When is the Right Time to Potty Train?

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Getting ready for the arrival of Ella and being warned about the amount of soiled diapers I’d have to change, I stocked my nursery with all the essentials – changing pad, diapers, wipes and disposable gloves.  Yes, disposable gloves were a must have for me as the thought of even accidentally getting any of it on my hands grossed me out.  As with everything when you actually become a parent, you just learn to deal with it as there is no other choice.

As a result, I was happy to support potty training as soon as possible!  We were lucky as Ella’s baby sitters were completely on board.  I read a lot of articles about when the right time was and many of the articles indicated that you should wait until they showed interest in the potty or were uncomfortable sitting in a soiled diaper.  Ella was 19 months at the time, and I can’t say that she showed interest or even cared too much about a soiled diaper.  In looking back, I think she was a little young to really care one way or another and I wonder if I waited until she had more of an opinion on things whether she would have been as agreeable to go along with it.  Who knows, all I knew was the sooner the better and since she didn’t fight us on it, why not?

Doing some research on all the tools I needed, I got my toilet training kit together:

1. Potty seat: Prince Lionheart WeePod and Baby Bjorn Toilet Trainer

2. Step stool: Baby Bjorn Step Stool and Ikea Bolmen stool

3. Wipes: Pampers Kandoo flushable wipes

4. Disposable toilet seat covers: Neat Solutions Potty Toppers and Potty Covers

5. Car seat liner: Summer Infant Deluxe Piddlepad Waterproof Seat Liner

6. Lots of underwear!

7. Pull-up diapers: Pampers Easy-ups

I made a decision that we were going to skip the stand alone potty that you’d have to dump into the toilet and clean afterwards and go right to the toilet.  At 19 months, it wasn’t like she could pull her pants down by herself and since she needed help anyways throughout the entire process, why not just put her on the regular toilet and skip the extra step was my thinking.

It was spring by this time so there weren’t many layers to contend with so this made it much easier.  As she was with the baby sitter for most of the day, I was very grateful that they were so keen as it was a bit of work at the beginning.  We started by putting her on the potty every 15 minutes to get her to actually go in the toilet and know what the sensation felt like.  On the second day, success – she went in the toilet.  Then we extended the time to every 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, and then an hour.  The increase to an hour took about two weeks time.  We stayed at every hour for about 4 weeks as the goal was to drastically reduce the chance of accidents and ensure she got used to going in the toilet each and every time.  Before we left the house, we put her on the toilet first and gradually she got used to this cue and went almost every time.  This allowed us to go out for short periods of time without any accidents.  When we did go out, it was always to a place where there was a washroom near by.  I got great at scoping out the closest washroom and ensuring I could access the facilities with no more than a 5 minute walk.  After 4 weeks, we increased the time again in 15 minute increments every couple of days until she could go two hours in between washroom visits.  For us, two hours was success as we never went anywhere where we couldn’t access a washroom in two hours time.

Earlier on in the process, I was so nervous about accidents that I relied on pull-up diapers instead of regular underwear a lot.  I think that this slowed down the process for us since she still had the safety of going in her diaper and truly didn’t give her incentive to hold it since she didn’t go through the uncomfortable feeling of sitting/standing in wet underwear.  If I had to do it again, I would have drastically reduced the use of pull-ups to only times when we were going out and potentially washrooms would not be as readily available or during long car rides.  Other than that, I would have put her in underwear right from the start.

Even when she was “trained” we still prepared for accidents (as they will happen!).  Always pack extra clothing and underwear which we religiously did until she was 2 and a half.  By that time, she was communicating well and could tell us when she needed to go potty which was an added benefit.  Don’t take it for granted that once they start telling you that they always will.  We made that mistake and after months of no accidents, low and behold we had an accident as she neglected to tell us until the very last second.  In addition we still to this day always put her on the toilet before we leave the house regardless of when she went last.  If we’re out and she’s engrossed in playing and hasn’t gone for 3hrs, I will preemptively take her without asking her as the answer is usually no when she’s having fun.

