Potty Training … The Messy Truth

Check out these stories from moms who have been down that dirty diaper road and have lived to tell the tale!

Like the children’s book proudly proclaims, “Everybody poops!” It just takes a lot of patience, smooth negotiating skills, and sometimes flat out bribery to get your little one to do it in the big kid toilet. Shannon Vetter, one of our moms in Washington, D.C. and Dallas momma, Melissa Carlisle, share their stories from the toilet trenches.

Shannon’s Story:

Shannon lives in Washington, D.C. and is mom to three kiddos.

I joke to friends and family that my greatest success as a parent has been potty training my children. We’re still working on putting our shoes away, not interrupting one another at the dinner table, and getting to bed on time, but potty training was a breeze!

Consistency is the key to potty training success.  My first daughter was nearly two when we began training her and I was blessed to have a daycare provider who maintained the same routine during the day that I was following at home.  She was trained in about two weeks.

My youngest, our only son, was born when my younger daughter was 21 months old.  During my pregnancy, everyone, friends and strangers alike, would say that I was going to have such a time with two in diapers. I took my daughter shopping for big girl panties when she was 18 months old one morning while her big sister was in preschool.  She was so proud of them that she carried them into school to show her sister.  Once we got home, she put them on and wore them for the rest of the afternoon.  I had her sit on the potty, the actual toilet with a child’s seat, every thirty minutes just to be safe.  We had books to read, a magnetic board to write on, and lots of stickers.  We also had a line of M&Ms on the windowsill.  Every three stickers earned an M&M.  At naptime, I did insist that she wear a diaper and so we put the underwear over the diaper.  We did this for a week and she never looked back.  She was completely trained, nighttime too, at nineteen months.

My son and I followed the same routine.  He and I bought his “big boy underwears” while the middle one was in preschool.  He couldn’t wait to open the packaging and he couldn’t wait to carry them into school when we picked his sister.  He immediately put them on and we started the cycle of trying every thirty minutes.  He insisted on standing right from the start so that is what he did, on a stool, just like a big boy.  He proudly put his stickers on everything he owned, his shirt, his cars, his swing set in the back yard and even his closet door.  The M&Ms worked like a charm and even let us practice counting to three.  He was 28 months old when I changed his last diaper.


Shannon's son with his "big boy underwears"


Melissa’s Story:

Melissa lives in Dallas and is mom to three boys.

Potty training in my house has been a challenge for both of my oldest boys (in completely different ways!) and we haven’t even started with the youngest one.

My oldest had constipation issues. I went through all kinds of craziness trying to help him, like literally laying him down in the floor and pushing his legs back to try to help him go! (Crazy stuff you never think you’ll do until you’re actually a moms and doing them!) We finally discovered that milk and dairy were huge contributing factors and we cut them out until AFTER he went poop. It was like magic. He wanted his milk so badly he was willing to sit and try as long as needed just so he could have them.

The second child is only 17 months younger and was the polar opposite. I though he would be a breeze because he would want to be just like his brother but NO WAY! He didn’t care about being wet or poopy. He didn’t want to sit on the toilet, and no reward made him feel differently. Even when we were on a roll and he had pottied successfully several times in a row, we would go to someone else’s house or he would stay with my parents and completely revert. I can’t begin to tell you how many accidents we had with him. Finally, I just had to bite the bullet and put him in underwear all the time and just clean up after him. He didn’t like making a mess of his clothes so it was the only motivation we could find that worked for him.

I’m a bit afraid at this point of starting with my third, but in the end the other two did successfully potty train – and honestly those diapers get so gross that potty training is not an option, it’s an absolute necessity.