Warning: correct bathroom and body terms are used in this post. Also affiliate links are a part of this blog’s livelihood.
Picture your little baby strutting confidently around your house with no diaper (and preferably in pants), meanwhile you are more than confident that if baby needs to go she will head straight to her baby-sized potty chair to do the deed, and promptly scream for you to come clean her tushy. Life isn’t perfect…
Maybe you’ve read about early potty training before and scoffed. Before hitting 2 years you’re just hoping that your kiddo sleeps through the night! I am currently potty training my baby even though he hasn’t sat on a toilet yet. My sister (2-kid veteran) turned me on to a certain style of potty training, and she was turned on to it by her Belarusian in-laws. Patience! We’ll get to the method of all this madness in a moment.
Before you have a chance to disregard what I’m about to expose to you as fool-proof early potty training I want to appeal to your sense of open-mindedness. Other cultures, other countries are doing things that have been working for decades. There are a few Mexican idiosyncrasies that I used to roll my eyes about and now I have to hang my head and say, “you were right, Mexico.”
My sister’s potty success story started when her first baby was still very little, and she told me all about how it worked. On the other hand, I also have a friend who potty trained all her kids using the stop everything and concentrate on baby for a week method (not the official term for it I’m pretty sure). After reading a ton on potty training, I’ve decided to mesh two tried and true methods together to get the best possible result, which gave me something potty- and poopy-related to do with my boy before he even turned one.
The Two-Pronged Method
1. Preparation in Advance
Since about 6 months of age I’ve been practicing my poop-grunt with baby. Each time I noticed him making his adorable strained poopy face, I grab the opportunity as he’s squeezing to say the word “poop” and imitate my own poop grunt. This actually took a little practice to perfect my grunt, sometimes I would over-do it.
Peeing is hard to catch because there is no grunting involved, but a valuable practice that I can’t stress enough is using the actual anatomical terminology for pee and poop parts. Boys discover their penis very quickly, and they are also very attuned to connecting words to object well before they can speak. When you catch him reaching for it when he’s naked, take advantage of the moment to make sure he understands that he has found his penis. Not his wee-wee, his peeper or his little birdie. When you are cleaning his backside be sure and use an appropriate word for buttocks (butt or bum are the ones that are aligned with my beliefs.
Still in preparation-mode for the final goal, the next step is setting your baby on her potty chair and encouraging her to go. Now, you have to use your mommy intuition for this next one, but I can help. First, you need to be aware of what I call the poop cue. This is the clue she gives you when she’s preparing to go. This can be anything from going behind a piece of furniture, stopping in her tracks, or even the very first sign of a tense little poop face. When you pick up on her cue, pick her up and run to the potty.
This is where the grunting comes in handy. Each time you grunted before it was always while she was pooping in her diaper, now steady her on the potty and grunt until she realizes she’s gotta do some grunting of her own.
For going pee it’s a little more straight forward. Try to stick to a schedule. In my experience nannying for 4 nephews and one niece I found that a typical pee-schedule can be wrapped around whenever it is they wake up. Wake up in the morning, wait 5 minutes and bring him to the potty. Just like grunting for poops, sometimes a soothing “psss psss” sound can get the pee pipes running. Same for naps!
A final prep tip is to give up your rights to privacy and let baby see you and other select family members going to the bathroom. Between Mom, Dad and big brother she should figure it out sooner rather than later. It also creates a kind of incentive: your little baby wants to imitate you every chance she gets.
All these little details will be invaluable for the day you decide to stop buying diapers.
2. The Final Countdown
This is where you get down and dirty. Very likely it will get quite dirty in the beginning. This is what you’ve been working toward. You may decide on your own if your baby is ready for the potty big leagues, or it could be baby who is insisting that they want to hang out on the potty or show more interest than usual in seeing how it’s done. Either way, pick a block of time where you know you won’t be going anywhere or having any visitors and a bathtub will be handy. 5 days should do the trick, although you might be surprised to see baby figure it out way before the 5 day mark.
Take away the diapers. Start the day with big girl undies. With no diapers on hand, it’s not baby who will be motivated, it’s you. At least you will be if you value a clean rug. I am giving you fair warning, there will be accidents! These should not be viewed as failure, rather as learning opportunities. When the pee hits the floor be careful not to scare your wee one (pun totally intended) out of potty training altogether. No yelling or scolding. You will calmly tell her that pee goes in the potty. A couple of accidents will end up being an important part of baby realizing what “pee” is in the first place, and where it’s coming from! She may have an “aha” moment and learn much more quickly.
Keep to the Schedule. For poops, you will have to have the reflexes of, well, a mom. Grab that grunting baby and book it to the potty. If you are lucky maybe baby already has a kind of poop clock. Mostly poops in the morning? For pee, baby wakes up and takes a walk to the potty chair. During this useful block of time you will also implement a new concept: asking if she has to pee or poop. “Do you have to pee?” will become a phrase that you will become overwhelmingly familiar with as the years stretch on.
Repeat after me. “Pee goes in the potty.” “Do you have to pee?” “Do you have to poop?” “Yay, dry undies!” “Uh oh… your undies are wet.” Grunt, grunt grunt.Psss psss. No speeches, please!
Make up a game. You will frequently be asking, “Do you have to pee?” Check her undies every half hour. Announce excitedly that it’s “time to check your undies!” Dry undies = a super cool, ultra-amazing toy from the dollar store! Or a lollipop, or some cool treat you know she’ll love. Yay! Wet undies = Cheerful tones, “Uh oh! You’re all wet.” Change them and move on.
Keep it potty themed. It’s okay, it will all be over soon and you can do away with your potty tricks. Get a couple of books on potty to read before nap and bedtime. Drill it in there, mom. Get lots of her favorite juice which will make her have to go more often! Surprise her with a new big girl cup. My brother and sister in-law are water-nazis and seriously turned me into an envious mom when I saw her kids drinking from super sleek trainer cups. Perfect for making baby want to drink more!
Mom, there is no one like you. No one who gives more for your little crew, no one who will commit more time or energy to their growth in confidence and wisdom. Potty training seems daunting, mundane, and maybe the thought of it kinda makes you want to run a Netflix marathon instead of giving more. Because of all you do, starting way before potty training, your kids will stand up one day and say, “My mom is amazing.” Now get to it!