Yet another baby advice thread - toilet training time!

The Firebug, who’s now 2.5 years old, is not just showing active signs of interest in using his kiddie potty, but is proudly using it once or twice a day, usually when we change him from PJs to day clothes or vice versa.

I thought maybe my fellow Doper parents could share some advice on how best to help him transition from diapers to regular potty use while wearing regular underwear.

One thing that we never thought of before hitting this stage is that the diapers themselves are an impediment to potty use, since you can’t just pull them down to use the toilet, then pull them back up, the way you would do with regular underwear. Rather, an attempted potty use at some time of day when we’re not doing a change of clothes for some other reason means removing shoes (if he’s wearing any), pants, and diaper, then putting pants and a new diaper back on afterwards.) This obviously makes it hard for him to become a regular user of the toilet while still wearing diapers, and hard for us to increase the opportunities for him to use the potty. OTOH, putting him into regular underwear before he’s most of the way to full-time potty use would be messy as hell.

Also, even though he knows when he’s trying to poop (he’ll find a quiet corner and if we approach him, he’ll glare and say “go away!” and then tell us afterwards that he’s had a poopy), he doesn’t yet seem interested in using the potty for that.

So how have Doper parents gotten through this transition? Advice from parents of boys is especially appreciated, but parents of girl kids should feel free to chime in too.

No experience with this, as my little one is just over a year old, but isn’t this exactly what Pull-Ups are for?

Poop was also my son’s final fronteir with potty training, though it sounds like your training is less contentious than ours was. We tried for months to get him potty trained, going back and forth trying to get him to do his business in the toilet. We tried taking his diapers/pullups, getting him new underwear, etc. Finally, one day after a particularly ugly screaming fit, my son was sitting on the floor and I got down on his level and said, “Look, I’m done arguing about this. You’re a big boy and I know you’ll tell me when you’re ready. But I’m not going to ask anymore if you have to pee, and I’m not going to ask if you have to poop. That’ll be your job. When you do start pooping on the potty, you get to ride the schoolbus and go on field trips with preschool. Until then, you’ll stay in Miss Jen’s room, and that’s okay. Either way, I’m proud of you and I know you’ll let me know when you’re ready.” Then I gave him a hug, cleaned him up and we went about our day calmly with nary a word said again about using the potty.

Apparently it was just what he needed to hear because he was fully potty trained four days later.

Yup that’s what they are for, but they have their own set of problems. Pull-Ups are too absorbent for some kids who are not interested in toilet training (too busy to go to the bathroom) and will keep them nice and dry. That’s when the old fashioned training pants come in handy.

You will probably hate my potty training a boy story, and it might not work for you…almost definitely it won’t if yours is showing little interest in it…but this is how my son was trained.

When he was in diapers and learning to walk I would give him the (well wrapped) dirty diaper after a change to throw away (yes I used disposables…it was the only thing that didn’t break him out) and that turned it into a game of sorts. I started having him bring me the clean diapers and supplies when necessary and he was so proud to do that on his own. Then he got to the point where he would bring me the diapers without being told…usually before he dirtied the one he was wearing, and then he would tell me the second he was ready to be changed. So I knew he was very ready.

He never cared for his little potty chair (in his defense though he was a huge, tall mutant baby so it was probably just too small for him) but I was leery of using the big-boy toilet as well. So his Dad took him camping one weekend way out in the wilderness where toilets didn’t exist and didn’t take any diapers. More importantly he let the boy know that he didn’t have any diapers. He taught the boy how to pee on a tree (and the clothing issues that went along with it) and to poop God knows where…and my baby boy came home completely potty trained. We kept him in pull ups for overnight but he never wet them so we stopped after a few weeks. And we never looked back.

There are umpteen different ways to approach this, obviously, but I have to say I’m a big fan of the ‘jump in at the deep end’ method :). My daughter is now three and a half and she has been dry throughout the day (and mostly at night) for more than 6 months now.

We deliberately waited until she showed signs of interest - I know my daughter and there’s no way we could get her to do ths until she decided to. It’s great that your little guy is keen to use the potty, of course. We also made liberal use of stickers and treats to bribe her to give it all a try. We had most difficulty transitioning from the potty-as-novelty phase to the this-is-normal-now phase.

