Ditching the Diapers


potty training

When my daughter was around 18 months old, she started showing an interest in peeing on the potty.  I decided to buy her one of those cute infant toilets that resembled a big kid toilet, which had a flushing sound and portable pot to do the deed in. She even managed to pee on this potty several times and was super excited about it. 

The natural germophobe that I am would not let her pee directly into the pot, but in a plastic bag that I wrapped around it. And the thought of her pooping and me dumping it in the toilet grossed me out (more than her poopie diapers), so we never even went there.  It was, however, an adorable little potty, but ultimately it was a huge waste. After she lost interest in this new training “toy,” a few weeks later, the toilet just sat in our bathroom, taking up unnecessary room, and she never peed on that potty again. I did not push it on her, after all, she was still pretty young.

But there comes a time in each mother’s life when she is done with diapers. Those huge diapers full of pee, but mostly those stinky poopie diapers that honestly, used to make me wonder how so much poop could come out of such a little person. I am talking adult size poops!

After she turned 2 in the summer and was well-adjusted at her school in the fall, I realized that the perfect time for me to start really potty training was over winter break when she was out of school. All my mom friends told me to try the 3-day method, which I did, and it worked, but not without aches and pains along the way. But moms, be persistent and don’t give up, even when you want too! 

There are so many books out there, and some of my mommy friends recommended the Oh Crap! Potty Training book. I also used Potty Training in 3 Days by Brandi Bucks, which worked just fine. 

Here are a few key tips that I suggest when potty training:

  • Make sure your child is actually ready. If you have a goal in your mind, but your child is not physically or emotionally ready, then this whole process can backfire on you and take a whole lot longer than it needs to take. Remember, they have been peeing and pooping in their diapers for their entire life, and that is what they know. All of a sudden, they have us coming in and changing their life by telling them to do it another way.
  • Get them excited by talking up potty training weeks before you actually start so they can mentally prepare and get enthusiastic about it. Tell them they will be pooping and peeing like their parents or big sis or big bro! Also, show them their new underwear that they will be wearing. If your child is opinionated about clothing choices, have them choose their underwear.
  • Toss out any small pottys that you have. Let’s be honest, who wants to teach a child to pee on a little potty and then do it all over again on the big potty. That is just more work for you and more aggravation for them!
  • Try not to use pull-ups, they are essentially diapers, and your little one will soon catch on to this. (We used pull-ups before this method, and it backfired on us).  However, do use nighttime pull-ups.
  • Incentives do work! We used a sticker chart. Have them peel the stickers themselves and place them on the chart. We also used candy (M&Ms, in particular). I am not keen on giving my daughter sugary rewards for things, but this was an exception, and I felt like the M&Ms were small enough. Needless to say, she LOVED this incentive. And often, after she poops, she still asks for M&Ms, and I may or may not give in.
  • Show them how it works if this is in your comfort zone. I was fine with my daughter watching me pee and poop. Who has privacy these days with a toddler anyway? I feel like this also helped my daughter realize that pooping was totally normal and not something to feel weird or gross about.  
  • There will be periods of regression where they will fight you and will not want to poop (peeing is usually much easier for them to learn). This may even lead to some constipation at times. Do not force them to poop, it will backfire on you. Take a break from potty training at this point. We went through this a few months after she was potty trained, where my daughter would hold in her poop. We finally were able to convince her not to do this, and that pooping was totally normal, and mommy and daddy did it just like her. Hence, the showing by doing as explained above.
  • Now for the actual training part:
    1. Set aside 3 full days where you do not plan on leaving your house the entire time, and you will be with your child the entire time. During these 3 days, you want them to use the potty as much as possible, so make sure you stock up on drinks that they like and any particular foods that might make them thirsty. This is also not a time to give them meals they do not like, so give them foods that they enjoy eating to make life easier for everyone involved. 
    2. When we started, we had our daughter help us “throw” away her diapers to show her that they were gone for good. We then put her in underwear without any pants on. We also set aside a part of the house where we would stay for these 3 days and put down plastic tablecloths to protect the carpets. We kept asking her to tell us when she had to use the potty so she would start to be aware of when she needed to go and would tell us. This is where the incentives come in: 1 sticker for pee and 2 stickers for poop; 1 M&M for pee and 2 M&Ms for poop.
    3. We did not let her watch any TV during this time since TV would have distracted her from her bodily intuitions. It is pure quality time, so anyone who is home right now might want to consider giving this a try if their child is ready. We stocked up on a few new toys and activities to keep busy and would pull them out as needed.
    4. There will be crying during these three days, and you might want to give up and give in when they want a diaper. And they will ask you for a diaper. Do NOT give in! During my daughter’s naptime and during nighttime, we chose to put nighttime pull-ups, which look a little different than regular pull-ups, and we called them her nighttime underwear. We put her regular underwear over the pull-ups, so she was always wearing her underwear no matter what.
    5. Each day will get progressively easier. On day three, you might even be able to venture outside someplace close with them. If you have a backyard, even better!
    6. The key is to ask them repeatedly to tell you when they have to potty, this helps reinforce it in their head. Eventually, they will tell you, and when they do, it is the best feeling.
    7. After 3 days, you will hopefully be happy, and so will they. You will feel proud, and so will they! They will likely no longer want to be sitting in wet nappies because they will not like the feeling after knowing how nice it is to be dry.
    8. You might have accidents along the way (even after the 3 days of potty training), but do not be discouraged.
    9. Eventually, you will be able to get rid of the nighttime pull-ups for a nap and then overnight ones too (we are still working on those).
    10. Buy one of those portable foldable seats to travel with when you venture out and say goodbye to dirty diapers.

If you are ready to start potty training your little one, I hope these tips help you on your path to Ditching the Diapers!

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Bena is a a wife and mom to a little girl born in July 2017 and another little girl born in April 2021. Her and her husband, both born and raised in Long Island, randomly ended up living in New Rochelle, Westchester when they fell in love with the downtown area, which had the best of two worlds, walking distance to parks, coffee shops, great restaurants and a short drive away from great hikes and nature. Since then they have moved a hop, skip and away to Pelham, which is an adorable little town. Mostly, Bena is just trying to figure out how to do this mom thing, while also working a full-time job. After a few years of the juggling act, she feels a little more confident, but everyday there are new challenges, especially when #2 arrived. When she is not momming, she is usually lawyering, working out, cooking, running errands or somewhere out exploring nature and the world (pre-covid, of course)!