You guys, something amazing happened recently in our house. I really hope I’m not jinxing anything by telling you all about it, but I’m way too excited to hold it in. Oliver is basically toilet trained! I want to share with you what I did leading up to this and how it’s going. Oliver just turned 2 and that was a time I had in my mind to get serious about toilet training. I am definitely not the kind of mom who wants their baby to stay in diaper so they stay a baby. I totally get why it’s hard for some parents to move their babies into big kid things, but diapers is something I am so ready to be done with. Also, what better time than during nationwide stay-at-home ordinances? I also want to put it out there that I’m just sharing what we’ve done, I’m not saying it’s going to work for everyone or that it’s the “right” way to do it. You all know I’m not here for that kind of mentality. I’m just here to share experiences in the hopes that someone can benefit from it somewhere down the line. With that being said, here’s what we did to get to this momentous moment.
Now, like I said, I have been ready for Oliver to be out of diapers basically since before I had him. Dealing with diapers was honestly one of the things I was looking forward to the least about being a parent, there’s no way I’m alone on that right? It’s also one of the reasons I wanted to do cloth diapers, I had heard that many kids potty train earlier if they use cloth. I didn’t know if it would be true, but I had a lot of other reasons for using cloth and that possibility just added to the list. Due to the fact that I wanted Oliver out of diapers ASAP, as soon as he could walk on his own reliably I started introducing him to the bathroom. I bought a little training toilet as well as a toddler seat to put on the regular toilet so we could try both. I didn’t expect him to actually use the toilet with any real understanding, but from about the time he was 15 months we would walk into the bathroom and sit down for a while. I figured it would be good for him to be familiar with the whole concept from early on so it didn’t seem to foreign when we got serious about it. He was fine with it most of the time, I told him why we were there and what was supposed to happen but I never really expected anything to happen. When something did happen by chance, I would make a big deal about it and how good it was. But I could tell he didn’t have any connection between what he had just done and my excitement.
When Oliver hit the 18 month mark I decided to give it an actual solid effort. And I’ll spoil it for you right now, it didn’t take. Then I tried again at 20 months. It also didn’t take. I think try number 3 was around 22 months, which (suprise suprise) didn’t take. I did roughly the same thing every try, with a modification here and there, but I never saw any real progress or signs that he was understanding what the real purpose was. But it must have meant something because try number 4, at 24 months, during a pandemic, led to a success. But not in the way I expected.
I did all the pinteresting, facebook mom-grouping, googling ect to figure out what method to try. I thought the three day method sounded like a good plan so I decided to go with that. Now, I didn’t get the book or get to dead set on the technique that many people swear by, but I tried to follow it as best I could. The first day Oliver would go bottomless. I’d try and make him drink a bunch all morning, which he never wanted to do for some reason. I set a timer and we’d go to the bathroom every 20 minutes for a few minutes. Sometimes he was fine with that, other times he was really mad about it. It was very rare that we’d have a successful trip to the bathroom. Mostly there was a lot of peeing around the house, thankfully we have concrete floors. There was also the fact that he would wait for nap-time, when he had a diaper on, to poop. After two days of that, I would typically cave in and go back to diapers. In a few of our attempts, I tried to incorporate some Montessori methods by having him clean up his messes around the house. The trouble with this was, Oliver was totally cool with it. He’d pee in the kitchen and go run and get a rag and clean it up and go on with his life. He wasn’t really understanding that peeing in the kitchen isn’t the right place to be peeing. So while that was mildly helpful in the cleanup, it wasn’t really getting the right point across for him.
This process cycled a few times, and each time I figured Oliver just wasn’t ready. I mean I knew I was trying to get him trained pretty early, so I didn’t have crazy high expectations and I figured I’d wait a while before trying again. But when Oliver was about to turn 2 and we were stuck in the house, I decided to try and give it another go. I did my typical routine, but after 3 days of absolutely no pee going in the toilet, I caved again. I wanted so badly to use positive reinforcement to show him that he could get a treat when he went in the toilet, but it literally never happened. How do you positively reinforce a behaviour that never happens? We would spend a while in the bathroom, reading books to keep him still and not 2 minutes later he would pee somewhere in the house. It was so frustrating! So I gave up again. I saw some advice that I should not have him stay in the bathroom too long. If the urge isn’t there, just move on and try again later. So I filed that away for my next attempt and went back to diapers.
Then right as Oliver turned 2, he started telling me when he needed to pee. I thought he was telling me that he had peed, which I thought was good progress. But when we went to the bathroom he sat down and peed and his diaper was still totally dry. I was shocked. I made a huge deal about how proud I was of him and we danced through the house to get a treat. As excited as I was about this, I thought maybe it was just a fluke and kept him in diapers for another day. But the rest of that day he continued telling me when he needed to go. We went camping for the weekend after this, and I didn’t want to stop the good cycle, so I made Oliver aware that there was also a bathroom in the trailer and he could use that. He did a few times, but we did use the diapers I packed as well. Then when we got home from camping, I stopped putting diapers on him during the day and he’s been good ever since. We’re on week two of no diapers and things are going very well. We still use a diaper for naptime and bedtime “just in case” but to be honest he’s stayed dry through them for a few days now. When do I stop doing that?
We also had a big test of the whole situation last weekend when we went for a hike. I went back and forth so much about whether to put a diaper on him or not. I didn’t want to make him think that leaving the house meant he needed a diaper, but I also really didn’t want him peeing in the hiking backpack while we were out on the trail. We decided to stick with it and not use a diaper. We asked him several times while we were hiking if he needed to pee and while we were stopped for a break Mauricio tried to get him to pee on a bush. I figure Mauricio needs to help him with the whole standing up to pee method because he’s got the experience that I lack in that department. What better time than out in the middle of nowhere where there is no toilet? While there wasn’t success on the break, on our way back to the truck Oliver told us he needed to pee and we got him down and he did it! I wasn’t sure how he would feel about peeing standing up, I mean I hadn’t taught him that because it’s much easier for me to have him sit down and not have to work on aim. I guess at some time we’ll work on aim, and maybe I’ll try the method of having him aim to hit cheerios. But to be honest, I’m really afraid that he’ll try and fish them out of the toilet and eat them. The boy likes his snacks.
I don’t know why this attempt stuck with him. Was it because I’d introduced it to him so early? Was it because of the cloth diapers and the fact that he could feel the difference between being wet and dry? Was it because he saw how excited I got when he peed in the toilet and liked all the excitement? Was it because he just reached a point where he was mentally ready? I tend to think it was a combination of all of those things. I’m so proud of my 2 year old for being able to recognize the urge to go and be able to tell us that he needs to go. I really hope we don’t see a regression, but I am trying to stay mentally prepared for the fact that it may happen.