How We Potty Trained Our Toddler in 4 Days
*Mostly* When our daughter turned 2 I knew we would eventually have to deal with potty training her. Honestly, it terrified me. So much so that I put it off for 8 months. Well, that and my twins were born 6 weeks after she turned 2 so….. We finally decided to tackle the toilet over Thanksgiving break. My husband and I discussed how we *expected* the weekend to go, and we knew we were in this together. I read in a parenting magazine that some experts believe the best time to potty train is between 27-32 months; and we were quickly arriving at 32 months. The Method(s) We Used I researched a few methods before we decided on the no pants method combined with the Montessori method (MM). After reading about all the ways we could go about it, this seemed like the perfect fit for us. The Montessori Method focuses on a gradual process of toilet training, and for most people that means putting their kids on the toilet often and letting them get used to the idea from a young age. We didn't end up following this part of the process, instead opting to go all out in one weekend with no pants. But we did pull part of the MM by allowing Skylar to use pull-ups and diapers during naps and bedtime. Our main goal for Skylar was to have her potty trained during the day, and we figured we would worry about naps and bedtime later. One of the Montessori recommendations is to have toddlers use the regular toilet whenever possible – which means not using a typical toddler potty chair on the floor. When Skylar was 28 months we bought two potty training seats from Amazon that would allow her to use the regular toilet and (when ready), be able to use it herself without assistance from us. Getting Her Ready The potty seats arrived and we spent a few months talking to her about using the toilet “like a big girl.” I also started bringing her into the bathroom with me and showed her what I was doing and we talked about the process. We had her sit on “her” toilet a few times. We showed her a few Cocomelon videos about JJ using the potty “like a big boy” ….you get the idea. Our plan was to have her comfortable with it before making the transition. Around 30 months she started using one specific corner of our living room to do her business (in the diaper of course), and then telling us “poopy! Mommy change diaper!” It was then that we realized she was exhibiting the final sign of “readiness” and at this point, we were putting off toilet training. Preparing… And so, we picked a weekend to make it happen. The bare bottom method suggests having a long weekend or stretch of 4-5 days in which this is the only focus for the family. We decided Thanksgiving during Covid when we wouldn’t be traveling or seeing anyone was the perfect time for us to tackle the beast. The toilet, not our kid . The weekend before Thanksgiving, Skylar and I went on a mommy/me date to Target and picked out fun underwear. We talked constantly for the next 5 days about how fun it would be to wear Paw Patrol panties. I made a sticker chart and showed her the book of stickers she would get for using the potty, washing her hands, flushing by herself, asking us to use the potty, etc. We prepped both bathrooms (one upstairs, one downstairs) with the potty chairs, stickers, a coloring book and crayons, anything that would make the experience fun for her. Most importantly though, we mentally prepped for the hard days ahead. We knew there would be tears, fights, accidents, and drama, and we were ready for it. Being mentally prepared kept us from overreacting when she threw fits all weekend. We also prepared ourselves for it not working out, just in case. Day 1 The first thing we did Thanksgiving morning was take the diaper off and put her on the potty (not excited about it). We had explained for days what was going to happen, but she still wanted the diaper. We left her bare bottomed, knowing accidents would happen but also not wanting to wash undies all day. Every 30-45 minutes we put her on the potty (kicking and screaming at times), even if she didn’t have to go. The idea was to get her used to using the toilet. At naptime we put on a pullup and she realized that if she took a nap, she could go in her “diaper”. I’m not going to lie, we weren’t sure if we were doing the right thing on this one… After her nap we gave her the iPad when she went to the bathroom to help ease her anxiety. She would sit for 10-15 minutes at a time on the toilet, getting used to it, and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It relieved her fears and she started to relax. By the end of the day, she went in the toilet once! Progress! At night we put on her pullups again. Day 2 Day 2 was really tough. She woke up and we took off the pullups and she bawled her eyes out. We knew it would be difficult, but man, there were a lot of tears and temper tantrums on day 2. I won’t sugar coat it, it sucked. There were a lot of accidents. Every time we stuck her on the toilet it was a battle. Total war zone in the Hallstrom Home day 2. When we told her it was naptime, she literally ran up the stairs to her bedroom and asked for a diaper… I was beginning to get anxious about the naptime pullup and wondering if it was a mistake. But I didn’t want to change the routine just yet so on the pullup went, and she happily hopped into bed. It was a tough day, but like I said, we had prepared for bad days. We just took deep breaths, opened a bottle of wine, and soldiered on. Day 3 When I got Skylar up in the morning and we took off the pullup she cried again. I had heard that day 3 is the hardest day, and most parents want to quit the whole thing. On day 3 we decided to reward her BIG time if she went on the toilet. For the first 2 days, she only peed a handful of times on the toilet. Every other time it was on the carpet , hardwood floor (better!), or on the couch . So we upped the ante. We told her she would get a spoonful of ice cream for every successful toilet experience. It worked. She only had one accident all day. On the evening of day 3 she pooped, and we threw her the biggest party, complete with a bowl of ice cream. She was feeling pretty awesome that night. We felt tentatively hopeful. Day 4 Day 4 she woke up and ran straight for the toilet, declaring on the way, “ice cream!” Ha! I was digging the enthusiasm. We kept up the 45 minute bathroom trip routine all day, to ensure she didn’t have any accidents. Skylar still wasn’t letting us know when she needed to go, and she hadn’t quite gotten the hang of ‘knowing’ her body. So our routine continued. Ice cream included. Day 4 she consumed a lot of ice cream . And we stuck with pullups at naptime and bedtime. 2 Weeks Later… It took two weeks for her to start realizing when she needed to use the toilet. The first week we stuck with putting her on the potty every 45 minutes. We gradually increased the time to 90 minutes as she started to understand the process. Around day 14 of our training, she woke up with a dry pullup at naptime. Cue my shock. And I was pretty sure it was a fluke. It wasn’t. She never peed again during naptime. And then the most amazing thing happened…she stopped peeing at night too. That one surprised me the most. Even with the pullup on, she would wait until morning to use the toilet. I felt better about letting her gradually let go of the “diaper”. I was positive I was doing the wrong thing the whole time, but I think she found security in the pullup, and when she was ready, she trained herself. In Conclusion I don’t know if everyone would experience the same kind of success we did by combining the Montessori and bare bottom method (she did get her pants back), but we certainly loved the outcome. She was completely trained by Christmas, night and day, with zero accidents. At the end of the day, you know your kid and their learning style. And if something isn’t working, it’s ok to change it! We’re all learning how to be parents as we go along. I prayed A LOT before we entered into our potty training weekend. If you’re not sure what method to use or how to go about it, I would suggest praying about it. I prayed for wisdom, courage, patience, and for our kiddo to persevere through the hard days. I attribute any success we had to prayer. God hears us, He answers, and He guides us. With Joy, Jessica Please note that this blog post includes affiliate links from Amazon. If you do choose to purchase something, I may earn a small commission – at no additional cost to you. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for your support!