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Painless potty training: readiness and chocolate

My two-and-a-half year old decided he was ready to be potty trained a few weeks ago. First he was curious to try the toilet, and would go on occasion. Then he started waking up in the mornings with a dry diaper. One morning, I convinced him to wear underpants to school, and that was basically that.

He was “ready.” I’d heard rumors about this phenomenon, but never experienced it with my daughters, both of whom were trained with considerable effort shortly after their third birthdays. But looking back, I wonder if maybe I wasn’t “ready” back then. Diapers are convenient. They’re an excellent insurance policy against soiled carpets/furniture/car seats/strollers. Having a kid in diapers means never having to frantically seek out the nearest public restroom when you’re out and about. As a first-, and even a second-time mom, the diapers gave me a sense of security I was loathe to give up.

This time was different. I’m “ready” to be done with diapers forever. So I was paying close attention this time around.

The first step was having the right tools on hand early on. The first time he looked remotely interested in the toilet, I brought home a Baby Bjorn Safe Step and Baby Bjorn Toilet Trainer — both absolute staples for potty training. Those lived in the bathroom for a few months before he showed any interest in trying them out, but when he was ready, I was ready, and the toilet training seat was familiar to him. (Personally, I’ve always preferred to skip the potty and go straight to the toilet, mostly because I’m squeamish about cleaning it out.)

Kids love encouragement but hate pressure. So step two was providing motivation without being overly pushy. We made a really big deal when he went on the potty. Like we’d won the lottery. He loved getting that reaction out of us, and most of the time that was all he needed. The rest of the time we used M&Ms:

One for sitting
Three for peeing
Ten for pooping

It’s a sliding scale though, and as he got more consistent, we backed off the bribery.

The process wasn’t without some speedbumps. We had a memorable evening when he removed his pull-up, pooped on the carpet, then tried to clean it up himself with foaming hand soap and a wash cloth.

You’re never “ready” for that.

What potty training tips and techniques worked for your family?


  1. You are so right about the convenience of diapers. I think in a way one of my daughters is “ready” but I’m not… that last story scares me! 🙂

  2. Ditto on the convenience of diapers as my son was ready before me. He just turned three and is day trained and it is going “almost” fabulously.

    We did a lot of naked time or at home trial runs and I just planned for the inevitable. So keep paper towels and a change of clothes on hand.

    I think the Baby bjorn potty products are hands down the best with no crazy bells and whistles – just simple, functional. I had three of the potties and two of the seats (yes – a little excessive) but I always had it on hand in the house and he eventually just started going on it whenever he was ready. We also did a lot of potty books and I he would sit on the potty and watch the “Once Upon a Potty Video” – which is absolutely awful from an adults perspective, but my son loves it and we still read the book.

    Some potty training fun – careful if you have dogs – my son occasional wants to “be like the doggies” and do his business on the lawn. Fun!

  3. Thanks for the much needed words of encouragement. Just starting w/ my 2yr old daughter as she has shown interest & likes to sit on her potty, however, not quite “ready” yet I guess. It’s a start, thanks!!!!!!

  4. Ok so I have a question for everyone….I have a daughter who is 3 and a son who is 4. I recently did the potty training thing and my daughter…..amazing! She even now goes on the big toilet and wipes along with letting me know when we are out and about that she needs to go. My son on the other hand…..well with peeing he ia doing awesome even stands up and pees in the toilet. The problem is this…he will not stop pooping in his underwear. I have done and continue to do the tricks that I have heard which include…getting way excited when he goes to the bathroom, giving treats, and having him sit on the potty every like 15 mins or so, also have taken away the underware and pants and he runs around naked. An it’s not like he doesn’t know where to go because if you ask him where he is supposed to poo he says the toilet. Anyway I am just getting really tired of cleaning poo out of underware and clothes. Also it’s like he doesn’t care or it doesn’t register untill after an then he fights with me to get him cleaned up. Does anyone have any suggestions? I’m getting seriously desperate.

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