Our Potty Training Adventure

At the start of February, Dan and I decided that it was time to plant the potty training seed within Mila. Mila turned two last December and has shown major interest in using the toilet. She loved to sit on it and pretend she was going to the bathroom. Each time before getting her into the bath we’d have her sit on the toilet and it became a favorite activity for her. Mila also at that point could talk with us fairly well. She knew the words; pee, poop, toilet, bathroom, diaper and understood what they were and what they did. I think Dan and I both had faith and hope in her (and in us) which is very much needed when beginning the potty training adventure. We also knew that it wouldn’t happen over night and if we wanted to start, there would be no looking back. 

I think most of you know we partnered with Pull-Ups this year to help with our potty training experience. I’ve shared twice now on social media how we’ve incorporated Pull-Ups and their incredible resources into our potty training … here + here. We actually love Pull-Ups product but their supportive online resources for both parents and children is where the magic really is. I was on their site nearly daily at the start of our potty training experience. Mila and I visit it together now at least once a week. I think the best message it brings to life is the sheer fact that potty training isn’t just an experience for children, but one for the parents as well. Pull-Ups does a fantastic job helping both parties (parent + child) for a successful journey. 

I do want to mention that this blog post is not sponsored by Pull-Ups. Though they have played an important part in our potty training. I do however create some sponsored posts for them on social media which is just an extension of our potty training story and my want to share our experience. So you'll see us post about them a few times more sharing exactly why we love them. I feel it is necessary to mention that this entire blog post is not sponsored by any of the products mentioned or any of the links I share. I just wanted to share what has worked for us. My hope is that you take our story and apply what works to your own and toss the rest. Every one potty trains differently and there is no right or wrong way. I am not a professional nor a doctor or anything of that nature. I am just a mom who has potty trained two of her children the same way successfully and this is how … 

Step One - Start The Potty Conversation 

As I mentioned above, Dan and I found Mila ready to start the potty training conversation back in February. Together we ditched all her diapers and replaced them with Pull-Ups. Mila was excited about her new underpants situation and having her wear Pull-Ups was a great way to teach her the ins and outs of what using the potty meant. Mila wore the Pull Ups 24/7 and learned that you had to pull them up and down when going to use the toilet. And because the Pull Ups have a slight difference in absorbency than diapers, Mila was able to feel wetness more prominently. We’d take her to use the toilet through out the day (even though she was still going in her Pull Up). After a few weeks she got the concept of ‘going to the bathroom’ though she wasn’t telling me when she had to go. If that makes sense? Right, she understood what the bathroom was and how people go potty on the toilet. But she wasn’t doing it herself. We’d say things like;

“Mila, lets try and go potty on the toilet.”

“Uh oh! You peed in your Pull Up. Tell Mommy and Daddy you have to pee and we’ll take you to the toilet”

“Lets try and go potty before we go!”

In turn Mila would say; 

“No, I don’t have to go potty.”

“Uh oh! I went potty.”

“Ok Mama” 

During this time Mila would pee in the toilet every so often, the majority of the time she would still go in her Pull-Up. When she did pee in the toilet we cheered for her, she added a sticker to her sticker chart and we gave her one mini gummy worm. We love the sticker charts on the Pull-Ups website. You can print them out and have your child decorate them before using it. Having Mila color her own sticker chart was a highlight and it made the experience of using it more exciting. You can find the sticker charts here. While Mila was using the Pull-Ups full time we did a bit of traveling. Mila used them on our flight to Costa Rica and while we were on vacation there. The topic of going potty on the toilet continued. Which brings me to the one Golden Rule of potty training for us. Be Consistent. Being consistent is huge. It allowed Mila to really nail down the concept of potty training and understand that once she was 100% in underwear there was no other option other than to use the toilet. 

After a month and a half of consistently using Pull-Ups, showing Mila how to use the toilet and having her sit on the toilet to “try and go potty” Dan and I decided to take the plunge into the next phase of our potty training. Mind you we’d be putting Mila on the toilet daily and the conversation of using the toilet to go potty was very apparent. We felt after a month and half Mila was ready to take the next steps into “big girl-hood”. 

