I know what you’re thinking before you even say it… “Oh god, here’s another would be expert trying to tell me how to potty train my 6 week old” but trust me when I tell you, that’s not what I’m here to do.
First of all, Becky with the “potty trained 6 week old… I don’t think you can potty train a 6 week old at all. They are way too clingy and want you to be everywhere with them. Plus, they can’t even sit up on their own, potty training them would just be a disaster. When I think of potty training, I picture freedom and them being able to eventually go on their own.
Second, I am no expert. I have 5 kids, 4 of which are potty trained and one that I’m still waiting for. I simply wish to share my horror… sorry I mean beautiful potty training experiences with you so you know that there are people doing this with you and you aren’t alone.
That being said, potty training does not have to be this big scary, disastrous event. I think people hear the horror stories and get themselves geared up for it to be something bad and so that’s the mindset they go into it with and that’s the results they see.
Remember… mind over matter.
What I’ve learned from potty training four toddlers
Your state of mind will make a big difference in the experience
Again, Mind over matter. Don’t go into potty training thinking that it’s going to be all bad or that it’s going to be a ton of work. Yes, there are going to be accidents, and yes, you’re going to be inconvenienced for a couple of weeks with urgent cries of “I’ve got to go pee” from the back seat but trust me… it’ll all be worth it in the end. So just know that things will get better and try to make this an exciting time for your kid.
Be prepared before starting
When the day comes that you decide that you want to start potty training, be prepared. Go ahead and get a little potty or a step stool and potty chair. Have all the treats, underwear, stickers, and big clothes ready. The more you have, the more comfortable you’ll be and you won’t have to worry about doing laundry constantly.
Pull-ups are the devil
Do not… I repeat… DO NOT use pull-ups inside of the house when you are trying to potty train. Kids tend to look at pull-ups as an alternative to diapers and will continue to use them as such. My recommendation is to only use pull-ups at night or when you have to go someplace for added protection. At home, stick to regular underwear. They will be less willing to go to the bathroom in underwear because it’s more uncomfortable. Plus, kids get really excited when they get to pick out big kid underwear with their favorite characters or colors on them, which will make them more willing to keep them clean as well.
There is such a thing as too soon
We live in a society that tends to think small kids need to be potty training the second they jump out of their moms womb. I
‘m joking… sort of.
There does seem to be a big push to have kids potty trained by the time they are two and if they aren’t then you’ve clearly failed as a parent. This philosophy is not good though. It can lead to more accidents, potty fears, and extended potty training processes. It’s been my experience that kids will let you know when they are ready, especially when they have older siblings to look up to, and you practically won’t have to do anything. Now, with that being said, my three self-trainers were all completely day and night potty trained before they were three. My oldest, who we were forced to potty train starting at 1 due to the daycare she was in, was not fully potty trained until closer to 4.
Look for signs
When a child is ready to potty train, they will let you know. It may be as clear as them telling you they want to use the big boy potty like my son did when he was ready, or you may have to look for more subtle clues that they may be ready.
What to look for when your child is ready to potty train
- Taking off their diaper constantly- When my girls were ready to potty train they started to hate having a diaper on. They would constantly take it off and throw it places. If they weren’t taking it off, they were fussing when I put it on them.
- Hiding when they do their business- Some kids become very aware of their potty habits and start to find it embarrassing, so they will go hide in corners or behind sofas or just go into other rooms to pee or poop. If you start to notice this more and more, it may be time to introduce a potty to them.
- She starts to tell you that her diaper is wet or dirty. If they aren’t speaking yet, it may be something as simple as her touching the diaper to acknowledge that something has changed or that she’s uncomfortable in it once it becomes soiled. If she is talking well, she may tell you that she went potty or that her diaper is wet. Another queue is that she may bring you a new diaper when she feels it’s time to be changed. My third daughter would do the latter. When she had gone potty she would walk into her room and grab a new diaper to bring to me.
- He may suddenly become very interested in following you to the potty- When little ones are ready to potty train, sometimes they become very interested in seeing what you are doing. He will follow you into the bathroom or ask you “are you going potty mommy?” at the top of his lungs in the public bathroom. Yup kids like to let EVERYONE know you’re going potty or that they are going potty. It’s fun.
How I potty trained my toddlers
Once you’ve discovered that it’s time to potty train, gather all of the essentials and get started.
