Potty Training Bootcamp!


TMI warning: bodily functions will be discussed in this post. If you are not a parent accustomed to daily conversations including the words “pee”, “poop” and “potty” you may want to stop reading now.

Last weekend we embarked on a new adventure as parents: potty training our first child! I’ve actually been wanting to start potty training David for a few months now but the timing just hasn’t been right with events and life changes happening in our family. At 27 months old, David is definitely ready for the potty, though. So, we decided to move forward with the potty and we’ll just deal with life as it happens.

We decided to do our own version of the 3-day potty training method, or as I fondly refer to it, potty training bootcamp. I didn’t ever read the official book on the 3-day method, but I got the gist of it from friends and from what I could find online. Basically, you stay home for 3 days and don’t leave the house. You give your toddler copious amounts of liquid so they have to pee a lot and you run them to the bathroom every few minutes to see if they can get anything in the toilet.

The idea is that after this intensive introduction to the potty, your toddler will start to understand how everything works. Then, for 3 months the trainee goes bare-bottomed at home and only wears loose pants out in public (no pull-ups or undies yet–they still feel too much like a diaper). Accidents are to be expected for awhile, but the kid should basically be staying dry by the end of the 3 month training period and you can make a big deal about going to a store to pick out some fancy new big kid underwear.

David actually took to the potty pretty well right from the get-go. Over Christmas we spent a lot of time with his “big cousin” Noah (who David idolizes and, consequently, who uses the potty like a champ). In fact, the first thing David said when we sat him on the potty was, “just like Noah pees!”.

We had a few  “misses” on the first day, and 5 “successes” (plus a poop in the tub–which David has NEVER done before–so I’m not sure if that counts as a miss or a success. Obviously he missed the target, but I count poop in the tub vs. on my couch a bit of a success…). On day 2, he had 2 “misses” back-to-back, then a success, then a poop on the floor of the bathroom after he got off the toilet because he “didn’t have to go yet”, followed by 3 more successes. On day 3 we started with 2 back-to-back “misses” and then a few successes, and then a couple more misses–day 3 was actually not as successful for D as day 1!

I was fortunate to have Jon home all weekend to help out (I don’t know how I would have done it alone, especially while taking care of Jacob!). Then, on Monday, my sister came up because she had the day off for MLK day (I didn’t plan this, but it worked out pretty great having a holiday weekend for the potty training).

Today is my first day going solo. We went to Stroller Strides this morning (our first time leaving the house since operation potty training began on Saturday). David had an accident on the floor of the gym right before class began, but we rushed to the toilet and he finished the deed in there. He also had another successful pee in the toilet before we left to drive home. Then, when we got home, he got his first #2 in the toilet! He’s definitely still learning, but I know that he’ll get it with enough time and patience.

If you’re ready to start your own potty training bootcamp with your toddler, you’ll need a few things to make everything run smoothly. Here are a few things helpful items you may want to have on hand:

Sanitation: Cleaning supplies for the misses (they will happen).

IMG_0826Entertainment: A nice selection of reading material for all the time you’ll be spending on the potty waiting for something to happen. I got this whole bag of books from our library, including several potty-themed classics such as “Everyone Poops”, “Even Firemen Go To The Potty” and (David’s favorite) “Where’s The Poop?”.


Fashion: Some nice comfy clothes for wearing around the house. I love these leg warmers from Baby Legs since he has to be bare-bottomed for the next 3 months in the dead of winter. I decided not to have David model the outfit because he is bare-bottomed and this is a rated-G blog.


Sustenance: This weekend we let David have as much juice as he wanted so we could get lots of practice peeing (a very special treat since he usually only gets milk or water). We kept a water bottle in the bathroom so he could sip as he sat on the potty–it seemed to get things flowing a bit better than just sitting and waiting for the urge.


Reward: We decided to get David a special reward for poop in the potty. He loves balls and he loves candy–so I figured this was the perfect reward. He’ll get one chocolate ball for every poop he gets in the toilet.


Just in case: I’m a bit nervous about how things will go once we leave the house, so I’m going to lay puppy training pads down in his car seat and stroller for awhile. It seems like it will be easier to toss one of these guys out than take apart his car seat to wash it if an accident should occur.


The non-material necessity: Patience. This is what our bathroom looked like after day 2 (can you tell David enjoys the toilet paper?). Potty training is a big deal and it will take awhile for everything to click. For now, I’m aiming for learning, not perfection!



*Update After 6 Weeks Of Potty Training*
We’ve officially been potty training for a month and a half now. David still goes bare-bottomed at home but, after a few eventful outings, I’ve started putting him in Pull-Ups when we leave the house for “just in case”. He does great using the potty when we’re at home (in fact, he’s only had 1 accident in the last 2 weeks) but he still doesn’t tell me when he needs to go if we’re out in public (and if he does tell me, it’s because he’s already peed in his pants). For a little peace of mind (for me) I decided that the Pull-Ups were necessary (I do feel a bit like I’m cheating, but I also have a 7 month old baby so I’m giving myself a little grace here. It’s already stressful enough leaving the house without worrying about possibly having to stop in the middle of the grocery store, leave a full cart of groceries, run to the bathroom, change David’s clothes, and finish the trip with even an ounce of sanity.).

Since David is so good about going using the potty at home now, I’ve learned that if my trips out of the house are less than 3 hours he’ll usually hold it until we get home anyway so he can use the potty he’s familiar with. He doesn’t like having “accidents” and he is proud of himself for learning to use the potty. He definitely prefers his little potty that’s on the ground to the potty seat on the big toilet–mostly because he can get on it without any assistance (even with a step-stool he can’t quite reach high enough to sit on the big potty by himself).

He’s also great about getting poops in the potty. After the initial day where he pooped in the tub, he figured out the whole #2 thing really quickly. We have not had a single #2 accident since that first week!

The next challenge will be at the end of our 3-month “bare-bottom time” when we move on to big boy undies. For now though, I’m confident that he’ll be ready for the transition when it comes.

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