It’s time to start potty training! But wait… HOW? Today Nicole talks about how to start potty training off on the right foot, and shares tips to help the process go more smoothly for everyone.
You Will Hear:
- How to decide whether to start with EC or potty training
- Tips for easing-in to potty learning
- How to tell when your kiddo needs to go
- How to do diaper-free observation with a mobile toddler
- Considerations and strategies for potty training while in daycare
- How to schedule potty training when you’re a working parent
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Go Diaper Free Book
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- Tiny Undies small baby underwear
- Tiny Trainers
- The Log app for iOS and Android
- Mini Potty
- YouTube Easy Catches series
- The Wake Up + Pee - Podcast #28
- The Diaper Change - Podcast #29
- Poop - Podcast #30
- Ins and Outs - Podcast #32
- “Passing the Baton” EC Program
- “Tiny Potty” board book
- Successful Potty Training with Daycare - Podcast #156
- Go Diaper Free Store
- Tiny Undies Store
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 218: How to start potty training
Hello and welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm your host for today's episode, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free Certified Coach and mama of three kiddos who all did EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Hello, hello. Welcome back to the Go Diaper Free podcast. This is episode 218, How to start potty training. You can find the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/218. Leave us a comment, ask us a question, we'd love to chat with you over there. And of course, everything I mentioned in today's episode will be there on the show notes. All right, let's start with our first call, we’ve got two to hear, and this one is from Andrea.
Andrea: Hi, yes, my name is Andrea. I have a one-year-old granddaughter and I am interested in this process and how it works. Kind of just want to get her started on potty training, but don't really know how to go about doing it. Thank you.
Thanks so much for the call, Andrea. I love when grandparents or other caregivers outside the direct parents want to get involved with EC or potty training. It really helps to make the process so much more smooth, so thank you. One year is a great time to start and that is still typically EC depending on how close she is to that 12 month mark or how close she is to the 18 month mark. Typically, at one year, we're doing EC. It is starting to look a little bit more like potty training because they are usually mobile. If she's not walking yet, I'm sure she will be soon, and so there are some considerations that I'll go through here for you.
Start out with getting the Go Diaper Free book. That's going to have everything you need in it. It's going to have details for the plan that I'm going to mention right now. It's got a resource library with pictures and videos and handouts. You've got a support community that comes with that, and if you start to get close to that 18 month mark where EC isn't really fitting for your granddaughter anymore, you have the optional hybrid plan for 12 to 18 month old babies.
You can jump just straight into that and that might help wrap up the process for you. So the nice thing about starting around the year mark is you're probably going to be done with the whole process pretty quickly. You usually want to try to wrap it up around 18 months. If you can't, you can kind of put a button on it at the end with a potty training experience that can be found in The Tiny Potty Training Book. But typically, you can sort of go through the whole process in just a few months and have her out of diapers. Wouldn't that be awesome?
All right, we want to get you out of the diaper habit. So first you need to figure out, well, when does she need to pee? When you're using commercial disposable diapers like you might be, it's really hard for you to tell when she's peeing. Pooping is usually a lot easier, but it's also hard for her to tell because they're very wicking and so unless you've given her a lot of diaper free time, she probably has not connected the sensation in her body with feeling wet or even seeing pee come out of her.
So your first step is going to help both of you with this. You're going to want to do at least one to two days of concentrated diaper free observation time. With a mobile baby, diaper free can be a little maddening because of course they're moving all over the place. They don't want to stay off of your carpets. So it doesn't have to be naked bottom, but you want to make sure you can still tell when they're going pee. Tiny Undies has cotton training pants, usually blackberry purple and one of the blue colors, those are usually the easiest to tell when they've gotten wet.
You can go with the training pants, which have added layers in the crotch area to catch almost a full pee and keep it off your floors. However, because it has to soak through those layers, you're not necessarily going to see right away when they're wet. So you can either use some kind of backup where it's easy to tell – you can use a sumo-style cloth diaper, and you can read about what that is in the resource library for the book – or you can just go completely diaper free and either protect your floors by laying down yoga mats, towels, whatever you want to lay down, or I like to do, trap us in the kitchen. I don't have carpet in my kitchen and I can designate a cabinet that I've stocked full of things that are interesting for them to play with like plastic bowls, cups, and spoons, and just hang out in there while we're doing our diaper free observation time. Download The Log app, or the book comes with a template for a paper log that you can write down what she's doing if you're more of a pen and paper kind of person, but The Log app will let you mark when she wakes up, when she eats or drinks. You can put comments in and everything. You can say, "Had apple juice with lunch" because we all know that that's going to make them pee pretty soon, and then mark when they pee or poop.
