We started things off early. By 18 months, just like we had done with our son, we got out the potty seat and put the pottying books in the bathroom and just had her observe what we were doing, talked about our bodies and parts and things in the bathroom. We left the door open so she could see what we were doing. It helps for them to understand better this process in there.
We'd have her sit on top of the potty to brush her teeth, for example. Whatever exposure to get used to the room helped a lot!
Potty practice started really around 20 months old with sitting on the potty after wanting to follow her big brother (4 years old). She loved having her own potty while he used the big one. Most days she sat on it with clothes on and just read books. Other times I'd take her diaper down and she'd sit there for at least 15 minutes "reading" to herself.
At this stage, it was about getting comfortable in there, making it fun and easy, nonchalant, no pressure.
We started at 20 months with her sitting on the potty before getting into the bath, just because her brother went potty before getting into the bath, so we figured, why not, just try. She went just about every single time!
While she was appearing to be getting this potty thing earlier than our older one had and she was ready to be a big kid, we realized she was still little, not fully ready for going potty or able to tell us. She couldn't pull her pants down by herself or express with many words to talk about going potty. We waited until her language devloped more and she was physically bigger before getting more routine with peeing.
We started having her consistently go at the same times each day. It started with that evening, before the bath trip to the potty. Then we added in a trip right when she woke up from her nap around 2ish. Then we added a trip before bed at night, then a trip first thing in the morning when she woke up, etc. We just did it slowly over the course of about 6 months. She enjoyed it and was happy, it was no pressure.
During this point she wore diapers all the time still.
Around June, when I was nearing summer and getting out of work full time (I work in a school), on weekends at home we'd have her go pee more often. Even when we visited Sesame Street Place we had her go pee every time I went to the bathroom, even just to try. It was awesome, easier than changing diapers while there! At this point, she still used diapers, with underwear over them sometimes.
Pottying at this stage was just part of our routine, something we did, like eating, like putting shoes on, we sat you on the potty, no big thing, no expectation, just try, and 99% of the time she went!
After that, we waited until I was home in the summer to up the ante. When I got out of work the third week in June, I had her go more frequently during the day. Then we waited until our sitter was on vacation for two weeks and I'd be home off work for that long, after we'd traveled for the Fourth of July, so the second week of July we really went into potty time high gear.
We went shoping at Wal-Mart and she picked out her own underwear. We made a big deal of it, I picked her up early from daycare before getting her brother so just she and Mommy could go shopping. She was psyched! She walked in the store, too, no cart, so she could really shop. She loved it! We got the coolest Bat Girl and Super Woman underwear, as well as some Princess Sofia, who I've never even seen before but she had to have.
Then we were ready for our Potty Practice Party weekend :) It's the same as what most call the Potty Training Boot Camp but I think has a more fun name.
Day 1 of Potty Practice Party, we stayed home three full days for the most part. She wore underwear completely during the day. If we left the house she wore Pull-Ups with underwear over them. When she napped and slept at night she wore diapers.
I know people say to get rid of diapers totally, but with our son we did this same process and he was never confused by the switching up of the attire, because it was normal and routine, he was fine and so has our daughter been. I commute an hour a day, I have to have them in something otherwise accidents would be rampant I'm afraid in the car, so this works.
We started by watching this movie above, staring her favorite ELMO. It's a fantastic movie, I highly suggest it to get your child interested in the pottying adventure.
I kept her drinking tons more those three days. The purpose here is so that the pee has to come out more frequently, which gives them a learning experience of feeling the sensation and learning when to get to the potty and where the pee goes.
For about six months prior to pottying really started, after Christmas and birthdays, I kept a stash of prizes for this purpose of pottying. When she went pee she'd get a prize. The first day I let her get prizes even for sitting there.
The prizes included cars, trucks, puzzles, ring pops, princesses, dolls, hair brush, books, stickers, etc. All random things you could find at the Dollar Tree or Target dollar bin. I collected them over Christmas and birthdays as well as picked up random things.
We had a lot of accidents those first few days. Tons, as in she only made it to the potty a few times. I was pretty discouraged, wondering if this was the right timing, because I didn't understand it. She'd been going pee NO problem for months now, no issues, and yet when we really were doing it these few days she complained, had tons of accidents and I wasn't sure what was going on. I think it was just realizing "oh, this is not fun each time, it's a chore now" happened. I recall this happening with my son, too, about a week into pottying, he got sick of having to stop playing every half hour to go pee.
We pushed through! I said I'd do it for a week and if she hated it, we'd stop, but I wanted to build that consistency. I think being consistent is the BIGGEST thing to lead to success or failure with pottying. If your child is developmentally and physically ready, then the most important thing is keeping up with the process, not slacking on your part. You have to be ready to potty train, not just your child, I fully believe that.
So, we kept at it, going pee every 15-20 minutes the first two days, then moving to every 30 minutes or so that week after. She found success! We stopped giving her tons to drink after those first few days, too, just let her drink regularly after that.
We kept a station in my room next to the bathroom of extra clothes, underwear, etc. This made it easier than getting upstairs to change her in her room. Having extra supplies is key. Buy way more packs of underwear than you think you'll need. I suggest at least 3 packs of 5. you also need to leave some extras at daycare (at least 4 pairs in the beginning), some in the cars (at least 2) or diaper bag, and then all over the house... and with accidents you go through a lot at first.
She even got excited wearing her brother's underwear! Girls love superheroes and trains, too!
That's one thing I've learned about pottying, you have to make it FUN and exciting, new and like it's a cool thing. So that can be boys' underwear, it can be silly trucks or new books that you read only in the bathroom. Whatever it is, find it and keep up with it, or change it up with new fun things.
