“We potty-trained our two boys by keeping them naked around the house for a few days,” a coworker shared with me. “Without diapers, they became more aware of peeing and pooping and didn’t like that it was happening while they were naked. So they were more inclined to use the potty,” he said.
Other words of wisdom came from my mother-in-law, who recently potty-trained LO’s two-year-old cousin using the same bare-bottom method. She kept his cousin naked from the bottom down, and when he felt the urge to pee or poop, he’d run to the potty.
“This is too good to be true,” I thought to myself. “Just keep them naked and they’re potty trained? I’ve got to give this a try.” And so I did, on a three-day weekend which of course just had to coincide with me feeling ridiculously sick. Still, I had already committed to potty training and even got my toddler excited about “potty practice,” as I called it. Here’s how it went:
Day 1: Stay home all day with a butt-naked kid
The first day is spent all day at home with your toddler naked on the bottom. I was expecting the worse: puddles of pee on the carpet, poop smeared everywhere. Surprisingly, he wasn’t as messy as I thought, even for the first day. Yes, one all-out pee fest took place where it was as if I took a watering can and just poured it on our carpet. But other than that, he would start off with a few drops before looking up at me, at which point we’d run to the potty and he’d finish his business there.
Day 2: Go on one one-hour outing with only pants or shorts
Day 2 is a repeat of the first, except this time you and your toddler should get out of the house for one full hour without diapers or undies. I like to stress no undies because kids can often mistake them for diapers or think that they’re now able to pee and poop in them. Instead, just slip some pants or shorts over them and enjoy your outing. We kept ours simple: just a walk to our local park. I came prepared with a change of clothes and undies, a plastic bag in case he soils himself, and a roll of paper towels.
Day 3: Go on two one-hour outings with only pants or shorts
Again, remain bare-bottom at home just as the first two days, but this time, go on two outings with just pants or shorts on. My husband took him to the park just like the previous day, and for a walk around the block.
A few notes:
- Don’t push if he’s not ready. Considering how excited he was about potty practice, I was surprised that he cried after I removed the diaper and mentioned that we would be diaper-free the rest of the day. I held him close and asked, “Are you not ready? We can move it back a few weeks if you’d like. But if you think you’d like to try today, Mama is here to help you.” I’m not sure if a little consolation was all he needed, but he stopped crying immediately and allowed himself to go around naked. But I was absolutely willing to hold off for a few weeks if he resisted. There’s no point in forcing potty training whatsoever.
- Keep rewards internal. One thing I didn’t do was give rewards. The most reward he received were stars we’d draw on a poster hanging by the bathroom, and lots and lots of support and praise. I’m sure giving treats works, but I didn’t want to go down that path if I didn’t have to. He can feel good about his progress all on his own without external validation.
- There will be accidents. From little trickles to full-on poop plopped on the carpet, expect some accidents. That’s why I referred to these past few days as potty practice—it takes practice to fully master this skill. My toddler progressively improved: he had more accidents that first day than on the others. At the same time, he also regressed and had bigger accidents on subsequent days than on the first few. Just as with most things in life, learning a new skill can often be a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. Take it as it comes and praise for the hard work they’re putting in.
- Pooping might take some time. My toddler has pretty regular bowel movements, so I was a bit surprised and worried when he didn’t poop those first two days. Even now, he still struggles and has plenty of poop accidents.
- Wear diapers for naps and bedtimes. Even though I’ve since eliminated wearing diapers completely while he’s awake, I still put them on him when he sleeps. Kids won’t be able to control their bladders during sleep for a while.
Where we are now
I’m still holding off on taking him on longer outings until I’m sure he’s comfortable using any public restroom and that he’s able to hold it in for several minutes. But I’m so proud of my toddler for making the strides he has done so far. He hasn’t had any pee accidents in the last few days, tells us when he has to pee, and even holds it in until we’re able to sit on a potty. This has been such a huge change in his life, and I’m just so pleased that he was willing to give it a try.
How did you potty train your kids? For those who haven’t potty trained yet, are you looking forward to getting rid of diapers or dreading the process? What other tips can you give parents interested in potty training?