Months ago another blogger asked me if I knew of or had any information on simplified potty training.
My curiosity was piqued. I started asking other parents how they trained their kids and read up on some popular methods.
There are so many, many ways to go about potty training.
What would make one potty training method simpler or easier than the other? That was the question I kept asking when I learned about the many ways parents teach their children to use the toilet.
So here is a brief guide to some popular methods of potty training, what’s simple about them and what’s not so simple about them.
Potty learning can start as early as hours after birth.
Elimination Communication relies on a lot of parent involvement and reading infant and young toddler cues. While it may seem a bit strange in the Western world, it is widely practiced in developing nations. Babies are held over bowls and encouraged to relieve themselves. Older babies are put on small potties. Eventually the parent and baby can communicate to each other on when the baby needs to go. The idea is that the child will be potty trained before two and you’ll save a bundle by not using diapers.
I actually did some EC as they call it with our oldest. From four months to ten months I sat him on the potty several times a day. We had some good success with it but at ten months our son started to refuse the potty and I was feeling some burnout from the work involved so I stopped.
The simple of this method: less diapers! A lot less diapers. Less garbage or less laundry depending on what you use. And a whole lot of savings.
The not-so-simple of this method: relies on a lot of parent involvement and the learning process can be long.
If you’re interested in Elimination Communication check out Andrea Olson’s book EC Simplified. Andrea is well versed in potty training for the under 18 months set and says her book can help anyone – even if your baby is in full-time daycare.
Early Potty Training (before 2)
Early, by North American standards, potty training does work.
You can read more here about how she decided Oliver was ready for potty training and get the full diary of their 12 days of potty training here. Carli’s son was in daycare part-time but she kept him out for two weeks while they potty trained. It also sounds like her daycare provider was able to accommodate an “early” potty trained toddler. Something to keep in mind.
The simple of this method: again, less diapers. A shorter window of potty learning than Elimination Communication.
The not-so-simple of this method: you may have to take your child out of daycare to train them and/or it may not be possible for your care provider to accommodate a toilet trained child that is being cared for with children that are in diapers. While your toddler may be capable of using the toilet they may not be willing.
The Three Day Method
I’d heard about the three day potty training method from a friend that did it successfully when her son was two and a half. He took to it easily and after three days he was not only toilet trained during the day but was toilet trained overnight. Potty Train in Three Days by Louis Kleint seems to be the most widely used book for this method.
The method: you stay at home and get your child to drink a lot of water. You clean up a lot of accidents. You use positive words about the toilet, always encouraging and never scolding them when they pee on the carpet. The child eventually wants to use the toilet and has the confidence to do it themselves. You completely ditch the diapers, training pants or pull-ups with this method.
The simple: trained for day and night in just three days??!! Sign me up.
The not-so-simple: you’re not going anywhere for 72 hours. Anecdotally, for every person I have talked to that used the three day method and had success, I talked to or read about a person that it was a complete and utter fail for.
Wait Until They Can Do It Themselves
Mother of five Meagan just waits until her children are ready to train themselves. Meagan says she likes to take the easy way out on potty training. As a mother of five she’s done a lot of potty training and after some early frustrations decided to wait until her children were older for potty training. It sounds like her laid back approach means an easy week of work to get a child out of diapers between the ages of three and four.
The simple: less work for parents.
The not-so-simple: some children will happily stay in diapers for a long, long time. If you’re at all concerned about what other parents think, you may be uncomfortable with having an older child in diapers. The big one for me: more time wiping bums and dealing with diapers.
Here’s the thing: easy potty training is defined by the person doing the training. For some parents three days locked in a bathroom with their three year-old might seem easy. For others, holding a newborn over a bowl within hours of their birth and avoiding diapers entirely might seem easy.
Our simple method? The one that I am still in shock that it worked?
Let’s call it Slow Potty Training.
It was about four months between potty introduction to being in mini boxer shorts and down to one or two accidents a week.
It was low key, fairly stress free and worked well for the personality and disposition of our first born. It also suited how much time and energy we wanted to invest in it.
Our method: we used some
bribery incentives – chocolate buttons or Thomas the Tank Engine episodes plus a lot of clapping and cheering by us – to transition to each stage. There was a lot of naked time at home in the beginning. Once he got the hang of using the small potty on his own, or telling us he needed to use the big toilet, he stopped asking for the incentives. We only got out of diapers outside of the house once our son was consistently using an adult toilet at home.
Yes, I skipped the whole bringing a little toilet out with us phase.
It was simple for us for many reasons that it may not be simple for another family: we only had one child (at the time), our son is in daycare part-time, we aren’t that busy on weekends so we got a lot of “training” in on Saturday mornings while Henry played with trains and my husband and I chatted and had one too many coffees.
After this positive experience I am totally open to the idea that our second born may be, or will likely be, a different potty learner all together. He’s already a very different baby. Maybe I have a three day trainer this time around… let’s hope!
If you’ve potty trained a child before was there a method that you used that made it simple or easy for your family? I’m also curious: do you think training a child earlier makes life simpler or harder?