We did a lot of waiting and sitting and reading in the bathroom. It takes TONS of effort and patience.
I told my husband at first I wasn't sure which was harder - potty training my son at 2.5 years old with his younger sister who was only 4 months old, crying and nursing her... or potty training my daughter at age 2 years and 3 months old with a 4 1/2 year old asking me for snacks and needing to go outside, etc. I think honestly training my second was harder as far as having two kids goes.
I've had moms ask if they should really get a kids' potty or just teach their child to go on the big potty. I always say BOTH. For us, it was great for our kids to have a choice. Each time we went into the bathroom, our daughter was able to pick which potty she wanted to go on, which made her feel more in control.
Also, everywhere we went the following weeks that we started the Potty Practice Party, we took that portable kids' potty with us! We took it to soccer practice and the beach, wherever we went, we kept it in the car in case she needed it. It was familiar and easier than finding a restroom.
We took it outside a lot, too, when they were playing. Gotta say, training in the summer is the BEST, since they wear few clothes anyway and can be practically naked out there.
Don't forget to snap some pics. I think they are adorable, learning and sitting and waiting, toes and stories. These are things you'll want to remember. Maybe they won't someday, but it's OK :)
She was such a big kid, some highs and super excitement, filled with pride.
But being a two year old, we had some low days, with whining, needing extra support and hugs on the potty. I literally would hold her while there, hugging her and telling her "you can do it! you can show me that pee!" while she sucked her thumb saying "I did pee already!"
She was more sensitive through the phase this time than our older son did a few years ago. She had less patience, too, being a new two year old, than our son did being 2.5 when he trained. We had to keep her focus, attention and excitement in there, which sometimes took a lot of energy!
Dressing girls in dresses and easy to pull down skirts and shorts helps also with the process, just makes it easier for them to participate and again be more in control themselves.
She was SO happy about her successes. We literally jumped up and down EVERY time she went on the potty! Every time she tried but nothing came out, we said "good job for trying, we'll come back again in a few minutes."
If she had poop accidents (which we've had every couple of days, poop is not coming easily for this gal... as she tells me, "I like pee, I don't like poop."), we would bring her to the bathroom, say, "That's OK, you had an accident, let's get you cleaned up. But next time, where does poop go? That's right, in the potty." We'd dump her underwear of poop into the potty so she knew that's where it goes. Then I'd sit her on the potty to try. Every single time she'd pee, and again it reinforced this is where poop goes. It's a work in progress the poop part, but we're getting there.
Extra snuggles from Dad helped on tough days when playing was WAY more fun than sitting around.
We used the pee-kaboo potty sticker and LOVED IT. She still gets psyched at peeing on that fire truck.
We said if she was dry for a whole day we'd get her a new baby doll, that was exciting to her. My mom took her and her brother and cousin to a toy store to pick things out, she happened to find a doll all on her own that came with a potty, she was so excited :)
I HIGLHY suggest if you have a daughter who loves dolls to get a potty for the dolls. My daughter sometimes didn't want to go into the bathroom but I'd say, "But your baby doll has to pee, let's take her in." She'd go, and sit next to her and go pee herself. Voila!
Big brother was the BEST helper. She wanted to be just like him. He wanted to help.
At first, I wasn't sure how I would do those first few days giving my daughter prizes (cranberries, raisins, M&Ms, jelly beans, trucks, prizes from the bag, etc.) and my son being there not getting anything. So I just decided, if he helped her, he'd get a prize, too. It was a win-win for all of us. He was so excited helping her to the potty and telling her it was OK, and she was happy to have him in there with her, and I didn't have a whining big brother on my hands complaining he didn't get prizes, too. The prizes lasted those first 3 days at home, then we only gave her a prize if she asked for one the next two weeks.
This picture above is a MUST for you to take ... the pride of my children as they learend to do this big thing on their own is HUGE, I love seeing it. I have this exact pic, toothy grin, from my son when he was getting the hang of pottying :)
We took her to Story Land after 3 weeks of the big pottying process. We did a potty party for our older one with treats and playground fun, but with our second we decided to keep it more for just our little family, the whole celebrating the pee thing :) So we went to Story Land to celebrate her being a big girl and she LOVED it!
So now, fast forward about 4 weeks later, and she's doing GREAT. A few accidents each week, but nothing major. Every time she has an accident it's because we lost track of time ourselves. Again, consistency helps them to get used to it. She's even started telling us a few times now that she has to go pee, without us telling her. I know from experience with my older one, though that that takes a long time before they really tell you instead of you reminding them.
So the first two weeks we took her every 30 minutes and definitely within 20 minutes of drinking anything. We watched what she drank, too, because what goes in must come out, so being observant of that helps you in knowing when she needs to go to the potty.
Now we take her about every 45 minutes or so, again within 20 minutes of drinking anything since we've noticed that's her pattern. You have to watch to see what your child's body does for how quickly they pee after eating and drinking.
We have a lot of dedication to the process. Even on our way to Story Land we had to pull over on the side of the road, get out our kids' portable potty seat and have her go outside the car! We have to be conscious of it all the time or else there are accidents and that isn't fun. So keeping up with the time really helps to keep her going. We still get excited, clap, and she asks to tell whoever is around that she's gone pee. "I did pee pee!!!!" she says with this huge grin on her face.
Our little princess, not so little anymore. :) We are SO proud of her progress, she's such a big kid now and SO proud of herself.
Pottying is NOT easy. It's hard and SO time-consuming. It takes a lot out of the parents, so much patience is needed. But then a few weeks into it and I'm feeling like, "no problem, we've got this."
Good luck to those of you starting the pottying adventure soon!