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Potty Training Tips from an Expert

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baby boy on bed - Learn Eat Sleep

When I sat down for a coffee date with founder of Poo-logix, Diana Kumuryan, we could finish off each other’s sentences. We quickly realized that even though we support parents with different skills, both potty training and sleep training are tasks that no parent is really looking forward to. They both require making huge changes to your child’s lifestyle, an immense amount of consistency, and probably some tears shed by no other than mom herself.

We also talked about the fact that with the right support, a clear plan, and consistency, both of these skills can be tackled with more ease and faster results. We laughed about how she’s been called the “Poo Fairy”, and I have been called the “Sleep Fairy”, who wave our magic wands and things happen. But the truth is that we give you the tools, education, and confidence to tackle a process that can otherwise be very overwhelming. Most importantly, we’re there to celebrate all of your successes, big and small.

In reality, with any changes that you’re going to make to a child’s routine, there are some key pieces involved. Diana would love to share all the technical terms with you, because after all she is a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst with a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, but with her approval, I am going to share with you the way I went about training Nicholas when he was 2 years old and four months. I didn’t read any type of program or order any books, but I did prepare myself by creating a quick game plan using my understanding of children and the way they respond to any type of intervention.

Based on what I knew about my approach with sleep training and my experience working with school-aged children ( for those that are just following along, I am also an elementary school teacher), I knew that any changes made had to be gradual. I also knew that I was going to provide support, need a reward system, and gradually release the independence to Nicholas as he became more comfortable with learning this new skill.

So here goes…

I had been building myself up to this since Nicholas turned two. I knew that I needed to block out a week of time to commit to potty training and I knew that once we started, there was no turning back. It’s was easy to keep putting this off because I knew that it was going to be messy, and it wasn’t going to be fun. I committed to my time off from work for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

PRIOR TO THE TRAINING– I turned to my trusted Amazon reviews to look up all things potty related. I ordered some books for Nicholas and I to read together. I ordered your basic potty, pull-ups, training underwear, Mickey Mouse undies, and grabbed a bag of Gummy Bears from Trader Joe’s.

DAY 1– The morning of the training, we woke up, we said good-bye to his diapers and brought out our Elmo potty training book. We read the story during breakfast and made a BIG deal about the fact that he was a big boy, wearing big-boy underwear. From the moment he wore the undies, I started to use my timer on my phone to take him to sit on the potty every 20 minutes. At first, every time he sat on there for at least two minutes, I handed him a gummy bear. Now, mind you, before the training, he had never really eaten candy before and I truly believe that this was a huge piece that added to our success. Now that he had a taste of the gummies, he had no problem going to sit on the potty every 20 minutes because that meant he was going to get a taste of that good stuff again! We continued this process, with little luck of any pee actually going into the potty for the first half of the day.

We put on pull-ups and he went to take a nap. After his nap, I put on his undies again, and this time, he only got a gummy bear for any time that he actually peed in the potty. So now, the motivation to pee was there because he REALLY loved this new found, tiny little bear, that tasted oh so sweet!

Each time he peed, we celebrated, he got a gummy and we were all happy. With each accident, I cleaned up, changed his underwear, and moved on with very little focus on what had happened.

That night, I put on his pull-ups again and he went to sleep.

DAY 2– The next morning, we put on his undies again, upped the fluid intake, and changed our trusted timer to 30 minutes. Remember we talked about a gradual change, so for today we were going to see if he could hold his bladder just a bit longer than yesterday. Every 30 minutes, we went and sat down on the potty for a few minutes and if he peed, he got a gummy bear. If there was no pee, than we tried again in 30 minutes, or until he said he needed to pee. Sometimes we would make it in time, and sometimes we fell short. But again, we cleaned up, and moved on.

For the second day, I took the plunge, and kept him in his underwear instead of putting on the pull-ups. I put on the thick-absorband pad under him to fall asleep, but he wasn’t too happy about it. When he woke up, he had had a very small accident.

