What I Learned From Potty Training Our Son



If I told you I spent the last two weeks in the bathroom, you would probably think that I had been very seriously ill, Right? Nope, just potty training our little boy. Since we only have one child this was our first experience with potty training. I honestly don’t think anyone could have prepared me for this time in parenthood.

First, let me give my disclaimer. I have read a lot of stuff on potty training in the last few months, and the only thing I brought away from that is EVERY child is different. Reading may give you some ideas, but chances are what worked for one child isn’t going to work for yours. It takes a unique approach for each child. I just wanted that to be stated before I share a little of what worked for us.

I love Cloth Training Pants: This is our second time trying to get our little one to use the potty. The first time was an epic fail! We started off using a very common method of no underwear and letting him go free. Let me tell you by the end of the day there were as many tears as pee pee messes. Next, we tried pull ups. Wow, he might as well have been wearing diapers. We had absolutely no success with them either.


On this last attempt I found the answer to  be cloth training pants. The messes weren’t nearly as bad to clean up while using them, but he was still getting wet enough that he was uncomfortable. I was worried about how they would hold up to nights and outings, (since I was determined not to use pull ups at those times either) so I decided to reinforce a few pairs. I used this tutorial from It’s a Long Story and they worked great. Mine didn’t come out looking nearly as nice as hers (the verdicts isn’t in if it was the machine or operator) But, if you aren’t a sewer she also sells them in her shop.

Get them EXCITED: It was a lot of work to convince our little one that the potty was the way to go. The thing that worked the best was my husband read him a potty book called “Ian’s new potty,” but replaced Ian’s name with our son’s. You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference that made, he loved it. We had to take that book with us every time we went to the bathroom. To say that I read that book 50 times is probably an understatement.

Throw a party: On the day that we started potty training. I told him we were going to have a big boy party. We woke up that morning, threw away his last diaper and the celebration began. I tried to make everything that day a little extra special, we did new activities, and had a small treat when he had potty successes. I also, made a sticker chart to show how many times he went, so we could show daddy when he got home.

Rewards Work: He received a gummy bear each time he used the bathroom, and that definitely helped him to get excited. Of course, those things can’t last forever, and we did find a little resistance when trying to break the rewards. But, it was possible to do.

They need your fully devoted attention: I think I was a little unprepared for this one. I knew to block off a few days, but really it was 2 weeks of just working on potty training. Nothing else! We had a little problem with him telling us every five minutes that he needed to go. As soon as I would think he was just playing and ignore the request (out of sheer exhaustion from running back and forth) he would have an accident. So patience is a must and don’t make any plans to do anything, but hang out around the house.

I will warn you though, our potty training week started off too good and about half way through we had some challenging days. But, I think when he saw that we were serious and weren’t going back, things quickly got better and he started cooperating more. It has taken two weeks, (You should see my house, I am behind on everything) but we made it to the other side. I’m sure there will still be some problems here and there, but I think (hope) the worst is over.

I would love to hear what worked for you?


  1. says

    You know what’s worked for me for two of my kids (the third isn’t ready yet)?

    Doing absolutely nothing. No rewards, no special pants, no undivided attention even. I waited until it was my daughters’ idea. My eldest was four when she decided she was ready, and my middle was 2.5, and they both potty trained overnight. A few accidents here and there, but otherwise, it all went off without a hitch. We’ll wait on my son, too, because this worked so well. I knew so many folks who started so early and then were “training” for two whole years. I’m way too lazy for that!

    • Lu says

      I pretty much did the same as you Starr, I waited until mine asked/were ready. The one (and only) piece of advice I’ve taken from somebody with regard to my kids is ‘If they’re ready then it won’t be hard work’ And I used that for everything. Kids can only do things in their own time. I think there’s a lot of pressure on little ones from parents/nursery schools etc because of people following guidelines and books rather than listening (and I mean really listening) to their own little ones, because like Brenna said, each child is individual and what works for one won’t work for another. We have two kids and they both couldn’t be any more different from one another.

      First time I’ve ever commented on here and I’ve waffled A LOT hehe. Well done to everyone’s little people xx

      • says

        Thanks for commenting. Glad to have you here. I definitely agree. There were several people we knew that started potty training a lot earlier than us. A year later they were still working on it and my son confidently had it after 2 weeks. I think that was definitely the benefit to waiting till he was a little older. But, as we said every kid is different.

  2. says

    Thanks for the great tips. My oldest was pretty much potty trained while he was in daycare so, I was pretty unprepared when we decided to potty train the little guy. He is 3 now and does a great job with peeing in the toilet, but, is having a hard time with going #2 in the toilet. I am really over the poopy messes. I think your suggestion about making him know that we are serious about it will really help. And I think he will really love the stickers. We will give it a try!

  3. Molly says

    Thank you! My little guy just turned 3 and its been more than a year of grandparents asking when’s he gonna potty train? We’ve had potty seats and training pants patiently waiting. We’be got Elmo potty DVDs and 3 different potty board books but my son has been a no go all year. I appreciate you sharing that you tried (and failed) more than once as I feel like the only failing mommy in the US on this topic. If I see 1 more of my Facebook friends’ kid use the potty before mine does I might cry. We’re going “all in” this weekend and I’m praying it works!

  4. Molly says

    THANK YOU! My son just turned 3 in January and I feel like the world’s biggest mom failure because he’s not potty trained yet. The grandparents have been asking for over a year if he’s potty trained yet (over, and over, and over…)We have books, an Elmo potty dvd, 2 potty seats (one for upstairs and 1 downstairs), a sticker chart, and all sorts of fun underwear and training pants. i flat out refused to buy pull ups because my son’s major protest is he’s not giving up the diapers and let’s be honest pullups are the same darn thing. I so appreciate you sharing that you tried more than once and failed. I’m trying (again) this weekend whole hog hoping I can endure over my son’s adamant protests that he’s not wearing underwear or using the potty but we’ll see. I am hoping for success but expecting failure, I can’t really change his mind only he can do that. I swear if 1 more of my facebook friends posts how their 18-24 month old just went potty I’ll cry. But thank you, you’ve given me faith that we will survive this and it’s not as easy as some folks claim!

  5. says

    Thanks so much for sharing! I’m on my third attempt with my three year old. He has definitely been my hardest to potty train. But none of my kids were very easy. Here’s to hoping it sticks with my guy this time!!

  6. Valerie Lawler says

    All kids ARE different! When my oldest was 20 months and I was pregnant with the second I couldn’t bear the idea of having two kids in diapers. I just told him that he was a big boy and it was time to use the potty; he took to it like a duck to water! My daughter was a different story – well past three when she started, and was still having accidents when she started kindergarten. When my grandson was two and a half I took a vacation week and we focused on getting the job done. Just like your son, he had to understand that we weren’t backing down and he did just fine.

  7. says

    Good for you for ditching the pull-ups. They delay and complicate training so much for most kids because they can’t feel wet. What an amazing and expensive diaper company invention to make them money and actually hurt our success at potty training. *groan*

    Cloth training pants and underwear are my preferred approaches but the dedication/devotion to the child during the learning period is exhausting. It’s hard not being prepared for it, and then realizing your house is falling apart around you while you focus on training.

    Good for you (and your son)! I followed a similar approach with my kids with great success. Pinning this to share….

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