17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

PRE-Potty Training Advice Wanted

My daughter is only 17 months old, so I'm not ready to start potty training her. Everything I hear from pediatricians, nurses, others mothers, is that it's best to wait until after 2 years old, maybe even later. If anyone feels differently, I'd like to know.

But the advice I'm really looking for is this: is there anything constructive I can do now to make the process easier later; or will I just be complicating matters by even trying to approach the subject at all?

These are the things I'm tempted to start doing now:

1) Put a training toilet in my bathroom so that when I go to the "potty" she can sit on hers too (clothed).
2) Put her on the training toilet unclothed once or twice a day, at specific times a day, perhaps right before bathtime, and explain to her what she does on it.
3) Bring her into the bathroom when I can tell she's going in her diaper and explain to her that this is where she does what she's doing in her diaper. (Would this just get in the way of what she's doing?)
4) Find a picture book or two on the topic (I hear there are some pretty clever ones out there?)

Any other PRE-potty training tactics?

But I don't want to jump the gun on this and turn potty training into a two-year process. A few months ago, she started pooping in the tub, so I pulled her out and put her on the regular toilet, and she actually successfully finished on the toilet. But it upset her. And ever since then, when she looks like she might poop in the tub (or actually does), I ask her if she wants to sit on the toilet, and she very adamantly says no and gets upset if I try to push her into it a little. So I'm afraid of any attempts backfiring.

Here are the reasons I'm even thinking about it this early:

1) She is extremely curious about everything (especially when in the bathroom with me)
2) She is starting to talk and communicate well
3) She understands so much (for example, we were showing some extended family the other day how well she can point to various parts of her body and the following exchange took place between her and dh:

"SJ where is your bottom (I'd never asked this one before)?" She quickly pointed to her bottom.
"What comes out of your bottom (neither of us had ever asked this before)?" She paused for a moment; you could tell she was thinking; and then said, "Poopee." That's evidence of pretty good understanding, if you ask me!

So should I capitalize on it or just leave it be for now? Any thoughts? I'd love to hear your suggestions, especially if any of you started these kinds of small measures early and regretted it. Or vice versa: you wish you had started small measures earlier.


  • Capitalize on this moment my dear! She doesn't sound super ready, but frankly that doesn't mean you can't start in small ways.

    Ask mothers from a previous generation and they will tell you their kids were potty trained by a year and a half. Of course those kids were all in cloth diapers so they developed a different sense of being wet, dirty, or dry much earlier. You can teach her some of that now.

    I have no great advice except, don't force her. Just continually talk to her about it, let her see you using the potty, and try and set her on the potty seat frequently. If you make it part of your day it is really super easy and not hard.

    I am in this stage right now, but pretty scared for when we switch to panties and deal with it 100%. Hmmmm, maybe pullups till they are five isn't since a bad thing.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/24/2007 05:16:00 AM  

  • I'm sorry, I'm still in total shock that little S is 17 months old!!!! Wow.
    posted by Blogger marian at 9/24/2007 05:24:00 AM  

  • My DS is just 18 1/2 months and he has started to poop on the potty sometimes. I don't think I really did anything special except he almost always comes in to the bathroom with me when I go, and he made the connection between the poop in his diaper and going poop on the potty. I'm kind of in the same spot though in that I don't want to push it too much. I let him go when he says he needs to and sometimes at times when I am pretty sure he is going to soon (like right after he wakes up). He has only peed a couple times, though, so I think that is going to be a longer process.
    I'll be interested in what everyone else says!
    posted by Blogger Richelle at 9/24/2007 06:53:00 AM  

  • i don't think it's too soon for your list of ideas. Keep it free from pressure, but remember, there are many places around the world, and many other times, where total potty use was *normal* at 18 months. I've known a couple kids (girls!) 100% day trained at that age. So just work with whatever her individual readiness is,and she may surprise you.

    my two who are PT happened later than that, and both were totally able to use the potty but if they had a diaper on they'd just keep using it anyway, so PT was as simple as taking diapers away for enough days in a row to make a new habit. just stay home, keep a diaper for sleep but make a new rule of no diapers when awake.

    Worked for our blend of psychological/physical/behavioral readiness, anyway :)
    posted by Anonymous cchrissyy at 9/24/2007 07:42:00 AM  

  • there is a great book called diaper free baby by Christine Gross-Loh. In other areas of the world kids are going potty at a very early age. They need to be aware of their body and this book will help you do that. It is very low key and you just do what you can. My little guy has been going in the potty since 4 months. Not on his own, we make cue sound and put him on when we think he has to go. He is aware of what his body is doing and feels proud when he goes.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/24/2007 07:46:00 AM  

  • Just one thought...my DD could easily have been potty-trained by 18 months, but she was very afraid of the toilet itself, and I didn't really pick up on this until too late. She developed a severe problem with constipation because she associated that feeling with the scary toilet and would do anything to avoid going, in a diaper or not. Sounds like your girl might be scared of the toilet too. So my advice is to get one of those cushy seats and a step stool now.
    posted by Anonymous Ahna at 9/24/2007 09:49:00 AM  

  • Take advantage of every teaching moment you can, including potty training. In my opinion one of the hardest parts of parenting. Don't put any pressure on her or yourself. You're a smart woman and a good mom, read a few books then sort out what makes sense for her and you. I read potty training in less than a day, it worked with my oldest, made my second so upset she threw up and used a different approach with my 3rd. Every child is different. Good luck and be consistant whatever you decide!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/24/2007 09:51:00 AM  

  • I'm a firm believer that they are not ready till they are ready. You can introduce them to the idea and concept, but until they are really ready, most other efforts are kind of wasted. Each of my kids, once they were really ready to try it, it took a day or two, max. I can't imagine stretching it out over a year or so. Ouch!

