Potty Training My 17-Month-Old (Days 4-Completion)

I began writing about our potty training experience when we were about to begin day 4. I couldn’t blog about it consistently but I’m happy to say we are done with potty training and haven’t had a miss/accident in nearly a week now. I felt like we were pretty much done around the 10th day. According to the Tiny Potty Training Book a potty trained child isn’t necessarily a child that doesn’t have any accidents. That’s inevitable here and there even with older children who have been off diapers for months. The most important thing is that my little one figured out pee and poop goes in the toilet/potty, I have a good idea of when she needs to go and she’s also able to tell me when she needs to go if I haven’t prompted her myself.

Our days leading up to completion didn’t show a clear progressive improvement; meaning she didn’t have less and less accidents every day. The first time she had only two accidents, I thought we were doing great and the next day she had maybe 5-6 accidents. We had some similar patterns repeat. It was a bit discouraging and of course frustrating too but I was aware that it had to do with my general mood that day as well as how much attention I paid to her (forget looking at your laptop or even a book for a few days while kiddo is around) so I took a deep calming breath and stuck with it.

She was super sensitive to any stranger in the house, like the repairman or cleaning lady. Anyone other than the usual people in the house (i.e. her dad and I) and she would hold her pee even if I took her to the bathroom over and over again over the span of  1-2 hours until she wouldn’t be able to hold it any longer and pee during a hundredth trip to the bathroom or out of sight in a corner on the floor. There was progress in other ways though. Not simply in relation to the number of accidents. A few days after I took her diapers off, she began saying ‘oh no’ or grabbing her pants when she’d have an accident so that was a good sign that she understood pee-pee wasn’t meant to go there. Also gradually she would tell me she needed the bathroom a little earlier than the moment she needed to go and could no longer hold it in. Now she’s at the point where she’ll tell me for example while we are outside in the garden and I will pick her up and walk to the bathroom indoors without rushing like a madwoman, and she’ll be ok. So maybe half a minute of a walk. I haven’t tested her much longer than that. I definitely need to prompt her most of the time though and that doesn’t mean she’s any less trained than if she were to tell me herself all the time. Parents have to remind older kids to go to the bathroom all the time before outings and such because they’re too busy to stop playing or whatever they’re doing. As for outings in the earlier days, I have to be honest, we didn’t do any diaper free outings beyond 15 minutes near our home because I wanted to avoid the stress and inconvenience of having to worry about her wetting her pants in the middle of the metro or taxi. In Istanbul we don’t have a car so that means I can’t keep a potty near me or pull over to have her do her business on the side of the road whenever needed. Also I prefer avoiding public bathrooms in places like the metro station. We had several long trips, the first one being on day 5 where it took us an hour to get to the osteopath. Of course I still took her to the bathroom as I normally would while practicing EC, except with a backup. She only wet her diaper once during the entire trip (on the way to the clinic, during the session, during lunch, and on the way back) and it wasn’t a lot either. I only had to change her once after lunch I believe. Another day we took a trip to the tailor and I think the entire outing took about an hour. She remained dry and didn’t need the bathroom. The final and longest trip was to Cyprus! She did awesome. It was past the 10th day, maybe the 11th day. I can’t remember. I took her to the bathroom once at the airport in Istanbul, once on the plane, once at the airport in Cyprus and we took one car break on the way home. Clean diaper and that was the last one I ever used during an outing or at all for that matter. We’ve had several long outings since.

A few notes worth mentioning: we did not have any naked time even while at home. We wear clothes on a normal basis and she would be too without a diaper. She had to learn potty training with undies (as well as pants or long socks/leggings depending on the weather) because that is what she normally wears and would be wearing as a potty trained child. Secondly, you might be wondering whether she tried putting up a fight or cried at all during the potty training process. Yes, she did. Sometimes she would try to get out of my arms or refuse to walk to the bathroom with me when I prompted her or even after having told me she was in need of going herself. I tried to remain calm, I sang to her or came up with a game to distract her and to make it fun for her. It did work most of the time. If she tried to get off the potty too early I tried to keep her on it for a little longer by distracting her further. Sometimes if she really insisted she was ‘done’, I would let her get off and leave even if I wasn’t too sure whether she really was done or not because I wanted her to feel trusted and confident. Not a big deal if she were to have a miss shortly after, or I would try to take her again soon when she seemed less resistant. If she did have a miss shortly after, I would remind her pee goes in potty as we cleaned up, and move on. Finally, some moms prefer not to use any type of reward system during potty training including praise. I did personally praise her by saying ‘good job’ and that was very encouraging to her. I did not give her any treats or such though. Potty training is a necessary developmental milestone and I don’t believe it requires or should be encouraged with external rewards. External rewards could potentially cause power struggles too. Now she’ll occasionally remind me to praise her when she’s done and say ‘good job’ or ‘yay’.

I’m happy and relieved we are done before the next baby’s arrival! I’m also thankful for the Go Diaper Free community. There’s lots of great resources online. Check out the different support groups on Facebook. You can also grab the GDF EC book and/or the Tiny Potty Training book, find a local GDF certified coach or shoot me a message and we can talk about where you could start.

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