My famous potty-training advice? Nudity, television, and candy.

Right after Christmas, I shared how Little Miss C — who had just turned 20 months at the time — immediately decided she wanted to be potty-trained.

Longtime readers will remember that this was very … uh, very! very! very! … different from how D’s training went.

(To quickly recap, we started with him right after he turned two, gave him a couple of months of nude’n’casual potty use, another couple of months wearing undies around the house, and then began wearing underwear full-time (even out of the house) at 28 months. He wore a diaper at naptime and bedtime until right before he turned three, when we bit the bullet and stopped — and he was fine! Long, slow approach, but ultimately very, very few accidents — even in the very beginning — and I’d highly recommend this “method” for fastidious little ones.)

So back to C! She really worked at the whole potty thing, and it became clear that she was not going to give up anytime soon. She was wearing underwear full-time around the house — except for naptime and bedtime — and getting better about accidents.

We kept that up for about six weeks, and then the accidents had all but vanished. She had stopped her constant potty requests, and was going long, long stretches without requesting to use it. (When we’d ask, she’d usually respond with a perky “Noooope!”)

At not quite 22 months, we knew she was at the same point D was at 28 months — ready to leave the house in underwear. A full six months ahead of what we thought was expected! Let me tell you, it was SCARY. Probably even scarier than those first underpants-in-public outings with D, because he’d had so much more practice and I felt more confident in his abilities. But I didn’t like putting a diaper on C whenever we left the house (which is often). I didn’t want to mess up how well she was doing. So I went for it!

I’m probably jinxing myself by writing this, but so far she has not had any accidents out of the house! We’ve had a few, er, false alarms that had me sprinting for a bathroom when she didn’t actually end up “going” — and cursing myself for getting knee-deep in fabric bolts while she cheerfully waited in the stroller, not remember that she could shout “Poooooo!” at any moment. But she’s used public bathrooms a couple of times, and all is good.

(Of course, I’m still carrying around two extra outfits and two extra pairs of undies at all times — just in case!)

*** Updated to add: Of course! Writing this post jinxed me, and C had me rushing her to the bathroom at the mall FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES THIS MORNING — and then didn’t even pee! ***

C just turned 22 months, and she’s been preferring the Baby Bjorn potty around the house these days (she initially preferred the toilet seat). I wish she was still cool with running around pant-less with a pair of BabyLegs on, but no, the little lady insists on underwear and leggings at all times — which means lots and lots of yanking her pants down and up. Other than that, it’s very easy at this point.

(Oh, one major boy/girl difference — we now have to keep a roll of TP hidden behind a framed photo in the living room, for pee wiping! Never had to do that with D!)

C won’t turn two until the very end of April, so I’m not out of the diaper-woods yet. I still plan on keeping her in a diaper at naptime and bedtime for a while, mostly because I don’t want to be rushing upstairs every five minutes (or five seconds) when she yells “Pooooooooo!” She’d quickly figure out that was an easy way to divert going to sleep, and I’d be a potty prisoner.

It’s funny that I expected potty-training to be more difficult than it ended up being, both times. It was also different than I thought, both times. I feel like I got lucky, a bit, but even writing that feels like I’m going to be jinxed with nothing but accidents tomorrow.

When friends who are first-time parents ask me what to expect, my biggest piece of advice is to start with the Naked Potty Time in Front of the TV with Candy Rewards. I really believe in it. I should patent it! It’s worked with both kids — just casually hanging out in the living room, sitting on the potty naked, and watching TV. Even if they get up and move around — and pee on themselves! — they will quickly figure out that if pee or poo get in the potty, they will get an M&M. I’m a big fan of bribery, yes.

Perhaps someday I will write a parenting book, and the chapter about potty-training will be called “Nudity, Candy, and The Road to Freedom.”


One Comment on “My famous potty-training advice? Nudity, television, and candy.

  1. This is timely for us since Eli has shown basically zero interest in potty training. We have been doing a VERY slow and casual approach when we're home which basically consists of asking him if he wants to use the potty and letting him sit on it after breakfast and dinner and before bed for a few minutes. It's hard because he's at the sitter's all day so I'm not sure how to be consistent. And part of me is kind of grateful for the convenience of diapers. I can't wait until we have to abandon a full cart at superstore because he HAS to go RIGHT NOW!


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