Potty Training – The Early Update

It’s Saturday night.  I’m in our recliner with my laptop at 9pm.  I know, I know, it’s an exciting life.

I’ve spent the past 48 hours potty training my 16 month old.  I am very proud that we have much success in that 48 hour period.  It’s actually been somewhat fun, and I can assure you that I did not expect “fun” to be the appropriate word when we began this little adventure on Thursday evening.

Before I go any further I want to explain why I started so early.  Plain and simple, because my sister told me to.  I’m just a rookie mama over here, and there are lots of things that my sister has had time to figure out over the past 12 years.  Potty training is one of them.  She potty trained all of her kids early.  She swore that early potty training was essential because they are at the stage of development where they just want to please Mommy, and that by the time they get to age 2.5 or 3 it’s almost too late to be able to pull it off easily because that is such an independent stage of brain development.  Now I’m sure some other mamas have experiences that could totally contradict that logic, but the truth was that she potty trained her first kid (a girl) at about 18 months, and then her two sons at the same age.  Her third was the trickiest because they moved to Japan several months after potty training, and on the long flight across the world he sort of reverted.  But for the most part, all of her kids were pretty much fully potty trained, nighttime included, by age 2.   She said she had to sort of chuckle when she took her third child to the doctor for a routine 18 month checkup and was told “There is no way he will potty train this early, their bodies are simply not ready.”  She said she wanted to ask how her first two were so easy to potty train if it was a physical impossibility.

So when she speaks of potty training….

I listen.

Anyway, I guess I always knew I wanted to try early, so when Poppyseed was just a few months old I’d put her on the potty and just sort of hold her there, just a few times a week.  I could usually get her to go tee-tee in there, because as you know babies that age pee pretty much all the time.  Around 9-10 months I could just leave her on the potty and stand there without holding her in place.  She was able to balance on a little potty seat on her own.  Well one afternoon I was just SURE she had to pee, and I made her sit there for waaaaayyyy too long.  She got pretty mad and started to cry, and after that it was over.  She wanted nothing to do with that potty, and I felt really guilty for it!

Around that time I started taking her to the potty with me every time I went.  I’d literally sit her on my leg and narrate everything, and I mean everything, that happened.  At the end we would flush and even wave goodbye as the water spiraled down into the bowl.  Before long she was pretty familiar with Mommy going potty.  Anytime she heard a toilet flush, she’d wave.  After a few months of doing this, maybe around 14 months old, I put her back on the potty seat again and she actually didn’t freak out.  I praised her for sitting on the potty like a big girl and took her right back off.  I started doing this for a few seconds just once or twice a week.  I always gave her lots of praise and said things like, “Oh my gosh!  Poppyseed is on the big girl potty!  I guess one day you will go potty like Mommy!  Good job baby!”

Last week I realized she would be 16 months old in a matter of days.  I remembered a play date with a neighbor and two other women.   The three of these women had 3 children between them, 2 girls and 1 boy, and each of them successfully potty trained each kid at 15 months.  My neighbor’s son has been running over to our house since this time last year, and I witnessed him learning to potty in my toilet with my own eyes at that young age.   It seemed bizarre to me that my toddler could possibly learn to do this, especially since she doesn’t really speak (other than your standard mama, dada, goose, horse, apple, no, yes and other toddler words).  But here we were, already 1 month older than the other kids when they began their training.  Since I got to see all three of them playing and wearing undies, well, it gave me a little bit of reassurance.  Seeing is believing!

On Tuesday I decided it was Go Time.  Poppyseed and I were in the kitchen and she started to sort of whine.  She pulled at her diaper and I checked her – dry.  She continued to walk around and whine a little bit, and eventually Oatmeal asked her if she needed to go potty.  We put her on and she flipped out – so we immediately took her off.  She peed almost immediately after that.  It made us realize that, hey, she knows when she has to go!

The next morning this little scene repeated itself.  We were upstairs and I immediately shut both of us into the bathroom.  She started to squat and I grabbed her really quickly and plopped her onto the potty – and she peed!  YES!  She cried a little bit but quickly stopped when she saw her mother doing a crazy happy dance.  I was clapping my hands wildly and doing things that can only be described as cheerleading herkeys.  Awful, awful ones.

I immediately went to Target and Walmart for some supplies.  I got about 18 cheap girls undies in size 2T, and they actually fit her okay.  I was out of disposable diapers and didn’t buy any more.  (We do still have cloth diapers.)    I already had 2 little potty seats for our two main bathrooms, and I went ahead and bought 2 little stools as well.

I also went to the bookstore and bought a few books about potty training, and I downloaded the Daniel Tiger episode “Prince Wednesday Goes to the Potty.”

Before I began, I reached out to one of the girls I know who also just potty trained her daughter.  She sent me some awesome advice, which I will post below because it’s just so good for us rookie moms.