I hear what you’re saying about the mess associated with going straight to underwear but honestly, that’s’ the way I’d do it. After a couple of weeks of introduction, we just said to our daughter ‘right, you’re not a baby any more, so you don’t need nappies in the daytime, do you? Isn’t this great?’ Yes, it was a bit messy, but we made sure that the first couple of days were quiet and home-based so that we could change her regularly. We also put her on the potty very regularly those couple of days to try to catch any accidents before they happened. It didn’t always work, of course!

One of the things that I’ve read which makes intuitive sense to me is that modern nappies are so successfully absorbent that toddlers just aren’t used to feeling damp on their skin, so they’re disconnected from the effects of the process as it were. So, I feel it’s an important stage for them to feel what happens when they wet, so they become attuned to what happens. Having said that, you don’t want them to have to sit around in the damp for long so that’s another advantage to having a couple of home days during that phase. One of the key things, I think, is that once you’ve made a decision to stop with nappies in the daytime, for instance, you really have to stick with it and not go back to the easy way unless you really really have to for some reason - it’s going to send mixed messages.

It’s really important to my daughter not to be labelled as a baby, and we traded on this without mercy. She chose her own underwear, which are for every described as ‘big girl pants’ in our house, and actually she abandoned the potty very quickly for a toddler seat on the main toilet. We have a strange step-stool arrangement which means that now she can actually do most of the process of going to the toilet by herself, which she loves.

We deliberately avoid pull-ups on the grounds that we wanted her to make a distinction between nappies, which she could wee in, and pants which she shouldn’t. Some of my friends take my attitude, some make use of them happily. What we did find was something called trainer pants. These are normal underwear shaped, but slightly waterproofed and lined with towellling, so they allow for slightly more confidence when out and about, but are almost the transition between nappies and pants in a similar way to pull-ups. They weren’t useful for long, but they were very useful for a time (isn’t that the way with all baby equipment?).

Leaving the bad news to last, although YMM and hopefully Will V - after this length of time, my daughter is only just willing to try pooping in the potty. Until the last couple of weeks she would deliberately wait until her nappy was on at night, or previously for daytime naps, before pooping. Now we’ve stopped nappies during any naps she has, she has (grudgingly) agreed to use the potty if she needs to poop during the day. She’s still not keen, although when we talk it through she agrees it’s the right thing to do.

Celtling loves this thing: Potty_Step_thing and carries it to the toilet on her own, sets it up, goes, flushes, takes it down and closes the toilet seat. It’s all about things they can control at this age. they are old enough to understand what needs to be done, but too often too small to do it.

Give them an area of control and they’re all over it. Try to control it for them and you’ve got WWIII. We also have a little celebration song and dance when she does it successfully.

I just had her set it up and sit on it every two hours - 8:00am, 10:00am and so on. She was fully trained at home within the month. At school it’s now been over a eyar, and she’
s still using the pull-ups occaisionally because her last teacher couldn’t keep it together and get her in there fast enough. The new teacher is fantastic though, and I suspect we’ll be over this within the month.

Whatever you do don’t adopt my sister n laws method of every time the kid uses the toilet you buy her a present. I don’t know where she read this gem, but i rolled my eyes and said nothing when she said that. WTF.

We did the “potty training in a weekend” route. You can google it. Same principals as “potty training in a day”. It is a huge time committment for that weekend but she went from diapers to underwear over the weekend, and she only has had a couple of accidents since then. We only use pull-ups at bedtime, as she still can’t go through the night dry. She’ll be 3 in a couple of months. After the horrendous weekend, she even goes to mom’s day out and out on errands in big-girl underwear. We make lots of trips to public restrooms, sometimes more out of curiosity than really needing to go.

The sun will rise when the sun rises. If you pray before dawn for the sun to rise, and it rises, did it do so at your request or was it just time for the sun to rise?

So goes potty training. If the kid hasn’t figured it out by Kindergarten then he’s got other problems.

Been through it with 3 kids. They choose when. Usually it’s some time shortly after you’ve stopped pestering them about it.

There are lots of ‘methods’ out there that people swear by. I’m convinced that people point to the last thing they tried (which coincided with success) and declare it The Method That Works. Like sacrificing a different critter every 30 minutes until the sun rises: Let’s see, the last thing we did was behead a badger and mix its blood with goose feathers and the sun came up! That must be the trick!