If you’re getting close to this stage – good luck!  And if you’re already through this stage, please share other techniques or potty training stories below.

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33 thoughts on “When is the Right Time to Potty Train?

  1. Good advice! I will definitely remember the car seat liner too — I don’t remember having heard about those before and of COURSE it’s so important!!

    Thanks for sharing at Friday Frivolity last month — I’m late catching up on my reading but still glad to get to pin and tweet this one… great things to remember for “someday” when I need them!

  2. Great tips for potty training. We just had all this with MM and it feels good to be diaper less in the house now after four years of it with both tots. lol Thank you ever so much for linking up to SWM and the amazing linky/blog support last year. It means the world to me that people come back again and again to share their amazing blogs. I hope this year is no different. It’s great to get to know more blogs and I love reading each post every week and sharing them. I wish you a huge happy new year!!! #sharewithme

  3. Although my kids are almost 16 and 23 I so remember this time in their lives! I wasn’t ready for it. LOL. I guess until you get there you aren’t ready, are you? My daughter was much easier to train than my son, he just wanted to be left alone to play and he didn’t care if he was wearing a dirty diaper, he was so into doing whatever he was imagining in his head, ah…the imagination of children. These are fantastic tips, I could have used this 20 years ago! LOL Was there even internet then? Ha!

  4. Good tips! We also skipped the little floor potty and went right to the regular toilet with both kids. For our son (training boys is a little more complicated, I think), we also started with him standing up to pee, instead of sitting down like some people recommend. I’ve always heard the advice, with everything child-related, start as you want to continue, so this was no different. It sounds like you guys did an amazing job with the training! Thanks for sharing this great tips at the Manic Mondays blog hop!

  5. Great post.
    It is all about when the child is ready isn’t it. My youngest didn’t succeed in potty training until the 2nd time of trying – and she did it in less than 2 weeks!
    Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky

  6. My boy is 3 years and 4 months. We haven’t started potty training yet. He doesn’t show signs to be honest. Well apart from the fact he tells us when he made a dirty nappy but he hates having his nappy off.

  7. I learnt a hard lesson. I rushed my first child and it was a very difficult and long process. My second I let him dictate when he was ready and it happened 6 months earlier than my daughter. My third is on the verge at 2 1/2 but i’m very relaxed about it now and not rushing things and I’ll do the same with my fourth who is 15 months #sharewithme

  8. Ugh…potty training is such a hassle! My daughter has bounced around from being nearly accident free, to completely refusing to use the potty and back again so many times that it makes my head spin! In the end, I know if we just keep at it, she’ll get it eventually, but it is quite frustrating!

    Thank you for sharing with us at #mommymeetupmondays!

  9. My boys are far beyond the potty training stage; by far the easiest to train was my middle son. He really wanted to stay at preschool with his older brother and pitched a fit every time we went to drop him off. One day I mentioned that he couldn’t go to school in diapers… within two days he was fully potty trained and pretty much never had an accident again. Can I admit I tried NOT to train him? We were heading to Florida a week or so later and I did NOT want a newly trained toddler on my hands for the long flight and lines at Disney. But he did amazing. When they’re ready; they’re ready!

  10. We’re just beginning this journey too – my daughter is 2.5 years old. We tried earlier, with some success, but we felt it was better to wait a little bit longer as she was getting so agitated by it after a while. Now she is seemingly enjoying reading her potty books and playing with her potty, so we will try again 🙂 Great post! #thelist

  11. My little one is 16 months and the thought of potty training is terrifying. I will try and deal with it in spring I think when the weather gets better. Thanks for the tips! #justanotherlinky

  12. we are at the tail end of our potty training journey and I found that my son wasn’t interested in any of the fancy seats we bought. I have to say though that the support of his nursery helped him settle into it really quickly as he was around older children who were also potty training. We noticed that competition plays a big part haha
    Thanks for sharing #justanotherlinky

  13. We haven’t really started potty training. I usually tell my mummy when we’re out and about that I need to go to the loo and we use the big girls toilet but I’m still in pull-ups for the time being. We’re going to try and crack it before I’m 3. I wear pants at nursery but still have accidents #Justanotherlinky

  14. Thanks for sharing your experience. My 2.5 year old was interested briefly and peed in the potty a few times, but then he changed his mind and is not interested at all! I don’t want to push him so we are just waiting patiently … Can’t wait to get rid of his diapers though!

