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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Potty Training My 17-Month-Old (Days 1-3)

If you’re familiar with my previous posts, you would know that I have been practicing EC with my daughter since she was about 4 weeks old. It’s been a great experience and I am planning on doing the same with my next baby, maybe starting even earlier depending on my postpartum recovery. We did not have her out of diapers as a baby. She was in diapers all the time, up until now. However I would respond to her signals as much as possible and I think I could say that she was almost never going number 2 in her diapers starting from 5.5 months old with a few exceptions here and there (if I missed her signal and she was in the process of going or was already done, or she had teething related diarrhea at some point so each passing wind meant poop would go along with it etc.)

At 13 months, she decided to use a word for signaling potty and that was ‘kéké’, a more polite way of saying the very common word for poop ‘kaka’ (speaking for Arabic and Turkish – I’m not sure about other languages). She would also walk towards the bathroom after saying it. At first this only meant she needed to go #2, but later it also meant she was about to pee or had already peed. Then she started using the word ‘hammam’ as well as ‘kéké’ around I think 15 months old and she now only uses the word ‘hammam’ which means bathroom in Arabic for both #1 and #2. Initially for pee, she would tell us only after having gone or was about to go and would usually refuse to be stopped from doing what she’s doing (busy child) but since the last couple of weeks she began telling us if she felt the need to go and not during or after the deed.

We were in the US until the end of August and I was very keen on wrapping up EC and starting potty training once we got back home. Unfortunately, we came back to a flat that was in a very bad condition due to some flooding that happened while we were gone and was somewhat taken care of in our absence but it wasn’t completely  taken care of since we didn’t have any close family around to check things for us so that meant weeks of cleaning mold, dust, washing endless laundry, throwing away furniture and a couple of luggages of clothing, fixing doors that were no longer shutting as the wood swelled from water retention and trying to get things back in order. We also had to deal with other things like our Wi-Fi not working and blocked phones which took at least a week to figure out in this mad city. I had already been tired from our US trip, over 30 weeks pregnant, and this was just another exhausting episode so the last thing I could risk doing was try to potty train my toddler but do more damage than good to her by losing my patience.

At some point I decided I wouldn’t even potty train her until we left to Cyprus at the end of September / beginning of October where I’d remain until labor and a few weeks postpartum. There I’d get the help of my family so it’d be easier perhaps. Long story short, I felt an encouragement to give it a shot about 10 days before leaving to Cyprus so this is how it went days 1-3:

Day 1 – she woke up dry like she most often does and her first word was ‘hammam’. I took her to the bathroom, she peed, and off went her last diaper. I put on her new 100% cotton undies that cost me 2.5 Turkish liras each (I found size 1 which was perfect – I was worried I wouldn’t find any that would fit her since most kids now don’t need underwear until they hit 3-4 years of age). She had I believe about 6 accidents in total this first day. I learned that she needed to be prompt to go potty more often rather than me waiting for her to tell me she needed to go and also that she hid a couple of times in order to do her business. Also this first day she didn’t go as much #2 as she would normally do. I couldn’t tell this first day whether it just had to do with a slower digestion due to something she ate or it was in relation to the potty training.

Day 2 – she slept through the night and surprisingly woke up wet! Normally if she needs to go in the night she would wake me up but this time she must have done it while half asleep and went back to bed without me realizing. I do remember checking if she was wet around 6 a.m. when I woke up for the dawn prayer and she was dry as far as I could tell. She woke up at 9 a.m. or so. Anyway, day 2 was a little crazy. She kept having accidents, more than day 1, and again, I blamed it at my lack of prompting to go and also the fact that she was having too much liquids throughout the day. I also cleaned the house on day 2 so I was a little too busy to pay enough attention to her at certain points of the day. I felt like I might not have enough energy to continue with PT on day 2 but told myself I needed to be more patient and it would get better. Also she went #2 but later in the day and it still felt a little different.

Day 3 – I took her to the bathroom once at night after day 2 was over when it looked like she was waking up when I moved her to her own crib from our bed. She slept through the night after that one waking and pottying and she was dry in the morning. We had 5 accidents in total again but I felt there was improvement on day 3. Her accidents didn’t start until later in the day when she was urinating over and over again within an hour, thanks to the water melon she ate as snack. I was careful to prompt her as often as I felt she needed to go. I could have still done better but nevertheless, it was better than the first two days. A couple of times she told me she had to potty 10 minutes after I had already taken her and she had gone potty (this is after having eaten water melon) so I was either caught off guard or I was running to the bathroom with her as she peed. Also a couple of times I did the mistake of not trusting her when she told me she needed to go potty because I thought she was doing it to get my attention. She does use that card sometimes as well as other things like telling me she’s hungry or wants water and she thinks it might get her out of a situation. Again, she had a bowel movement later in the day and this looked like a normal one. It has just been taking her a little longer to build up the need to go. In conclusion, this was a motivating and satisfactory day.

Tomorrow, day 4, I am planning on going on a short outing with her if the weather permits (expecting heavy rain) and if I have the energy to go. So far I’ve only been taking her out in our apartment’s parking lot for 20 minutes where she can run around freely without me having to worry about cars in the main street and where she can chase cats and birds.