Monday, November 19, 2012

Potty Training: We're DOING It!

WARNING: This post is entirely about bodily functions and "toilet learning." Feel free to skip, if that's not your jam.

Sometime in August, I heaved Alice up on the changing table to change her diaper and thought, she is too big and I am too pregnant to keep doing this (and it was only August!!). I told her, "Tomorrow, you're going to wear your big girl underpants and start going potty in your little toilet." And that's what we did. 

I had bought a little potty, training pants, and princess underpants a long, long time ago. She showed some initial resistance to the training pants and underpants, and had a few accidents, so we didn't push it. We plopped her on the toilet periodically when we could catch her about to poop. She did that successfully a few times but wasn't keen to do it voluntarily, so we didn't push that either. No pun intended. 

But this time, we had some success right away. She was keeping her underpants dry between bathroom visits, was willing to sit on the potty when we suggested that she try to go, and if I recall, she even peed pretty immediately which was pretty thrilling for all of us. We went on casually like that for a little while, with a few interruptions (like our Labor Day weekend trip) and then we hit a little road block.

One Sunday, I thought we might be safe to venture out of the house in underpants because she was doing so well at staying dry for so long. We were actually headed out to pick out some potty training ammo: a new set of underpants, a reward for doing so well, and another incentive toy that she could earn after filling up a chart with stickers for successful trips to the potty.

I got her dressed and we were in the bathroom brushing our teeth when she had an accident. Didn't even attempt to use the potty or tell me anything, just peed right where she was sitting. No biggie, I cleaned her up and we headed off to Target. 

We spent a long time in front of the underpants, trying to choose between the many options; Cinderella, My Little Pony, Dora (no.), Rapunzel, Minnie Mouse, etc. At one point she seemed set on the Thomas the Tank Engine set from the adjacent boy's display, and I had a brief internal struggle with that. I have no problem with the "boy" characters, but I couldn't decide if the difference in construction would pose any problems. Jon's opinion is that the construction of male underpants is virtually useless, and it's only good for visual interest. In any case, Alice finally settled on Hello Kitty. And then she chose a stuffed Nala and Simba as her reward and incentive. 

We took her new friends home and gave her Nala right away to reward her for doing such a great job going potty so far. We put Simba on top of the fridge and made a simple little chart that she could fill with stickers for each time she went potty, to earn Simba as a reward. The chart, combined with the accident earlier that day, really seemed to shake her confidence. She definitely seemed to be having a mental setback. She had a few more accidents that day and the next, and was refusing to sit on the potty. 

The following Tuesday morning, I decided it was time to get her back on the horse pot. I offered her stickers for just sitting on the potty, which she agreed to. I got her to sit on the potty three times before I left for work, and later that day she took herself in and peed. From there, it only took her a few days to fill her chart with ten star stickers and get Simba down off the fridge and into her arms.

Since then, she's been great about taking herself to the potty when she needs to go, and more recently, telling us when she needs to go - which is important if she's ever going to be able to leave the house in underpants. 

We decided to invest in some pull-ups so that we could venture out without having to disrupt potty training by constantly backtracking to diapers. That way, she can have an accident without us needing to bring multiple changes of clothes everywhere we go, and without ruining her car seat. We got the pull-ups just in time for our weekend at Disneyland. The pull-ups arrived a few days before and I had Alice try them out, explaining that they were "bigger underpants." And she promptly told me, "Alice not like 'em." Great.

Jon got her accustomed to them during the couple of days before our trip, and she started treating them just like underpants. She would take herself into the bathroom, take them off, and go potty. Perfect! She would even tell us, "Alice not go potty in pull-up pants."  So we tried them out on our trip. We made a bathroom stop mid-morning during our first day at Disneyland, and her pull-ups were dry but she said she didn't have to go. A bit later, we were passing by Disneyland's Baby Care Center and decided to try out the little potty they have. It looks just like a regular toilet, but in miniature. We had those in my kindergarten classroom, I have always loved them. Alice thought they were pretty neat, too. I helped her up and held her steady and she peed right away! We were ALL so very proud. We put her pull-ups back on, and went on our way.

Later on, at the hotel, I had her try sitting on the big toilet in our bathroom and she peed right away! She did it again later that night in a regular bathroom at Disneyland, and the next morning in our hotel room again. I was getting ready and she just marched herself right over and took off her underpants. I helped her up, and voila! 

It didn't take long for us to consider her daytime potty trained, but I we thought it might still take a while to conquer poops. She has a tendency to do that overnight or during a nap, so we thought it would be hard for us to get her to the potty for that business. Then, all of the sudden, she started telling us when she needed to poop and marching herself right in there whenever she needed to. 

Ironically, I wanted to start potty training so I wouldn't have to change diapers so often (or on two kids at once), but I was hauling her up on the changing table about as many times as usual since I get her up in the morning and was putting her to bed. I haven't been putting her to bed since Daylight Savings ended, and then we had another huge development that cut down on the morning diaper change...

She's woken up every night this week with a dry diaper. Amazing. I was super excited the first morning but didn't want to get my hopes up that it would continue. Lo and behold, it has. She woke up a few nights last week for one reason or another and we always end up making a trip to the bathroom. Last night, we decided to get ahead of the game and do a preemptive wake-up to have her potty while we were getting ready for bed. She peed, half-asleep, went right back to bed, and didn't wake us up again until the morning. I'm not going to put her in underpants quite yet, but I am totally encouraged. We may get to pack up her diapers and fill those drawers with newborn sizes, and my wish of only having one kid on the changing table may actually come true!

We've gone about this super casually, with no set expectations or time deadlines, without any real strategy or psychological insights, but I am shocked and pleased at how easy it's been. And I'm ridiculously proud at how well Alice has done, each little victory has felt like such an exciting accomplishment. Thanks for letting me share them here!


  1. Yay!!! Congrats to all! That is very exciting and really sounds like it couldn't have gone better. I think being casual about it with no pressure is probably a great way to approach it psychologically. Also, I TOO loved those tiny potties in kindergarten!! THOSE were the jam.

    1. Shan, you should see the bathroom at her (hopefully) future preschool. The cuteness almost did me in...


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