Beginning the steps of potty training is your first move towards the world of diaper independence. Whether you are using traditional disposable diapers or a cloth diapering system, you can quickly grow weary of the endless diaper cycle. It can be even more troublesome when you are working full time. Potty training for working moms can seem like an impossible task that is hard to fit in between work, home, and childcare. Here are some methods to make the transition to diaper-free life a little easier.
Make Sure Your Child is Ready
Most parents are ready to start the potty training process long before their child is. Children demonstrate their readiness in different ways. Some signs of being prepared to try the potty are:
- Staying dry for extended periods during the day
- Keeping dry at night
- Awareness of bowel movements
- Showing an interest in using the toilet
- Can pull their pants up and down
- Your toddler can climb up and down on a chair
- Shows signs of being uncomfortable with a wet or poopy diaper
- Can use or understand the words “poop” and “potty”
- Your toddler can follow simple instructions
- Wants to observe you, your partner, or an older sibling in the bathroom
Every child shows their readiness in a different way. Some may show multiple signs of readiness, while others will show one. Be on the lookout for subtle signs that your child may be interested in using the toilet on their own. These signs will give you a sense of when your child should start the process.
Make Sure Everyone is on The Same Page
As with anything in life, it is best when everyone who takes care of your child is on the same page. Put together a game plan and ensure that your partner, family, nanny, or daycare knows the potty training method you are working towards. Children crave consistency, so having all care providers on the same page will create a routine.
What You Will Need
The tools for potty training will be different for every child. Sometimes you will have to try other toilets or seat attachments to find which one is best for your child. Items to have on hand will also vary by which method you are choosing. Some products to have on hand are:
- A training potty or toilet seat
- Pull-ups or toddler undies
- Stickers or a chart
- Books to put by the toilet
- A stool that allows them to sit on the grown-up potty if they’re using the conversion seat
- Wipes or toilet paper near their stand-alone toilet
As you start the potty training process, you will see which items work best for your child. Some have disposable training diapers, like pull-ups, giving them an added sense of security and familiarity. Other children, who tend to be uncomfortable in their diapers, will likely prefer toddler size undies.
Some toddlers will try the stand-alone training toilet and decide it is uncomfortable. In that case, you can switch to the seat reducer style that goes on top of your existing toilet seat. Ensure you have a stool that your child is comfortable using to get onto the toilet and back down again.
It is also very convenient if the stool is easy to move to the sink so your toddler can wash their hands.
Books are helpful as they give your busy toddler something to focus on while they are sitting on their toilet, “trying.” Active toddlers will have a more challenging time sitting down for an extended period while trying something new. Another way to get your child to sit down and try using their potty is to have a toy or potty doll that goes into the bathroom.
Depending on which method you choose, you will want to put up the chart in the bathroom and have things like stickers readily available.
Find What Works for Your Child
There are many different systems available for potty training. Even though each system claims to be ” the one,” it once again will depend on your child. Children have different learning methods when it comes to new skills, and this includes potty training. Some potty training methods are:
The Child-Oriented Method
This approach is a little bit like baby-led weaning. You give your child the option of using the toilet.
If they choose to use it and have a positive reaction, you continue forward. If your child has a negative response to using the potty, you wait until they express interest.
With this approach, everything is done on your child’s timetable. You do not have a set schedule or pace to follow.
If your child likes to have control and needs to think things are their idea, this may be an ideal approach for you. However, this approach may take longer from start to finish.
Parent-Led Toilet Training
The parent-led approach allows you to set the tone and pace for potty training your child. Your toddler can help you pick out their toilet or seat at the store, and you will spend a little while getting used to it being at home.
Your child can sit on it while clothed to get a feel for it. Once they get used to it, try it a few times to see how the process goes.
Always be positive with your child. Offer praise if they go or not. If their attempt is successful, you can offer them a sticker, prize, or treat.
3-Day-Potty Training Method
The 3-day potty training approach can be the most desirable method of potty training for working mom. This training style’s premise is to pick a long weekend and start potty training on day one. By the end of day three, you will have a fully trained toddler.
A lot of time and concentration goes into this method. Your child will try when they get up, after meals, before bed, or every two hours or so.
You will spend a lot of time talking about needing to use the toilet and what that feels like so your child can begin recognizing the urge to go on their own and head to the bathroom.
Experts who tout the 3-day method say that if your child is not fully potty trained by day three, they just aren’t ready yet. It may be best to wait for the next long weekend and give it another go then.
Elimination communication has a lot of history and information. However, here is a glance at the process.
While this method is ideally started when your child is an infant, you can begin this method with your toddler.
EC, as experts call it, is a hygienic approach to toilet training your child. You learn your child’s signals and patterns and respond accordingly.
If we communicate with them effectively, we can teach them to use the toilet at any age to eliminate appropriately. Since urinating or pooping is a natural occurrence, you teach its proper home, just like you would teach your toddler to put a book back where it belongs.
It also focuses on the thought that readiness is a marketing myth, and children inherently know when they need to use the bathroom. We, as parents, just need to be aware enough to see their signals.
This may be an excellent method if your child responds well to schedules and heavy structure. Most often, when you begin the potty training process, your child does not know when or how to tell you that they need to go to the bathroom. Enter the timer.
