Potty Training – Advice from 10 Moms Who’ve Been There

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Potty Training: Advice from 10 Moms Who've Been There
Photo from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

Ok, I have to admit. I’m not all that familiar with the “normal” methods of potty training. We went a little crunchy in this department — my boys started using the potty when they were less than a year old. I’ve asked some moms to share their thoughts on potty training and what worked for them, so you can get a well rounded perspective on the topic of potty training though.

Potty Training Products

Let me start by saying there are a ton of products out there. I haven’t tried them all… I just know what worked for us. So, that being said, I’ll share some potty training products that you might like before we get down to business:
Amazon #afflinks open in new window for your convenience.

In general, for kid potties, my preference is simple.  Simpler is better. Fewer loose parts, fewer things to clean (watch out for those crevices in “padded” models).

Now that you know what products worked for me…

Advice from moms who’ve been there, done that.

Let’s hear from some moms about the ins and outs of potty training and what worked for them! I’ll share my own personal experience at the end.

I waited until my boys were ready. We read lots of books about the topic and then let them decide when it was time. Then, bam they were potty trained. One was 3 1/2 and the other 2 1/2.


Growing Book by Book (read her post on 10 potty training books)

We started EC with my middle son at 6 months old and he did well with it and “potty trained” early at 18 months. My now 2 year old is totally different and we are following his lead on training. We cannot cloth diaper him due to skin sensitivities, so he is not as aware as my other two children were of when he is wet.


The Educators’ Spin on It

We just left them to their own devices, when they were fed up of nappies they both started using the toilet within a day. They both happened to be 3 too, although my eldest had only just turned 3 but my youngest was nearly 4 when he decided he wanted to use the toilet.


Raising Wild Ones

My son couldn’t grasp the concept that something was coming out of him. The brain and little boy part weren’t well connected, so we did some naked time to help him connect that the pee came out of him. After that, it took about a week or two (daytime, nighttime took years). Here is a potty training tips post that I have done.


Therapy Fun Zone (see her post on toddler age potty training tips)

I made it “my daughter’s business” and set up a little private corner for her potty, she was fully “toilet trained” by 20 months. (I also have a post on how I toilet learn older children in my care.)

Jennifer, Study At Home Mama

I talk to them and tell them what is going on with their bodies, up until now they have never had to actually think about peeing. I put underwear on them and wait. I usually let them pee in their underwear the first time so they recognize what is going on and then it usually clicks. Also… I sit them backwards on the toilet. For boys this is great because they have to sit when they poop anyway, and if they forget to hold down their penis then it sprays the back of the toilet and not the wall in front of them. And it’s easier to balance so they can relax when they have to go and not worry about falling in.


Socks & Shoes Not Required (read her tips and tricks for potty training boys)

I potty trained our twin girls over a long period of time. We first introduced the potty, and had them sit on it at 18 months old. They were actually doing alright with it, but life happened (car accident), and it got put on the back burner for a few months. Next time we tried the potty seat in the middle of the room,, and running around without any diapers on, and bribes (a single chocolate chip). One of my daughters though could literally squeeze out a drop of pee into the toilet every like 5-10 minutes… I think because she wanted the chocolate chip, and also because I think she was just lacking some control, so we stopped pushing her as hard, and worked mostly with my other daughter at that time. She did really well, had problem getting #2 in the potty, but once she did, she was pretty much potty trained, including overnight around 2.5 years old, though we still had accidents here and there. Her sister we waited several months, and tried again, and she did much better, and followed a similar pattern as her sister, but we kept her in a pull-up at night for a long time as she would frequently have night accidents. She was mostly trained by 3 years old, right before her baby brother was born. She continued to have infrequent night accidents past her 4th birthday, but finally stopped having any about 4 months ago (at about 4.5). My best advice for parents potty training is YOU HAVE TO BE DEDICATED! It’s really easy to throw in the towel that first day when they are doing awful. But, also know your kids.


What’s Up Fagans?

My oldest son basically potty trained my youngest! They are 22-months apart and we told my oldest that he would get a treat whenever his brother went potty IF (and only if) he helped encourage and praise him! He asked him every 5 minutes if he needed to go potty and then whooped and hollered when his brother was successful!


