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18-month Potty Update
Right around when my daughter hit 17 months, I realized that she had been dry day and night for 4 days straight save one accident. I felt like we had turned a corner.
Luckily, I was also smart enough to realize that this was probably not the end of my third potty training adventure. The truth is, my toddler definitely knows how to both use the potty and how to hold it. But often she has other priorities. So here's how things have been since that blissful 4-day stretch.
My 18-month-old is consistently dry at night.
I'd say she wakes up wet maybe once every two weeks. That's nursing to sleep, sleeping 11 or more hours, nursing several times at night (sometimes awake and crying several times at night because she's sick or because molars are coming in), and then waiting 10 or more minutes to use the potty after waking up, and still staying dry.
My 18-month-old can be very defiant about using the potty.
She also often refuses to sit in her car seat or in her booster seat to eat. She refuses to finish her food or give back the book she just grabbed out of her sister's hand. She refuses to climb off the kitchen table or tostop doing any number of other shenanigans. She exhibits this independence in all aspects of her life, so it isn't really surprising to see it turn up with respect to the potty. What really bugs me is when she refuses to sit on the potty even though I know she needs to go, and then 5 minutes later she has a massive accident. But the sad fact is that you can't make anyone empty their bladder if they don't want to. Right now, my best tricks for getting her to use the potty are to let her use a potty outside or to take whatever toy she is playing with to the potty with us and have the toy use the potty first. See this post for more ideas for getting your child to sit and stay on the potty.
Instead of hits, I think in terms of misses.
I don't keep track of how many times she uses the potty any more. I think more in terms of misses or accidents. I'd say she averages 1 or 2 accidents a day. Occasionally no accidents. Often one or two. And sometimes 3 accidents during a 1-hour span. Just depends on the day and how much she is nursing. So I guess I kind of think of her as a toddler who uses the potty but has lots of accidents. Perhaps I should think more in terms of hits, because it would help me stay more positive about the whole thing.
I switched to using Imse Vimse training pants almost all the time.
I was letting her go naked waist down sometimes or just wear underwear much of the time, but then she started having these phenomenal accidents. She'd wait and wait to go potty, then refuse to sit on the potty even when I knew she needed to go, and then have a colossal accident. I got sick of cleaning those up, so I started putting her in thicker training pants so the accidents wouldn't be a big deal. I still often put her in Gerber training pants (glorified underwear and not very absorbent) when she's playing outside. I have maybe seven pairs of Imse Vimse training pants, plus a few other absorbent training pants of various brands, and I wash when they are all ten or so are dirty, about once or twice each week. See this post for a review and comparison of the different training pants we use.
My toddler is communicating more about her potty needs.
Part of the challenge of this age is that she wants to be independent, but unless I let her go naked from the waist down, she can't use the potty by herself. I did the half-naked thing with my second child and it really wasn't my favorite stage, so I'm trying to bypass it this time around. My toddler does now frequently announce "pee pee!" before she actually pees, or when she's just peed a tiny bit in her pants (and then she'll hold the rest until I can get her to the potty), but she certainly doesn't do this all the time. My hope is that through a combination of taking her routinely to the bathroom, and her letting me know when she needs to go, we will gradually move towards fully trained. If we aren't making significant progress in the next few months, though, I'll probably try the half-naked approach for a week or so and see where it takes us.
One new challenge is that my toddler's poops have gotten much harder and less frequent. I'm not sure if this is based on physiological changes, diet, or just her deciding to hold it longer. I suspect it's mostly the latter, because she still breastfeeds plenty and eats lots of fruit. She has had a few very difficult poops, which understandably has resulted in her being not very excited about pooping. Which results in her avoiding going and more unpleasant poops. A vicious cycle. Often I find that she is refusing to sit on the potty because she needs to poop but doesn't want to. We've even had some pooping accidents (for the first time in about a year) where she poops a little in her pants and then comes to us with a horrified look on her face and then finishes her business on the potty. I haven't dealt with constipation before, so it's new territory for me. Mostly I try to entice her to sit on the potty for a longer stretch by reading several books to her on the potty at least once a day or when it seems like she needs to poop. I also try to give her lots of fruit and other fiber-rich foods. I'm hoping we'll just grow out of this.
Regular diapers are mostly a thing of the past. We use a combination of training pants almost all the time. I do keep prefolds around to clean up accidents. And of course we are still using our favorite cloth wipes for wiping most everyone's bums.
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Previous posts about early potty training my third childPotty Training a 4-month-old Baby
My 5-month-old Baby Uses the Potty
Early Potty Training at 6 Months
The Poop Report: Diapering and Pottying at 7 Months
The Poop Report: Diapering and Pottying at 9 Months
The Poop Report: Diapering and Pottying at One Year
The Poop Report: Diapering and Pottying at 15 months
For more tips, tricks, and tales from early potty training, visit my Early Potty Training page.