The BIg Potty

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The transition from wearing diapers to using a potty can sound stressful to both caregivers and children. Here are some ideas from parents who have been there. We hope these suggestions help you and your child navigate this change without too much trouble!

Readiness

There's no magical age to make the transition, but waiting until your child shows interest and readiness will make things much smoother. An older child typically learns more quickly, but curious younger toddlers are often eager to use the potty, and this can be encouraged. The biggest indicator that your child is ready to begin transitioning out of diapers is interest. Another sign is going longer stretches without wetting diapers, but without the desire to use the potty, this alone isn’t a good indicator.

Things You’ll Need

  • Small potty chair(s) or potty seat(s) and a stool
  • Rug, towel, or cloth diaper to put under the potty chair for any stray liquid
  • Underwear, preferably something fun that your child will be motivated to not get dirty
  • Waterproof training pants or pull-ups for when you need to leave the house before you're 100% potty-ready
  • Optional: treats or stickers to celebrate success (However, singing, dancing, and praise are often enough!)
  • Positive attitude, flexibility, and patience

From Parents Who Have Been There

Below is advice from some parents who have shared their experiences with us, and you can see there is no magical age. The common thread you’ll find in their experiences is positivity and patience! Some parents use rewards, and some do not; some parents encourage potty use, and some allow their children to make the decision whenever they’re ready. Be sure to follow your child’s lead so they develop a positive attitude about transitioning out of diapers and becoming more independent.

  • “For my kids, having a dry diaper for longer stretches meant that their bladder muscles were developed enough to ‘hold it’ for a bit. Also they would appear uncomfortable, point to their diaper, or say ‘pee’, ‘pssss’, or ‘dirty’ to tell me that they needed a change. Sometimes when they were toddlers, I would also let them go naked in the backyard and say, ‘Oh wow, you are peeing!’ when they peed. This would get them used to the feeling of urinating without a diaper and give them some awareness of what their body was doing. Being able to pull pants up and down themselves is nice, but mine still needed some help maneuvering pants and underwear.”
  • “I am pretty much in the ‘wait until they want to do it and then it just magically happens’ club. I tried when my daughter was too little and it freaked her out. So, I backed off and waited until she was ready, into her threes, and she pretty much had it down in a day.”
  • “My daughter didn't potty train until about 4-1/4 years old, and it was pretty much just waiting until she wanted to do it. She literally went from no interest at all to 100% potty trained overnight by just waking up one day and deciding to use the potty from then on. She never once had an accident.”
  • “My two oldest potty trained in a day during the week they turned three. I held out a lollipop and told them if they’d get that sucker if they stayed clean and dry all day! It was enough motivation to work wonders – no accidents! Easiest potty training ever! (I had tried when my oldest was 2 years old – it just didn't click in her brain until age 3.)”
  • “Every child is different. My oldest I would take to the potty after naps and read book while he sat there and he usually had to go. Once that was routine, we took him before and after meals and before leaving the house. Eventually, we switched to underwear or waterproof training pants when leaving the house. There were some accidents, but we just calmly cleaned up. My other kids would just pee in a diaper if it was on and didn't do well with the ‘scheduled’ potty visits, so I just had them hang out on a washable floor area half naked, and after a few accidents they figured out that they should run to the little potty when they needed to go.”

Answers to Common Concerns

Some parents shared their experience regarding common concerns about potty training and general urological health:

  • “I noticed a ‘bubble’ on the side of the tip of my son's penis – just while he was peeing. Thankfully I had read something about ‘ballooning’ and I looked it up again: for intact (not circumcised) boys, the pee sometimes makes a little bubble under the foreskin while it is exiting the body. This isn’t harmful because pee is sterile and it just means that the foreskin, which was fused to the glans in infancy, is now starting to loosen up. If you notice this, keep in mind that it may be years until your son can fully retract his foreskin.”
  • “When I was potty training my twin boys, much to my surprise they peed up and out. At the time, I thought that was just what happened, but it turned out to be a symptom of meatal stenosis, which can often be a circumcision complication. One of the boys started straining to pee and eventually refused to use the potty, saying that he was scared. It turns out that his meatal stenosis was worsening and it was painful for him to urinate. After it was surgically corrected, he started using the potty again right before his fourth birthday. He told me independently one day about two weeks after his surgery that the potty wasn't scary anymore.”

Some mothers share their experience regarding the common concern that boys should match their fathers when it comes to circumcision status:

  • “My husband helped with taking our kids to the potty when they were first learning. He is circumcised, my sons are intact. Don't worry, it never made potty training difficult; in fact, they have never noticed or commented on the difference to this day.”
  • “Your parts don't have to match. Since I am a stay-at-home and work-at-home parent, I am the one raising our kids 99% of the time. (My husband is an over-the-road trucker and gone most of the time). The way my genitals look do not affect my ability to teach my children, not even when it comes to teaching my sons how to use the toilet.”

Isn't it amazing to see our kids growing up? We hope that this info helps you keep calm through any puddles or surprises that you may experience!