12 Things I Learned from Potty Training + My Favorite Potty Training Gear

Potty training. These two words evoked fear in my mind. I envisioned tantrums, major messes, and stressful days ahead when we decided to venture into the world of potty training a few weeks before Brody turned 2. Much to my surprise, the whole process was smooth, un-stressful, quick, and dare I even say fun for Brody?

I have waited nearly 3 months to write this post because I did not want to jinx it. It seemed too good to be true. Too simple to be the potty training I had in mind. But today I am ready to share our experiences and what we learned along the way in hopes that it calms your nerves if you are thinking about starting the process.

Before I get to the good stuff, I have to admit that the main reason I think it was such a success was because Brody was ready. There’s no magic age, but I’m convinced there is a magic time—when your little one is showing signs of interest and when you are mentally ready to fully tackle the process. Maybe this is 18 months, maybe this is 3 years old—but whatever it is, be sure to capture it. What were the signs for us? Dry diapers after nap time. Telling us when he was peeing and wanting the wet diaper off ASAP. Putting him on the toilet when he was in the poop position. A huge interest in reading potty books. And a general curiosity when my husband and I would go to the bathroom.

So let the pressure go. When you’re both ready, you’ll know.

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12 Things I Learned from Potty Training

1. Don’t drag it out.

Find an open weekend on your calendar and mark it off for potty training. I set the date on my calendar about a month in advance, filled my husband in that this was our plan and stuck to it. No other to-dos that weekend, nowhere to be, no resorting back to diapers (except overnight)--our agenda was just potty training and it was actually kind of nice.

2. Stock up on toilet paper.

I am pretty sure Brody uses about 3 yards per potty session. There is something exciting and cool about toilet paper when you are a toddler. He is so proud of wiping. Our stash of extra TP rolls quickly dwindled once Brody was potty trained.

3. The Book “Oh Crap! Potty Training” is the potty training Bible.

My husband and I both read Oh Crap! Potty Training together the weeks leading up to our potty training weekend. It helped make sure we were both on the same page and served as a great reference guide. We followed the book to a T and I would definitely give the book credit for our success.

4. Your toddler will either love or hate public bathrooms.

Brody loves them (and I hate them). There is something cool about the bathrooms in the stores and restaurants we visit, so it never fails that Brody has to check them out. A few of his little friends are not as big of a fan of public bathrooms—a lot of times this seems to be because a traumatic automatic flush mid-pee. If the toilet you are sitting your little one on is automatic, be sure to cover the sensor.

5. Night training is a different beast.

It’s a beast we haven’t even tried to attempt. We still put a diaper on Brody at night. Most nights, he’s dry when he wakes up, but he can be a deep sleeper and this momma is trying to get all of the sleep in that she can before baby #2 arrives! We will probably work on night training in the next 6 months—I figure I’ll already be up all night with a newborn, so we might as well work on the night training then.

6. You can always pack your potty in the car.

We decided to go on a long day trip a week into potty training. Crazy? Perhaps, but it went exceptionally well. We stopped every 2 hours for a potty break and also brought Brody’s potty in the trunk with us.

7. It is safer just to take the pants off than leave them hanging around their knees or ankles.

I’ve had to throw away underwear at least twice in public bathrooms thanks to not pulling his pants and underwear down far enough for him. When little boy’s pee, it can go everywhere, so watch out.

8. Elastic shorts are essential. Underwear is not.

I never considered how Brody’s wardrobe would have to adapt to potty training. Those cute shorts with zippers and buttons became a nuisance. His elastic waisted shorts that were sitting in the donate pile suddenly fit now that a diaper wasn’t involved. During our potty training weekend, we had Brody mostly in loose, elastic, pajama pants to help teach him how to “push down” his own pants. We did not put him in underwear for a solid 3 weeks since it can often feel like a diaper—he went commando everywhere.

9. Nagging never works.

I am grateful to have a laid-back husband because our first 3 hours of potty training set the tone for the whole weekend. My natural approach was to ask Brody every 20 minutes if he needed to go potty. Here he was wandering around on the rug and furniture and there I was freaking out on the inside about the potential mess that was about to occur. Brody was frustrated and annoyed every time I would ask. My husband ever-so-lovingly told me to stop. Stop nagging, stop asking, and trust our little guy. And what happened? It worked.

10. Bribing was a bad idea.

Before we read the “Oh Crap” book, we would occasionally bribe Brody with a treat if he would poop on the toilet. He could have a chocolate chip or watch his favorite youtube channel. This created a habit we had to painfully break during our potty training weekend. He was expecting a reward afterwards every time the first day. Next kiddo, we will be avoiding getting ourselves stuck down the rabbit hole of treats.

11. There is no such thing as too many toilets.

Stock up every bathroom in your home with potties. We bought a combination of ones that go on the regular toilet seat and ones that are freestanding. We also bought ones for the bathrooms at all of the grandparent’s houses. We’ve bought at least half a dozen potties over the year. The freestanding potties work well when they are going #2 because their legs can touch the floor. Dangling legs seemed to make it more difficult for Brody to poop. We keep a freestanding potty in Brody’s room during nap time and he will wake up and use it if he needs to pee mid-nap. Now that he has gotten the hang of potty training, I have preferred the ones that sit on the toilet seat better because cleaning poop out of the freestanding potty can be pretty gross at times.

12. And last, but not least, potty training is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. When you’re ready, take a deep breath, trust your kiddo, and imagine life without having to change diapers!

Our Potty Training Essentials

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One: Oh Crap! Potty Training | If you read one book this year, let this be the one. It's the bible of potty training and I loved the author's approach to the whole process.

Two: Potty | This is the exact potty we use. We bought 3 of them (for our home and grandparents). Great price and works well!

Three: Wipes | Having wipes on hand has still been helpful for cleaning off skid marks from his little potty to wiping his butt when toilet paper is not doing the trick.

Four: Elastic Shorts | Look for a pair that is easy to pull down and comfy to wear. You may need to size down from the size you are currently buying since diapers will no longer be filling them in.

Five: Underwear | Let your toddler pick out the tackiest underwear they can find. They will love it and that will make your life easier when it's time to get dressed for the day. I might cringe slightly when I am folding up Brody's character covered undies, but they sure make him happy.

Six: Toilet Paper | Stock up. Toddlers like to use lots of it.

Seven: Fun Soap | Brody always wants to rush back to playing right after he goes to the bathroom. Having fun soap has helped us to teach him to wash his hands.

Eight: Portable Potty | Friends of ours have raved about this travel potty. It folds up compactly and the little potty bags that hang off of it are perfect for the car or road trips.

Nine: Potty Seat | I love that this potty seat has handles.

Ten: Stool | Now that we are using the big toilet more and more, a stool gives Brody more independence to go on his own.

Eleven: Big Boy Underpants | This book was one of our favorites to read in the months leading up to potty training. The girl version, Big Girl Panties, looks equally cute.

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If you've potty trained, what surprised you most about the process? What tips would you share?