Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three Days #SchoolofCloth

Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three Days

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!

Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three DaysAfter 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!

Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three Days
Potty Training supplies: flushable wipes, underwear, travel potty seat, rewards (stickers and toys), and juice

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.

Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three Days
Success and the stickers to prove it!

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.

Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three Days
The potty bag: extra underwear, extra pants, flushable wipes, wet bag, and stickers for rewards

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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Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three Days


25 Comments on “Skip the Trainers: Potty Training in Three Days #SchoolofCloth

  1. Ugh, I’m really dreading the potty training thing. My son turned two in August. He has gone on the potty a bunch of times, including poop, but I don’t want to pressure him and it become a battle. Plus, now I have a newborn so I didn’t want him to regress. Maybe once the newborn is slightly older we’ll go for it. Hopefully it’ll be as easy as your experience!

  2. With a 23-month-old, potty training has definitely been on my mind! I have heard about the 3-day method, and while i’ll admit I’ve been a bit skeptical, it does sound promising! We somehow potty-trained her with the poop months ago quite by accident, and for a fellow cloth-diapering family this has been amazing because as I’m sure you know cleaning solid poop out of a cloth diaper is horrible. She doesn’t seem to be ready at all for being fully potty-trained, though, as her diapers are always we when I go to change. So, I’l wait for when she’s showing more sings she’s ready, and I will keep this in mind. Thanks for sharing about your experience 🙂

  3. Ugh!! You make it sound so easy— and I’m guessing it is if you let your child lead and give them the proper encouragement like you did! My son turned two early October so I’m starting to wonder when we should start. Thanks for sharing such a great resource!

    • It was easier on The Heir than it was on me for sure. It was really draining to be “on” all the time during training, but the end result was so worth it.

  4. That is really awesome! I’ve heard of the three day method and wondered if it could work. I have twins, but they haven’t shown any interest yet. When they do, maybe we will try this.

      • I have a friend that has triplets and did this with them all in the same 3 day span! She was successful with it! I think she must be Superwoman.

  5. I’m just glad we’re done with that stage and I do not want to go back! LOL Both were potty trained by age 2, I tried so hard because I did not want to continue buying diapers anymore! Too expensive!

  6. We got my son a thomas potty for Christmas along with some underwear. We are home this week, so I think I may give it a try. He’s gone on the potty a bunch of times, but no consistency. I guess the worst that can happen is we’ll have to wait a little longer.

  7. Pingback: Mind The Gap: Five Things I Love About My Kids' Age Gap - TheMonarchMommy

  8. Seriously just bookmarked this on my phone so I can remember this when our day comes. My daughter is already almost 17 months and our potty training days will be here before we know it! Thanks for such a great post 🙂

  9. We tried toilet training a few months ago because my son showed interest but then he started freaking out screaming on day three when we would put him on the toilet. We didn’t try any specific method but sounds very similar to the method you tried except we did diapers for bedtime since he frequently wakes up wet. Nothing worked, not rewards, bribes, snuggles, singing, fun Thomas and Spiderman underwear, having him help clean up messes. So we gave it up after almost a week. He will be 3 the end of June though so I’m getting anxious but don’t want to push him and make it worse. Any tips on there for dealing with a sensitive, easily frightened toddler?

    • I am having a similar experience and nothing is working for my son who will be three in two months. I’m wondering what outside the box approaches have worked for almost three year olds.

  10. My daughter is 18months and is showing signs when she is wet by taking her diaper off and all Do you think she is ready??

  11. never tried this method before. we’ve always done the sticker chart, big kid underwear. maybe will try this out, 3 days is tempting.

  12. I just read the book and we r starting this week when I came across ur post I was so happy because I was really wondering if it will work or not. Hopefully it will. Reading ur story I feel like I’m reading about my son dead on with what’s going on but he will be 2 in 3 weeks That this works. I’m so done with him coming out of his room with his poopy diaper off

  13. Just curious as to why the disposable wipes are recommended instead of cloth wipes. I really like the idea of the potty bag for traveling!

  14. This is awesome. We can all afford to take three days to do this. Thank you for sharing

  15. I’m so glad my toddler is no longer using diapers!!! One less but ready for the next baby. That way I’m not going crazy with diapers with two babies. It took about a month and half to fully potty train. Whoo whoo!!

  16. Our experience isn’t going well with the poop part of training. He has been “pee-pee” trained for about a year but the poop piece is still a major struggle. He hides, gets very quiet and boom he poops on himself. We’ve tried rewards, talking to him, showing him this is what big boys do, we show him poop in the toilet, etc.

    I’m going to read through these posts and see if there are more ideas my husband and I can use to get our two year old all the way there.

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