The key to potty training is patience
Remember that potty training does take some time to learn. They are still figuring out the sensation of needing to go and when to time things. So don’t try to rush it. Those “potty train your kid in 3 days” techniques may not always work for all kids. The more patience you have during this process, the more willing your little one is going to be to try and get it right. Being overbearing may cause them to be worried or nervous or even become scared of the bathroom… you don’t want this.
Ditch the Diaper
Like I said earlier, one of the biggest mistakes you could make, would be to keep putting your little prince or princess in a pull-up or diaper while you’re trying to potty train. Let them get used to having accidents and being slightly uncomfortable from it. They will very quickly realize that they don’t like it. So slap on some new undies or let them roam the house freely.
Comfort them and let them know that accidents happen
This is a great life lesson in general but you need to reinforce your love for them and let them know that it’s okay if they had an accident. Let them know that they are still learning and that it’s okay to have an accident every now and then. When it happens, because it is going to happen, get them all cleaned up, have them help you clean up the mess ( I like to have them hold the bag and bring me wipes or towels), give them a big cuddle and then take them to the bathroom to sit down on the potty for a second. This way they can see that they can clean up the mess and everything is okay and they can still finish going potty. Remember, the key is to not make them develop a fear of going potty.
Set a schedule
Setting a good schedule to help you little one go to the potty is a huge help. I personally like to have them wake up in the morning or just after nap time and have them go straight to the potty. I also make them go just before bedtime or nap time so that hopefully they won’t pee in their sleep. Throughout the day, when I am first starting potty training, I will set my alarm for every 30 minutes or so until I learn what their average routine is. Some kids may go to the bathroom more frequently than others, so over time, you’ll figure out how frequently you’ll need to take them to the bathroom.
And when they are playing, make sure to make them stop and go potty. Even if they have been potty trained for a while, this can be a bit hard for them to do. I personally find myself singing the Daniel Tiger “if you have to go potty, STOP and go right away” song all day long for the kids. By the way, that’s a great show to have your newly potty trained kiddos to watch.
Who doesn’t like to get a shiny new sticker or a yummy treat? You know your child best and you know what motivates them to do a good job. So make sure that you set up rewards for when they go to the potty. It can be something as generic as a sticker or M&M or it could be fist bumps or big hugs. Do whatever your child responds to. They will get a kick out of the rewards and it will encourage them to keep trying their hardest.
Wear easy clothing or nothing at all
Those first few days/weeks are going to be kind of challenging and yes, you’re going to have accidents. So make sure to dress your little one in easy to wear/easy to remove clothing. My favorite is to put little girls in dresses or nightgowns and their undies and little boys in big over-sized t-shirts or night shirts. That way, if they have an accident you don’t have to peal off layers of wet or soiled clothing and when they do go to the bathroom, they only have to worry about pulling off the undies and not pants or shorts or skirts. If you find you’re going through all of the easy clothing or you have a child that prefers to be naked, let them run around in the buff. As long as they are in the house, let them be free to be comfortable. You can teach them to wear clothes once the training process is over.
Don’t expect it all at once
Don’t expect your child to be both day and sleep trained all at once. Also, don’t be surprised if they very easily learn to pee in the potty but have an issue with pooping. This is all very normal. It’s harder for little ones to understand that they need to get up in the middle of a hard sleep to go potty, so that may come a little later on and honestly, they may continue to have accidents at night until they are 7 or 8 years old. So, take your time and try not to get frustrated. Also, illness, growth spurts, medical conditions, stress, changes in family or surroundings such as divorce or a big move may cause regression or accidents. These are just some things to keep in mind as your little one grows older.
As for pooping, kids can be really weird about pooping. Some of them refuse to poop in a potty all together and others it’s just stressful for them. I’m not sure what causes this. Just reassure them that it’s okay and try to talk them through it. They will eventually get it.
I hope that these tips help you when the time comes to start potty training your little ones. I know this is a stressful time for you, but when you’re prepared it’ll make everything go more smoothly. Just remember to not have lofty expectations. Your child WILL eventually get there but don’t push it. If you get started and notice that things are just not working out, it is perfectly okay to stop and try again later. It’s not failing, you’re just waiting until your little one is completely ready. And whatever you do… don’t give up.
You’ve got this! You and your toddler can and will do this when the time is right.
Have you been through the potty training process before? What was one of the things you did that helped the most?
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