The clockwork approach takes a bell or a timer and uses it to signal your child to use the bathroom. Set the kitchen timer to go off in the morning, after mealtimes, and before bed, so your child will know it is time to go “try.”
Straight into Underpants
This may be one of two scarier methods of potty training for us parents. With this, diapers are eliminated, and your child walks around your home in their newly minted toddler undies.
It is okay for your little one to go in their underwear since it shows them how uncomfortable it is to have pee or poop sitting there.
Out of this, uncomfortableness is born an understanding of why they need to use the toilet. This method may be best if you have tile or hardwood floors or are already planning to redo your carpet!
Potty Training Naked
This approach is the second of the two terrifying methods, especially if you are a boy mom. Your child will run around naked or half-naked, so it is simple to get them onto the toilet without having to take time to remove pants, underwear, or training diapers.
It is best used in warmer months and when your child can use the bathroom outside too. Little boys will get a kick out of being able to go potty in the backyard, and they will learn more about feeling the urge to urinate. This may be a winning style for potty training your stubborn boy.
For girls, sticking the potty outside to use while they play may be fun for them as well.
Choose your own Potty Training Adventure
Whether your child is open to changes or is an incredibly stubborn little boy or girl, having the ability to pick and choose from the numerous potty training methods to fit your parenting style can certainly be appealing.
If a timer and pull-ups are what you are most comfortable with, pair it with a sticker chart or prize bin and give it a go. Remember, consistency is critical, and it must be easy to replicate when your child goes off to daycare.
Stick to a System
When you find a system that works, stick to it. Anything new takes time to adjust to and learn. Give your child at least two weeks with a training method before you decide to shake it up with a different approach.
After that, if you find that your chosen method is not working, it may be that your child isn’t quite ready, or you can try one of the other approaches. It is okay to take a break from potty training if it does not seem to be catching on. You do not want your child to become frustrated or view going and sitting on their potty as a punishment.
Use a Reward System
Studies show positive reinforcement helps children reach goals and encourages desired behaviors. Many parents have seen breakthroughs in potty training by consistently using a reward system. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
For some children, something as simple as making a huge deal out of their achievements is enough to keep them moving in the right direction. for some children, a simple good job and a little clap are enough to keep them moving forward.
Those toddlers who thrive on praise will need you to make a big production out of it, so be prepared for lots of clapping and cheering for using their little toilet.
Having a chart for tracking when your child goes potty is a popular method. There are two different approaches you can take with a sticker chart. One system is every time your child tries to use their toilet to go to the bathroom instead of their diaper. You put a sticker on the chart. The other approach is they get a sticker for every successful attempt at using the potty.
You will have to determine which method works best for your toddler. Sometimes it may be best to start giving them a sticker every time they attempt to use their toilet and shift to giving them a sticker for every successful try once you have a solid routine in place.
The marble jar is very similar to the sticker chart. With every successful attempt at using the potty, your child can place a marble in a container on the counter.
Once they fill the jar up with marbles, they can pick a toy or activity out of a prize bin. If your child is treat motivated, you can also make their prize something like a healthy treat, gummies, or a granola bar.
With a prize bin, you can stock it with games, treats, toys, and stickers. You can decide the rate at which you dull out these treats to your child. It may be that you give them a prize for every successful three, five, or seven days in a row of successful potty tries.
Some toddlers have quite the sweet tooth. They can be motivated by treats such as m&M’s, Skittles, or any of their favorite candies. These things can also be beneficial for potty training little boys as they seem to respond well to small sweet treats.
If you like to have healthier options available for your child, your treat options can be something as simple as their favorite piece of fruit, dried fruit, granola bars, fruit leathers or gummies, or healthy versions of brownies.
You can hand out treats either for a successful day of using their toddler potties or at the end of a successful week. You will have to assess which way will be most motivating for your child and what success looks like for you and your child.
Regressions Happen, and That’s Okay
Toddlers tend to have a mind and schedule of their own. If you have your two-year-old potty trained and suddenly they wake up and do not want to have anything to do with the toilet, take a deep breath, and remember regressions are standard. It won’t last forever, and likely you are not the only toddler mom experiencing this.
There are many different reasons a regression can happen. It can be something as simple as your child is being stubborn about a toy or an activity and does not want to make the time for using the toilet. Other reasons can include:
- Stress or emotions
- Big Changes
Work on addressing these issues with your pediatrician’s help before heading back to potty training your child. Fear can lead to much more severe problems like your child holding in their bowel movements, so it is best to get that sorted out. Once settled, you can launch back into the potty training routine with your two or three-year-old.
Other ways to work past a regression is to:
- Set a consistent schedule
- Be patient with your little one
- Never punish or get upset
- Bring back out the rewards or prize bin
Finally, give it a little time. Your child will work through this setback and get back on schedule.
There are many, many potty training methods for you to consider using with your toddler. Fortunately, there is no right or wrong way to approach this milestone. Be sure to use a lot of positivity and praise during the process. Deep breaths and patience will help too!
Looking for more tips for your little one? Head over to our Ages and Phases Section to see more topics.
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Krissy lives in California with her family of three that make up “The Hadicks.” With a passion for research and helping others, The Hadicks was developed as a resource for other parents and parents-to-be!