My daughter is one of those kids who essentially potty trained
herself—obviously not completely, but she was showing all the signs long
before I was actually ready to ditch the diapers.
The truth is, I never thought much about potty training. I'm one
of those people who kind of just figured it happens when the time is right. But
I'm also one of those people who likes to introduce concepts and allow children
the opportunity to learn. So I got my daughter her first potty chair at about
16 months and we added sitting on it before bath time to our nightly routine.
There was never any pressure about it. Weeks went by and she did
nothing but sit there. It was two minutes a day of her getting used to the potty.
But then, around 18 months, she peed on that potty for the first
time. I hadn't been expecting it so I totally flipped out in excitement. We called
everyone we knew and she got a treat in celebration.
It was a few more days before she did it again, but over the next
month or so she started going on the potty more and more. By 20 months, she
was bringing me fresh diapers and asking to be changed whenever she dirtied
herself throughout the day. By 21 months, she had taken her first poo-poo in
the potty and was starting to ask to go there rather than using her diaper.
All of this was completely unprompted by me. But I couldn't deny
it much longer. My kid was ready to be potty trained.
I was the one who was dragging my feet.
You see, I kind of liked the reassurance of diapers. I liked not
having to worry about where she would go on long road trips or being afraid of
her pissing in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store. So I held off as long as I could. But as my
daughter's second birthday approached, I could deny the truth no longer. She
I knew that the word "impossible" is one of my least favorites ... particularly when it comes to my child.
Following the lead of close friends who had successfully potty
trained their 2.5-year-old son, I began looking into the various three-day
potty training methods. I knew there were a lot of thought processes on how to
best tackle potty training, but these methods suited my mindset; I tend to be the type of person who likes to just dive right into
whatever I'm doing.
Everything I read about these methods made sense to me, including
the arguments for ridding your life of diapers entirely because continuing to use diapers occasionally (or at night) could create
confusion for children who then don't know when it is and is not OK to go in
their pants. I also agreed that pull-ups probably aren't the best intermediary.
After all aren't they basically still diapers themselves?
So, in my go hard or go home mindset, I decided that the weekend
before my girl's second birthday, we would trash all the diapers and go all
out. Yes, even for night training.
I posted something to this effect on my Facebook page and
received a variety of responses. Several people claimed it was "impossible"
to night train a child, that they weren't physiologically ready to wake up
and go to the bathroom until around 4. These people cited experts and told me
not to even try. But others chimed in that they had followed the same methods I
was considering, to great success. One told me her daughter had never had a dry
diaper at night before they went diaper-free, but within a few weeks, she
was both night and day trained.
And those friends of mine who had used the same method? Their 2.5-year-old was also going through the night accident-free.
I knew that the "experts" were torn on this one, and I assumed
that was probably because all kids are different. Years ago, I knew a family
with an 11- and 9-year old who were both still wetting the bed. Their mother
had experienced the same problem growing up. For some kids, it's just harder.
And there is only so much that can be done about that.
But, I also knew that the word "impossible" is one of my least
favorites, and that I didn't like the idea of discounting the possibility of
anything without first trying it, particularly when it comes to my child. Why
would I ever be so quick to assume she "can't" do something without at least
giving her the opportunity to prove me wrong?
It was frustrating, if only because it felt as though there was no rhyme or reason to any of it. But just as suddenly, the accidents were over.
So, that fateful weekend came and we went all in. That first day was less than enjoyable. A lot of urine wound up on
the floor (most of her poop, too). By the end of the day, I was questioning
my reasoning behind this whole plan. Maybe she was too young? Maybe she wasn't ready yet? Maybe we should just
But by day two, something seemed to have clicked. We had only one accident. Day three was completely accident-free.
One thing no one warned me of was that those three days weren't the
end of it. Over the next two to three weeks, we had a handful of accidents. She would
go three or four days perfectly, and then suddenly pee her pants three times the next
day. It was frustrating, if only because it felt as though there was no rhyme or
reason to any of it. But just as suddenly, the accidents were over. It was a
few weeks of extra work, and then she was fully trained. We haven't had an
accident in weeks.
The night training was a little different. I followed the "rules." I began limiting her liquids a few hours before bed, put her down without
diapers and got her up once in the middle of the night myself for a potty
break. But she was still wetting the bed somewhere between that middle of the
night trip and when she would get up in the morning. What was worse was that
she didn't seem to be bothered by it, so I never knew how long she had been
sitting in her own urine. And she still had
pee to put in the potty when I got her up. I have no idea where all that fluid came from!
After about 10 nights of that, I gave up. She was doing well with
day training, but hadn't had a single dry night. And I was tired of doing all
that laundry. So I put her in a diaper and called it good. I told myself we
would attempt nights again in six months.
Here's the irony: A few nights later, she woke up in the middle of
the night yelling out "potty, potty." So, I took her. And the next morning, she
got up dry.
That trend continued, even with the diapers on. She now calls out
for me once most nights to go to the bathroom and wakes up in the morning dry
at least five nights a week.
Don't automatically discount anything as impossible when it comes to your kid and potty training.
Something had clicked. And thankfully, that something wasn't
hindered by my giving up and reverting back to diapers.
Those nights still aren't perfect. But just a month past her second birthday, they are vastly improved from what I had thought possible when I put
her back in nighttime diapers. I truly believe that is due, at least in
part, to the fact that we started out diaper-free. I certainly don't think it would have happened if we hadn't gone
all in and at least tried.
But here is where I admit to another truth: Our life is not better
because my child is now potty trained. In fact, in a lot of ways, it is now
much harder. She totally uses the potty to manipulate me, suddenly needing to
go every time we are in a new environment or are doing things she doesn't
want to be doing. Plus, my child, who has been
sleeping through the night since she was about 6 weeks old now wakes up at
least once almost every night for a potty trip. Unlike during the day, when
she is perfectly capable of going on her own, she wants me with her during
those middle-of-the-night potties. She goes right back to bed after and I'm
usually still awake when it happens anyway, but it's certainly more of a
hassle than diapers ever were.
So I get that this method might not be for everyone. I understand
those parents who say they would rather stick to pull-ups and take their time, even if it means
another year or two of potty training. I don't see anything wrong with either way
of doing things; I think it is all about deciding what is best for you and