First and foremost, I am not an expert at potty training by any means and I've only done this once with a lot of help. So do not take this as advice. Take this as one family's story about potty training that was completed in only 3 days.
Secondly, yes, this is a real change in gears from what I typically post here, but potty training is a real challenge for families and recently, it's been a bit of a topic amongst coworkers and friends. Sharing our story is to share that there is hope, even when it seems like it's impossible.
Thirdly, I can't stress the importance of teamwork and learning from others! My husband did most of the work because we started over a weekend and he had to continue the routine during the week. I also consulted my group of friends who've done this before who gave me so much good advice.
Having said all that, here's how we potty trained our 22 month old girl in 3 days.
- Our daughter started letting us know when she was going in her diaper. Reading her queue, it seemed like it was time to start the process with her.
- We picked a weekend/week to start where we could consistently be at home and near the bathroom.
- We picked out the set-up that we felt best suited us. We chose a potty seat on top of the toilet along with a step stool.
- We picked out comfy training underpants and decided to continue using her baby wipes instead of toilet paper as part of the training process.
- We had a full box of her favorite mini graham crackers on hand as a reward for going on the potty and her favorite mini cookies on hand as a reward for going #1 or #2 successfully on the potty.
- Day 1: Wearing only a shirt and underpants -- and nothing else, we let her go about her day. Every 20 minutes or so, we would bring her to the potty and for every successful sitting, we would reward her with a graham cracker treat. For every successful #1 or #2, we would reward her with a mini cookie treat. For every accident, we would say "uh oh" followed by "it's ok" and we would clean her up like no big deal. Our goal there was just to let her know that accidents aren't good but not to make her feel bad about it.
- Day 2: Same set-up, though we had a lot more resistance and we started doubting that she was ready because of the resistance. There was crying and I could tell it was hard for her, but then when she would have a successful #1 or #2, and she would be so proud and then she started asking for the mini cookie. As parents, we were torn and we considered stopping entirely. There were still accidents and we treated them the same.
- Day 3: Same set-up. Then she started telling us when she needed to use the bathroom. We were making progress. There were still accidents, but much less than Day 1 and 2.
- Day 4: Same set-up, but since she started telling us, we no longer put her on the potty except 30-60 minutes after a juice or a substantial amount of liquids. No accidents!
- Gradually, it became second nature to her and the diaper was long gone. Plus, the pants came back. We continued to read her queues and she continued to request cookies after successful potty visits.
We were so proud of our babe. Of course, there were tons of logistics to consider and deal with now that she's potty trained and so used to the potty seat over the home toilet. For example, how do you go to the potty when you're out? Or what happens during naps and night-time sleeping? Here's what worked for us:
- On the road: We pack a lightweight portable potty for the road. The first few times on the portable potty in the car or in a public bathroom is a bit of getting used to but one the kiddo gets it, it's easy because the portable potty is their security potty. She learned rather quickly, especially since we used the same reward system.
- Going out: The portable potty is nice and clean. It's perfect for the car. But one of our friends also suggested a foldable seat that goes above toilets. We keep that around along with seat covers for emergencies.
- During naps: Our toddler tends to take short naps of 1-2 hours, so we decided to keep her in her underpants. However, the trick was to make sure she went on the potty within 10 minutes of getting up.
- During nights: After her last #1 of the evening, we switch to easy ups. Every morning after her first #1, we switch back to big girl underpants.
- Consistency: It's so important to provide consistency with the same familiar set-ups, rewards, and routines. Lastly, always remain calm throughout the process even when through the frustrating accidents.
I remember during those first 3 days of training, we scoured everything Google had to offer. We read blogs and parenting websites because we were so desperate to understand whether or not it was working. It felt especially daunting after the nth accident and I just wanted to make sure she was ok -- that we weren't traumatizing her through the potty training process. I so wanted to know what we were doing was right and a part of her growth.
My goal in sharing our story is to give hope to others that are desperately seeking tips and advice. My message is that there is hope! Good luck! Hope this helps in some way.