We don’t potty train our kids. At least not anymore. Now, before you start assuming our kids will be going off to college (or not) in diapers, let me tell you what we do do. Ha. Pun totally intended.
Let me backtrack a bit here and tell you what a nightmare potty training our oldest was. It was a constant battle of wills. And we were constantly second-guessing ourselves: “is he ready?” “is he not ready?” “should we reward him?” “should we make it no big deal?” Let’s just say we purchased a steam cleaner during this season and have never regretted it (no really, how do parents of small children live without a steam cleaner???)! I cleaned up a lot of messes and it was no fun. We tried training him early, around 20 months, in hopes of having him potty trained before our next son came along. That didn’t work. So, we held off and tried again after he turned two. We powered through it, but it took months. None of that “weekend potty training” business.
Kicking Potty Training to the Curb
With our second son, we wanted to do things differently. So, we decided to start the potty training process much earlier, thus eliminating it altogether. We began by sitting him on the potty at bath time around 10-11 months. Most the time he would pee in the potty and we’d make a big deal out of it so he knew it was a good thing. After that, we would just sit him on when an opportunity presented itself, but never forcing or pushing him to sit if he didn’t want to.
Something amazing and (dare I say?) miraculous happened: he began using the potty on his own without any coercion before the age of two. He was “potty-trained” at his second birthday party without us ever having trained him. After the day he decided to start using the potty he never had an accident or used a diaper again.
Taking It a Step Further
With our third son, we saw how much better things went with our second, so we planned to follow suit. However, we took it a step further and let him go diaper-free a lot early on. I’m not sure if this was a good thing or not, honestly. I think when babies are able to have an awareness of their bodily functions outside of a diaper, there is some benefit to that, but let’s just say I might’ve gotten pooed on once or twice. I’m not really sure there was any benefit to that.
However, as babies get more mobile and active, I think letting them be naked outside is a fabulous idea (assuming the weather is warm)! Not only do they get the opportunity to gain that awareness, but they can also soak up some good ol’ sunshine (without tan lines! 😉 ). Not only did he spend a lot of time diaper-free early on, but I began sitting him on the potty very early as well.
Sitting Baby E on the potty at less than three months.
Boy, did I get some interesting comments when I posted this picture on my personal facebook page! Of course I wasn’t trying to “potty-train” a two-and-a-half-month old! But I was doing something important: giving him a feel for using something that many kids feel afraid of when forced to use much later on.
Did It Work?
You bet it did! Now, our number three son, at less than two years old, has started using the potty on his own because he wants to. He’s been using it off and on for a few months now and the first couple of times, we just walked in on him in the bathroom standing on a little stool using the potty like it was no big deal. He has not been a “once and we’re done” kind of kid like our second was, but he gets the majority of his pees in the potty now. He is trying with number twos, which is fine with me! I fully anticipate him using the potty full-time before number four gets here in a couple of months.
So, are you curious exactly how we have potty trained two children without potty training them?
How To Not Potty Train a Child:
1. Start sitting your baby on the potty early on. This doesn’t have to be two months old, but it can be. I wouldn’t wait until a year old either, though.
2. Allow your baby to spend time naked, especially after he gets a little more mobile and can play outdoors in warmer months.
3. Take your child’s cues! When your little guy (or gal) starts showing interest in the potty, take advantage of it! Encourage him to use the potty, and if there are bigger siblings around to show him how it’s done, even better!
4. Don’t expect to have perfection (although with our second son, it was about as close to perfect as you can get!). Like I said, we have a steam cleaner. It gets used. Messes happen. We clean them up and move on.
5. Make a big deal out of successes in the potty! Even from an early age, babies know when you are pleased with them. If you make a big deal about them going in the potty, they eventually start to connect the two, even if they don’t even know they’re using the potty early on.
6. Kick yucky potty chairs and pull-ups to the curb! Yeah, we have to wash soiled underpants on occasion (which, mind you, is no worse than cloth diapers), but cleaning a child’s potty training chair, to me, is just gross. We used one with our first and it was such a hassle. This way, there’s never a need for a training chair. Or buying unnecessary training pants (which I feel are just glorified diapers anyways).
Do you plan to use (or have you used) any unconventional “potty-training” methods?