I Can Teach My Child!

Our son finally “got it” at Old Faithful at Yellowstone. He ran across the visitors’ center, screaming, “I pooped in the toilet!” It was epic.


Royal Little Lambs (read how her post, The Bubba Trained Me)

3 Day Potty Training Method…it only took him 2….worked great!


Dirt and Boogers (read her story about potty training boot camp)

My Experience Potty Training (so far)

And now let me share a little about my experience. We started off cloth diapering from the get-go … first with a diaper service, and then for our second child I manned up and did the whole cleaning thing myself. When my first was about 5 months old, I learned my grandmother (who had 4 kids under 4 in the 50s) started potty training as soon as her children could sit up. The concept intrigued me. That, coupled with observing a local mom help her infant use the potty (and stay dry)… piqued my curiosity. Out of diapers before 3 years old? Tell me more.

Today’s lingo for early pottying is either “elimination communication” or “infant potty training.” It’s not cruel, there is no forcing or punishment, it’s basically learning to recognize pre-verbal signals. It is how most of the world copes with baby elimination instead of extended diapering. In short, the concept is that babies are born with a desire to stay dry (anyone victim to getting peed on during a diaper change?). So while they are not able to verbalize their need to eliminate, it is possible to read their body language for cues (getting fussy, a particular cry, eventually signing “potty,” etc). I was dubious at first. It took me 3 months to work up some initiative to give this early pottying a try. But once we tried, my older son, then about 6 mos, caught on really quickly. It wasn’t a game of trying to get him on the potty perfectly, but a process where I could help him use the potty some (or a lot) of the time. It didn’t take long before I didn’t have to change soiled diapers anymore — just wet ones. And then little by little, we transitioned to baby underwear — without any power struggles… just his natural desire to stay dry. We were out of diapers before 2 years for sure, maybe even around 1 year, but I’d have to look through the baby book to tell for sure.

Now, a couple years later, we’re doing the same thing with my second son. When we got home from the hospital, my toddler actually told me his brother needed to use the potty… I thought, “sure… but I’ll indulge.” Yup, he did. Even though this kid is a solid sleeper, he has woken up dry in the morning from time to time (other times I don’t get there soon enough so we have a wet diaper to change). But once again, my son’s natural desire is to stay dry. So he fusses before he musses the diaper, and if at all possible, avoids soiled diapers.

While diaper changing doesn’t phase me, I have to admit it is nice, not having to clean up diaper blow outs or yucky bums. The pragmatist in me loves early pottying. I know it’s not for everyone, and there is a lot of misinformation out there about elimination communication (infant potty training). But in short, I have never forced my boys …it has always been about making things more comfortable for them. I know I wouldn’t want to sit in wet or soiled material, so it only seemed natural to change that diaper right away. And if I was going to be on top of things enough to change the diaper immediately, adapting to offering the potty wasn’t that big of a deal for me.

It may sound hard core, but for me, it was just practical. I’m a realist though, I know this method of potty training (if you want to call it that) doesn’t work for everyone. And I’ve never been one to judge. Different strokes for different folks.

What about you? I’d love to know what worked (or didn’t work) for you. Share in the comments below!

32 Responses

  1. Fi Ní Neachtáin

    This was great to read as I’ve just begun to think about potty training my 2 year old. He sat on the potty last night and peed. I was so proud of him and I hope he can continue to be interested in learning for himself.

  2. Tammilee Tips

    These are great tips for potty training! I remember how hard it was for my nephews to get the hang of it.

  3. Jennifer Lambert

    Thanks for featuring my post with my funny boy! Potty training is an adventure!

  4. Chubskulit Rose

    I was pretty lucky when I potty trained both of my kids. My daughter was the easiest while my son took a little longer but they were really good. The key is starting them at an early age but everybody is different. I started with my daughter when she was barely a year old but she got it really quickly..

  5. Esther of Local Adventurer

    that’s really amazing that they started using the potty in less than a year old. i heard that boys usually take longer than girls to potty train.

