Real Life Potty Training STories

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About This Series

This is the tenth installment in our series of real-life stories about how real parents helped their children move from diapers to 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 Millie

Our tenth story is from Millie. Let's find out how she potty trained her son while under strict doctor's order for bedrest!

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

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Hello! I’m Millie. I live in Louisiana where my husband, son (two-and-a-half) and daughter (two months) enjoy mostly warm weather and playtime under the shade of live oak trees. I work in communications for a university by day and spend my free time researching learning and play activities for my children. I enjoy sharing that inspiration with other parents through my Instagram page, @mamawithmillie.

Question #2 - When Did You Start Potty Training?

My son was 22 months old at the start of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown in our area. He had recently shown interest in the toilet AND we had recently learned that I was in the early weeks of a high-risk pregnancy that would only become more difficult as time passed. With these two developments, we figured it made sense to give it a shot right then with all the time we had at home before the new baby arrived.

We started our first attempt with the ‘naked at home method’, taking him to the toilet every 20 minutes. Although the first few days seemed to go well, the novelty for him wore off after about two weeks and we started to feel he was still too young to understand the sensation of needing to go. We knew that he was on the younger side for potty-learning, so we weren’t disappointed. 

With that development, we took a pause and decided to reassess after his second birthday and eventually started potty (re)learning for the final time at 26 months old. Our goal was to potty-train by 28 months old when his new sister would arrive!

Question #3 - What Helped You The Most?

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We did A LOT of searching on Google. I think the most important thing was that we focused on searching for techniques that that would make our son’s potty-training experience mirror our commitment to the respectful parenting model we use in other scenarios with him. For example, we did not want to use rewards because we wanted to help him understand why he needed to use the toilet based on natural consequences and internal motivation (i.e. if you wet your pants, the floor is wet, your clothes feel wet, and we must clean it up together). We did not get him in trouble or shame him when he had accidents. There was no “you know better!” because we did not want him to hide away out of fear or embarrassment when he had to go and then be stuck in a corner with a mess. Having a training approach that meshed with other aspects of our parenting model allowed for consistency and let him know what to expect of us, even though we were trying something new.

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

Once we started trying again at 26 months old, things began to click by the end of the first week! However, by that time I was on a type of modified bed rest at home where I could not lift my son onto the toilet and where some days just standing gave me contractions. Needless to say, I was not much help physically with pottytraining. Because of this, my mom and our part-time nanny became an integral part of our potty-training team. My husband and I determined the process and shared it with our nanny and with my mom so that we were all consistent with our method.

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

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We really felt at ease after about six-to-eight weeks. We maintained a timer for the entire first month; first every 20 minutes, then every hour, then every two hours as we saw he was able to hold it for longer periods. It took about four weeks for him to begin telling us when he needed to go rather than relying on the timer. However, we saw a slight regression and the return of accidents about two weeks after we had his baby sister. Those resolved in about two more weeks by reimplementing timers. We mentally prepared ourselves for a potty-training regression and other big emotions during his transition to becoming a big brother, so we weren’t caught off guard by this.

Question #6 - How Did You Tackle Poop?

I've heard stories about kids being afraid to poop, but our son had a regular poop schedule for months before we started potty-learning. We could anticipate it based on time of day and would ask him to sit a little longer to wait for a poop to come during that time or we would prompt him to go more frequently during that time.

Question #7 - What About Training Outside Your Home?

Thanks (or no thanks) to the pandemic, we had months to practice before needing to go somewhere for long periods of time. We recently started including him on quick outings and we go potty before leaving home, place a cloth diaper prefold under him in the car seat, and remember to ask him if he needs to go while we are out. He felt proud after peeing at a park restroom last week . . . although we did not enjoy the combination of dirty toilet stalls and a curious toddler! 

Question #8 - How About Nighttime Training?

We have not started nighttime training. We are waiting until we find that he is waking with a drier diaper—right now it’s filled with a tsunami of pee. Also, we don’t have much time with a newborn at home and It’s important to us that the timing is right for our whole family.

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

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If you have an Alexa, she is a great timer! Kids are usually really mesmerized by them, and our son loved to hear the timer go off and then tell her “Alexa, stop my timer!” Let your kiddo boss her around after a pee instead of you ;).  

Choose some board books to keep near the potty. They are easy to wipe down with sanitizing wipes and help keep them still long enough to wait for #2!

If you have a hard time getting your kiddo to move from an activity to the potty, try using a transition object to bring them from one activity to the next. For example, our son was really into his pumpkin decorating but we knew he had to potty. We asked him if Mr. Pumpkin had to potty too. He was so excited that we brought the pumpkin to the bathroom with us and gladly went. Admittedly, a pumpkin is a pretty big example! Many times a toy train would do the trick.

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

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Don’t put too many expectations on the child, yourself, or the experience. Know that it will be a process; it’s called training and any type of good training takes patience and endurance. Be kind to your kiddo and yourself in the process; it’s a new experience for all of you.

More Interesting Reads

smiling toddler showing diaper bum happy

Real Potty Training STory No. 7

The seventh installment in our series. See how this fitness coach embarked on her daughter's potty training journey at 13 months old!

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Real Potty Training Story No. 8

The eighth installment in our series. See how this mom blogger is potty training her son at his own pace using the 'gradual parent-led' method!

toddler sitting on potty chair

Real Potty Training Story No. 9

The ninth installment in our series. See how this preschool director potty trained her two sons!