How to potty train a 2-year old boy…

… or at least a few tips that have worked for us!

After posting a few photos of Dean in his Mickey undies on my Instagram story, I received a bunch of messages from my fellow mama friends asking if he was potty trained. I didn’t plan on chatting about potty training here on the ol’ blog, nor did I think posting the photos would create so much interest, but here we are.

Oh how life has changed! From happy hours and fun vacations to POTTY TRAINING. Sometimes you just have to laugh ;-)

A few things you should keep in mind while reading my “tips”…

  1. I am by no means an expert. Dean is our first born and therefore an experiment (sorry, kid). We don’t really know what we’re doing but what we ARE trying is working so that is why I am sharing!
  2. Not all kids are ready to use the toilet at the same age. You gotta make sure they are READY before forcing potty training on them. Our pediatrician said to definitely wait at least 3 months after James was born before focusing on it because both a new sibling AND going potty on the toilet are huge transitions and toddlers can only handle so many of those at once.
  3. My tips are only for DAY training. We aren’t night training yet for two main reasons… 1 – Dean has FINALLY started sleeping really well through the night (knock on wood…). And yes, it took 2 years for that to happen whereas James has been a good sleeper from the beginning. Like I said above, each kid is different! 2 – We’re in Florida and it is HOT. He still takes water to bed with him at night and I don’t want to take that away quite yet until I know he’s drinking enough during the day. To each their own, but we’re going to hold off on night training for a bit longer.

How did we know Dean was “ready” to potty train?

First of all, he’s been going on the toilet “for fun” for approximately 6 months. (Both #1 and #2) It wasn’t anything we ever forced but if he wanted to try, then we by all means let him! Boys tend to take longer to train and be a bit older when it happens than girls so we didn’t want to start too early and make it an overwhelming situation for him. Our pediatrician said that because he had already willingly used the toilet and showed interest, that he was definitely ready once the baby was older. If he had shown fear or refused to go in the toilet, his doctor said we should wait. Thankfully, we haven’t experienced that yet!

Secondly, he starting pooing in one specific place… he would hide behind a chair and that’s when we’d know he would need a new diaper shortly. Apparently have “a place” to potty in a diaper is a big sign that a toddler is ready for the toilet.

So, what are we doing?

I’m going to number it out for y’all so it is fairly easy to follow. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me or post them in the comment section below. I’m happy to help if I can!

  1. We decided to do the “3-day” bootcamp at home. The bootcamp is basically where you stay at home for 3 days straight and really focus on using the toilet each time they need to potty. Did we stay home for 3 days straight? Ummm, NO. This is where I changed the bootcamp up. Honestly, if we tried that we probably wouldn’t have made it through the weekend alive, LOL. We didn’t go out quite as often but we still went to the Y and did a few other fun family activities. I don’t think it hindered his training at all.
  2. NAKED is key!! I personally think it was hard for Dean to understand that undies were different than diapers on Day 1 of the bootcamp. He kept peeing in his new undies and then I would get frustrated (<– my lack of patience is another sticking point during training, ha!) I quickly found out that having him run around at home without any clothes on worked to keep him from peeing between potty breaks.
  3. Set a timer. You will need to find your “sweet time” that fits your kid. We drink a lot of water here, so I found out that Dean’s time between potty breaks is 20 minutes. I started out at 30 minutes and that was too long so I tried 15 minutes which was too short. You want it to be long enough that they have to pee (or poop) each time, but not too long where you risk an accident. I set the timer on my phone and Dean knows when it goes off to run to the bathroom and try. The timer keeps me from watching the clock or inadvertently missing a potty time.
  4. NO TV!!!!!!! I thought we could use TV as part of his reward but I quickly learned that TV proved to be quite the distraction and it caused a lot of accidents when it was on.
  5. Use bribery… specifically candy ;-) <– Don’t tell his pediatrician, LOL. He suggested doing a potty dance. HAHAHHAHAHHAHAH… yeah, right. I’m sorry but a potty dance won’t motivate my child. But wave chocolate in front of his face?? There ya go. We began with M&M’s but those weren’t big enough of a lure. Dean likes the GOOD STUFF. I picked up the mini, bite sized candy along with a bag of mini Reese’s (he IS my kid… and FYI he ate all of the Reese’s first. I was so proud, haha!) and put them in a cartoon tote bag. During those 3 days, he got to pick out a piece of candy each time he peed in the potty. If he tried with no pee then he got ONE M&M. YES, I KNOW it is a lot of candy… but guess what? IT WORKED. After those 3 days we slowly tapered the candy down to once every other potty time and then the candy ran out and we didn’t buy more. For poop, he got to pick out a “BIG TOY” (I picked up a bunch of fun crafts from Target’s dollar section) from a different bag. That was fun for him too!
  6. Buy fun undies that appeal to them. We went with Mickey Mouse and Thomas the Train. He is SOOOO excited to wear them but knows that he has to stay dry when he does wear them.
  7. Understand they won’t be perfect on Day 1. Silly me! I for sure thought as soon as I explained what we were doing to Dean that there would be no accidents. HAHAHAHAHHAAHHA (I have laughed at myself quite frequently during this process.) Day 1 there were lots. Day 2 only a couple. And by Day 3 he was even dry after nap time! Practice makes perfect and they DO understand if you stick with it.
  8. BE EXCITED!! Excitement is especially important when you’re telling them about the fun treats (whatever you choose that appeals to your kid) they will get when they use the potty. And be even more excited when they use the potty! It’ll be the most excited you’ll ever be about pee ;-) If you act super happy when they use the potty, they will want to use the potty even more. And trust me, I never thought I’d be THIS HAPPY about not having to change toddler diapers. It is quite the happy thing – Maybe his pediatrician is onto something with his happy potty dance ;-)
  9. Try your hardest not to show frustration. We’re talking toddlers here, there ARE going to be accidents and probably a lot of them. They’re just little people and don’t always remember what they should be doing. I have limited patience so when I saw Dean had an accident I would turn away from him (so he couldn’t see my face), take a DEEP breath, and then go comfort him if he was upset and tell him it was okay as I took him to the bathroom. Again, you’re going to have LOTS of accidents on Day 1 and then they’ll slowly improve over the next few days. Just remember this time is WORTH IT to save money on diapers and to not have to change diapers ;-)
  10. Use the actual toilet. I’m sure I’ll have some people disagree with me here… We didn’t go with a toddler potty because there was NO WAY I was going to be convinced to empty that thing each time. Ew, gross. I’d rather change a diaper! And two, I didn’t want to have to worry about him transitioning to the real toilet. He also thinks it is fun to use the same potty as we do. Oh, and I guess three, he has to use a regular toilet in public so I didn’t want to confuse him by using a different style at home. We purchased a cheap, small lid that is easy to set on top of the toilet so he doesn’t fall in and it works like a charm.

As a side note, I am not a HUGE fan of pull-ups, but we are putting them on him when we go out in public for the time being. I don’t want him to be embarrassed if he has an accident nor do I want a gross, soggy car seat! We tell him that they’re undies and they aren’t supposed to get wet. Most of the time they are still dry when we take potty breaks while out… and yes, I still set a timer when we’re out in public.

I know he won’t be perfect for awhile, but I am happy to have a start on the intimidating journey of potty training!

Have you potty trained your toddler? How old were they when they were ready? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

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