When I was pregnant with my daughter, my son was getting to that age when I wanted to get rid of the diapers. His communication was excellent, and he could tell me clearly when he had peed and pooped. But I was pregnant and caring for an almost two-year-old, and I. Was. Tired. Upon consulting with some mama friends who had two or three kids, I elected to postpone the potty training process, at least until after my daughter exited the newborn phase.
I wanted to avoid regression upon the birth of the baby. I imagined trying to care for my newborn while dealing with toddler potty accidents. Nope. So I waited. And waited. There was always an excuse to put it off. Vacations, busy weekends, and other family plans got in the way. Diapers were, frankly, more convenient for us at the time.
Soon I came to understand that convenience was the key. That’s because successful potty training is not, as popular culture would have us believe, contingent upon a child’s “readiness.” On the contrary, potty training is far more reliant on the capacity of the parent(s).
As I learned this during my son’s first few years, the knowledge was daunting. My son’s ability to use the toilet relies on MY readiness? Welp, I didn’t feel ready. The reality for me was that two in diapers was no sweat. I was nervous about upsetting our delicately balanced routine.
So I did what any good planner does in the midst of anxiety. I delegated. My husband took three days off work and put in the hours to get rid of the diapers. By the weekend, our son was reliably using the potty without incident. Over the next few weeks, he would have a few accidents, but most of them were due to adult error. I could have kicked myself for waiting so long. Ditching the diapers with one child was liberating for all of us. My son gained a new and exciting sense of autonomy and control, and the rest of us got to carry a lighter load.
Even better, a fringe benefit emerged from potty training my son. We began elimination communication with my daughter. She was 7 or 8 months old when we potty trained my son, and she was very interested in copying his behavior. So we started putting her on the potty at regular intervals. Much to my amazement, she quickly learned to pee on command and signaling for us to put her on the potty for number 2. At 18 months old, when I had a week off from work, I potty trained my daughter with the joy and confidence I couldn’t muster a year earlier when training my son.
You heard that right; it was a joy to watch my daughter take control of her body and learn to go about her days without a diaper.
She is now 21 months old, and I have retired my diaper bag. I can literally walk out of the house with my kids and keys and nothing else. If you’re lazy like me, this is an amazing freedom. The average potty training age in the US is 3. Everywhere else in the world, it’s 12-18 months. So I promise this isn’t as weird as it sounds.
The best resources for early potty training are