Potty Training Tips :: I Don’t Like Cold Turkey!!


The Internet is overloaded with potty training tricks and tools. All I can say is this: this is what worked for us, and most of what I used to potty train our child came directly from other mothers’ advice … so I figured I’d pass it along to all my BMB friends! First, let me preface this with a few facts: (1) I’m the world’s biggest germaphobe, (2) I’ve dreaded potty training my children since I was in college (long before I met my husband, much less had kids!), and (3) my child is one of the most strong-willed kids you’ll ever meet. Case in point: when it was time for her to transition to drinking milk out of a sippy cup (as opposed to a bottle) at 12 months, she refused to drink anything for a week. A WEEK. The pediatrician said to go cold turkey, so we did. And she stood her ground. She was constipated, fussy, and inconsolable for an entire week. And that’s just one example. She’s going to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and how she wants to do it.

So, of course, I stressed. I stressed way too long about potty training! One of my friends told me about the cold turkey potty training method (throwing away all diapers and letting your kids have accidents all over the house until they’re suddenly potty trained). Hearing that stressed me out even more. I thought, “There’s no way my germaphobe self can handle this method, especially with a strong-willed toddler!” So I disregarded my friend’s advice and thought we’d try disposable diaper-underwear for awhile. That didn’t work either, because my child learns by experience, and she needed to experience the wetness to ever get trained.

Long story short, my husband had a long Christmas break, so we thought we’d give the cold turkey thing a try. Our expectations were pretty low, but we kept praying and forged ahead. A few power struggles and quite a few accidents later, she was potty trained by the middle of the second day. Jaw. Drop. Seriously. My husband and I looked at each other like, “Who is this child??!” 

Here’s what I learned, for whatever it’s worth ::

  • Pick two to three consecutive days that you can devote your FULL attention to the child being potty trained. If there are older or younger siblings in the home, have your spouse, relative, or friend tend to them as the potty trainee needs your FULL attention. Did I mention your child will need your FULL attention?! 😉 When your child starts “going,” you’ll need to be right there to pick her (or him) up mid-stream and take her to the toilet (over and over again until the process finally clicks). It happens so fast (and so often that first day or two), that we eventually set up waterproof pads in the hallway outside the bathroom, and turned on cartoons on the tablet as we waited for more “accidents.” My child relished having my full attention — we did puzzles, painted, colored, played — and she didn’t have to share me with anyone for awhile.
  • Ceremonially throw away the diapers so your child sees there’s no going back!Potty Training - Fun Sticker Chart to Celebrate Successes
  • Stock up on a couple packs of underwear with a character your child likes and place them on him or her right after the diaper ceremony.
  • Drink lots of juice and water, then just play and wait!
  • Put down lots of disposable waterproof pads (as I mentioned earlier). I had these on every chair, the sofa, the rug, the hallway — everywhere!
  • Make a fun poster and let your child fill it up with stickers after each potty success. We also gave one mini M&M after each success. The sugar really adds up with all their extra liquid intake, so you’ll want to keep the “sugar rewards” (and hyperactivity) as contained as possible!
  • Exchange your current toilet seat for this. Best. Invention. Ever. Seriously — why didn’t I think of this?!

It’s crazy, but something eventually clicks. {Most} kids don’t like feeling wet or dirty. And there’s a difference between them feeling wet and dirty in a diaper than being wet and dirty in their underwear. Sometimes it takes a full three or so days, but apparently it’s pretty common for it to just take the first day or two. I was ready to throw in the towel mid-morning of Day 2, but then something just clicked. So no matter how tempting it is, do not give up! Push through to the third or fourth day, if needed. And most importantly, just remember that every family has a different method and different advice for what worked for THEM, and this is just what worked for us.

A few of my favorite things ::

Here are three ABSOLUTE lifesavers for when you’re away from your house: these little disposable seat covers come individually wrapped (easy to throw in your purse, wallet or diaper bag) and are fabulous for keeping little legs and feet from dangling up against a public potty (remember, I’m a germaphobe and this is where my mind goes)!! These fold-up potties can go wherever you go (trunk of your car, stroller, diaper bag), and they come with disposable plastic liners that you simply take off and throw away once your child goes to the bathroom in it. We’ve even used it in a parking lot in the trunk of our car. I cannot say enough good things about this AMAZING invention!! (You can thank me later!) Finally, check out the app SitOrSquat. This was a necessity when I was pregnant, and it can come in handy when traveling with a toddler!

Have you conquered the potty-training hurdle yet? Share your tips below!


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After graduating from college, Julie worked for ten years as a paralegal and as a medical software programmer before becoming a SAHM to her and her husband's two children. Life is crazy for her these days, but a lot of Jesus and a little exercise and painting keeps her sane! When she's not editing for Birmingham Mom Collective, you can find Julie illustrating wedding gowns and heirloom keepsakes--check out her Instagram page @bridal_illustration_by_julie for more information!