We started potty training Tikoy just a few weeks after he turned two years old. We decided on this when he showed awareness of the feeling of having to pee or poop and when we saw that it won’t be long before his cloth diaper inserts needed replacing–the tipid mom in me would rather potty train him than buy another set.
As I was doing my research, I also learned that it’s best to potty train kids between 24-26 months. Once you miss this window, it will be a little harder to train them. But of course, each baby has his own pace and if he’s not ready (showing no interest in sitting on a potty and doing the deed), then the parents will just have to wait.
Here’s how we did it.
But first, have the right mindset.
- Understand that potty training doesn’t happen overnight
Sure, the blogs make it sound like you just need to go through a series of steps and you’re good! Well, it’s not. To tell you honestly, the first few weeks can be very frustrating that we almost gave up. Remember, this is a new thing for your baby so it’s important to be patient and not to expect too much.
- Do it slowly
It was helpful when a friend told us that it will probably take long before he fully masters it (not in a you’re doomed kind of way). The point is, we’re teaching him how to do it while respecting his pace, and reminding ourselves that it’s not (and it never has been) a race.
- Don’t do it alone
It’s hard enough to do it all by yourself–all that cleaning and paying attention to your toddler. Just as it is in disciplining, consistency is key. So it really helps to get everyone on board and let them know what needs to be done.
Letting our parent-friends know about our attempt at this also helped a lot by sharing their best practices, and consoling us when we’re too tired to clean up the mess for the hundredth time for the day.
- There will be “accidents”
“Accidents” are inevitable and knowing this gives you peace and patience whenever you find your mattress soaked, or slip on a puddle of pee. That being said, be careful!
What you’ll need
Prepare your potty training starter pack. Here are the essentials:
- Potty or adapter seat
We received a potty for Tikoy’s 1st birthday and is essential in the training. You’ll want one that’s portable so it’s easy to get whenever it’s time to pee. Make sure to get the right size for him so he won’t fall off.
Others get a couple of potties to station in the areas where their babies spend most of their time. But for us, one was enough at the start. Later, we wish-listed an adapter seat for Christmas so the potty is stationed in our room (so he can go right after he wakes up, and no need to rush downstairs), and the adapter seat installed on our toilet bowl.
I like the latter better because the pee directly goes into the toilet bowl and all you have to do is flush it out and clean the seat from time to time, compared to the portable potty which comes with a couple of more steps to maintain.
We tell Tikoy that he’s no longer a baby and that he needs to wear big boy undies. We stopped using diapers during day time so he can feel it whenever he wets his pants and to better understand that this is why he needs to go to his potty.
Tikoy’s underwear wasn’t anything fancy. The standard white cotton ones you can get from Divisoria is just perfect, although some parenting blogs advise getting them in your kid’s favorite character so they’re more keen on keeping it dry.
Note: Don’t throw out your diapers yet! You will still need to use them at night.
- Mattress protector
Earlier, we wrote about how Swaddies PH’s waterproof bed mat has been a life saver for us and we think it’s an essential part of potty training because it effectively absorbs liquids and keeps the mattress underneath dry.
We keep a spare so we have something to use whenever the other one needs washing.
- Mop and Disinfectant
Believe us, you’ll be mopping your floor in a day more than you’ll ever do in a month, and it’s not just pee you have to clean up! Have your mop with disinfectant solution ready.
- Potty book
We found this Potty Book by Leslie Patricelli at the bookstore and it was helpful in introducing the concept to Tikoy. We read it a few months before we started potty training and made him familiar with the essentials.
How to do it
- Get him comfortable in sitting on a potty
At first, Tikoy didn’t like sitting on his potty to the point of tears! So in one of our play dates, we let his friend sit on the potty and after that, he sat on it himself. So we let him get familiar with his little throne by sitting on it for a while even if he doesn’t pee.
- Label what he’s doing
Let your child know if he peed or pooped. Show him what’s inside his diaper or potty. That way, he’ll be able to tell you what he needs to do whenever he feels it coming.
- Observe his schedule
Create a routine like letting him sit on a potty after he wakes up (because he will surely pee), and then observe his schedule. For Tikoy, we realized that he needs to go to the potty every 45 minutes. Even less when he takes lots of fluids. Watch the clock and ask him if he wants to pee from time to time.
It’s important to let your toddler know that he can just come to you and that you will help him go to the potty right away whenever he needs to.
- Train for blocks of time at first
You will still need diapers. Start (again,) slowly by letting him go free of diapers for a few hours in a day only, then letting him wear them whenever he naps and when he goes to sleep at night.
For Tikoy, we did this in the morning after he took a bath and only went the whole day without diapers when he can consistently tell us that he needs to go.
Keep a jar of treats nearby and give him one whenever he does it successfully. It can be little pieces of cookies or any of his favorite snacks. It can also be praises or actions like “good job, Tikoy! You peed on the potty!” (emphasize what the success was) or give him a high five, a hug, or do a happy dance.
Tikoy appreciated high fives the most. We can tell it excited him and made him eager to do it again next time. Also, at the end of the day, I let his dad know what a great job he’s done to affirm his work.
- Start a potty routine
To flush or not to flush, that is never a question. Whenever Tikoy goes, the next step is for him to flush and wash hands. Toddlers love routine and to be given a sense of responsibility. Whenever he pees on the floor, we let him wipe it himself. Of course, he won’t do a proper clean up but it’ll be a start.
I believe starting on this discipline as early as now will lower the intensity of my yelling “put down the toilet seat!” in the future. Fingers crossed.
- Don’t scold
This is his first time to learn how to control his bladder. To him, it’s perfectly normal to just pee whenever, wherever. Scolding your toddler for that won’t be effective because the whole idea of potty training will just scare him.
When he does make little “accidents”, just talk to him firmly and explain why it’s wrong. Our go to lines are:
“Why didn’t you tell us you needed to pee?”
“Oh my, we need to clean up this mess.” (and we let him wipe it off)
“No-no peeing/pooping on the floor/bed/sofa/chair/mommy/daddy. Only on the potty!”
After cleaning up, we ask him:
Parents: “Where should Tikoy pee?”
Tikoy: “Only on the potty. No-no on the floor.”
Note: Our boy memorized the phrase but didn’t really practice it at first. But we were sure he will later understand. (And he did!) Plus, it’s cute when he recites it.
As of writing, we still let Tikoy wear diapers at night and when we go out just for the added security but it mostly stays dry because he always insists on using his potty.
- We go out of the house almost every weekend and during these times, we let Tikoy wear disposable diapers. Since they are highly absorbent, he forgets to tell us that he needs to pee on the potty. When Monday comes, Tikoy goes back to wetting his underwear. We’re back to the drawing board again. Our resolution was to ask him if he needs to pee on the big potty in the public toilets.
- Tikoy still sits on his potty when he pees. We’re still thinking on how or when to introduce standing up when he pees. Sometimes, he still gets confused on whether he wants to do a number 1 or a number 2. If he wants to stay longer on his potty, then we let him be. 🙂