Everything You Need To Know About Early Potty Training

Go ahead and grab your Diet Coke and snack of choice, settle in, and lets get going - this is gonna be a long one!

I've been sharing our potty training journey over on Instagram for the past couple weeks and have been getting so many questions! I always get back to people on Instagram and share stuff in my stories but I think it's nice to have a fully detailed run down of everything here on the blog. Plus, maybe you're not quite ready to start right now, this will be a resource for you to revisit when the time does come.

Below I'll go through the most common questions I received and then at the end I'll share where we are now and how things have been going!

How did you know Avery was ready?
For probably a month or more we started noticing her diaper was rarely wet and we could hear when she did go that a lot was coming out at a time. Then about two weeks before we started potty training she started to let us know right before or as she was going in her diaper. This was the big sign that made me want to commit to potty training.

If you remember this post from Avery's 10 month old update, I shared that we had gotten a little potty for her. At the time I had no idea if it would speed up her potty training experience or not, but I can confidently say now (at 18 months) that is has. She had 8 months of intermittent potty use to get used to going on the potty, understanding the concept, etc. She even went through a little phase of being scared to sit on the potty, and I'm so grateful we got through all of that before it was time to start training for real.

After reading countless blog posts on Pinterest and Google, and living through my own experience, I can tell you THE most important part of potty training is that you AND your child are ready. I can not image the disaster it would be if you tried to commit to training on a whim, out of the blue. It is a huge undertaking (it sounds dramatic but it really is). Your child has to be physically and mentally there to begin and you have to be committed yourself because, trust me, after a day or two you are going to want to quit. But hang in there! I know you can do this!

What are all the signs of your child being ready to potty train?
- Long stretches with a dry diaper
- Waking up from naps dry
- Being able to sit still on the potty
- Telling you they need to go/are going

How do you start the process?
Aside from getting the used to a potty well in advance, once I was ready to start potty training for real I purchased/made sure I had a few things:
- Potty + extra(s) (we have the most basic little potty from Walmart (similar here), one at home, one at my moms, and one in my car)
- Toddler training underwear (we started with these to get her excited, but then bought whatever was cheapest to get a stock pile)
- Pull-ups (I purchased a small pack, you shouldn't really need many of them)
- Non-onesie outfits (gotta be able to get onto the potty quickly and easy! The first few days were spent in tee shirts and undies)
- Potty prizes (Avery loves balls so I found these at Target. Any time she said she had to potty and successfully did she earned one. She enjoyed getting to pick out a color each time.)

There are lots of methods for potty training out there, and we went with a modified version of the three day training method (Google it for more info, I'm here to share exactly what we did). Here's the basics:
- No more diapers except for nap(s) and nighttime
- Stay home as much as possible over the next several days and focus on potty training
- Wear training underwear (some people choose to go bare bottom at first but to me that just means you have another step when you need them to adjust to wearing underwear)
- Bring your child to the potty every 15 minutes
- Get them up from bed as soon as they wake up and put them on the potty

What was Day 1 like?
The first day was as tough as I thought it would be and I was dead tired at the end. As soon as she woke up for the day we went to the potty. Nothing happened (she had just gone in her diaper before I got her up). We went back every 15 minutes and nothing, for hours! Around 10 (2-ish hours after waking) she finally went pee on the potty, but not much. After that she had several small accidents in her underwear, only one time actually was enough to leak out but it was basically a morning spent in the bathroom.

For nap time she wore a diaper and upon waking was wet but it wasn't warm. We went straight to the potty and she went #1 and #2! Hooray! Prizes for everyone! At that point I had already realized we didn't need to try every 15 minutes, that was just going to be a lot of wasted time in the bathroom. So I went up to 30 minutes and she had no accidents until dinner time, she went while sitting in her high chair and told us "pee pee" after she had just gone. I think the distraction of dinner made her forget about telling us. After that she got a bath and then into a diaper for bed.

For the rest of the first week she had 1-2 accidents in her underwear, most were #2 which was surprising to me, but those were actually easier to clean up anyways lol. Based on everything I had read I was expecting 3, 4, 5+ accidents every day for the first few days. So I was really happy with how she did!

Accidents happen
Just want to add a little reminder (because I definitely needed it myself!) to try your hardest to stay calm. The first few days can be frustrating with the accidents and the sitting in the bathroom with nothing happening. But they will feed off your energy. When accidents happen, take them to the potty immediately and say "we need to go on the potty" and don't let it fluster you. Similarly, if they're freaking out and not wanting to sit on the potty, don't force it, just say "okay we'll try again in a few minutes" and go play. The last thing you want to do is make them hate the potty.

