The Lowdown on Potty Training

Let me start by saying I am no expert on potty training- at all.  I can promise you I am no expert on anything parenting related either.  I am learning as I go and screwing up alot along the way.  But I have gotten several emails from readers wanting to know what worked for Sterling and how we managed the change from diapers to big boy underwear.  This is what worked for us and I know all kids are different.

 Here’s the deal, on Saturday Sterling told me he wanted to poop in the potty.  I obliged laughing thinking he’s just gonna sit there.  Well low and behold he pooped and ever since then he has gone in the potty (pee and poop).  Not one accident.  We do use pull-ups at night- that is unpredictable and Mama doesn’t want to be getting up all night helping him pee.  Otherwise he has seemingly mastered the art of using the potty.

Here is what I know. 

1) The most important thing is making sure your child is ready.  I see way too many people try to start training their kids at age 2 and earlier and in my opinion that is way too early.  You are setting your self up for accidents because at 2 it is hard for them to understand and grasp the whole concept.  And why rush things?  It will just take longer to get the end result when you kid isn’t ready.    I have heard from numerous people to wait til your child is three or after.  I know it differs for each kid but that is a constant that I heard from other parents.  Sterling turns three next month and in all honesty I was going to wait til this summer to start potty training but he apparently had other plans, he was ready.

2) Use a regular potty.  I know the small portable potties work for some kids but we never used one.  I feel like when you are out in public or somewhere where there is not a small potty then issues arise because they are so used to using that small one and they don’t know how or want to use a real one.  We don’t even use a training seat. Another bonus of the child being a little older it is easier for them to sit on the potty.  Sterling knows how to straddle it to sit.  This makes it easy to use the bathroom anywhere we are.

3) Slowly introduce them to the potty.  For months now we have taught Sterling how Mommy and Daddy pee pee.  We have let him flush the toilet and see how it all works.  I have never pressured him to use it, I just would occasionally ask “you want to tee-tee on the big potty?” and his response was always “no” til last weekend.   I never pressed the issue when he said no.  We also bought him some cool big boy underwear but told him he could not wear them until he used the big potty.  The underwear has been sitting in his room for like 4 months now and he always asks to wear it but the deal is no unless you actually go in the big potty.  Do not let your kids wear the underwear over their diapers, that is a bad idea.  Since they pee in their diaper while the underwear is on then when they just wear the underwear they will think it is ok to pee in it.  We never bought or used any potty books.  I do think if they see their friends doing it this helps too because they don’t want to be the only kid in diapers.

4) Make a BIG deal about it when they pee/poop in the potty.  We have been praising Sterling non-stop since he went in the potty and this makes him so proud of himself.  Encourage them.  We bought him a few treats the first few times he went like ice cream, new underwear, coloring book etc.  This got him excited. We called all the grandparents and let him brag on himself.  We constantly tell him what a big boy he is and how awesome it is that he uses the big potty.  He loves all the attention and I think this makes him want to keep peeing/pooping in the potty.

5) Don’t stress- how many kids do you know that go to kindergarten still diapers?  Eventually they will catch on.

My proud little man and I am one proud Mama.  Over all this transition was way easier than I imagined it would be, mainly because I feel like we waited long enough for Sterling grasp the idea and be ready.  The super hero underwear helped too:)


  1. January 10, 2013 / 12:45 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this Natalie! I'm also of the opinion that no potty makes everything less complicated, and I will definitely take Matthew to the toilet rather than buy a potty (never liked the idea of it!) congrats!!!!! That is a huge accomplishment 😉

  2. January 10, 2013 / 12:48 pm

    He is such a doll! We are taking our time too! Good to know about the little plastic potty. I have one but she has no interest at all in it. Yay Sterling and mama!

  3. January 10, 2013 / 12:56 pm

    Yay for you! I'm so glad you used a 'normal' potty – I did the same and everyone thought I was crazy. I'm happy it worked for you, too.

  4. January 10, 2013 / 12:56 pm

    Sounds exactly like Wells, they're clearly meant to be 🙂

    I think you're right about waiting until they're ready and all those guidelines are the exact way I'd describe what we've down with Wells. We do use the little potty which has been super helpful to throw in the car when we go to the playground or road trips for just in case. She does great in most public restrooms but sometimes a load flush + air hand dryers freak her out. We had her little potty on hand in the ikea parking lot which was a lifesaver.

    Go Sterls!!!!

  5. January 10, 2013 / 1:15 pm

    That's awesome! I do have a question – before he asked to go potty and you changed his diaper in the morning, was it soaked? Henry still wakes up with a soaked diaper each morning which means he's not holding throughout the night. I've heard a sign of being ready for potty training is that their nighttime diaper is almost dry. Thanks! xo

  6. January 10, 2013 / 1:15 pm

    Thanks for the tips! My little man is 2 1/2 but not interested yet. I too believe you should wait until they are ready or show interest. Glad it's going so smoothly for you! Yay for Sterling! 🙂

  7. January 10, 2013 / 1:24 pm

    Natalie, this post is seriously helpful to me. My little man is 22 months, and we have been stressing about training him because I am due with our second any day. We've been getting the idea that it is way too early, and your post just hammered it home for me. No more stress! He will do it when he's ready.

  8. January 10, 2013 / 1:51 pm

    Go Sterling! I love that he is so proud of himself. 🙂 Good job, Natalie & Matt!

  9. January 10, 2013 / 3:13 pm

    Totally agree with you on the waiting until they are older thing. My son was almost 3 when we started and he was pretty much trained in 3 days. I know it was because I waited until he was older. I knew I didn't want to spend months training him! We did little treats and stickers and a lot of praise.

  10. January 10, 2013 / 3:40 pm

    He is so adorable!! I have got to get my Gibbes using the potty!!! It is time, I just keep putting it off!!!!! Hope it will be as smooth as it was for Sterling!!!!

  11. January 10, 2013 / 4:07 pm

    This is SO nice to read…I will be bookmarking for the future. I know boys are a lot harder to potty train so it's reassuring to know that being patient and waiting a little longer is the key! 🙂

  12. January 10, 2013 / 5:23 pm

    I agree with you 100%! Great advice! I started too early with Wells and it was horrible! We ended up going back to diapers and 9 months later she picked it up on her own. I let Hunter decide when he was ready and it was so much easier. Way to go Sterling!

  13. January 10, 2013 / 8:12 pm

    What a cute BIG boy you have there! I total agree about waiting for them to be ready… I tried to start and my daughter wasn't quite ready. Love your blog. I am a new follower! BTW – I am equally as obsessed with The Bachelor. Stop over and check out my blog

  14. January 11, 2013 / 2:42 am

    You are so right on all accounts…it really takes them being ready and then potty training goes so much smoother! the pic of him at the end is priceless…such a proud big boy in his batman undies!

  15. January 11, 2013 / 9:03 pm

    We just starting doing #3. I appreciate the tips esp being a 1st time mom and feeling so clueless.
    Have a great weekend!

  16. January 12, 2013 / 2:52 am

    So happy for you and Sterling! We are right at this age with James too. I remember that our little guys are almost the same age- James in 3 in March! p.s. I linked to you in today's fashion post- love your outfits girlie! 🙂

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