    But different things definitely work for different kids...
    posted by Blogger Sue at 9/24/2007 09:55:00 AM  

  • Two books that my daughters liked were "Once Upon a Potty -- Girl"
    by Alona Frankel and "My Big Girl Potty" by Joanna Cole. My youngest also really liked the "Sesame Street - Elmo's Potty Time" DVD.
    posted by Anonymous mkc at 9/24/2007 10:27:00 AM  

  • I don't think it's too early to do at least a few of the things you are thinking about - potty books, having a training toilet available, etc. These things don't seem like they could have negative effects unless you or she feels pressure to perform.

    Since the Parent Ed class I had on the subject of potty training, I have started changing Pumpkin's diapers in the bathroom we put her poop in the toilet so she can flush it. Now, she tells us when she is pooping so we take her to the bathroom. Usually we are too late, but yesterday at church, she sat on the toilet and pooped for the first time. It was hilarious because she started clapping and yelling "I did it!" Everyone in the bathroom was chuckling.

    Right now we want to approach potty training in a no-pressure way but we also want to make sure we are allowing for positive potty experiences like the one at church.

    BTQ, we also like the "Once Upon a Potty Book". The kids really seem to connect to it.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 9/24/2007 10:46:00 AM  

  • I haven't read all the comments but I wanted to add my tip. Some people may not be comfortable with this, but I always let my daughter watch when I went to the bathroom and explained to her what was going on. Then she just naturally decided that she wanted to do it as well so she could be a "big girl like mommy." Again, not for the more conservative moms, but it worked great for us!
    posted by Blogger Sarah at 9/24/2007 11:08:00 AM  

  • My daughter was around the same age as yours when she decided completely on her own that she wanted to be using the toilet (she hated the little potty and refused to use it EVER! which was fine with me) By the time my son arrived when she was 21 months she was totally done with diapers (except for pullups at night). This was over the summer, so that made it easier too as we just hung around the house for a few days to get it down, easy when it's hot.

    I will concur with some of the other comments, we always had an "open door"policy for the bathroom basics, unless obvious privacy was needed. This makes the natural curiosity develop their wanting to go, just like you do and also seems (I'm not an expert of course) to alleviate any fears related to the toilet.

    God luck!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/24/2007 12:04:00 PM  

  • With my boys, I did the EC thing (not diaper free though) similar to one of the previous commenters. My suggestions would be to try pottying your child right after a nap or first thing in the morning. Explain to your child what you are doing, and that you want to help her pee/poop in the potty instead of her diapers. Tell her you want her to let you know if she needs to go potty, and also that you'll be helping her go potty when you think she needs to go as well. I think it's really important to be nonchalant and relaxed about it though. I really tried with my boys and pottying to be neutral and not praise or punish.

    I don't believe that any efforts toward helping your child learn to use the potty are wasted; each time she goes in the potty that's one less time she peed on herself in her diaper.
    posted by Blogger Vicki at 9/24/2007 07:47:00 PM  

  • I was so happy to read this post. I have a 19-month old girl and we are going to start potty training this week! Lots of people have told me it's too early, but I feel like she's ready. I have no advice since she's my first, but I sure appreciate other people's. Thanks!
    posted by Blogger Heidi at 9/25/2007 05:25:00 AM  

  • Thanks for all these great comments and ideas. I knew I'd get good solid material from all of you. Things to start thinking about and working on. Thanks so much.
    posted by Blogger sunny at 9/25/2007 05:03:00 PM  

  • I take the lazy mom approach - I don't push (encourage?) my kids to use the potty, and in fact I probably delay their progress because the truth is - diapers are just easier! When they're "ready" there will still be accidents, and frantic runs to the bathroom in public, and you'll forget to put her on the potty before you leave for church . . . you know. But I figure there will be less of those times if they start when they are ACTUALLY ready. How many of my friends have told me "my kid is potty trained!" at 2 years old - yet everytime the kid is at my house or we're at their house, there is an "incident". No thanks!

    I'm probably going against what everyone else said. Just my two cents. (I've successfully potty trained 3 kids and my 21 month old talks about potty and tells me when she made "poo poo" in her diaper, but you won't see me putting her on the potty anytime soon!)
    posted by Blogger rebecca at 9/25/2007 08:13:00 PM  

  • Boys are way easier to train than girls. Don't rush it is the best advice I can give you. Also, remember, whether she is potty trained or not really does not have anything to do with your parenting ability. I had some friends that were majorly stressed out because other kids at preschool or daycare were trained already and their kids weren't. They really thought they were bad parents for not having their kids trained by the age of 2.
    posted by Blogger Sexy Housewife at 9/26/2007 05:31:00 PM  

  • Google "EC late starters" or "diaper free" and you will see that helping your dd not wee on herself nor have poo stuck to her bum is a good thing!

    Try putting her on the potty first thing in the morning and see if you can catch a wee. If you focus on you 'catching' more than her 'doing it in the right place' it won't seem so heavy. Try it and see waher it takes you both.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/27/2007 05:14:00 PM  

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