Potty Training the 3rd Time Around


Potty-training We set out to get Hayden potty trained a couple of weeks ago, just several days shy of his 3rd birthday. In all honesty, had we not been required to have him fully trained for the start of preschool, I’m not sure I would’ve finally taken the plunge. He’s my 3rd and final baby, and I fully admit that by keeping him in diapers I was able to stay in the sheltered world of De-Nial, and keep him as my forever baby. But we all know that’s not the most functional form of parenting, so we took on the challenge gosh, 2 weeks ago now, and I’m happy to announce that we’ve conquered the loo and we now have our last kid out of diapers.

The basic run-down of the last couple of weeks goes like this. We began on a Wednesday by ditching the diapers completely and putting him in undies. For the first 3 days, we had him sit on the potty every hour during awake times. For naps we kept him in undies, but at night we put him in a diaper. For the first 3 days we had nothing but accidents and he didn’t use the potty a single time. By day 4 though, we had a very good idea of his “schedule” and could anticipate the times he was going to have to go, so on day 4 we backed off from having him sit down every hour. This is when the magic happened, and by the end of day 4 he went pee on the potty for the first time. He continued to have at least 1 accident a day for the next 3-4 days, and by day 8 he was telling us when he had to go potty, which is when you know you’re really making progress. It was also at this time that he asked to wear undies to go to bed, so we swapped the diaper for the undies and he’s continued to wake up dry (last night he even woke up Taylor and told her he had to go potty, and went!). He’s now routinely telling us when he has to go, and as of yesterday, is comfortably going when out in public. We have yet to nail down the pooping situation, but since we are only 2 weeks in, and about a week since a urination accident, we’re not too concerned with pushing him. We have confidence that he’ll get it pretty soon.

A few thoughts on our pretty straightforward process, just because I’ve had some friends and readers ask.

  1. No Pull-Ups: We’ve subscribed to the no pull-ups at all routine with all 3 of our kids, and it has not failed us. I read somewhere many years ago when we were first starting to train Taylor, that putting them in pull-ups will only delay the process, because it prevents the child from feeling the whole bodily process of having to go, and then releasing. I double checked, and it seems that many “experts” still agree on this no pull-up method. For day time we kept him in undies all day, and at night, we put him in a diaper, which he eventually asked us to replace with his undies after about 6-7 days. *We are lucky in that we breed camels for children, and can count on one hand the amount of night time bed wettings we’ve had with all 3 kids. In fact, I don’t think any of them have ever wet their bed at night, so if you have a child who’s still waking up with wet diapers, consult  the “experts” because I don’t know what to do 😉
  2. In regards to signs of readiness: Hayden was displaying all the typical signs of readiness including waking up with dry diapers, asking us to change his dirty diaper after going potty, telling us he’s going potty, hiding in the corner to go poop, and showing an overall interest in the potty.
  3. In regards to “waiting until they’re ready”: Aside from the elimination communication form of potty training, most “experts” agree that a child is ready to be potty trained around the age of 2, and at maximum should be trained by 3. For all intents and purposes I’d agree, based off of my own experience with my 3.  Taylor literally trained herself in a couple of days when she was 22 months old, while Syd did take a bit longer and after he finally relinquished the idea of “control”, was trained in a weekend just after his 3rd birthday. Hayden quite honestly, with his easy going temperament, could have been trained even younger, but like I said, we sorta waited out of sheer laziness and denial that our little dude was growing up. With all that being said, I don’t agree that potty training should be one of those areas that we just let the children take control and lead the way. Kids need our guidance and structure with most everything they learn, and potty training should be no different. If you can make the process carefree and stress-free, it’s my personal belief that potty training should be led by the parents, when they are ready, not necessarily when the child is “ready.” I had a couple of people suggest to me that I should hold off and wait a few more months(!) just because I mentioned that Hayden was still having accidents on day 3. Had we not continued to stick with it and I instead let Hayden “lead the way” we wouldn’t have a very proud and happy little boy, going potty on the toilet just like his big brother. I think this topic is just a matter of parenting style, so please follow your gut and if you truly believe all parties involved are ready, then ignore the unsolicited advice from other parents telling you to back off.
  4. Getting them used to the potty: Nope, we didn’t do this either. We have 2 kinds of potty seats; one of the cushioned rings which fits over the big seat and keep downstairs, and one of the little toddler potties that they can sit on and you dump the pee, which we kept upstairs. When we decided to start, we brought both out and simply said, “This is where you go potty!” We didn’t leave it beforehand so he could “test it out”, so don’t feel like that bit of advice should be followed. I think, just like the pull-ups advice, is unnecessary and can even be confusing for the kids.
  5. Going naked: This method of letting them run around so they get the full sensation of the urge to go, and then release, is quite effective. But because we were living with my in-laws where she has lots of nice rugs all over the house and expensive hard wood flooring, I took the route of having him wear one of those Gerber padded undies underneath a pair of regular undies. Who knows, having him wear undies the whole time may have taken a few days longer, but in the end we were successful with this method, so don’t feel like the free and naked route is the only way to go.
  6. Being home-bound: This is another method which “experts” say make potty training easier and quicker, and that may very well be the case, but we did not stay home-bound the entire time. We got out plenty, and yes, we did have a few accidents, but nothing that wasn’t manageable. We always made sure to have a change of clothes with us, and we took the toddler potty with us so we could have him try to go before and after we went somewhere, but we didn’t have much luck in the beginning with this. But now, we can go out and he will tell us that he has to go, and actually go!
  7. Using a reward system: By the looks of my social media feeds, it seems the M&M reward system is pretty popular in getting kids potty trained. I can’t say whether it works or not since we’ve never tried it, but I can confirm that a more nonchalant system of congratulating for a job well done works great, and doesn’t get you stuck in a never-ending, demanding cycle of pee/candy/pee/candy. Every so often, after Hayden started actually going pee on the potty, we would go crazy with congratulations and high fives, and then say “Hey buddy, here’s a little treat!” We never really used it as a reward per se, or a bribe to get him to go, and now he’s going just find without prompting or cajoling, and he’s not expecting anything in return.
  8. Withholding poop: From my own personal experience and from speaking with countless friends and family members, not all kids train to go both pee and poop simultaneously. Because poop tends to be a little easier to control than pee, some kids may withhold going, either for control or because they’re just not getting how to make a bowel movement happen when sitting down on the potty. This happened with Taylor, was no problem with Syd, and is now happening with Hayden. He’s yet to make a bm on the potty, but as I said above, it’s really only been 2 weeks total, and because he mastered pee pretty easily and quickly, we’re not too concerned that poo will come next, and soon.