  15. My son turned 3 a few weeks ago and we finally managed to crack the potty training last week! We had many failed attempts despite showing all the signs he was ready and he just didn’t want to do it – he wouldn’t sit on the potty or toilet and he certainly wouldn’t go to the toilet on them. We tried bribery, distraction methods, but nothing seemed to work and we were both getting stressed about the situation. My husband thought I was being too soft but you can’t force a child to wee can you! Eventually we left it and I was actually going to wait until after Christmas. but last week we had a day home so I thought we’d give it another go – it took a few attempts to get him to wee on the toilet but by the end of the day he was asking to go on the toilet! Now a week later he is completely dry through out the day and is in underwear. I still put him in pull ups at night but he’s dry in the mornings and tells me that he needs a wee so I think he would probably be ok in pants. The only issue we have is number 2s! He won’t do it on the toilet and waits til he has his night time pull up..and then I hear “Mummmmmmy, I’ve done a poo!”……lovely!! #thelist

  16. I think it’s important to follow your child’s queues. I wasn’t planning on potty training my twins until they were three, but they started showing signs of being ready not long after their second birthday. By the time they were two and a half they were potty trained. We haven’t started night time potty training yet, so if you have any tips let me know! Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

  17. Thank you for the tips! My daughter is being close to being ready. We’re slowly introducing potty training books and just bought her a potty recently. It’s definitely piquing her interest, and I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind for when it’s time! Thanks so much for sharing this on #SHINEbloghop. It’s so great for you to join us this week!

  18. We did potty training rather later than you, waiting for the summer when both my wife and I would be around and Tilly was 2 1/2. We took a similar approach of sitting her on the potty or asking regularly. We had two accident prone weeks but then she really took to it and has progressively increased her bladder control to the point where she now goes all day without paying a visit if we’re out. Overall it wasn’t as bad as expected. Having Tilly be able to communicate helped to the point where she was getting cross about us asking if she wanted to go, so we stopped and she tells us.

  19. I am completely dreading potty training with Corinne. Maybe I’ll try skipping the small potty and putting her directly on the toilet. Less cleanup! Thanks for sharing! #ConfessionsLinkUp

  20. Potty Training is a fun adventure. I think it’s a great bonding experience. Nothing bonds better than crying together over the pee on the floor.

  21. Ooh I am certainly nervous about that stage. I think your plan to go straight to potty without the small chair you have to dump out is a good idea.

  22. Love your post.. I am right on that stage with my 20 month old… with her, things are a little difficult than they were with my boy (my first child learned really fast). She cries a lot and just hate the training sit, we also bought her a potty Training Toilet Chair and she just play with it.. I know it takes time and every kid is different so I am not rushing her. #ConfessionsLinkUp

  23. I started early around 18 months too with my oldest. We did the gradual thing kind of like you did at first then a month after she turned two I just put her in underwear full time one week while I was off work, and she was good after that. I did leave her in pull ups for bedtime and long car rides for probably close to a year but then with her sister. I didn’t really do the whole gradual thing very long. Again about a month after she turned two just took a week and put her in underwear and she was good. With her she was in underwear, without the pull up, for everything within another month. She always had less accidents than her sister too. As a fellow working mom blogger I love to find other working mom bloggers to find so I’m now following you on facebook.
    Angela @ Stepping into Motherhood

    1. I can’t believe how quickly your second took to train. I guess my hesitation to put her fully in underwear was the limiting factor as you have confirmed. Thanks for sharing and nice to meet you Angela!

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