Real Life Potty Training STories

About This Series

This is the seventh installment in our series of real-life stories about how real parents helped their children move from diapers to fully potty trained. We created it in recognition of the fact that all kids are unique and that no two potty training journeys are exactly the same. There truly is no better way to grasp what needs to be done (and to motivate yourself) than learning how other parents tackled this major milestone!

Introducing Koreen

Our seventh story is from Koreen. Let's find out how she potty trained her daughter, Willow!

Question #1 - Please Tell Us About Yourself and Your Family!?

Hi there! My name is Koreen and I currently live in a small town in Wisconsin. I am the momma of an adorable (almost) two-year-old, Willow, and we are expecting our second in February of 2021. I work from home as a Fitness Coach while also momming 24/7. Life is busy, but everything I've ever dreamed about. I enjoy reading, running and being with my family. Also, coffee  . . . coffee is a must.

Question #2 - When Did You Start Potty Training?

I started potty training Willow when she was about 13 months. I had talked to a friend of mine who had done early potty training and it got me intrigued enough to start. We were living in Tennessee at the time and in the process of moving back to Wisconsin. It was stressful to say the least, so prior to the moving process we got down going "number two" but stopped teaching her anything further. After we completed the move, Willow started to show me signs, so we went all in! She was 19 months old when we officially started working on it again. 

Question #3 - What Helped You The Most?

Boy Inspecting Potty Chair

I received some wonderful tips and tricks from other moms who have gone through potty training, but none of them really resonated with Willow and me. I did not want to “reward” her with treats, but I also wanted to make it an exciting time for her. Willow gets really excited about things, especially if we make them exciting, so we opted in for the sticker board idea. She LOVES running to her sticker board and adding a sticker every time she goes potty. She also needs books – she loves reading so we make sure to have a stack of books in the bathroom so she can grab one and read while she goes.

Question #4 - How Long Did It Take to Click?

The first round of going "number two" clicked almost instantly even though Willow was only 13 months old. It was easy for us to detect when she had to push, so training her to go on the big girl potty versus in a diaper was a piece of cake—it only took about a week to get it down. It was going pee that was more difficult the first round, which is why we decided to put a pause on it until after we were fully settled in following the move. That said, when we did finally get to the second round when Willow was 19 months old, it only took two days for it to click. Kids, in my opinion, thrive on routine so it was important for us to make sure she had the same routine every day when it came to training.

Editor's Note: This mom used a variant of the infant training or elimination communication method when her daughter was 13 months old. Many potty training resources separate "infant training" from "potty training." Still, as we note in our blog Making Sense of Different Potty Training Methods, infant training can help parents develop a deep awareness of their "child's potty signals" and thereby help set the stage for success when their children become a bit older, as was clearly the case here!

Question #5 - When Were You Really Confident They Were Trained?

For the second round, I was confident she was potty trained after about a week. Parents—it truly does help having some time at home with them helping them learn. Staying home, if you can make it work, for about a week and just working on potty training is so beneficial for them to develop an understanding of what needs to be done. Even today, we are not at the point where she can just run to the bathroom on her own, but she tells me every time she has to go so we can go together.

Question #6 - How Did You Tackle Poop?

As mentioned above, pooping was actually the easiest for us. We just found that it is very easy for Willow to detect she had to go poop. As soon as she would make “the face” or kind of “stiffen up” we would bring her to the potty. 

Since we started poop training at about 13 months old, she wasn’t necessarily using words like "poo poo" at that time.  Now that Willow can talk it's even easier—she just tells us, and we go to the potty together. Having broken up potty training into two phases—13 months and 19 months—I can say that when they can somewhat communicate with you it makes quite a bit of a difference! 

Question #7 - What About Training Outside Your Home?

Boy Inspecting Potty Chair

When we are out and about, I always bring an extra pair of undies and pants just in case there is an accident. Willow enjoys sitting on the big toilet and feeling like a big kid just like everyone else who uses them. When we are out, we tend to get distracted so I am more conscious about asking Willow more frequently if she has to go potty. I also make sure I am aware of her signs like “grabbing herself” and making sure we make it to the bathroom when I see it happen.

Question #8 - How About Nighttime Training?

We haven't gotten nighttime training down yet and to be honest, I don’t know if I'm really going to focus heavily on it. I don’t want to wake her in the middle of the night to go. We stop liquids at about 6:00-6:30 pm (her bedtime is usually around 7:30 pm) so basically right after dinner. She has woken up with dry diapers, but not consistently. When she starts waking up with dry diapers consistently, we will switch to undies. I am prepared for having accidents periodically, but will deal with the nighttime training when we feel the time has come.

Question #9 - Any Potty Training Hacks You Can Share?

Reading materials (switch them out every time too so they have new materials to read). Make it a POSITIVE and exciting thing. Stickers or something that they can be excited about after. Letting them be the “big girl” or boy and giving them the opportunity to be in control i.e. flushing, wiping (with help from mom and dad), putting the toilet seat down, etc.

Question #10 - Any Last Words For Parents Just About To Embark On Their Potty Training Journey?  

Boy Inspecting Potty Chair

Don’t push your kid if they aren't there yet . . . I promise the time will come. As a parent who started way early make sure that YOU can handle it and are in the right state of mind. If it is stressful for you, just stop and take a break. Make sure both parents are onboard with starting and working on this together. Make it an enjoyable time for you and the kiddo—this is a huge step for them so remember to be patient. They will get there eventually but they want to know you’re excited and happy for them regardless of their mishaps or not. Lastly, create that routine. It will help you and your child in the long run!

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