So be prepared to clean up some pee or poop, and also have a Mini Potty nearby so that every time something starts to come out of her, you can say, "Wait, put it in the potty," and then help her move. Either airlift her over to the potty, or bring it up behind her calves and have her sit, whatever method works for you. But try to at least get the last drop in the potty because that will also show her, "Now instead of using diapers, we're going to start using the potty. I'm going to show you how to put your pee and poop in the potty." And this is what we call an ease-in step. You're starting to introduce her to those sensations. You're starting to show her, “you need to move yourself to the potty.”
I like the Mini Potty there on the floor because it's quick and convenient and can save a little bit of that cleanup rather than going all the way to the bathroom. And that will help her start to make those connections of, "I have this feeling in my body. Now pee is coming out of me." That will get you started.
The next thing that you want to try are the easy catches. I will link to the four easy catches. There are some YouTube videos, and there are podcasts on them as well. And that's another way that you can ease-in to the potty training and EC, and just break that diaper habit. So there's the wake-up pee, offering the potty at diaper changes, poop is always an easy catch as well. And then the last easy catch is getting in or out of anything. Before you get in the car seat, after you get her out of the highchair, usually if she's been in some kind of container, a carrier, whatever it is for any amount of time. I especially like to offer when they're getting out because that sitting position can start to remind them of the potty and sort of get them relaxed and get everything ready to go. I know my kids usually need to go potty either during a meal or right afterwards because they've been in that relaxed sitting position for a little while.
We do have a section in the Go Diaper Free book as well called the Building Blocks of Potty Independence, and you want to start teaching those now. Those are all the little steps that are going to get her eventually to go to the potty by herself. You're going to start teaching her how to manipulate her clothing, getting her pants on and off, teaching her how to get to the bathroom. And these are all during times when she doesn't have to go potty, so this is separate from the diaper free observation time. You can teach her how to turn on and off the light switch in the bathroom. You can get a little light switch extender if you need to. There are lots of little steps that you can start teaching her now and put together and those will eventually all come together in her having a potty routine when she's potty independent. Exposing her now will make it a lot easier to wrap her up when you're ready to do that.
If you need a little bit more concentrated help, there is a digital program called “Passing the Baton,” which goes over all of that. And I always recommend the Tiny Potty board book because that has got a whole routine lined out in a really cute sing-song, rhyming story with cute pictures. So that's fun for any child six months or older to go through, and it's a great example. If you don't have older grandchildren or other children or neighbors around who can model that for them, the board book is super helpful to line that out and show them all of the steps. And then you can refer back to it as you're teaching. You can say, "Let's go wash our hands like the little kid in the book did," and help them that way. It's a great reinforcer for them.
Again, you can also go to the optional hybrid plan. If you're going along and she's really just soaking it all up and really wanting to run with this, give her the tools. You'll be surprised. We don't think they're ready, and they will always surprise us. If you give them the opportunity to, they will take the reins and they will run with it. And the closer they get to 18 months, they're really craving that. That's that toddler period of “me do it.” So as much as you can teach her and hand over the reins as soon as possible, that will make your transition smoother as well.
That's what I've got for you, Andrea, for starting out with a one-year-old. We've got another call that I want to take from Birgit, and let's listen to what she has to say.
Birgit: Hi, Andrea. So my question is how to start this potty training. I actually purchased the book already anyway, but my toddler is one year and eight months, and he already started kindergarten. In Estonia, we call this kindergarten already, but it's for the babies in a way. And he is in there from morning from nine to 12, so that makes this potty training at home a bit more difficult. So how to start from that, that I cannot do this by your book to keep all this two days without any pants on, et cetera, full days. I am also an entrepreneur, so working from home, so logically it is difficult to be without your phone or laptop for the whole day. Of course, when he takes a nap, then of course, I can do those things. But anyway, looking at him and observing behavior, et cetera, that is possible of course. But then my main question is how to do this potty training, how to start this when he's in kindergarten already and have three hours in the morning he's there and I don't have the overview what he does or not. Thank you, Andrea. They do potty training in kindergarten too, by the way.
Well, there you go, Birgit. It sounds like you're going to have support in potty training from the kindergarten staff and that's fantastic. For those of you listening, if you are thinking about sending your kiddo to preschool, daycare, kindergarten, or you're already there and you're not yet potty trained, getting the staff's help is super important.
If you haven't picked a care facility yet, that is probably one of the most important things if you're going to want to potty train while you're there, is to find out what their policy is on how much they can help, what their philosophy is. Typically, the Montessori schools are a little bit more inclined to help because Montessori says that the sensitive period is at 18 to 24 months for potty training, so that can be a bonus. If you can find a Montessori school in your area for preschool or kindergarten, they usually can help you.
