Toilet Training Take Two

Age milestones seem to mark certain events in a baby’s life.  Six months is the age at which to start feeding baby solid foods.  Three years was the age I decided Sunshine could give up her soother.  And two years was the age I started thinking Lily should be toilet training.

In my spotty mommy memory, Sunshine was potty trained at that age.  She was just past two when Lily was born and she regressed for a few weeks to diapers, then decided that she wanted to wear panties and that was that.  So as Lily approached her second birthday, I tried to encourage her to use the potty more.  Sunshine at that age had been wearing cloth diapers and telling me when she needed a diaper change; Lily, however, has been in disposables, and would happily wear the same diaper all day unless I insist she change it.

My neighbour had gotten a toilet training package from the library, so I decided to try that.  The box came into our local library very quickly: eight books on potty training, two CDs, and a dolly.  Lily loved the dolly.  She and Sunshine listened to me read all the books (even as I winced at several very corny ones).  They were both excited to talk about going potty.  But Lily was no more interested in using it than she had been before.

I returned the box of books to the library and bought them both new underwear (it was on sale).  That got their attention; both were quite excited about new underwear.  Lily wanted to wear it and so I put her in it, explaining quite frequently that if she wanted to be a big girl wearing underwear, she had to go potty.  On Monday, I decided we’d just jump into it cold turkey: underwear all day and no going out.

By the end of the day, she’d had four accidents and one pee in the potty and I was getting tired of cleaning up messes.  By the end of the second day, she seemed no closer to being aware of when she needed to go potty.  I googled tips, read blog posts and online articles, and considered just buying another pack of diapers and waiting until she was ready.  After all, I’d noticed that there was definitely a time when Sunshine was ready.

Day 3, I decided to try a trick that I’d seen when I was babysitting.  The mom had offered her son smarties every time he went potty—three smarties, because he was three.  I didn’t have smarties, but I did have chocolate chips.  So I told Lily that if she sat on the potty, she could have two chocolate chips.  She sat.  She happily ate her chocolate chips.  And when I repeated the offer an hour later, she was happy to sit again.  And again.

By the end of the day, she was sitting on the potty when I suggested it, even without the bribe of chocolate chips.  (Much to my relief—I pictured her at three still asking for a chocolate chip every time she went potty.)  Now, several weeks later, she is still wearing underwear and refuses to wear diapers.  Most of the time I tell her that she needs to go potty (and a few accidents have happened because I forgot to tell her).  She has told me only once that she needed to go and she has only pooped once in the potty.

Sunshine has been a big supporter during this process, as she encourages Lily to go potty while she does and gives Lily a “huggy” every time she does go pee in the potty.  We both say “yay” and “good job!” and “I’m proud of you” when Lily succeeds.  And when Lily has an accident, then Sunshine helps get her clean clothes and we move on.

I’m enjoying the fact that we have less garbage in the house again and that I don’t have to buy diapers anymore.  Oh, and not having to pack a big diaper bag everywhere we go.  Even in Seattle, Lily just wore her underwear, with a couple diapers for back-up, but nothing like the half-bag of diapers we used to pack for a big trip.  I look forward to her telling me when she needs to go and being able to go on her own, but we’ll take each small step at a time.  So far, as long as I remember to ask her to go potty every few hours (or when Sunshine or I go), then everything is good.

What helped your child catch onto going potty?

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