Real Life Potty Training Stories

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About This Series

This is the 12th 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 than learning how other parents tackled this major milestone!

Introducing Autumn

Our 12th story is from Autumn. Let's find out how she potty trained her son using a Montessori-inspired approach

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

My name is Autumn and I have two children, a son who will be 3 years old this spring and a daughter who is 5 months old! I run the account @more_than_montessori on Instagram and my goal in sharing is to encourage, inspire, and connect with other parents who share an appreciation for the Montessori method.

Question #2 - When Did You Start Potty Training?

We started toilet learning (potty training) at 18 months old! I have some friends who started earlier and others who started later. I feel 18 months was the right time for us, that being said, it can and should vary from child to child depending on readiness.

Question #3 - What Helped You The Most?

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Beginning toilet associations early was hugely beneficial to us! What I mean by this is, around 9 or 10 months of age, I purchased a small potty chair to sit in the bathroom. I often found myself using the bathroom with a baby in my arms, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to add a potty that was his size to begin toilet associations. At that age he mostly used it as book storage but it got the ball rolling since he was comfortable with the potty and accustomed to its presence in the bathroom. We also did standing diaper changes starting at around 10 months old (once he could pull up to stand) in the bathroom to further associate his bodily functions with the bathroom.

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

With our son, it took a couple of weeks for him to start recognizing and letting us know that he needed to use the potty. It definitely takes time for them to learn what that feels like! That being said, accidents still happened. Not as often as they occurred in the first handful of days, but we still expected accidents at this point in the process.

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

This is a tricky one to answer! There were still misses here and there when he didn’t quite make it to the potty up until around 22 months old. But I’d say by age 2 it was no longer something I worried about when we left the house. My indicators that he had a firm grasp on it all were: #1 My son was consistently telling us when he needed to use the potty with minimal accidents and #2 I felt confident that if we left the house there would not be an accident. 

Question #6 - How Did You Tackle Poop?

We started offering for him to sit on the toilet with pants on prior to starting to officially potty train in order for him to get acquainted with the potty. Once he was comfortable with that, we offered for him to actual use the potty. If he didn’t want to, we didn’t push him, but we were finding he would opt to use it more often than not! He often wanted to read books while in the bathroom and I personally didn't see a problem with that as the books we read were not very long.

Question #7 - What About Training Outside Your Home?

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This part was a little bit tricky but once we got a system down, it became a lot easier. Firstly, we offered frequent reminders when outside the home about using the potty. When we arrived at our destination we would automatically try to use the toilet and probably once every hour or so we would just offer it as an option. In public spaces, we quickly found our son was very afraid of automatic-flushers. My tip? Bring post-it notes to cover the sensors - this helped us significantly! This way, we could provide adequate warning before removing the post-it notes to allow the toilet to flush. We use the One Proud Toddler travel seat when we are on the go. Now that he has been doing this for a while, he is no longer afraid of the toilets and mostly just covers his ears as a precaution since many public toilets tend to be loud.

Question #8 - How About Nighttime Training?

Nighttime training is not something we’ve officially started yet as we’re still observing signs that he is not ready. It’s not something we want to rush! At the heart of Montessori is the effort to follow the child's lead. Children have their own internal timelines for toilet learning. It's not about imposing a rigid schedule or age-based expectations. Instead, the child's readiness and interest are the primary factors. The Montessori approach to toilet learning is a child-centered, respectful, and gradual process that prioritizes the child's autonomy and development.

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

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Hack #1: Reading books about toilet learning ahead of time is so helpful to prepare the child for the process. In general, we’ve found reading books about big life changes (preferably ones with real photos of real children) is so beneficial. Hack #2: Exposing the child to your portable child potty seat before needing to use it outside of the home. We used our One Proud Toddler seat on the toilets at home where he’s comfortable before trying to use them in public on unfamiliar toilets. This helped make at least ONE thing more familiar and comfortable when using new toilets in public spaces! 

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

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Keep in mind: there’s not a set age where a child is automatically “ready” as every child is different. This approach worked well for our family but it may not be right for yours. I always try to emphasize that following the child truly means everything could look different from one family to the next. Try to trust your gut instincts and follow your child’s lead!

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!

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Real Potty Training Story No. 9

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