There are tons of books out there on potty training, and I haven't read any of them. I've read tons of articles and heard personal accounts, so I wasn't totally clueless. If you google "how to know your toddler is ready for potty training" you will find a ton of physical, behavioral, and cognitive signs. Here's how I decided we were ready. (1) She always told me when she was about to pee or poo in her diaper (2) She was fascinated with us using the toilet (3) She hates having diapers changed and would rather go without diapers (4) She could keep a dry diaper for long periods of time. Those were the major ones. So I decided this little face was ready to say goodbye to diapers. Or, at least I hoped.
We had been having Riley try and sit on the potty for quite a while (like, a few months). Totally casually, just asking if she wanted to use the potty, if she said yes, great, if she said no, we didn't push it. She peed on it a couple times, and that was pretty much it. This past week, I told her over and over that on Saturday she was going to say goodbye to diapers and she would get to use the potty! How exciting! Yay! Just like Mommy and Daddy! That way it wasn't a huge shock to her when all of a sudden her diapers were gone.
A potty would be a good start. Some people disagree with the use of the little potty, and think it's best to go straight to the toilet. That's fine if that works for you, but I had a feeling it would not work for us. But we did buy a little potty seat to put on the toilet in addition to the little potty so that she would be okay with using both. The potty we have is the Fisher Price Royal Stepstool potty. One awesome feature of this potty is that when she pees in it, it plays music. That way you don't have to be sitting there trying to look in the little bowl the whole time to see if she actually peed so that you can praise her! Other things we had ready: sticker chart for sitting on the potty and rewards for actually using the potty. People debate whether kids this young can understand the concept of a sticker chart, and I wasn't totally sure if Riley would get it (especially since stickers are not really special treats to her since she plays with them all the time), but we thought we'd give it a go anyway. Also, some people disagree with giving treats as rewards for using the potty, but I knew Riley would respond well to it and I have no problem with it. We always couple a physical reward (in this case a marshmallow) with lots of praise and encouragement. Also, we made sure to keep her rewards (marshmallows) in a clear jar right near her potty so that she could see them.
Now you're ready to go. So, what's the game plan???
Basically, plan to spend a few days hanging out at home, staying near the potty (which we brought out into our lounge where spend the most time), and asking your toddler a million times if they need to go pee or poo on the potty. We decided to have Riley be completely naked from the waist down- no underwear. The reason was, while she is able to get her underwear on and off by herself, it takes her time, and she gets MAD if you try to help her. She doesn't have the luxury of time when potty training and she realizes she needs to use the potty, and I didn't want her underwear to be the cause of any accidents. Also, I've read that sometimes kids think underwear are similar to diapers at first and will treat them as such. So to sum it up- naked toddler, hanging out by the potty, drinking lots of liquids, sitting on the potty as much as possible. We decided we would give Riley a sticker for her sticker chart every time she sat on the potty. When she filled it up, she got 1 marshmallow. If she peed on the potty, she got three marshmallows.
We woke up bright and early and reminded Riley that today she was getting to say bye to diapers and use the potty, yaaaay! She had no problem having her (wet) diaper taken off (at 6am) and not having to put a new one on. She sat on the potty, but didn't actually use it. No biggie. We went about our normal morning, just asking her constantly if she needed to go pee pee on the potty. If she said no, that was fine, but if she hadn't sat on the potty in a while, we would get her to sit down by letting her watch a TV show or a Ri Ri video.
6am take diaper off
7:30 am pee on potty (was sitting on the potty watching a video, and then she peed- hooray!)
8:50 am pee on floor: her reaction was "uh oh pee pee on the floor" to which I said "that's right riley, pee pee goes on the potty" there was no reprimanding, no making her feel guilty, just a reminder that she needs to use the potty.
9:40 pee on potty
11:10 outing- leave for swimming. Now, I don't recommend going on an outing on the first day. BUT, Riley loves swimming, and we didn't want to make her miss it, so we went for it. Mark took her to swimming (5 min car ride away) in a swim diaper, and after swimming she came home in no diaper. She did not pee before, who knows if she peed in the pool, and she peed a little bit in her car seat on the way home.
12:30 pee on potty This one was cool because she said "no pee on the floor" and then went to the potty and peed on the potty. So she recognized she was about to go, held it, and went on the potty.
1-3:15 nap in pull-up. We went with pull-ups rather than diapers just so it seemed a little more like she was wearing a form of underwear, something she doesn't usually wear for naps. I was hoping this owuld encourage her to try and stay dry, and she woke up with a dry pull-up!
3:20 pee in pull-up. She woke up a little out of sorts, and was upset and needed extra cuddles, so I didn't pull her pull-up off and stick her on the potty right away. As a result she peed in her pull-up.
This is when things got crazy... Mark had a soccer game so he was out, and so I was home by myself with two babies in the evening. Riley required a lot of attention and encouragement, but Jackson was due to be in bed and was starting to lose it, so I tried my best to look after Riley and also do Jackson's bedtime routine and get him to sleep. Well, I failed. I was walking Jackson around in the hallway (rather than rocking him in his room) and Riley stood up and said "uh oh, pee pee on the floor."
5:40 pee on the floor Jackson was almost asleep, Mark was due home in a few minutes, aaaaand Riley had peed on the floor, and was now running around the house. I went to go put Jackson in bed, meanwhile Mark came home and reported that Riley had peed on the couch, a few pillows, the floor, on the ipad.... holy cow. A mess. But I think we take the blame for that one, as Riley really needed our help and we weren't fully available to her. That's the trickiest part about this intensive potty training when you have also have a baby to look after!
7:15 pee on potty Once things settled down and we were able to be with her, she peed on the potty again before bed. And that was the end of day one of potty training. Stay tuned for day 2 and 3...