Potty Training Tips - Part One
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am the mother of four boys.
All born within 5 years.
We are in the process of potty training our fourth and final one (yes, final; barring any miracles), so some might say that I’m a professional potty trainer at this point. I’ll take it.
There are many methods out there for potty training kids, but let me just save you some time and suggest that you take a look at the method that the Hoffman’s have used. We have used it for all 4 boys, and for us it has worked like a charm IF:
A) little man is ready for potty training
B) we’ve followed the method to a T
When To Start Potty Training
Wondering when you should start potty training? If you search the interwebs you'll get a variety of answers:
- Wait until they're ready.
- Don't force them.
- The earlier the better.
- As soon as they can express that they need their diaper changed.
But in my opinion, sometimes they are ready and able before we even realize. Dry diaper after nap? That's a good sign. Interested in the potty? That's another good sign. They need to be potty trained for a preschool program? That's a sign. Tired of buying diapers? That's a good sign too. My oldest was potty trained around 19 months and the others were potty trained after 2 years old - age doesn’t necessarily matter if you think the timing is right. Give it a shot and see what happens!
Potty Training Boys
Prepare yourself with clorox wipes, baby wipes, paper towels, baking soda (the BIG box, or multiple little boxes), hand soap, gloves (optional) and being housebound for the better part of 3 days. I’ve never potty trained a girl, so I’ll be saying a lot of “little guy” and “dude” in this piece, but I don’t see why this method wouldn’t work for a girl too. Without further ado, here is the Hoffman method of potty training.
1) Strip ‘em down
Some people believe in pull up’s. Others put their kiddo’s straight into underwear. We prefer to strip ‘em naked from the waist down for three days. We figure this way there’s less laundry to do and it’s easy to immediately see if there’s an accident starting to happen. I think that pull up’s and underwear feel too similar to diapers. They feel that same sensation around their legs and belly and forget that they’re NOT wearing a diaper, so I think that there would be more accidents if you were to go that route. Also, the chill on their little tush from being naked will also be a subtle reminder that they aren’t wearing a diaper and therefore encourage them to resist their urges until they’re on the potty.
2) Pump them full of fluids
Our kids chug water like they live in the Sahara, so when we’re potty training we continually fill their water bottle and let them go to town. We don’t limit how much they can drink during the day (although we are a bit more conservative with how much we give them after 5pm because we don’t want our their sleep to be disturbed because they have to pee). If you have a little guy who isn’t as keen on water, fill him up with juice (our favorite is the Naked green machine) or popsicles (make your own! Or try these). The more they drink, the more opportunities they have to learn.
3) Set a timer
The first day we set a timer for every half hour. When it went off, we excitedly said, “time to go pee!!” and brought him to the potty, sat him down on it and waited. If he peed, GREAT! If not, that’s fine too. The point is not necessarily to have them pee the first day, but to make it fun and exciting and to get them used to sitting on the pot.
The second day we set the timer for an hour and the third day we hope for the best and don’t set a timer at all.
Seriously, now is the time to watch your kid like a hawk. The closer you watch, the better you’ll get at picking up their cues. Do they do a little dance before they pee? Do they stand a certain way? Do they pop their hip out to one side (this is what my littlest does)? As soon as you see a little bit of pee or poop escaping, matter of factly say something to the effect of, “Look what’s happening - it’s potty time!”. And put them on the potty. Restart timer (if necessary).
5) HOW to sit on the big potty
At the beginning, the best way to sit him on the potty is to place him on it yourself. Once he’s sitting, have him place his legs in a wide stance and have him hold onto the toilet seat at its narrowest point in the front. This way his penis will point down into the toilet instead of DIRECTLY AT YOU. This is another reason we advocate for going pantless in the beginning. If he wears pants while potty training, chances are that you’ll pull his pants to his ankles and put him on the potty. At that point, he’ll be bound at the ankles, not sitting far back and therefore his penis will not be pointing down into the bowl; it’ll be pointing directly at your face/shirt. So, unless you completely remove the pants every time (#aintnobodygottimeforthat) I’d recommend that he goes pants free until he gets the hang of it. Basically, it’s just one added step that you don’t need right now.
When in public, we (when we can) put kiddo on the side of the toilet - bum still over the potty, but legs facing the wall instead of the door, make sense? This is because many public toilet seats are U-shaped (not O-shaped) and this makes it awkward for tiny legs to sit. More often than not, one leg will end up touching the rim of the toilet (#GAG) and that makes me dry heave, so the side of the toilet it is.
I also hold their hands while they’re on a public toilet. Partly for balance, but also because then I can rest assured knowing that they aren’t touching anything grimy.
6) Accidents are OKAY.
As frustrating as it can be to have to clean up accident after accident (especially if you have light colored furniture or carpet), he’s not going to learn any other way. This past time we potty trained, our little man didn’t have many accidents at the beginning. At first, I thought “Great! This kid is going to be potty trained in no time”, but actually it’s not until you have days worth of accidents that you’ll actually make progress. He was drinking all of the water, but emptying his bladder so frequently that he never actually felt the urge to pee. You know the sensation I’m talking about. We had ALL the accidents on day 5 or 6 and have done very well since (not perfect, but much better than before).
So remember these two things: the more accidents he has in a short span of time, the quicker he’ll learn AND accidents are a sign of progress.
When you feel comfortable with all these steps, go read the second part of this blog about potty training! Also, if you are in the middle of a disaster, click here to read the part all about cleaning up...