I remember well the conversation I had with a friend whose daughter was about a year and a half older than my first child. My daughter was a toddler in diapers at the time, and I couldn’t wait for her to be potty trained. My friend said something casually about potty training her daughter at age 3 and I was horrified. Yes, I admit that I thought “What a horrible mother!” and “MY daughter will be potty trained MUCH earlier than that!”
And then my daughter turned 2. I was pregnant with my second baby, and terribly sick. Many friends had warned me that if I tried to potty train KitKat right before the new baby came, there was a high likelihood that she would revert after the baby was born. Frankly, I was tired, sick, and huge. So I put it off, despite KitKat’s apparent interest in using the toilet and her ability to go number one and number two in the potty.
After Necco was born, I decided to go full strength forward with the potty training plan. I did NOT want to be changing two sets of diapers all the time. One baby in diapers is plenty. It was horrible. KitKat fought the process for months, and I felt like a failure. I knew she could do it, but for some reason (stubborness, perhaps?) she refused to do it when I wanted her to. And so we approached her 3rd birthday in diapers. I remembered the murmuring I’d done when my friend had told me about her daughter, and the words “curse” and “jinxed” did go through my mind. I gave up and put her underwear in the back of her drawer.
Luckily, once we found the right motivation (a Barbie doll), and all other factors were right (I was no longer “forcing” her to pee in the toilet), KitKat was potty trained in less than a week. I gladly waited until the rest of my kids turned 3 to train them. And, yes, the subsequent kids were much easier.
“What is the perfect age to start potty training?”
When and how to start potty training seems to be one of the most pressing questions new and old moms alike ask. So I figured that I’d ask a few seasoned moms about their experiences and tips.
“WAIT for your child to be ready. They will do it…eventually. I started with the oldest when he was 3 and he potty trained pretty easily. With my second I tried at 2.5 thinking he was ready and he didn’t train until he was 3 years 8 mo. I know now looking back that all I wanted him to do was never going to happen. He needed to be ready. No matter how many pairs of character underwear I gave him he wasn’t ready. Don’t get me wrong I bought him the toy of all toys to get him trained, but I knew he was ready at that point and the fact that he had 1 accident and that was evidence enough to the fact that he was in fact ready.” –Candice, mother of 3
“No advise here except wait until they are ready! I waited a long time with my daughter and potty trained her in about 1 week. She was almost 3 and a half. I watched my play group moms fight and stress over potty training. That was something I did not want to do. And still haven’t potty trained my twins (almost 3). I’m not ready!” —Safire, mother of 3
“I am so not looking forward to this with my youngest! With my first I remember starting her at 2 and a half she was awesome until my husband went away for school for a month in a different country. She totally went back to diapers and we had to start over when he got home.
My middle daughter potty trained at close to 3 and half I remember putting it off for forever because I was so nervous. She ended up potty training in 3 days.
I think the best advice is to stay consistent also don’t worry about them staying dry at night time that will come with time.” —Carly, mom of 3
“Each child was distinctly different when it came to potty training. Some things that worked for me were using potty training story books early on, bringing it up in conversation so you just don’t spring it on them, and staying home for a good week, if at all possible, to be on the potty at a moment’s notice, or even to anticipate the need.
“If it doesn’t seem to be working, don’t sweat it and don’t make the child anxious about it. Just give it a break and try again next week, or next month, whatever works for them.” —Annie, mom of 4
Stop obsessing over it. They will be ready when they are ready. No amount of classes, rewards, books etc…will force them to be ready.” —Kadi, mother of 7
“We started at 18 months, 20 months, 24 months and finally Miss A was potty trained at 28 months in just a couple of days. I saw signs of readiness, staying dry, telling me when she was wet, wanting to sit on the potty, so we’d try and found out she wasn’t quite ready, so we put it on hold and tried again later. I’d say just be patient. Your child will be ready at some point, try not to put a number on it though, each child is different, and unless your pediatrician is worried you shouldn’t be either. They won’t go to college in pampers.” —Jenn aka MommyB, mom of 2
“I go by when they are ready it will happen. Potty training has been a struggle in our household. We are still working with my oldest on being fully night trained but the biggest thing is to NOT punish them for accidents. They are called accidents for a reason and that is not something to be punished. I tell my children accidents happen and that is OKAY. It is not something to be upset or ashamed of. My older two are very heavy sleepers so getting them to wake up is the problem. I am not rushing it and I take them to the bathroom when I go to bed to try and help them get in that routine of waking up if they feel the need.” —Shana, mom of 3
“I start when they are ready, usually around age 3. Congratulate them, do a potty dance with a made up song, celebrate the moments they go potty… in time, that will be the prime motivator.” —Suzanne, mother of 7
“My potty training advice: WAIT. I waited until mine were nearly three. It’s so much easier to change a diaper than it is to be running for the potty all the time.” —Kristen, mother of 4
“#1 was 3 and we’re still working on making it through the day without an accident but she has other issues going on.
#2 was between 2 & 3 and was easy, easy, easy. She was dry overnight in 6 months.
#3 was just over 2 and wanted to be big like her sisters. She was dry over night inside of a year.” —Valinda, mother of 3
“We had a box of whoppers that we treated them with everytime they went to the bathroom. The both love chocolate now. Wait, that wasn’t why we used the whoppers and no the whoppers didn’t help but it made it more enjoyable for me.
Both of our girls did it easily as soon as they were ready. For both it was between 2 and 2 1/2.” —Amy, mom of 2
“We started at 2 years and 3 months. It took about 6 months until he was fully potty training. Getting my son to poop on the potty was the hardest. In the long run, it ended up being a control issue. He knew when he had to go, but he didn’t want to. He would wait until his pull up was on, every single time. In one of my weakest, most hormonal (newly pregnant) moments, I laid the guilt on. Not my proudest moment. But, it worked.
The best advice, be patient. If your child isn’t ready, pushing them won’t make them ready. It will make it worst. It also won’t happen overnight, in a few days, or even weeks. It will take months, there will be accidents just when you think you are done, and in the end, it isn’t that big of a deal.” —Allison mother of 1, with another due in July
And my favorite advice: “Put ’em in panties and leave for a weekend with the girls. Let Dad do it.” —Astacia, mother of 2
Do you have any fabulous potty training tips you can share?
Top image source: Microsoft Office online
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