is consistently just NOT using the potty seat that is literally a foot away, you may just want to scream. Your feelings are legit. But don’t give in to them! Plaster a smile on your face and repeat your key phrase.
Tots will personalize those feelings of frustration, and you don’t want to give them a reason to resist using the potty. Let them see that potty training is fun ALL THE TIME (But don’t worry, us moms know the truth! Ha!).
Be consistent: This might be the most important thing. Consistency pays off. It really does. Once you start potty training, do not stop. It may take your tot a weekend to grasp the concept, but it might also take a week or two. Don’t give up!
My first daughter was literally potty trained in 3 days! But my second daughter….it took a good 2 weeks! I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to throw in the towel. But I continued to think with the end in mind (my goal was to have her potty trained before our 4th was born), and so we pressed on. One day, into the second week, something just clicked with her and she totally got it!
Be consistent and don’t stop!
Relax and have fun: Honestly, if you’re relaxed about the whole thing, so will your toddler. Make it fun for him. Be excited. When your kid starts to pee on the floor, quickly pick him up and take him to the potty all the while using your key phrase.
Don’t scold for peeing on the floor. Always be excited, even if your kid doesn’t make it to the toilet for awhile (this goes back to consistency. Every time pick your kid up and take him to the potty as he’s peeing. Praise him for going. Remind him it goes in the potty now. Always. Every time.).
Get everyone involved: If there are older siblings, use them to your advantage! My 2 oldest LOVED helping their little sister learn to use the potty. Why? Because they got something out of it. M&M’s! If Miss E successfully went on the potty, EVERYONE was rewarded. It keeps the enthusiasm high and gives incentive to be on the lookout!
Take the show on the road: When your toddler has made some promising steps in the direction of being fully potty trained, get out of the house! Go for a quick outing (like, really quick!).
Make sure it’s a place with a bathroom though! Head to the store. Have your little one go to the bathroom as soon as you get there, spend a few minutes in the store, and then have your tot go to the bathroom again before leaving.
You’ll never know how far you’ve come (or haven’t yet come) if you don’t leave the safety of your home. Try taking your little one to church on Sunday with only big kid undies on!
Put a potty seat in your vehicle: When I tell people that we have a little toilet in our van, I can just see the looks of disgust that they are trying to mask. I get it, it’s weird, it’s gross. But it’s also been a life saver! I may look like that crazy hot mess mom with a portable toilet in my minivan, but it has saved me countless times of having to find a restroom AND needing to take 4 kids into a bathroom so ONE can go. Not only that, it’s great for roadtrips with littles when you don’t want to stop at a million gas stations!
Don't use pull-ups: I despise pull-ups! In my opinion, they are totally useless when it comes to potty training. A pull-up is a diaper. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a fancier and more expensive diaper. It feels the same to your toddler. And my experience is that when I put my potty training kid into a diaper, they pee in it. Don’t confuse your kiddo by putting them in a pull-up during the day.
(Now, 2 of my 3 toddlers/preschoolers are potty trained during the day, but still need diapers at night and during naps. In this case, diapers are fine. Pull-ups are fine too, but again...more expensive! And, of course, when traveling everything changes. It's all about convenience. Our roadtrips to visit family are 12+ hours long, so I will use pull-ups on the kids that still need them when sleeping. Nobody wants to wake a sleeping kid to put a pull-up or diaper on them!).
Remember that this is not YOUR achievement: It’s your kids. Don’t grow frustrated when he doesn’t go on the potty. It takes time, but it WILL happen. Again…be consistent. Make it fun. And when you DO grow frustrated, because you probably will, don’t let your kid see that. Whip out your key phrase and plant that smile on your face “Good job, that’s pee pee! Pee pee goes in the potty now!”.
Alright, you’ve got this mama! Get out there and let the
potty training begin!
If you’re still uncertain (because google hasn’t been good to you with its plethora of contradicting tips and advice) check out my potty training tips for the confused mom.
And here are some free printables for your potty training needs!
Use these potty training certificates as rewards for your older toddlers. Simply print them off and hand one over each time your precious one has potty success. At the end of the day, give out a reward based on how many your tyke recieves!