Step Two - Cold Turkey & No Turning Back

Before moving forward to our next step, I had to wait for a break in our calendar. I cleared my schedule and dedicated an entire week to hard core potty training. I prepared my refrigerator with juice and carbonated water. I bought fun new fruit snacks, mini lollipops, jelly beans, ring pops and put them all in a basket I dubbed the “Treasure Chest”. I also made coconut water popsicles. All of these were in efforts to; 

A. keep Mila drinking liquids so she could understand the feeling of having to go pee 

B. to have a fun assortment  of rewards to choose from when she went potty on the toilet. 

At this point we stocked her drawer with new underwear that she picked out herself. Which I recommend because it helped Mila get more excited about this new transition. She was excited about the Pull Ups and the characters featured on them and now she was excited about the underwear and the characters featured on them. The same but different, you know? We stopped using Pull-Ups all together and moving forward Mila was to be in underwear 24/7. There was no looking back now. At the start, Mila had a little difficulty, she would complain about having to go potty on the toilet. Mila would have a ton of accidents and even though she knew the concept of going potty on the toilet … she tested the situation and my reaction to her peeing in her underwear (or peeing on my bed, on my ottoman, behind the fig tree planter in our living room) you get the idea. She went pee in the toilet but also tested out going pee in other places. It was like we were having a fencing match ... she would make a move and I would react the same. Every. Single. Time. As to not confuse her and to set in stone that I make the rules. And the rule is you go potty on the toilet. I felt that if I had caved in and said “Ok! You can wear Pull-Ups at night or when we go out for errands and underwear just at home” then she would rely on that and do her business in those rather than in the toilet. So the battle began and I won. Well we both won because now Mila uses the toilet when she has to go potty with happiness and ease. 

The first five days are the hardest. I had Mila wear a shirt and just underwear only. We started the day “going potty on the toilet” which was just having Mila sit on the toilet in the morning. I’d say things like; 

“Ok, now when you have to go pee or poop you do it in the toilet.”

“Let Mommy know when you have to go pee or poop!”

“Every time you go pee or poop on the toilet you can put a sticker on your chart and choose a reward from the Treasure Chest!”

Then I set a timer for fifteen minutes. Every fifteen minutes I would take Mila to go to the bathroom. At first she would be reluctant and cry that she didn’t have to go. I’d either sit on the stool listening to her quietly or walk out of the bathroom and let her have her moment. She eventually went pee on the toilet. Which Dan and I both met with wild praise and a ton of “Mila! We are so proud of you!” After the first 2-3 days we extended the timer to 30 minutes and kept repeating “Mila, make sure you let Mommy and Daddy know when you have to go potty!” To which she responded with "Ok Momma." I think we said this every 5-10 minutes and even to this day we ask her about 2-3 times an hour and she always says "Ok Momma." 

By staying home I was able to really learn Mila’s “need to pee” actions. I could tell when she had to go pee and I knew around 2-4pm was when the urge for number two would hit. Anytime Mila had an accident I would kindly remind her “Mila, you need to tell Mommy or Daddy when you have to go pee.” “You do not go pee anywhere except on the toilet.” “Do you pee or poop on the carpet or in your pants? No. Do you do pee or poop in the toilet? Yes!” Mila went number two twice on the carpet. We let Mila know we were disappointed, but we also made it clear that it was ok to have accidents. We just continued to reinforce the act of doing her business on the toilet and after four days it started to stick. On the fourth day she went number two on the toilet and so far (its been nearly two weeks) she continues to go both number one and two on the toilet. I did increase her fiber a bit more with added spinach in her smoothies and giving her dates and raisins for snacks in hopes of making going number two easier. The coconut water popsicles also helped with that too. 

Being consistent with setting the timer and taking Mila to the bathroom often paid off. Also, letting her complain about going potty and staying quiet when she did so. Not engaging with her when she threw a fit. Staying calm when she had accidents all over my house. Staying positive. It all added up to success. It kept Mila calm and overall happy through out the experience. It also drove home the fact that this was life now, going potty on the toilet is never going to go away no matter what. 

Some things that helped during this phase - For us, we use the Prince Lionheart toilet seat. We have one for at home and one for travel. It sits on top of the toilet seat so Mila feels comfortable. It is also easy to clean. We don’t use a mini potty or a traveling potty. This is just what works for us. We also visit the Pull-Ups website so Mila can chat with her favorite Disney characters. This feature is so cute and it acts as if they are calling Mila to congratulate her and keep her positive during her journey. The Pull-Ups website also has really fun games you can play which is helpful when staying home for so many days in a row. The Pull-Ups website has been a great supportive resource for us and continues to be!

