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Early Potty Training Reprise

Readers who have been faithfully reading my blog for a while may be wondering: what ever happened with the kid I stuck on the potty at 9 months? (She is now 2.5 years old.) Here is a reprise of that potty training experience.

9 months: Pooping in the potty
Having read here and there about early potty training, and frustrated with my nearly 3-year-old pooping in his pants, I decide to put my 9-month-old on the toilet first thing in the morning. She poops. The very first time I try. From that point on, she poops more in the toilet than in her diapers. Within a few months, she is only pooping once or twice a month in her diaper. She clearly prefers pooping in the potty to pooping in a diaper. I never bother using liners with her cloth diapers (as I did with my first, to facilitate removing his poop), because she so rarely poops on her diaper. As long as I give her several opportunities during the day, she consistently poops in the potty. It's a beautiful thing.

15 months: Using the potty more than her diapers
My toddler often wakes up dry in the morning and after naps. She usually holds her pee when we are out of the house. When I am putting her on the potty really regularly, she is peeing as many as 5 times a day in the potty, in addition to almost always pooping in the potty. She's using the potty more than her diapers. But I keep putting off putting her in underwear instead of diapers. I decide to wait until she's walking.

18 months: Backsliding due to parental laziness
In the meantime, my in-laws come to stay with us, the holidays happen, and I get lazy. I take her to the potty just often enough to make sure she still poops there, but I make little effort to help her pee in the potty. My toddler doesn't walk consistently until around 18 months, at which point she becomes super active and never wants to sit long on the potty. I wonder why the heck I decided to wait until she could walk to try to finish potty training her.

22 months: Toddler defiance
Now I'm serious about potty training my toddler. I am pregnant and determined not to have two children in diapers at once (as I did when my 2nd was a baby).  But my compliant baby has become a defiant toddler. The more I want her to use the potty, the less she does so. We have more pooping accidents than ever before. In the house, I have her wear no undies, and instead of peeing on the potty, she holds it for 6 hours at a time and then has a massive accident on the floor. I get worried she is going to get UTIs and start putting undies on her again just so she'll stop holding it so long.

24 months: And just like that, she's potty trained
Just when I am beginning to regret every moment I've wasted putting this child on the potty, and just when I finally back off/give up on the potty training for a bit, she starts using the potty. It seemed like the day would never come, and then it came. As long as we keep her naked from the waist down, all her business happens in the potty. Hallelujah. She wakes up dry in the morning and after naps almost all of the time, unless it was hours and hours before she fell asleep that she last peed. She refuses to use a potty outside the house, but stays dry as long as we're not gone for more than 4 hours. She just holds it.  Like her older brother, she seems to have a bladder of steel. The big down side to this is that eventually she stops falling asleep on the way home from the park and other outings because she is holding it until she can use the potty at home, and this seems to keep her awake. The easy nap is gone. We have two hurdles still to overcome: wearing underwear at home, using a potty outside the house. 

26 months: Underwear
My husband and I are getting really tired of our toddler's naked bottom everywhere. We put undies on her and she has a bunch of accidents, so we let her go naked again, and then try undies again a few weeks later. Around 26 months, we try undies for the third time. One day she goes to the bathroom, takes off her underwear by herself, and pees in the potty with absolutely no reminders or encouragement. I feel like we are in the home stretch.

27 months: New baby
We bring home baby #3 from the hospital. Although everyone has warned me about back-sliding (some folks put off potty training until after the new baby), there is no back-sliding. My 2-year-old has a few more #1 accidents than usual because we are paying less attention to her and giving her almost no reminders to use the potty. When she pees in her underwear, we realize she hasn't used the potty for 5 or more hours and we forgot to remind her. Once we get back on track with reminders/encouragement, no accidents.

28 months: Pants
We add pants to the equation. She occasionally has an accident with #1, but for the most part, she is now consistently dry around the clock.  We stop using diapers at night and training pants during church and visits to others' homes (she almost never peed in the training pants anyway).

31 months: All by herself
My 2.5-year-old can take off her shoes, pants and underwear by herself to go to the bathroom. She can also put her underwear, pants and shoes on again by herself (sometimes inside-out, sometimes backwards, but who cares as long as I don't have to attempt to do it while holding a sleeping infant). She's also learned to turn on the light (using a stool) in the bathroom by herself. If she cannot get to the potty by herself (she's outside, or the bathroom door is closed, or we are at the park), she tells me she needs to use the potty and holds it until I can get her to one. She will use a potty outside the house, but prefers to just hold it until we get home and usually does. She needs a little help washing her hands. We still give her a treat for using the potty if she asks for one (she often doesn't). She pees on cue before outings. Naps are a thing of the past, but she always stays dry at night.

I often look at my 2.5-year-old and think about how many kids her age have not even begun potty training yet. The duration of her potty training was definitely longer than for many of those who choose to wait for signs of "readiness," but I'm not sorry about how I did things. Although there were some rough patches along the way, I am grateful for every poopy diaper I did not have to change. I am thankful that much of her potty training occurred before she became a defiant toddler. I am glad she never had wicked diaper rashes from her poop (as her older brother did). I am happy that from an early age I gave her the chance to poop somewhere besides a diaper. And I am so pleased that I only have one child in diapers.

Now I've got another baby. Am I going to try early potty training again with this one? Yep, I'm starting even earlier this time. Stay tuned for my next post.

To read all about the why and how or early potty training, visit my Early Potty Training page.