This is quite true, but some day cares require the child be potty trained as well, way before kindergarten. At least they did when my oldest was that age. If I recall it was preferred they be potty trained before moving out of the 2 year old room, and there was a substantial increase in the costs if diapering was required after that point. (This was nearly 20 years ago at a day care run by the hospital I worked for, so many things might have changed since then.)

The two that I had of training age (one step son and my niece came to me pre-trained ;)) were never pestered about it, but also weren’t allowed to take their sweet time. I know thoughts on it have changed a lot over the years, but I was not going to be dealing with diapers for more than 2 years, thank you very much, and my kids were obliging and trained nice and easily and mostly on their own by then so it was all good. :slight_smile: My son was trained (the camping trip) mostly by his Dad and that was when he was just under 2 years old (and no accidents or wet pull ups at night so it was truly him being ready/trained and not Momma learning when he needed to go) and my youngest daughter was in big girl pants only by a few months after her 2nd birthday…but she did need her overnight pull ups a bit longer than son did.

What “worked” for mine though was no special trick. I just turned most of the diaper duty over to them as soon as they were capable (disposing of dirty diapers, fetching the clean ones etc.) and let them watch when we went to the bathroom, made a big fuss over how very grown up they were using the big girl (or big boy) potty and made sure those things were happening on schedule (no developmental delays etc.) so that I could be rid of diapers at the earliest opportunity. When they were mostly trained, I asked them to go or took them to the bathroom every hour or so until they had it down (that didn’t last more than a weekend though) and made sure they always had access and that I was available to help when needed.

I think the biggest thing is to just not get stressed out over and let the kids know what you expect but at the same time don’t stress them out about it either.

Boy howdy, ain’t THAT the truth!

I’ll be showing that Potty Step Thing to my better half. It looks like it has great potential for when he makes the transition from kiddie potty to the real thing, which I think he’ll be ready for pretty quickly once he gets the basics down on the kiddie potty.

Perfect timing for this thread- Gnat’s just over two, and has been carrying his potty around and telling us when he’s peeing. Potential problem- I am 38 weeks pregnant, and we aren’t sure how to balance potty training plus the disruption of new baby, so we’re kind of scared.

Will be watching this thread closely.

Don’t be discouraged if you see some regression. Even toddlers will go back to more care-free days during periods of upheaval.


works with what I’ve seen. That whole daycare thing about potty training by 2–I hate that. A lot of parents who need daycare already have enough to worry about. Nothing like a deadline to introduce compunding stress on the situation.

Better to be safe – alert the authorities first.

We use the cold turkey method. We find a period of time when we can spend 4 or so days at home and mentally prepare to clean up a lot of messes. Then we just let the kid run naked all day. We reward using the potty with a small treat (stick, m&m, silly dance, whatever works). That worked for my son when he was 3 and a little bit, and it worked for my daughter when she had just turned 2. We went straight to undies 24 hrs a day. There were a few accidents both during the day and at night afterwards, but not too many.

It can be a frustrating process, and remember that there will still be occasional accidents for a while. There’s a reason that kindergartners keep a change of clothes at school.

IMHO, people try too hard. When my son turned 2 1/2, I was DETERMINED to have him potty trained by 3. I did charts, candy rewards, basically any type of bribery. I got kicked, screamed at, etc. I gave up. Shortly after he turned 3, he decided he wanted to do potty. Basically, after talking with him about it and talking about diapers being for babies and not big boys, he took it to heart. Took about 2 weeks, and now he’s almost completely potty trained (except at night). Someone once told me, kids will do it in their own time. They were right, at least in our case. My fretting and stress about it made him reluctant to do it.

Also, Pull-ups have been wonderful for him - they go up and down easily and are great for when you’re out in public and he has an accident. At home, he wears underpants.

Like everyone previous to me has implied, each kid has his own timing, and different methods work best for different kids. However, I did find one “trick” that really really helped around my house: Use big boy/girl underwear, and cover them up with either training pants or pull-ups. The fabric underwear helped with the “pull-ups are too absorbent” problem, and the “overdrawers” helped save my sanity and the carpet. (I tried letting my son go au naturel for about 2 milliseconds. He was delighted by the notion of whizzing all over the place!)

That being said, be prepared: in my experience and observation, boys are usually a little bit harder to potty-train than girls are. But again, every child is different, and Young Master Firebug may be a whiz at it! Good luck!