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For the mamas of littles out there, I’d like to share with you what worked and what didn’t work for potty training our oldest. I have teamed up with PullUps Training Pants to share Our Potty #TrainTogether Story! I hope you find something helpful and If my tips and tricks help at least one person, that’s awesome! If you have your own tips and tricks for potty training, please leave them below in the comments! I still have one more cutie to potty train so I’d love to learn what other moms are doing!
Where We’re At in Our Potty Training Journey:
We started potty training when Andrew had just turned 3. After moving across the country, away from family, and making some big life changes, we made the parenting decision not to rush things. I know that some kids potty train much sooner, but I didn’t want the stress from our life changes to affect Andrew negatively. As far as I’m concerned, he hit all of his other milestones on time and many early. He began walking at 10 months old and could spell his own name before he turned two. At the end of the day, if he’s healthy, happy, and kind, that’s all I care about. So we took the “toddler-led” approach to potty training and I didn’t force it.
He had displayed signs of being ready. He was definitely aware of when he needed to go potty. So I started by asking him several times if he wanted to go potty. Sometimes he would say yes and go potty. Sometimes he would say no and go in his diaper. It just depended on his mood at the time. We tried big boy underwear at the beginning, but he wasn’t ready yet. So we decided PullUps Training Pants were the way to go.
Today, he is great about going potty about 90% of the time. He always tells us when he needs to go potty while we’re out and about, which I always thought would prove to be most difficult. We still use PullUps at night and also on the go. At home we try to use big boy underwear whenever possible, but if he prefers to wear PullUps Training Pants, we don’t object. My goal is to get him 100% potty trained and in big boy underwear around the clock by the end of summer. His little brother is starting to show an interest, so I’m hoping for a two for one special, but I won’t mind if it takes longer for Aidan, too.
I think Aidan having a big brother to learn from will help make the transition much easier for him. He always wants to be like his big brother and do what Andrew is doing. I also think that having gone through the process before from a parenting point of view will help us have an easier time as well. But then again, they both have their own unique personalities.
Give them Options:
Each child is different and I feel like a child should get to help choose what is within their comfort level whenever possible. I like to give my kids options and include them in decisions. Sometimes it’s as simple as picking out their clothes for the day but it really means a lot to them when they get to choose. We always offer the option of big boy underwear and PullUps Training Pants. We also let him pick out his own underwear when we purchased them, and we decide to get 2 different styles to see what worked best. He was SO excited to wear his big boy underwear with his favorite characters on them and that worked as a partial incentive to go potty on the toilet.
We wanted to give Andrew a few options for toilet devices. First, we had a potty chair with a removable bowl for easy cleaning. This was my favorite because it has a pee guard on the front that is helpful for little boys! We also use a toilet seat that sits on top of the regular toilet. We have two of each of these because again, options. Kids are very specific at this age. Sometimes a red cup or a blue cup can make or break their lunch. So with something like potty training that can be stressful, scary, and cause them to be nervous, the more options you can give, the easier it will be to determine what they feel comfortable with.
When kids are learning to use the potty, they are not yet able to “hold it” like adults are. This is why we thought it would make sense to make sure one upstairs bathroom and the downstairs bathroom each have a potty seat cover and a potty chair. The time it takes to wait for an adult to get out of the bathroom, or to run back upstairs from the basement could result in an accident. By being prepared with additional potty seats and chairs in multiple bathrooms, we made it easier for him to successfully reach the potty in time.
Make It Easy:
Another way we make it easy is by keeping a well-stocked “monkey box” in each of the bathrooms. It’s just a cute little bin we fill with PullUps. If there is an accident, we don’t have to leave him alone in the bathroom to go get a clean PullUp. We also like to use Cottonelle FreshCare Cleansing wipes. Transitioning from baby wipes to toilet paper is a big step. Sometimes things get messy, so the flushable wipes allow for a smooth transition. Sometimes I will keep a change of clothes and a pair of regular big boy underwear in one of the drawers or cupboards in the bathroom. I also keep cleaning and sanitizing wipes and paper towels under the sink to clean up any accidents. Potty training can be hard but taking a few steps to make things easier allows the experience to be better for both you and your little ones.
How to Handle Accidents:
First, remember we all have to learn things for the first time. Accidents are a normal part of the process. Planning ahead and keeping things as easy as possible will reduce the stress for both you and your kids. They may be nervous or embarrassed when an accident happens. Remind them that it’s okay, and clean it up with the supplies already stocked in your cupboards. Be sure they know you are not upset with them. Reassure them that they are doing a great job. Encourage them to try again next time. Consider prompting them every half hour or so to try to prevent another accident. If it happens, whatever you do, keep calm and guide them through the process. They are looking to you to learn about how to handle situations that are new for them. Handle the situation with love and care that your little ones deserve. Remember this is new to them, and you. Don’t be afraid to ask other moms what works for them, and try new ideas or take a break for little while if things aren’t going as planned. Eventually, it will all work out.
Look how far you’ve already come in your parenting journey! From getting your baby to sleep through the night to trying solid food. Each challenge is eventually met with accomplishment and then the next challenge begins.
Potty Training Incentives:
There are SO many incentives that can be used for potty training. From candy to sticker charts and other ideas. I know my kids love both but I wanted to come up with my own incentive system that didn’t use either. I decided against the candy for two reasons: 1) I don’t want my kids to expect candy each time they do something. This can create unrealistic expectations (thinking every time they do something they should be rewarded with candy) and potentially foster an unhealthy relationship with food. 2) Once they eat the candy, it’s gone.
I wanted to come up with something that would last, and I did!
