I’m going to bring cloth diaper week to an end by talking about how I potty trained my 2 boys when they were under two years old. As cute as cloth diapers are, no one wants to be dealing with diapers any longer than they need to. Cloth-diapered little ones are said to be easier to potty train because them feeling the wetness every time they pee keeps them aware of the act, versus going in a disposable diaper and not paying much attention because they don’t really feel that wetness. I don’t know any actual statistics behind that but hey, something to keep in mind!
I’m no potty training expert, nor do I have all the answers. But I do find a lot of people asking me how on earth I potty trained my so kids so early and quickly (not to be confused with it being easy). Son #1 started on the potty at 10 months, was in underwear part time at 12 months, and full time around 17 months. I did the 3-day method at 17 months with son #2, he is now 18 months in underwear at all times except at night. He still tinkles a tiny bit if we don’t get him on the potty fast enough but actively tells us when he has to go. Every child is different but hopefully, I can help you with a couple of pointers and get those babies out of diapers when the time comes.
I want to preface these pointers by introducing you to something called Elimination Communication. I heard about it when my first son was 9 months. It’s all about learning the cues and signs that your baby gives when they have to go. I had no idea that babies could be “potty trained”. After researching E.C., I read a book called The Diaper-Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh and a lightbulb went on.
I thought “Wait, you mean to tell me I don’t have to deal with diapers until they are 2 or 3?!”. The book talks about how it is a natural instinct for babies not to eliminate on themselves, hence why babies always wait until you open their diaper to pee. They aren’t just doing that to drive you crazy. Babies are smart and don’t want to sit in their own waste. We train them to do that. We train them not to pee when we open their diaper and to eliminate in a diaper. We have them trained not to exercise any control over their elimination, to just go in a diaper, for around 2 years. Then all of a sudden we tell them to just stop. This is where we kick ourselves in the bum and create unnecessary frustration with both parent and child. People always think babies aren’t able to hold their pee and that it’s just stressful for them to potty train early. That’s a common misconception…
Which leads me to my first pointer:
Start as early as possible.
I put my first son on the potty starting at 10 months and my second starting at 9 months. I think this was a key factor in potty training them. They understood very early on what the toilet was for and got comfortable with it. And yes, at 9 months my son instantly understood what the toilet was for and kept his diaper dry for almost an entire day. Since he was so young it was easier to put him on a potty instead of the toilet but I used a potty with a lid that could double as a step stool. This way, he can use the “stool” to get on the toilet himself when he is big enough. It also makes the process easier to keep the potty in the living room close to him, and I like that I could close it when not in use.
When I first put son #1 on the potty he was looking at me like “lady, what are you doing?” I waited around 15-20 min after he drank some milk so I knew he would have to pee. He squirmed and whined, trying to hold his pee and wait for me to put a diaper on him. I didn’t let him stand up like he wanted, giving him no choice but to pee in the potty. When he finally peed my husband and I gave him so much praise. At that moment, my son realized what we were doing and took to it right away.
Choose which method and time is best for you.
Potty training was pretty experimental for me. I potty trained son #1 over the course of a few months, transitioning him from diapers, to pull-ups, to training underwear, then to regular underwear. The process was very gradual. But I still had to be able to run him to the potty the second he told me he had to go. I had the potty with a lid in the living area and a toilet seat handy in both bathrooms. I learned the hard way what happens when you aren’t close enough to the bathroom or when it’s already occupied. (Spoiler alert: puddles of pee and crying.)
With son #2, I didn’t want to go through the whole transition process and wanted to go straight to underwear. I chose to do the 3-day method with him. This required me to be almost literally glued to him. I had to stay within arms reach of him at all times so that the second he had to pee I could sit him on the potty or toilet.
One thing that is important to consider is that I am a stay-home-mom with no other obligations. I had/have the time to put them on the toilet as early as I did and to keep doing so every 20 minutes for a few days. The 3-Day Method was mama hell week for me. I couldn’t cook, clean, use the bathroom, etc….I’m gonna keep it real with you, potty training is hell any way you do it. You just have to ask yourself “Do I want to condense the process into 3-5 days and get it over with or do I want to stretch it out over a period of time?” Another thing to consider is which fits best for you. Doing the 3-Day Method might not be the best option for you if you aren’t able to take a chunk of days off from work and dedicate all of you time and attention to one thing.
No matter what method you use choose, nothing will work if you don’t stay consistent. Consistency is thee most important factor in potty training. Once you communicate to your child that they are supposed to go on the on the toilet you have to stay with that if you want to successfully potty train them. This is why it’s usually more helpful to go straight to underwear. As soon as I made the decision to put son #1 in underwear full-time everything fell into place. Using pull-ups or going back to diapers, even just temporarily, can send inconsistent messages. If you are concerned about being outside of the house in underwear and not being near a bathroom buy the Potette Plus (click the photo below to find it on Amazon). It’s a little travel potty that I keep in my car. TOTAL LIFESAVER. Also, consistently staying with a schedule is important. Putting them on the potty every 30 minutes, right before and after going to sleep, waking up at night to pee, etc.
Use sign language.
Since I potty trained before my boys could even say real words, I had to give them a way to effectively communicate when they had to go. I taught them to sign. You can use official sign language signs for potty, pee pee, poop, etc, or you can just make up your own signs. I always thought that I wanted to teach them signs that were “universal” and even people who didn’t know sign language would be able to understand. So I taught them to pat their crotch when they had to pee and to pat their bum when they had to poop.
I also taught them to swipe their hands in opposite directions (like an umpire saying “safe”) for “all done”. I say the words and do the sign every time they are going, when I ask them if they have to go, and while I am praising them after they went.
Use their love language as a reward.
I know a lot of people like to use treats as an incentive but I prefer to give non-tangible incentives when potty training. Son #1 loves to get praise and recognition. So telling him “awesome job!”, giving him high fives, and letting him know that he made me proud was great incentive enough for him. Son #2 can’t get enough affection. So when he goes on the toilet I give him lots of hugs, kisses, and cuddles for doing such a good job. When they have accidents I try to calmly but firmly let them know that it was a no-no. That’s about it. I try not to give the accidents much attention so that they don’t use “accidents” as a way of getting attention when I’m too busy to give it.
You want to keep the process as less frustrating as possible. Keep your patience, try not to yell or get frustrated. Just love on your little one and guide them to do what you want them to do. Remember that this is a major adjustment for them. It’s ok if your 3-Day Method turns into 5 or 6 days (like it did with me). Just breathe and tell yourself “This won’t last forever.” You got this, mama! 💪🏾 ✨
Have you tried potty training yet? Jump in the comments below if you have any questions or want to share any pointers that helped you! I’d love to hear about your potty training experience!
Best of luck to you and yours from me and mine,