The Potty Training Tricks that Changed My Life

Ah potty training. While most parents look forward to being done with diapers, it can also feel like a huge mountain you’d rather just ignore. How do I start? Is my kid ready? What do I need? What do I do? I DON’T WANT PEE ON MY COUCH! Just a few thoughts I had before I took the leap with my first.

My oldest started showing signs of readiness at around 20 months. She was interested in what the toilet was for, and would let us know right away when she was uncomfortable in her diaper (this is a perk of cloth a lot of parents notice, as those disposables just absorb too well).

My oldest would tap the front of her diaper with her hand to tell me she wanted a change. I knew this was a sign to start getting ready to potty learn! Image credit: Sarah S.

At first, I took a kind of a non-committal approach, but I quickly realized that this was probably more confusing to my little one than the no pressure vibe I was going for. So I picked a week where we could plan to stay home (Thanks, COVID19? I guess?), and took the leap. Things went quick and easy and my little one was awake trained well before her second birthday. Here are my top 3 tricks that made all the difference, taking us from overwhelmed to diaper free, fast and stress free.

1. Find underwear your kid loves and hype it up

If your underpants don’t make you wanna dance, what’s the point?

We got two packs to start our potty training journey. A set with flowers, and a set with wacky farm animals. Skateboarding cows and scuba diving pigs. My daughter loved the animals and could easily understand “try not to get the piggies wet, or they have to go away”, as a way of understanding what happens when she had an accident. I immediately noticed a difference in how interested in the process she was in the flower undies versus the animal ones. And even naked, a method many swear by to help littles notice their accidents, didn’t have as big an impact. My kid could be standing in a puddle and just walk away, but she did not want her beloved jump-roping duck undies to go away!

2. Always be prepared for potty training disaster

Training pants offer protection while still encouraging learning.

That being said, even with best made plans, you can’t go naked or go straight to big kid underwear full time. You need to be ready for messes and accidents. We used a handful of trainers for when we were somewhere I was more worried about accidents (like the car seat). They are far better than disposable training pants because they allow your child to feel wet and react to what is happening. So they give that learning feedback, while still offering some protection to the world around your little potty learner.

Lifesaver Mats became such a big part of our life while potty training, my kiddo used them as blankets and capes for all kinds of play!

When in doubt though, get those Lifesaver Mats out! I spread them out on our couch for TV time, and lined her kitchen chair with one, basically put one under her wherever an accident would be REALLY hard to clean during that week at home. With 3 sizes to choose from, these are perfect for potty training. And great for under your toddler potty for anyone with bad aim or those times they just didn’t quite make it.

Lifesaver Mats can cover lots of things you want to protect during early learning days. Image credit: Erica C.

3. Create the perfect on the go potty training system

Going from, ‘ok I think she’s got this, she hasn’t had an accident in days... at home’ to venturing out into the world felt big to me. Add in a longer car ride and COVID19 meaning more public rest rooms were closed, and I lost all confidence. I didn’t want to send mixed messages by putting her in a diaper for an outing, but needed a solution so she could tell me ‘potty’ wherever we are and get what she needs.

Enter the car potty system.

Wacky Cats Lifesaver Mat in action. Image credit: Rebecca D.

We have small seats on our at home toilets and got a musical potty for training, but now a year and a half later I still have an extra, regular toddler potty, lifesaver mat, and wipes in my car at all times. You just never know and I never want to discourage my daughter or make her uncomfortable. For extra easy clean up, put a liner in the potty to get rid of solids fast and easy!

Once I figured these things out, the ideas all came together and I couldn’t believe how quick my kiddo trained. Here is hoping her little sister is the same!

What worked for you potty training? What are you most nervous about if you’re just starting the journey? Let us know in the comments below!

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