Updated on November 1, 2015
Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three Days #SchoolofCloth
When The Heir was around 18 months old, I started to wonder when we should start potty training. I rushed out and bought a potty, put it in the main bathroom, and left it at that. It just seemed like such a daunting process and I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I’d read that it could take months, that Pull Ups or cloth trainers were a necessity, and that they might need to be used for quite some time after potty training. Not my idea of a good time. While trying to figure out the right method for potty training The Heir, I came across an eBook called 3 Day Potty Training by Lora Jensen. It promised that the process would be quick (I mean, hello! 3 days?!?! Yes please), child led, and fulfilled with love. Did I think it would work? Not even a little bit. Did I decide to try it anyway? Of course!
After reading through the eBook a couple of times, I set a start date for potty training. June 30th, 2014 was the day. The Heir would be 22 months old. By that age, he was showing signs of being ready to potty train. He had made a couple of pees on the potty, was holding his pee longer during the day (as in, his diapers would sometimes be totally dry after being on for 3 hours), he’d woken up with a dry diaper in the morning a handful of times, and most importantly (to me anyway), he’d removed his diaper and handed me his poop. Literally. I didn’t ever want that to happen again, so potty training was on!
The first thing was to clear our schedule for the full three days. Since July 1st is a holiday in Canada, King Dad would be home for the first two days of training. Perfect. Once I’d set a date, I needed the supplies. The Heir was going to need some underwear, 21 pairs of underwear to be exact. He was also going to need a reward for successes. For a small reward I went with stickers and M&Ms, and for a large reward (for bigger achievements) I went with Little People Wheelies. I picked up some flushable wipes, a travel potty seat, and lots of apple juice. One of the principles of the method is to encourage the child to drink lots of fluids throughout the day so they have plenty of opportunity to practice. The Heir drank a fair amount of water already, but I knew if I added some juice to the mix, he’d drink a ton!
Here are the basics of the method.
1. Do not leave the house for 3 days (backyard is fine).
2. Do not move a potty into the room where you are spending time, keep it in the bathroom(s).
3. Regular underwear only on the bottom, 24/7. No pants.
4. Give the child extra fluids throughout the day until 2 hours before bed time.
5. Say “Tell me when you need to go pee/poo/potty” repeatedly all day. The child can “tell you” by a gesture (grabbing self), a dance, or words (or tugging at you, whatever).
6. Ask the child if their underwear is still dry. Praise when they are.
7. Turn off the computer/TV/cell phone and focus 100% on the child all day long. This way you will catch accidents as they start. You should never miss one.
8. When the child has an accident, treat them with love and remain calm. Say “yucky, you’re supposed to keep your undies dry” after/while whisking them to the toilet to finish and while changing their undies.
9. If the child gets on the potty/toilet and does not go, do not leave them on it for more than a few seconds. If they signal/say they have to go right after they get off, let them get on again.
10. The child should try to pee at least once before nap time and twice before bedtime.
I went into potty training The Heir with very low expectations. I figured I could go all in and put The Heir in underwear 24/7 for just three days. It was only three days after all, and it seemed manageable. Worst case scenario, I would end up doing a ton of laundry over those three days and The Heir would be back in his beloved cloth diapers on day four. There was really only one part of the 3 day potty training method that we didn’t follow, and for good reason. On the morning of day one, you’re supposed to throw away all the diapers (that includes pull ups!). This totally makes sense, truly. Throw them away and both you and the child know that diapers are simply not an option anymore. Period. I wasn’t going to be throwing our diapers away, because, well, cloth diapers, so I packed them all up in a spare room. If you are using disposables, perhaps setting the diapers aside to donate them to a local shelter would be better than just tossing them (as long as you can set them aside somewhere that won’t be a huge temptation when things get difficult on day two). Other than that, we really did follow the method to the letter. Yes, The Heir was even in regular underwear overnight. And you know what? It actually worked! To be perfectly honest, the three days of potty training were way harder on me than they were on The Heir. He was into it and it really “clicked” for him half way through day three.
We did run into a couple hiccups along the way, but managed to find solutions as we went along. The first minor issue was that by the time day one arrived, The Heir was no longer interested in his little potty. He wanted to use the big toilet, elongated bowl and all. I wasn’t prepared for this and I didn’t (and still don’t) have a potty seat attached to any of the toilets in the house. I tried to use the travel potty seat that I’d bought, but it wasn’t very stable on the elongated toilet seat and The Heir wasn’t comfortable on it. Unwilling to change the start date for potty training, I just rolled with it. For day one I just held The Heir up on the big toilet. That night after he’d gone to sleep I did a bit or research to see if there was an easier way, and there was. If the child sits backwards on the toilet, he can hold onto the back of the toilet for support and won’t fall in. Brilliant. I started that on day two and it worked perfectly. As an added bonus, using the big toilet at home made the leap to using public bathrooms super easy for The Heir.
The other hiccup we ran into was poop. Despite my best efforts to feed The Heir more fibre during those three days than he’d normally consume in a full week, he decided not to poop. While he was a pro with telling me when he had to pee and actually making it to the toilet by the end of day three, he hadn’t had any practice with good old number two. He finally had success late in the day on day three (cue large reward!), but he really hadn’t had enough practice with it to know when to tell me he had to poop. That meant he had a few poop accidents over the next couple of days, but with more practice and me watching him like a hawk, he caught on quickly. The key here was to give him privacy (who knew, right?). It really clicked for him when I told him I’d give him some privacy, left the bathroom, and stood in the hallway.
We resumed outings (in regular underwear and pants) on day four with a “potty bag”. Inside the potty bag were extra undies, extra pants, flushable wipes, a wet bag, and potty rewards. I would show The Heir the potty bag and its contents before leaving the house to reassure him that everything he needed to use a toilet on the go was there. He was even on a plane to visit his very first cousin about a week after he finished potty training (and no, I didn’t put him in a Pull Up/diaper for the flight).
And that, my friends, is how The Heir was fully potty trained, day and night, in less than a week! The 3 Day Potty Training method worked for us, but there really is no single method that works for every child and every family. This is what worked for us and I think it’s a method that is worth at least checking out to see if it might be a good fit for your family too!
Have you reached the potty training stage with your children yet? I want to hear how it went! The good, the bad, and the ugly!
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