Posted by: Tricia | January 14, 2010


Potty training

Call me a coward or call me confused, but the time is drawing near for us to decide what to do about it.  When we first learned that another baby would be here shortly before Elliott’s 3rd birthday I thought, “How perfect!  He will be potty trained and we’ll only have one in diapers!”.  Now I am starting to believe that this baby is coming at just the “wrong” time for a potty-trainer in waiting and I am starting to panic!

Everyone I talk to seems to have a different opinion…

“Do it now before it’s too late and the baby is here!”

“You’ll just be wasting your time if you start now because he will regress when the baby comes.”

“Boys don’t potty train until they are at least 3.”

“What?  He’s not actively potty training yet and he’s 2  1/2?”

6 months ago I had it in my mind that we would take it slow, and that if he weren’t showing a lot of interest on his own by 3 I would start pushing it a little more.  Then, I got pregnant.  Elliott started showing a few more signs of readiness and I decided that I would try and tackle potty training after the holidays around the same time that we transition him to a big boy bed.  Now that the holidays are over and we are on the brink of his 2 1/2 birthday I am still up in the air about what to do!

The scoop on Elliott:

• He knows how to use the potty and does so twice a day before naps and bedtime.  We started this mainly to avoid having soaked clothes when he wakes up.  It worked!

• He can usually pull his pants down all by himself.  He has a harder time pulling them back up.

• He occasionally will tell us when he is about to have a bowel movement, but he does not find a corner in the room to hide in like a lot of kids we know.  He usually says “no” when we ask him if he’s got a stinky diaper (even though the neighbors can probably smell it with their windows closed!) and would much rather keep playing than have his diaper changed.

•  Wet diapers don’t bother him at all.

•  He almost never wakes up from naps/bedtime dry.  I blame this on the amount of liquids he consumes from sippy cups.

•  He can follow directions and he is a great communicator.

•  He doesn’t seem that interested in wearing underwear, but we have them.

The scoop on me:

•  The baby is due in May.  Elliott will be 3 in August.

•  Elliott is in a Mother’s Day Out program and staying with a friend twice a week while I am at work.  I will probably take a week off in order to stay home and work solely on potty training, but then it’s back to the grind until the baby comes.  Then, I will be a full-time stay-at-home mom!  Whoo hoo!

•  I have read that it’s best not to start too early.  On the other hand, I have also heard that it’s more difficult if you wait too long.

•  I have the energy to take on this task now, but what will I feel like when I’ve got a newborn and a toddler on my hands?

•  I feel like it’s “now or never” and that if I wait until too close to when Jude arrives Elliott won’t have the hang of it yet.

•  The thing that concerns me the most is that Elliott might or will regress after the baby is born.  Why should I even bother if this is true?

•  I am ready to try, knowing that it might not work out.  I am not afraid of him not succeeding, but I don’t want to set him up for failure by starting the process at the wrong time…be it too early or too late.

•  I know he will eventually potty-train and that he won’t go to kindergarten in diapers!

The dilemma:  Do I gather my wits and supplies and tackle this beast head on before the baby arrives knowing that he might not quite be ready and that we might have to try again?  Or, should I wait until after the baby comes when I am a sleep-deprived mommy of a newborn and a diaper-wearing 3 year-old?  Eek!  I am seriously perplexed…



  1. Wow! What a dilemna. My oldest was 2 1/2 when his brother came along and he did not regress at all. He took his big brother role seriously. We started early with both of our boys and now Ian is almost done and he turned two in July. I’m reluctant to say he’s potty trained completely because when he’s playing we have to remind him to take a potty break 🙂 Anyway, I say give it a try now and if it doesn’t work then you can always pull back and try later. Maybe the week you take off will be all it takes. It will be a lot easier when you are at home full time even though you’ll be a lot more tired.
    A few ideas:
    1. Try presenting wearing underwear as a treat
    2. Make up a ‘potty dance’ to celebrate when he goes on the potty
    3. try going naked from the bottom down at first so he doesn’t get tangled in underwear and once he’s mastered that then work on the underwear thing
    4. my boys were around older kids who were using the potty so they had an example to follow so try books, videos, etc of kids using the potty so he can see how it’s done.

    All in all, I wouldn’t stress over it. Like you said, he will be potty trained for sure before he hits kindergarten 🙂

  2. Hey Tricia! I just got caught up on all your blogs!! SOME GREAT STUFF!! Love the pics and videos!! My fave is Old Mc Dizzy!! Too cute!
    Ok – so as a person who just had a baby I feel like I should chime in with my 2 cents on the potty training issue. (Mind you – we are SOOO not there with Blake…but if he were Elliott’s age – this is what I would have done)…I really think you should try and get him potty trained before the baby comes. You will have your hands FULL with Jude and may not have time to devote all the attention needed to potty training. I know I forgot how much work a newborn can be (and Mia Claire was a super-colicky baby – did I tell you that? – so she was NOT easy!) And although I only know Elliott through the blog-world – he is ONE SMART COOKIE! So I can only imagine he will catch on with a little more attention to it…and I have also heard the “letting them run around naked for a day” thing…my sis in law did that and she successfully potty trained a 2.5 year old!! Actually – he was younger than that!! CRAZY! Anyway – that’s what I think about that…but trust me when I say I would NEVER judge for saying “forget it!” and doing it later…Never ever! I’ll be looking forward to your updates!

  3. I waited until the twins were born to potty train my oldest. It was something he could do that they could not!!! Made him feel BIGGER! I was afraid that I would waist time and energy on potty training to have him want to be the baby again…

  4. If you think he is ready I would go for it. I have never really heard people mention waitng too long, but I have heard a lot about trying too soon.

  5. I was JUSt where you are. Remind me to tell you our story (and tips!) when I see you next, maybe Monday.

  6. There is no perfect solution – don’t you love that! 🙂
    Both my girls have been over three when they really started to get the hang of it, and I tried earlier with both. So, it’s hard to know when they are really ready. This is easier said than done, but try not to stress about it. I have found that praying regularly about the girls’ abilities with developmental things like this helps both them and me!
    I think the suggestions to go naked for a day, do a special “I went to the potty” dance (this worked really well for Evangeline, and even Janet got in on the dancing when we were in TX!), and reading books and watching videos about potty training are all helpful ideas.
    Most of all, know that you are a WONDERFUL mother! Elliott knows you love him, and God knows your heart about all of this – He’s right there in it with you.

  7. I love this post! I totally understand the hand wringing and the questions. EVERYONE has different opinions and EVERY kid is different. What’s a momma to do?

    Well…since you asked for opinions, you know I’ll give you one!

    I say, give it the good ol’ college try now why you are feeling up to it. I think if you give up diapers cold turkey (during awake time) and he’s really not ready then you will know it within a couple of days. You don’t have to fight him for weeks. If he’s ready and gets then hang of it quickly then great! If not, then go back to diapers and try again later.

    My guess would be that even if he does regress you won’t have to totally start over. He will understand the basics and know what to do. (Right? I have no idea…but it sounds good in my head.)

    Good luck!!

  8. I say, get him an astronaut suit. Then you don’t ever have to train him.

  9. I’m convinced we CAN’T potty train a kid. I tried with Jimmy using one of those “1 day potty training” books. We tried twice and it was torture. Then, about 2 weeks later, he turned to us and said, “I need to go pee-pee in my potty. I want to wear my big boy undies” and he’s been in them ever since. We still wear a diaper to nap and sleep and have an accident about every other day. But, hey, he’s doing it! I’m even selling training pants on Etsy, now.

  10. […] I wrote this post about our potty training dilemma and got your feedback I made up my mind to take off a week in March […]

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