Or if you're at a school and you find out they're not going to be supportive, then it might be time to look for something else before you start the potty training. So Birgit, it sounds like you have the book already, which is great. There is also a podcast, episode 156, Successful Potty Training With Daycare, about having a conversation with them to start with, what that would look like, how you can ask them for support.
I would start out doing your concentrated naked teaching days on a weekend. I know as an entrepreneur sometimes your weekends aren't really your weekend, but if there's a way that you can just tell all your clients, "I'm taking these two vacation days" or whatever it is you need to do, there are optional ease-in steps in the book. You can take those throughout the week just when your son is home, but then do your concentrated naked teaching days on that weekend.
And have already had that conversation with the daycare, prep them. Let them know it's on the calendar. “This is the weekend we're potty training. Here's the plan, here's the support I'm going to need from you.” They can ask you questions, whatever you need to do. And then when you bring him to school on Monday, you go in and do a foundation pee, you help him to the bathroom. And you can talk to him about this beforehand when you're at school doing pickup or drop off. You can point out the potty to him, that can be part of your ease in step. "Oh, this weekend we're going to potty train and then you're going to come back to school next week and that's where the potty is and Mrs. Sarah is going to help you at the potty." So then you get there on Monday, you go in with him and Mrs. Sarah, you do the foundation pee together. You remind him that he's going to say now to Mrs. Sarah what he was saying to you at home. "Okay sweetheart, you say, mama pee-pee at home, please tell Mrs. Sarah I need to pee-pee, or Mrs. Sarah pee-pee, when you're here at school. And then when mama comes to pick you up, we'll go home and you can tell mama that you need to pee."
And then Miss Sarah also knows that if she hears "Mama pee-pee" or whatever your phrase is, that that's what she needs to look out for. You want to also mindfully schedule your day around the potty learning. You said that you can do some of your work during nap times. It sounds like you can schedule your meetings and all of the work you need to do while he's in kindergarten, or at least most of it. So then you have the afternoon ready to maintain and continue on and troubleshoot all of the potty learning while he's home. And then if you have a partner or spouse who comes home in the evening, make sure you have worked out a plan for how that's going to go too. Maybe for the first couple weeks while you're getting the potty training going, when they come home, they take over potty training so that you can finish the rest of whatever you need to do with your business. So that should all be in the potty training book and the podcast that I'm going to link as far as going to daycare or kindergarten or preschool while potty training.
And there is a big troubleshooting section in the potty training book that covers some of these things as well. Mostly from personal experience, I would recommend when you ditch diapers for kindergarten, ditch daytime and nap time at minimum. Andrea gives the option that you could start with daytime and then do nighttime and naps later, and you absolutely can do that. What I found in my experience was sending my second to school – she was about 17 or 18 months when we wrapped her up with the potty training experience – we sent her to school and let them put her in diapers for nap time. I would advise against that from my experience. I would say either, like my first, we diapers completely day and night, all cold turkey. He was about two and a half. Either do that or only have diapers at nighttime, not nap time. I think that having them during the nap during the day can get a little bit confusing and sort of slow your progress.
So if you're worried about getting as much done as you can in that weekend before he goes back to school with potty training, with teaching, I would ditch the diapers at least during the nap time as well, if not all together. Nap times are shorter, so even if they didn't pee right before the nap, they're more likely to be able to hold it through a nap than they are through the whole night. And even if they don't hold it through the nap, if they have a miss, that's a teaching opportunity. There's always something to learn from a miss for either you or your child, or both.
That's a conversation you can have with them, "Oops, you pee-pee'd in your cot" or your bed or wherever he is taking his nap. "Next time let's pee-pee before nap time so we can keep your bed dry." And that can sort of incentivize him. If you're having trouble getting him to use the bathroom before the nap, then that process, that learning process can help encourage him to use the bathroom and go pee before he takes the nap. So that's my advice based on my personal experience. In the book, you can read about how you can just do diaper free during daytime to start out with and then deal with naps and nighttime later, but that is my preferred method now, is to get them completely done during all parts of the day, including naps.
All right, those are the tips I have for you, Birgit. Hopefully that's helpful. I'm really excited for you that you do have the support of your kindergarten. I think that will help you a ton, make the whole process a lot quicker and easier. And for those of you listening, if you have started potty training with a one-year-old or older, how did it go for you? How did you get started? What worked for you, and what tips do you have for Birgit, and for Andrea, and all of the other parents and caregivers out there listening? Head on over to godiaperfree.com/218 for the show notes, all of the links to everything I talked about. Let us know what you think, ask us any questions you might have, leave a comment, and we'll see you over there.
Thanks so much for listening. This is the Go Diaper Free podcast at godiaperfree.com. We'll see you next time.
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