I purchased a cheap plastic jar container and a giant variety bag of 250 bouncy balls. Each time Andrew successfully went potty, he earned one bouncy ball (for pee) or two bouncy balls (for poop). He was so excited to pick out the bouncy balls to add to his jar each time. As he continued having successful trips to the potty, he was able to see his jar fill with bouncy balls! This was not only providing him with a reward for each trip, but was allowing him to visualize his overall progress. The point of the jar was that he could choose a prize incentive (a toy, an outing, a treat, etc.) and once he filled up his jar, he would earn his big prize.
Once he definitely knew how to use the potty, we hit a little slump where he would pee in his PullUp because he “didn’t feel like going potty” and would have an accident but on purpose. We decided that we would have him remove a bouncy ball when he did this. Not for a real accident, ever, but for an on-purpose accident. This was not easy for me, but it did teach him the importance of doing things even when you don’t want to because it’s part of growing up. It was the first time I’ve had to do that as a parent and although I didn’t like it at first, it worked and he appreciated the lesson and became even more proud of the successful trips to the potty.
I love the bouncy ball and jar system and once we are done with this challenge I will likely use it for new things like chores or kindness.
You have to find what works for your family and your kids. Instant gratification is what many kids want. It’s definitely not easy for toddlers to wait so long to claim their reward. But if your kids can handle it, creating a system that builds on their progress is a great way for them to see what they can do as well! At the age of two, Andrew waited 2 hours in line at Disney World so he could meet Baymax. This was totally his own choice and we supported it. Even at a young age, kids really can learn the value of being patient and earning rewards through hard work. I’m incredibly proud at him for taking so much from this lesson!
The first time he filled his jar, we went to dinner to celebrate and let him pick out a dessert. He was so proud and we were so proud of him for his accomplishment. Each parenting challenge brings new opportunities for accomplishment. I cherish these moments and can’t believe how much my sweet little boys have grown up!
Potty Training Tools:
We have used two extra training tools that we’ve used so far. We have a cute Sesame Street book called Elmo is Too Big for Diapers. It’s a board book that easily explains the transition from diapers to going potty. We started reading that book with Andrew back when he was just barely two years old.
Next, there are several cute episodes of Daniel Tiger about potty training. He has a catchy little song that almost every parent of toddlers will get stuck in their head at some point: “If you have to go potty, STOP and go right away!” This was a cute little, catchy jingle that helps kids remember. It helped Andrew a lot and he would even sing it as he made his way to the bathroom!
Using characters to introduce the concept of potty training can help something new and complicated seem more relatable to them. When they see their favorite characters taking a pause on playtime to go potty, and then return to their toys, it lets them know that they can still play again after they go potty. “Flush and Wash and Be on Your Way!” This is the other little song in the show. It also helps remind them to wash their hands before they return to play with their toys!
Why We Choose PullUps Training Pants:
PullUps are great for potty training kids! They feature great designs and characters for both PullUps Training Pants for Boys and PullUps Training Pants for Girls. Andrew LOVES Lighting McQueen which is PERFECT because the PullUps Training Pants we’ve been using have Cars characters on them. They fit him well and don’t leak. The sides are soft and they Velcro apart! This is SUPER helpful for potty training for two reasons: 1) If you make frequent trips to the bathroom with your little ones, this allows you to reuse the PullUps when they are still dry which saves a TON of money! 2) Once your little one gets going on their on, it allows them to go potty all by themselves (while of course offering some guidance from afar). PullUps is a brand we know and have trusted for the past year. We’ve never had any issues and they work very well for overnights as well!
Choosing a Size of PullUps Training Pants:
I feel like they fit pretty true to size. When Andrew first started, he was wearing 18 months but the 2T seemed to fit him okay. Now that he wear’s 3T, they still fit. The stretchy sides allow the variation on size and keep the fit snug but comfortable. You can always look on the box to find the sizing chart, which is based on weight, to determine which size would be best to start out with.
Great Deals on PullUps and Cottonelle Flushable Wipes at Sam’s Club:
I prefer to shop in bulk which was great because Sam’s Club has great deals on jumbo boxes of Pullups and Cottonelle Flushable wipes. For the 2T-3T size pullups, we paid only $34.99 for a huge box of 124 2T-3T PullUps. The box came with a SUPER CUTE FREE Cars backpack inside that Andrew LOVED! It works great for carrying his own PullUps and Wipes on the go so he feels like a big boy! (The Girls’ PullUps Training Pants come with a Doc McStuffins backpack.) We also got a large box of 462 Cottonelle FreshCare Cleansing Wipes for only $14.83.
Sam’s Club currently has a special to make the deal even sweeter! When you two boxes of PullUps and/or one box of Cottonelle FreshCare wipes you can earn a $10 Sam’s Club gift card. Check out the deal here:
So ultimately, you save on buying bulk, and score a $10 gift card and FREE backpack in each box of PullUps! #MomWIN!
But wait…. there’s more!
ENTER to WIN $500 SWEEPSTAKES:
Pullups Training Pants and Sam’s Club have teamed up and are giving YOU a chance to WIN a $500 gift card.
If you don’t currently have a Sam’s Club membership, you can get one here. They have different options available and the savings on items in the store will more than pay for the membership!
What are YOUR best Potty Training Tips?
Share with me in the comments below!
Owner and operator of Paperclips & Pacis, a motherhood + lifestyle blog sharing all the best of #momlife. Wife to Drew, Mommy to Andrew (age 7), Aidan (age 5), and Avalynn (age 2). Lover of Disney World, office supplies, subscription boxes, and social media. Instagram: @paperclipsandpacis