  • Don’t expect a miracle.  The first few days, you ARE going to want to cry, pull out your hair, or drink.
  • I let mine go naked some…. it’s just easier to see immediately when they start to go.  Other than that, really thin panties to start off with… we had about 20. 
  • She’ll go through phases, potentially for months, of doing great and then having wet undies.  It’s just part of it – don’t stress.   It’s when I finally quit stressing that things got way better. 
  • Stay positive.  I’m a BIG believer that with potty training, it’s all about celebrating successes and not punishing mistakes. 
  • She will get it – promise.  Maybe not as soon as you’d like, but she will.

So on Thursday after naptime, I took Poppyseed’s diaper off.  I told her we were just going into the potty from now on.  In my head I silently said, “Unless this turns into a huge disaster, in which case we’ll stop for 2 months and start up again at 18 months.”

She had a few accidents.  And then that afternoon, about 5 minutes before Oatmeal walked in the door at 6:30pm, she went in the potty.


This is the face she makes right before she goes.  H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.

This is the face she makes right before she goes. H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.

The next day was touch and go.  I’ve learned that my child pees a LOT in the mornings.  That first morning was just a little squirt here, a little squirt there…. all over my house.  It really got her attention to be naked from the waist down.  Nothing to catch all that pee, so I think that she’d start to go and then get all freaked out when it would run down her legs and so she’d tense up and hold it.  She would go toward the potty, but then she would be gun shy.  Around late morning we had a successful tee-tee.  As soon as we were done celebrating, I tossed her in the car and sped over to gymnastics.  All we needed to do was sign up, and I grabbed the paperwork from the girl at the desk and scribbled our credit card information as fast as I could while she played in the gym.

She squirted four times while we were there.  I was wiping drops of pee all over that place, thinking to myself that I must be i-n-s-a-n-e.  I was also wondering how she still had that much pee after letting a bladder full go in our toilet just 30 minutes before.  I blame those damn half hour long nursing sessions each morning at daybreak – how many ounces is she getting!?

After that I realized I would be spending the rest of the day at home.  I borrowed a baby gate from a neighbor and trapped both of us in my kitchen.  We played with paint, markers, kitchen stuff, stickers, and playdoh.  And we practiced going and sitting on the potty.  Sometimes she squirmed and immediately wanted to get off.  Sometimes she was fine as long as I read her a book.  I’ve poured lukewarm water down her tummy a few times and that actually got things going once or twice.  Another time I turned on the water faucet at the sink just enough to give her some background noise and that did the trick.  We watched an episode of Daniel Tiger on there as well.


I can now do the whole little song….

“If you have to go potty – STOP – and go right away!  Flush and wash and be on your way…”

I’ve even made up a little dance to go with it.  I’m about as white as white girls can be, just so you know.  I’m sure it’s absolutely horrifying to watch, but my toddler is delighted when she tee-tees in the potty and gets to see my performance.  I have to say, it’s actually been sort of fun.  I’ve done pretty well at keeping things light and positive.  I don’t get upset with her when she doesn’t go in the potty or has an accident, I just tell her something like, “It’s okay, you had an accident and your undies are all wet.  But next time you can go in the potty and stay dry.”

At 4:30pm I remembered I had to pick something up at 5pm that could not be rescheduled.   I had no choice but to leave the house with her again.  I put her in panties and shorts, wrapped a diaper around her body loosely, and put her in her carseat.  I told her to hold it and we went and ran that errand.  We were gone for one hour, and when we got back she was still dry!  Hooray!

Today was even better.  We’re up to 10 – TEN! – successful pees in the potty.  She only had 1 accident all day long and it was at the neighborhood park.


We still have to work on #2.  We’ve only had 1 success in that department and I suspect it was more of a coincidence.  We were both quite surprised when it happened.  😉

Either way, I think my low expectations were great because ultimately I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well it’s gone.  Of course, I have questions.  I am not really sure how to navigate going to places outside of our home.  How will I go to the gym for an hour?  What about her twice a week daycare?  I worry about those two scenarios the most because she doesn’t really ask to go potty yet.  I just give her the opportunity an hour after her last potty break and then every 15 minutes after that until she goes.  When should she figure out #2?  We are definitely not going to work on potty training at naptime or bedtime yet.  She still wakes up with a wet diaper after each nap, and pees at 4am every single morning like clockwork.  (She screams until I change her and then goes right back down.)  I have been advised by many a mom to not go back to diapers once you begin training, but I don’t know if there are any circumstances where a diaper is okay.  Long road trips are one of those scenarios, or at least in my world they will be!

Well, tomorrow is another FULL day of potty training.  Wish us luck, and please leave me any tips in the comments below!  Any tip, no matter how big or small, may make a big difference.

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  1. Aunt Fran says:

    It sounds like you are doing an awesome job! Very proud of both of you! Pictures are so cute!

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