I’m happy to share that we are finally potty trained.  We didn’t achieve this over a weekend or by following a book- it took us a few months but we managed to get rid of diapers and get to preschool.  After a bit of a bumpy start I reached out to other moms for some tips and got so many great ideas that really helped us.  Overall it took us a little under a week before we left the house without a diaper but months before we stopped having little accidents and I wanted to share what we learned along the way.
 
We started the potty training when my son was 2 years and 4 months old.  I think this is on the earlier side but I thought he could understand the concept and wanted to see if we could make some progress.  Our first step was to ask him to use the potty after his tub and that turned out to be an instant success- until the novelty of us clapping and praising him wore off.  After about a week of that anytime we mentioned the potty he wanted no part of it.  So I decided he wasn’t quite ready and gave the potty talk a rest for a few short weeks.  I have heard that if you push a kid too early it can backfire so I didn’t want to push it. 
 
When we were ready to try again I had all the tips other moms had given me in my back pocket and I think that is why we were successfull this second time around.  Here are my tips:

  • We had a potty ready to go upstairs and downstairs in plain sight.  In the beginning I think it’s beneficial if your toddler can see the potty so having it in the play room, or in my case the living room, helped as a reminder. 
  • We got fun boxer briefs to try and get him excited about skipping the diapers for the day. 
  • He went diaperless (and/or pantless) for the first couple days.  It’s good to start your training on a day or weekend that you don’t have plans so your toddler can hang out like this.  Many moms said summer time is an easier time to pursue potty training but we had a baby due in weeks and I didn’t want to be changing 3 kids’ diapers everyday, so we started in the winter.
  • Have cloths and clorox wipes to wipe up an accident ready to go and try to keep your child away from rugs and couches.  He or she is going to have an accident and learn what happens when they don’t have their diaper on.  I think this is what caught Cam’s attention- he did not like wetting his pants and quickly learned he’d prefer to use the potty.
  • I had my rewards for using the potty ready to go.  I used M&Ms, then switched to fruit snacks (although Cam’s dentist told us to skip the sticky treats and go with chocolate).  One of the best ideas I got was putting money in a piggy bank everytime he used the potty. I didn’t think he would care about this but I swear he was more excited about this than candy!  Other mom’s gave little toy cars and bigger prizes in a bucket that they could choose from when they used the potty.  A lot of people told me they used rewards charts and I had planned to use that if the treats and money in the piggy bank lost their effect.  I found this Paw Patrol and Potty Princess reward chart on Amazon that I thought were so cute.  If I could go back and do it over again I would probably start with the chart and use candy as my second line bribe/reward.  
  • We used frequent reminders to use the potty. In those first few days we would have him sit every 30 minutes. This is where things got tricky for us because he would often refuse to go try so I used my bag of tricks given to me by other moms.  One night we had a race to the potty to see who could get there first and another time I put cheerios in the potty and told him to try and hit the mark.  I didn’t have to use these ploys every day- just in the beginning.  Having a timer on hand would be helpful so they can hear it go off when it’s time.  I would set the timer on my oven but I found this adorable watch with an alarm. It might seem a little ridiculous but it’s just another thing to help make the process fun for them if you’re dealing with some resistance in getting to the potty like we were. 
  • After 3 days of frequent potty reminders and consistent rewards I started having him use a Pull-Up.  At this point he loved the potty! He would use the potty every 10 minutes and come out asking for a piece of chocolate so this is when we switched to the fruit snacks as a reward.  Slowly we were able to phase out the treats and a week later we canceled our Subscribe and Save diaper order from Amazon!  

We still use a diaper for nap and bedtime and remind him to use the potty every couple of hours if he hasn’t gone on his own.  For the first few weeks we’d put a Pull-Up on when we left the house and then slowly phased those out too.  For some reason we endured a couple months of little accidents because he didn’t make it to the potty in time despite all our efforts to remind and encourage him.  The pediatrician had warned me that it was very possible he’d regress when our baby was born and maybe this pattern was a form of regression.  It took a few more months where we focused on reminders to use the potty (no more treats or rewards) and talked about how all the kids at preschool use the potty to encourage him.  And then finally we were fully trained- just in time for preschool.

The process took us a good 6 months and it was frustrating at times but we were persistent and creative.  In true Cameron fashion, he came around when he was good and ready.   
 
Thank you to my mom friends who gave us tips and helped us through it!
 
I have a few of the potties we used listed below.  Because Dave and I are new at this we switched things up on Cam a few times until we found what worked the best.  We started with stand alone potties that can be moved from room to room for the very beginning of potty training.  I think they’re a little less intimidating and if they’re in the room with the child they can warm up to the idea of potty training.  We now keep them in the cars in case we need them for long trips.

After a week of training we switched him to this seat and a stool for 2 reasons.  Most importantly, my baby was getting dangerously close to tipping over the potty after Cam used it so I wanted something out of her reach and second, this is just an easier clean up. 

Next we ended up moving to this Paw Patrol seat because it has a gaurd on the front of it.  If you have a little boy I highly recommend getting a seat with one of these.  This worked for a little while but because the seats were so unsteady when he tried to sit down he had trouble going to the potty by himself.

That’s when I found this potty with a built in step that I wish we had purchased earlier.  It’s so much more stable and easier for him to sit on and that gives him the independence to use the potty by himself.   He can go in, climb up, sit down without having the seat slide off, and call me when he needs me.  They easily fold right up and lean against the wall when not in use and he can actually put it on himself if it’s not already on the toilet when he gets there.

My daughter who is just 16 months younger than Cameron is very interested in the potty already so I think we’ll start trying to train her after her 2nd birthday.  Many moms have told me that the second child is much easier to train when they watch the process with their older siblings.  We’ll see if we find training a girl to be any different than training a boy.  From what I hear girls are easier to train..we shall see.  For now, Cam’s enjoying being a big boy and we’re enjoying a lighter diaper bill!