I have been sharing a bit of our experience on Instagram. And in turn I’ve been getting a lot of questions about potty training her at night in tandem with the day. A few were confused as to why we did daytime potty training and night time potty training at the same time. For us it seemed easier to knock them both out together. I didn’t want to confuse Mila with being strict about using the toilet during the day and then letting her go pee in her pants at nighttime. I knew it would be hard work for me in terms of cleaning up over night messes. But I was prepared and frankly Mila benefited from it. She has had two night time accidents in almost two weeks, which to me is pretty great. Here are some ground rules we made to make night time potty training as easy as possible;

1. Mila goes to bed at 7:30pm every night. We have dinner around 5/5:30pm. After 5:30pm Mila is to have no more liquids. So for nearly two hours she doesn’t drink anything prior to bed. This has been hard because with out fail Mila always asks for water and it breaks my heart to not give in. But it helps limit night time accidents. Also she drinks so much during the day, we aren’t depriving her or making her dehydrated. Until she gets the hang of waking up when she has to pee, we’ll stick to this rule. 

2. We make Mila go potty before bed. This might seem like a no brainer. Sometimes she goes and sometimes she doesn’t, but going potty before bed has become routine. We also take her to go potty first thing when she wakes up. This way she can get the idea that you go potty in the toilet not in your bed.

3. We transitioned her into a toddler bed so she can get up when she has to go potty at night. (which she hasn’t done yet) We use this sleep rail. Fortunately with Mila, we haven’t had an issue with her getting out of bed since having her in a toddler bed. A few of you were asking if that was a problem and how to get children to stay in their bed once you put them down for the night. I think being consistent is key and staying calm when walking them back to their bed. Explaining to them that this is the new norm and you aren’t to get out of bed unless you have to use the bathroom or until it is morning. I know a few of my friends use an alarm clock. So you’d set the alarm and tell your children that once they hear the alarm they can then get out of bed. I always think children love to test you and see what they can get away with. I see that in my kids almost daily. The key is to follow through with the rules you’ve set in place. It sucks when they cry and complain and make a scene. But when you stick to your rules it sends a direct message to them and their learning brain that “Momma isn’t here to play around and what she says, goes!” If you cave into them and their reactions then they take note and will continue to act out in hopes of getting what they want. (That is just my opinion.)

4. To make my life easier with night time potty training, I line Mila’s bed with these pee pads. We also have a mattress protector on her mattress. Be prepared to do a ton of laundry. But also know (and have faith in your child) that they will grasp the concept within time. You got this! 

Step Three - Practice Makes Perfect

You know when parents say “I potty trained my kid in 3 days!” and it leaves you feeling so defeated? Just know that when they say that, it likely means they potty trained their child in three days, but are still dealing with a few accidents during the day and at night time. There may be a small % of children who grasp the entire concept daytime and nighttime within three days and Hey! Congrats to them! But for most, potty training is a journey that takes a month or more. Though Mila is considered potty trained she still needs my help, she still needs me to remind her to go potty and she still has a few accidents in her bed at night. She hasn't had an accident while out and about, but I'm sure she might. She is learning. She is learning this new potty on the toilet life and with learning comes some learning curves. So my last step is practice. We now go run errands and go about our daily life. But we bring our toilet seat with us, we go potty before we leave, we go potty while we are out and I am prepared with extra outfits and undies, hand sanitizer etc. My guess is that Mila will have it fully down pat in a few months and by the end of the year she will be able to go pee by herself and then call me to come wipe her after she goes number two. “Mom! I’m done!” Then comes learning how to wipe, remembering to flush and wash your hands. You guys, it is a journey! 

Some have messaged me telling me that Mila is too young. Or telling me I should wait until she is three so it goes by faster with less accidents etc. However, I have potty trained both my children at the ripe old age of 2 and 3 months and it has worked for us. Again, everyone potty trains differently and there truly is no right or wrong way! In addition all parents develop their own tips and tricks for making their experience easier. Take what you will and apply it where you need it, toss the rest and go for it. You know your child best and you know what you are capable of when it comes to bodily fluids ;) Stay Calm, Stay Positive, You got this!

Photos by Lily Ro Photography for our partnership with Pull-Ups (Again, this specific blog post is not sponsored)