If they're really freaking out and just not ever wanting to sit on the potty, it may not be the right time for potty training. Keep working with introducing them to the potty until they're comfortable, then try again.

Why are you potty training at 18 months?
Every child is different and every parent is different, so it's your choice when to start! My child and I were both ready for potty training and she just happens to be 18 months old. There are certainly pros to diapers (they're stress free), but it's everyone's ultimate goal to get their kid out of them. You save a lot of money and hassle if your kid hates diaper changes, plus the amount of waste diapers produce is insane. There are also certain activities and programs that require kids to be potty trained, so those doors are now open for us.

Also you have to know that potty trained at 18 months looks different (I assume) than potty training at 3 years old. She's not going to take herself to the restroom, I have to go with her every time, which I don't mind. Now she is already running to the potty herself when she needs to go sometimes but I still help her to get on and off the potty. If you're going to start early, just make sure your expectations are set appropriately.

I'm also at home with Avery and able to potty train her at this age, I know that isn't feasible for everyone's situation. If I was still working, she would be potty trained whenever her daycare program started working with her. I think it has taken longer for her to get "fully" potty trained since she's so young, but I'm so glad we decided to do it and I couldn't be prouder of my girl!

What do you do for outings?
The first 3 days we did not leave the house except to go to my parent's house, which if you've been here a while you know is under 10 minutes away and they have the exact same potty for her as we do at home. Side note, but having my mom to help me out was major - getting to sit out of a couple potty runs a day saved me! I had Avery go potty right before getting in the car so I knew she was very unlikely to have an accident in the carseat. I also put a small towel for her to sit on just in case, but luckily it is still dry!

On the 4th day Avery had her gym class (which I was nervous about) but I refused to put her in diapers because to me that would ruin any progress we'd made. So this was the first time she wore the pull-ups. I told her they were special big girl undies so she wouldn't think it was a diaper, and told her to let me know if she needed to go potty.

My life motto is now "Do you need to go potty?" I say it about 50 times a day.

She had no accidents in her pull-up and went pee on the regular toilet at the gym after class. Since then she has been wearing a pull-up for long outings, but has yet to have an accident in them. For quick trips to the grocery store she just wears underwear. We've also had success just holding her on the regular toilets in stores when she says she needs to go, which is so awesome.

No matter where we're going, we always try to go before getting in the car. I mentioned before I have a third little potty in my car. I have a SUV so she can sit in it in the trunk, it's for emergencies or for when there isn't a convenient restroom. So far she's sat on it a few times but only used it once. Of course it was the one time we were in a parking garage so I couldn't dump it in some grass somewhere and had to use a paper cup for disposal - parenting is fun!

How is it going?
It is going really well! It's kind of amazing what my little girl can do!

I'm constantly in awe of my child! Something I try to do as a mom is push the boundaries of what she "should" be able to do (nothing extreme of course) but if she should be at point A, I give her the chance to reach point B. And she hasn't let me down yet. Give your little one the opportunity to go above and beyond and I'll bet they won't disappoint you! My biggest parenting pet peeve is when parents say their kid isn't capable of certain milestones because of their age. Age is just a number, even for toddlers! But I digress.

Anyways, on day 9 she had her first perfect day! Undies were dry all day! And for the rest of the second week, no accidents!

At the beginning of week 3, she had her first swim lesson, which if you've done swim lessons you know involves a lot of tears. They're trying something completely new! She had 2 accidents that day, it was a pretty rough morning so it's not too surprising that she regressed a little. But then the next day she was back to no accidents, and she also had a swim lesson that day. So I think it was just a little adjustment period, or maybe a simple coincidence.

Nighttime potty training
I would say Avery is officially day time potty trained at this point. I still put her in a diaper for her nap and bedtime, but most of her naps now she wakes up dry and goes on the potty right away. We've even had a few mornings where her diaper is dry! This is super surprising to me when it happens and I definitely don't expect it. I don't have any expectation of when she'll be out of diapers at bedtime, I won't make a change until she's waking up dry consistently.

Well that's all for now! If you've made it to the bottom here, give yourself a pat on the back. This was a long one but I wanted to include as much detail as possible for those of you who are like me and wish there was a step by step guide for everything. Let me know if there is anything else you want to know, I'm an open book! I so so so hope this was helpful and I'm sending you all the good potty training vibes!

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