So that’s over 1500 words on the subject of potty training. I didn’t think I had that much to say, but I guess after 3 unique experiences with 3 kids, there’s a lot to be learned and discussed! Bottom line, my advice is to not make it into a huge production. I know it can seem overwhelming, especially with your first child, but take it seriously and be consistent, and after a few days you’ll see that it’s no big deal. My last big piece of advice that I didn’t really mention above, is to not get upset about accidents or scold and shame them. I’m not saying you have to be a happy patient saint every time there’s an accident (believe me, I let my frustration slip a bit here and there), but just stay consistent with the practice and offer plenty of reassurance that accidents are okay, but remind them where their pee and poo go; in the potty! And remind yourself that accidents are great learning experiences for you too, because you get a better idea of their schedule and can anticipate when they’ll have to go. This will avoid countless, unnecessary hours spent on the potty.

I hope this helps and isn’t too vague! Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to share any info I may have missed! I just love talking about poo and pee! 😉

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Michelle says:

    My little guy (3 yrs, 9 months) still pees at night so we put him in a diaper. He also holds his poop until then, poops in the diaper, then tell us, we change him, and the never-ending cycle repeats itself each and every night. It’s a bit frustrating. I don’t know how to get him off that. Any suggestions or inputs would be great.

  • Paige says:

    My little man turned three a few weeks ago and we tried potty training him the week before his birthday without any luck. We did give it two days, decided he wasn’t getting it at all, and then backed off for a few weeks. We’re planning on trying again this weekend, but he has no interest in using the potty, cries when we sit him on it, wakes up in the morning with a super full diaper, or completely wet, doesn’t hide to poop, and even hates getting his diaper changed and doesn’t tell us if it needs to be changed… Do you think we should still proceed with trying? Or should any of this be addressed with a doctor? I just feel like we should have some signs of readiness at three, and we really have none!


    • Michelle says:

      Paige – We had most of the same with our guy just after he turned 3. We waited until 3 1/2 and have had success….except in the pooping situation (which I mentioned in my comment above).

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