That night he went to sleep again in his pull-ups and we waited until morning.

DAY 3– He woke up dry! This was HUGE! Of course we celebrated we a big,fun breakfast with pancakes and sprinkles. On the third day, there was a shift in his responsibility level. He now started to become aware of when he needed to pee and he started to tell me that he needed to go! Regardless, I had changed our timer to 40 minutes and if he didn’t mention it himself, then our trusted timer reminded us and we went to the potty.

From this day on, he has never worn a pull-up or diaper again. We continued on with the potty training for 2 more days until on the fifth day, we finally left our house to go eat out. Yup, you read that correctly, we didn’t leave our house for almost five full days to commit to this potty training and get it done. We weren’t kidding when we said we were committed.

Even though, I consider him to be “potty-trained”, we really should consider him “underwear-trained” because the truth is that he has had a really hard time with number 2. You see, with out going into too much detail about what his poo is like, this little guy has a hard time going, considering his diet consists of a whole lot of carbs. Often times, when he goes number 2 in his undies, you can just roll it off of his underwear and there is hardly even a mess. I kept thinking that he needs more time and will get it, but I also take full responsibility for the fact that we’re not there yet. He is starting school in September and we are working on it everyday. Of course we’ve had to up the reward a bit, but a lollipop for every time that he goes to the potty is a compromise that my “before having any children” mom has had to accept.

This is our system and one that worked for us. Of course, every child is different and the rate of success for each little one is also different.

I turned to our expert Potty Trainer, Diana, to answer some commonly asked questions.

Is there a right age to start potty training? 

Yes and no.  You don’t want to wait too long to start potty training because the older your child gets the more they get used to diapers, therefore it is harder to cut them out. As children get older, the resistance to the the potty becomes a bigger challenge. The ideal time to start potty training is between 18 to 30 months.

How do you know if a child is ready to begin potty training?

There are a few signs to look for to identify if your child has the appropriate skills to begin potty training. The first is that they go longer periods of time with a dry diaper, they have some language (this is important because a big part of potty training is getting your child to be able to ask to go to the bathroom), and they can sit on the potty for at least 5 minutes. There are very few children that will tell you they are ready to begin potty training. It is important as the parent to identify that your child has these skills and take the leap to start the potty training journey.

Is it okay to use treats and prizes while potty training? 

Yes! My potty training method includes lots of positive reinforcement strategies. Children learn new skills when their actions are rewarded. Potty training is no different than learning any new skill. I recommend starting with providing a small treat or prize for every time they successfully pee or poop in the potty, then gradually fade it out.

My child keeps having pee and poop accidents and I find myself getting upset with him when he has an accident. I don’t want to shame him for having an accident. What do I do if my child continues to have accidents?

It is important to make sure that your child understands that having accidents are incorrect and that the pee and poop go in the toilet. Without shaming or making them feel bad simply have them help you clean up the accident.

I have sleep trained my child and I don’t want potty training to affect their sleep. How does potty training affect sleep?

Nighttime sleep training is different from daytime sleep training and may take a little longer. During nighttime training you will have to wake your child up and take them to the bathroom a couple times a night until they are able to hold their pee and poop for the entire night. It may affect their sleep slightly in the beginning but you should resume your regular sleep training routines once potty training is completed.

If you’re ready to get your little one diaper free, reach out to Diana and visit her website for more information. Mention this post for 15% off of any of her potty packages.

baby boy using the potty - Learn Eat Sleep
Here is Nicholas at 9 months peeing in the toilet. In lots of countries around the world, families practice potty training early on referred to as elimination communication. We didn't continue on with the training, but he certainly looks proud of his accomplishment!

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about anet

My name is Anet and I am a certified Sleep Sense™ sleep consultant located in Los Angeles. I help parents worldwide with their little one’s sleep challenges and I want to help you! With two little ones of my own, I understand the sleep challenges that arise at all ages. Let’s schedule a time to talk to help you and your little one start sleeping again!

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