Tips for Keeping Your Kids Healthy on the InsideWe’re in the midst of potty training over here (for the last time, yay!)  It isn’t going as smoothly as I expected or as easy as it did with my older two. I guess I just thought that the baby brother would want to be just like his older brothers and would take to it rather quickly. But Quincy… well, Quincy can’t be forced to do anything before he is ready and it seems like he just isn’t quite ready. He is three and a couple months and while he has successfully used the potty a couple of times it seems to have actually caused him more problems in the long run. He now holds his poop for days which causes constipation and harder to pass bowel movements. He can’t be bribed with a sticker chart or rewards or new undies, which worked great with my oldest son at a much younger age. He is also my oldest to start preschool (he’ll start this fall) so we haven’t been able to rely on his seeing his peers going potty to get him over the threshold of being interested, which is what worked for my middle son.

I get lots of requests for a potty training post and I’ve wanted to share one for a while (I actually had one drafted after we potty trained Calvin but it just never came to life), but since I can’t seem to potty train Quincy I started to feel like a fraud. How can I give advice on potty training when I can’t potty train my own? But then I realized I have potty trained two other kids and I have learned a lot from trying to potty train Quincy, and while we aren’t there quite yet I think I’ve got a lot to share on the topic that might be helpful to those of you who are also attempting or preparing or in the midst of potty training.

Everyone seems to have opinions on potty training: what age you should start, how to do it, etc. And there’s always that mom who is like “we started at two and were able to potty train in a weekend.” Insert major eye roll here. It can be done, but it isn’t as easy as they make it seem. In fact, they were probably really lucky to have a kid ready and eager to learn, which made things easy. My oldest was like that. But Quincy cannot be forced to do anything he isn’t ready or willing to do — he is the most stubborn person I have ever met and he really commits to digging in his heels. Which brings me to my first piece of advice…

Every child is different and there is no one right way to potty train that will work for all of them. If anyone says otherwise, they probably never had to potty train a tough kiddo.

Since we’ve already established that there is no one right way or magic trick to use, I thought I would share some products that I’ve found helpful when potty training to start:

  1. A potty seat and a potty chair. Yes, I think you need both and here’s why: most kids do well to start on a potty chair. It is less intimidating than a big potty, they can practice sitting on it whenever they feel like it and can feel like they have control to get up on their own when they are done. Also, being able to have their feet on the floor can help them actually push out pee or poop if they need to. That being said, none of my kids have actually used a potty chair when it came time to actually go potty. They would simply get up and walk away. They needed the restraint of being up on the toilet where they couldn’t just stand up and walk away to stick with it, which is where a potty seat comes in. I recommend The Arm & Hammer™ Multistage™ 3-in-1 Potty from Munchkin which is a potty chair, a removable potty seat, and a step stool all-in-one. It gives you more bang for your buck (three products that you actually need and will use), You start with the potty chair in the very early training stages, then remove the training seat which fits right on your toilet for when they are really ready, and the rest of the potty can be used as a step stool to help them get off and on the potty as well as reach the sink for hand washing. It also features odor-absorbing superpowers, making it a true multitasking hero. We love ours! Prefer training right on the big toilet from day one? The contoured Grip™ Potty Seat will keep your little one securely in place while calming his irrational yet totally real fear of the potty.
  2. A potty book. Having a book or two about using the potty can help your little one understand that what they are doing isn’t scary or can motivate them to try to be like the character in the book. If your kid has a favorite character, like Elmo for example, then look for a potty book with that character. Another benefit to a potty book is distraction while your kiddo is trying to go. We’ll actually have our son choose a book to read before he goes to sit on the potty and find that makes him look forward to it more. If you are looking for a potty book recommendation all three of my sons have loved these: The Potty Book, Where’s The Poop?, A Potty For Me. 
  3. Distractions. Kids need to relax when they are trying to poop, especially when they are first learning how. Some kids relax by singing a song, others by watching something on the iPad. Books, shows, and even playing a game like I Spy can help distract them enough to relax. We have tried it all with Quincy and none of it works all that well. Then we remembered something we did to help our oldest when he was potty training and afraid to poop — Mr. Seal! We created Mr. Seal from a stuffed puppet Charlie loved. My husband gave him a funny voice (think Triumph the insult comic dog from the old Conan O’Brien Late Show). And it worked! So we’ve brought him back out to try to help Quincy and it does seem to be working a little. We’ll see, I guess…
  4. A Schedule. Sometimes things become less stressful with repetition and when there isn’t pressure. We put our kids on the potty at least before nap time and before the bedtime bath. I think it helps train their bodies to be ready to go at those times as well as get them used to it just being a regular part of the day versus something scary they have to do whenever they feel a poop coming on.
  5. Praise + Rewards. We aren’t above bribes in our house — whatever works 🙂 We’ve used reward sticker charts — one sticker for each time they use the potty — and once we get to a certain amount of stickers we give a small reward they picked out at the store (usually just something from the dollar spot at Target). And every single time they try to use the potty we basically throw a parade of praise. If your child is ready, this usually does the trick.

Tips and product recs for potty training.

Potty training is still a work in progress, but we are making progress. Just remember there is no right age or one way to potty train. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Pressure or starting too early could actually make the process longer, especially if you have a stubborn toddler like Quincy. I actually wish we had waited a bit because he really wasn’t ready and now he has dug in his heels. I don’t think he’s going to fully potty train until we stop bugging him about it — he has to come to things in his own time.

Do you have any potty training tips or tricks to share? Have you every potty trained an especially stubborn kiddo?

This post is sponsored by Munchkin, but the opinions are my own.