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4 Potty Training Mistakes I Won't Make Again

Photograph by Twenty20

Before I had kids, I had heard over and over again that potty training was pretty much the very worst part of parenting and I absolutely dreaded it. But then when the time rolled around to start trying with my oldest daughter, it turned out to be not that bad.

But from the moment my second daughter was born, it was clear that her personality was very different from my first, so I worried that the smooth-sailing the first time around meant the second time would be a nightmare.

But it turned out to be fairly straight-forward too (hallelujah!), plus I got to fix some of the mistakes I made during my first round in the potty-training ring.

Here are some of the mistakes I've tried to avoid:

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1. Potty training night and day separately

When my older daughter potty trained, she started waking up dry for many days in a row, but I didn't want to deal with night-time accidents, so I kept her in a diaper for bed. After a few weeks, she went back to waking up with a wet diaper, and finally, six months later, I bit the bullet and put her undies for bed and then dealt with a week or so of accidents. This time around, as soon as my daughter started waking up dry, we switched to undies. She had one or two accidents, but then she was fully trained in a week or so. There was no dragging it out to two separate occasions.

I had no idea that I needed to be ready for potty training as much as she did.

2. Starting too early

I think one reason it hasn't been too difficult with my girls is that they have both been almost 3 and showed all signs of readiness when I started training. I'm more than happy to keep them in diapers for a while so that the potty-training segment is as short as possible.

3. Not being ready yourself

With my first daughter, I decided on impulse one afternoon to start training her. I had no idea that I needed to be ready for potty training as much as she did. She was all excited about her undies until she had an accident 30 minutes later and then she wanted nothing to do with it. And because I wasn't mentally ready to deal with it, we just gave up for another month or two. The next time, I decided I was committed and there was no going back. This time, when she wanted to put a diaper back on, I had the fortitude to stand strong. Within a few days, she was trained.

4. Using training pants

I think training pants can be super useful for traveling or when you're going out in public to avoid major incidents, but I think using them all the time can extend how long you have to train. With underwear, a child knows when they've had an accident. With training pants, it's much harder to tell and just seems to slow the whole process down.

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Of course, I only have girls, so my experience is definitely one-sided. I've heard potty training boys can be completely different (and harder!), so if you have a son, I have zero insight but wish you all the luck in the world.

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