  6. Rosey

    I agree with the response about waiting until they’re ready. My last of four was way harder than the rest…but it was okay, I knew he’d get it. I just stayed consistent and let him let me know when he was truly ready to be done w/the diapers/pullups.

  7. Reginia Cordell

    I believe potty training is one of my greatest fears about becoming a mom. Any tips that I can come across on the topic are gems.

  8. Franc Ramon

    If they get used to potty training while they are younger, it would be better. They would adopt the habit earlier and without resistance.

  9. Rebecca Swenor

    These are great tips for potty training indeed. I used Cheerios in the toilet with my boys to pee on them. They both got a kick out of aiming and hitting them. I have to mention that with boys they tend not to aim in the am because they are to busy scratching the bum half a sleep. I would just laugh until it came to cleaning all the time behind the toilet. Thanks for sharing.

  10. ourfamilyworld

    Those are helpful tips for potty training. Potty training is a stressful time for parents and all the tips are welcome

  11. Penny Struebig

    Great tips here! I think the bottom line is making sure the child is ready to be trained. It can be so challenging for the child and parent if the child is just not interested.

  12. Briton

    I just waited until each of mine (3) were interested in the potty and never had much of a hard time! My youngest was the easiest and was night-time trained as soon as she was day-time trained.

  13. Pinay Mommy Online

    Thanks for sharing these great tips on potty training. All my kids learned to relieve themselves at an early age. Luckily never had a hard time on it.

  14. Erica @ The Crumby Cupcake

    One of my good friends luckily just got her daughter potty-trained right before her second child was born. She was so afraid that if her daughter saw her changing the new baby’s diaper, she would want to wear them too! Fun stories!!

  15. Lauren

    I needed this post! My son is 1 ½ and I’ve been wondering when I need to potty train! The sooner the better!

  16. Cassie

    This is such a great trove of information for parents going throw this trying experience. I know I’m going to keep this bookmarked for if I ever have kids of my own!

  17. CourtneyLynne

    Ahhhh potty training!!!! It literally sucks so bad!!!!! Every time I think my daughter is close to being done with it, I swear she takes a huge step back -_-

  18. Meredith

    Hi I found you on Small Victories Sunday. My daughter didn’t potty train officially until I quit my job and came home for good at 3.5yo. My son started using the potty at 20months but is not fully potty trained yet. It’s going on 2 months but I don’t feel like I have to rush it. Good topic. I think what helped for my son was letting him see my husband use the bathroom and he just wanted to copy the behavior. Blessings~

  19. Marina

    We will start with potty training this summer. I am already scared 😀 Thanks for the tips, it will be useful!!

  20. Great tips and Roy do up. Loving Growing Book by Books site. Thanks for sharing some great bloggers and advice with Small Victories Sunday linkup. I appreciate you hosting with us! Pinned to our linkup board.

  21. That was supposed to be *roundup! 🙂

  22. Betsy Finn

    Glad you appreciated it! Sounds like your toddler is ready and interested in that next step!

  23. Betsy Finn

    Yeah, it’s definitely more of a challenge for some kids than others. No one size fits all approach 🙂

  24. Betsy Finn

    It certainly is! Thanks for sharing your perspective 🙂

  25. Betsy Finn

    Thanks for sharing! Yes, its interesting to see how siblings differ. Glad yours transitioned fairly easily!

  26. Betsy Finn

    Yes, I’d heard that too, Esther. My husband was originally skeptical but once he discovered our boys were really interested in staying dry, he was on board.

  27. Betsy Finn

    Yep, some kids just take longer than others. Communication and positive reinforcement are godsends.

  28. Betsy Finn

    Yes, I discovered it was more of a natural transition for my boys!

  29. Betsy Finn

    What a cute idea, lol! I’ve also seen those nighlights that project a bullseye into the bowl. Doesn’t help for the boy who pres with eyes shut though…heh.

  30. Betsy Finn

    Agreed, it can be stressful…just like any other part of parenting, I suppose..

  31. Betsy Finn

    Thanks Penny. That definitely can be a factor for some kids.

  32. Betsy Finn

    That’s awesome to hear, Briton!