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Potty-Training--How I succeeded with a 20mo old

Posted by Andrea/Admin on 6/5/2011
Around 18 mo old we started introducing my son, Xander to the potty. The first thing that was VERY important to our success was his potty seat. We had one that was too high for him to sit on by himself; once we switched to a potty that was low enough (and the pee guard was low too) he instantly wanted to use it. Independence is such an important part of this process! So first things first, get them their own potty that they can sit on without help. At first we would just take off his cloth diaper and have him sit on the potty (even if you don't cloth diaper, you should consider getting a few at least for this process so you are not spending a fortune on disposables!!). Sometimes we would read a book. The point of this step was to have him not be afraid of his potty--not to get him to go in it. Then if he would happen to pee we would make such a big deal out of it. Giving him tons of positive reinforcement. Luckily, Xander pooped every morning. So we could usually catch his "poop-face" and run him to his potty; lots more positive reinforcement. Once he was comfortable with his potty, we realized that he peed about every 35-45 minutes. So about 30 minutes after his last pee we would start asking him if he had to go potty or sometimes we would just put him on his potty about 35 min after his previous pee, and had him sit on it until he went. At this point, we started introducing our treats. Only being 18mo old he had not had much candy. So we bought a bag of M&M's (looking back we probably should have done yogurt melts so it was healthier). Every time he would pee on his potty we would give him one M&M and every time he pooped he got 2 M&M's. He LOVED that! At this point we are about a month into the process. I put his potty in the living room where we spent the majority of our day and (since it was NOV) I put a T-shirt and Babylegs on Xander--no diaper. I stressed the importance of peeing on his potty and not on the floor and, of course, kept reminding him every half-hour or so about going potty. We had very few accidents; maybe 6-10 total. We had hard wood floors, so it didn't matter! About two weeks later he finally started going on his potty without being reminded or asked. M&M's are still in play this whole time:) The next week was spent on getting him to wear underwear and not pee in them. Once he got that and would tell us when he had to potty, we felt confident enough to go on short errands without a diaper. Always planning on accidents (take a wet bag, 2-3 extra pairs of bottoms/underwear and something absorbent for under the baby in the car seat). By 20mos he was wearing underwear full-time and we definitely still kept the accident supplies handy! At this point, we also started discouraging accidents (negative reinforcement). This works for our son, maybe it doesn't for all children, but he HATES to disappoint! If you encourage potty training without forcing it to happen quickly I think you will have great success. Taking a baby to the restroom (especially when you are at the back of Target and have to run to the front) is not easy or convenient. So you must have patience. Don't give in to diapers because it makes your life easier. You will change lots of wet pants, wash a lot of sheets/blankets and have to make pit stops when it is very inconvenient. However, keep in mind that your child needs this. Potty training is HUGE for kids' development in so many ways. You shouldn't potty train for your benefit, potty-train for their benefit! I hope your experience with potty-training is positive and successful!
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