Thursday, October 11, 2012

Potty Training

Warning:  This post is filled with "TMI" statements.

I've had some questions about how we potty trained Alessandra so quickly, and the answer is - it wasn't quick.  It took almost 18 months.

Birth - 6 months:
That's right we started potty training Alessandra when she was just a couple weeks old when we put her in her first cloth diaper.

  • I truly believe that cloth diapers help babies potty train sooner.  It's simple - they can feel when they are wet.  They let you know that they're wet so that you put them in a dry diaper.  And they quickly learn that being dry is more comfortable than being wet.

Jon and I tend to be an open door family.  We don't make a big fuss about making sure the doors are closed even when using the restroom.  That means Alessandra has seen Jon and I use the bathroom  since she was born.

Surprise - Surprise, Jon and I are talkers.  Which means we have talked to Alessandra about everything (including potty talk) since she was born.  We told her when we needed to go, if she was with us we told her what we were doing, when we were done we told her what we just did.  Going to the bathroom has been something she has known about since day one.

7 - 10 months:
When Alessandra started on solid food she didn't like pooing in her diaper.  It was too much work and uncomfortable.  So, when she started pooping she started fussing.  What did I do - I opened up her diaper and rubbed her little belly.  Well, then I realized if I'm going to take off her diaper for her to poo then why don't I take off her diaper and put her on the potty so I don't have to clean up the poop.  So - that's what I did.  She was happy and I was happy.

11 - 13 months:
Alessandra decided it wasn't a big deal to poop in her diaper anymore and she started doing it without a big fuss.  I didn't stress - I didn't feel like we were taking a step back this was a part of her process.

12 - 15 months:
With Alessandra's increased mobility she was able to get around the house easily on her own.  Which led to her "telling" me that she needed to go potty.  She would toddle into the bathroom and bang on the toilet lid and say "poop - poop"  I went along with it and played her potty game.  I'd strip her down and put her on.  Sometimes she'd do something - sometimes she wouldn't. It was a game.  It was like when we played with her dolls or other toys.

When I would go to change her diaper after meal time or nap time I was finding that she was often dry.  On those occasions I would march her into the bathroom and put her on the potty.  If she didn't do anything right away I would "encourage" her to pee by making the pee "psssssss" sound.  Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't.  Once again - I didn't stress.  She was learning what the potty is for.  And for crying out loud she was only a year old, she didn't need to be potty trained yet.

16 months:
Alessandra started "telling" me more often than not that she needed to go potty and more diapers were dry than wet.  So I decided it was time to start - officially - potty training.  We spent a week in the house.  I rolled up all of the rugs.  Put changing pads down on the furniture or under her for nap time.  And Alessandra was naked or bottomless.  We did use food treats as rewards for when she 1. told us 2. put something in the potty and 3. was still dry.  I know this is a big debate with parents but it worked for us.  So we did it.  (We used mini Smarties - for all of you American's think mini M&M's.  So they are tiny little chocolate treats.)

After the week was over we resumed our normal life.

A day in the life of potty training Alessandra looked like this if we were home:

  • wake up  - go potty
  • eat breakfast - go potty 
  • play - go potty
  • nap - go potty
  • eat lunch - go potty
  • play - go potty
  • snack - go potty
  • play - go potty
  • eat dinner
  • get ready for bed - go potty
The only way I changed her schedule when going out was: 
  • put pants on Alessandra
  • go potty before we left the house
  • go potty as soon as we got where we were going
  • go potty before we left
  • go potty as soon as we got home
  • take off Alessandra's pants
  • resume above schedule
17 months - now
Alessandra was introduced to panties.  It took this long because I couldn't find any that would fit her here in Germany.  She still wears pull ups for nap time (when I remember) and bed time.  Alessandra has had good times - like when she went a fully week without a single accident or wet pull up.  And bad times - like the day she didn't pee in the potty once (so frustrating and it was this past Tuesday).

When she is having an "off" day I just resort back to the good ole days of potty training and strip her down and then have her "help" me clean up the mess if she has one.  

So that's that.  She still has accidents. I still have to bring changes of clothes when we go out.  But, for the most part she's dry.  The norm for her is to go pee and poop in the potty.  And every once in a while I have to remind myself that she's not even two yet and has been out of diapers for 5 months now.  So she's doing pretty well.

If you have any specific questions feel free to ask.



  1. Charmian, you have inspired me :). TOday Heidi made her first pop in the toilet :). I hope sometime near in the future she is fully train. I guess it was time as Benjamin was a master, fully potty train at 1 with a few accidents and breaks from the potty. So he was really early. Wish me luck and thanks for posting your experience.