When your child turns two, it’s like an alarm goes off. People start asking a bunch of questions about potty training. If you have a toddler in diapers, you start to get comments from family and friends. It starts to get harder to change a diaper on a larger child, too.
So how do you start potty training? I do not have the answer. I do know there are some things I wish I had known before I started on this journey with my kids.
It takes time.
My grandma likes to tell me that my uncle was potty trained by a babysitter in 3 days. While this amazes me, it doesn’t seem realistic--not at all. For me, potty training is more of a marathon than a sprint. Both of my kids took a couple months to be potty trained, and this was just during the day. Nighttime training takes time--lots of time. My daughter wasn’t fully night trained until almost two years after she was day trained. Some kids may not be night train until age 8, and that's totally normal. Don’t sweat it if it takes a while for your little one to grasp the concept.
New babies may cause regression.
When my daughter was 19 months old I was convinced she had to be trained before the new baby arrived. I set up towels on my couches. I used the oven timer as a timer for when she needed to sit on the potty. We got candy. We got the tiny potty. It was crazy. She was trained. Then, here comes a new baby, and all of a sudden she regressed. If you have a new baby, expect the older sibling to show some regression. I also noticed regression during times of great change, like moving. No worries. Your child will not go to kindergarten in a diaper.
Ditch the pull-ups.
If you are starting potty training, go for underwear. Pull-ups just delay everything. They’re too close to a diaper. Let your little one pick out some fun underwear or cloth trainers, which feel like undies but absorb like cloth diapers, and get them involved in the process. It’s messy, but it’s worth it. Invest in some cleaning supplies and let the learning begin!
Rewards are worth it.
We tried stickers. We tried candy. We tried potty pops. We tried Dollar Tree toys. They all work. It just depends on your kid.
So let potty training be a learning process for you and your little one. It doesn’t have to be quick or painless, and most likely it won’t be. Have fun. This is just another milestone you will learn together. Be patient and loving. Buy the Clorox wipes.
Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of three in Arkansas with a potty trained girl and boy and baby who will be her biggest challenge yet.