….and this is a child-centric post, fyi.
Over the past weekend, we did a version of boot camp potty training for Baby X. The so-called boot camp method was d-i-f-f-i-c-u-l-t, and I think we had a relatively easy time of it.
Baby X is just about 2.5, and most people would say that’s pretty early to potty train a boy. We thought we’d probably wait until he was closer to his birthday but he showed signs that he was ready, plus I had a 3-day weekend free. Having him in full-time day care has helped a ton as the past several months they encouraged him to use the toilet every time they changed his diaper. We tried to follow that aat home, but he likes to say “NO” a lot, so we weren’t particularly successful. Anyway, he started to be dry in-between diaper changes at day care frequently, and when I realized that we didn’t have any plans for this past weekend I figured we may as well pull the trigger. Once I told his teacher that we were going to train him, they started having him use the toilet every hour, and his diaper mostly stayed dry all week.
Leading up to the weekend, I took him to a boutique-y store and let him pick out some undies. Those are currently on the bottom of the pile (they’re pricey!), but I chose to do that because they sell them by the pair and he could pick them up and handle them rather than pointing to a package of 7 all rolled up. We also talked non-stop about how he was going to be wearing underwear on Saturday, upped our game at home for putting him on the toilet, and got a potty training board book from the library to read. Then we bought 4 packages of cheap underwear with various characters on them so that we can toss them after big accidents. I’m a cloth diaper mama, but hosing off a cloth diaper is waaaay easier than hosing off some floppy underwear, so in the trash they go if it’s a big ol’ pasty mess.
When Saturday rolled around, we dressed him up in underwear and tried to keep him well hydrated with water and milk. Every 30 minutes we made him sit on the toilet and I'd say more than half the time was met with "NO!" There were a few accidents, including number 2, but that's to be expected. To make it more fun we bought rubber stamps that he could stamp (he chose his legs) every time he used the potty and made up a little celebratory dance.
Sunday dawned slightly better in that he stopped fighting so much with the regimen of every 30 minutes'ish we had laid out. By the end of the day he was going every time one of us announced loudly that we were going to use the bathroom.
Monday, I had him by myself all day while S was at work, and I had a lunch date with a friend. It was a good day without any accidents, save for the #2 early in the day. I made him go before we got in the car, twice at the restaurant, and then again once we got home. I'd say the time in-between stretched to 45 minutes on this day.
The past couple of days that he's been at day care, he's only had one accident and is waking up dry at nap time despite having a pull up on. They're basically doing the same thing we did, which is reminding him to go often.
As I write this out, it seems like it was no big deal. We didn't really follow the boot camp method that I read, which entailed letting your child run around sans pants of any kind and watching them closely, then whisking them to the toilet or potty every time they looked like they were going to do something. Neither one of us has the attention span to be able to watch Baby X that closely, even though he was with one of us the entire day. I practically went crazy having to interrupt whatever we were doing at the time to make sure he went frequently. We were tied to our house the first two days, although S and I took turns running errands on Saturday, which kept both of us sane, I think. By Saturday afternoon at 3, I was losing my mind with the constant fighting to get X to just freaking sit on a potty, any potty! A couple of hours running around helped a ton. (ok, I didn't mean it to be a couple of hours, but it kinda ended up that way by accident). Sunday afternoon I had to teach my Jazze.rcise class and that was the only time I left the house.
Things that helped us:
1. We have a training seat for the big toilet, and a standalone toddler potty. We took the potty with us anywhere that we were in the house, and even the back yard. As an accident started, if it was close by, we were able to interrupt it and get him to the potty fast. The times we missed accidents were when the potty was in another room.
2. The stamps were a big hit. X doesn't seem to be hugely tied to rewards, so it hasn't been a big deal that he's not getting stamps at day care.
3. Having a little dance takes the stress off and makes it more fun. In retrospect, we probably could have gotten away with just the dance.
4. Both of us were present most of the time, so we were able to trade off, and get housework done. Finally got the yard in some sort of winter shape, trim on the garage painted, outdoor furniture put away...I suppose that was the silver lining. We were trapped in our house, so we were forced to address some of the tasks we had been neglecting!
5. Three days - not kidding. Definitely need the three days, and I'm glad I thought to do it over a weekend where I already had a day off.
6. Accepting the fact that he is not going to train for #2 as fast. That's going to take a while.
A few things I would have done differently:
1. I would have sucked it up and spent the first half day or so, letting him run around with nothing on and keeping a super close eye on him. I know that would have helped make the association with the urge much clearer than us just putting him on a schedule.
2. I would have made sure he drank more liquids. We weren't as diligent as we could have been, and he was a little dehydrated.
3. Bought more pull-on pants. He has a few, but most of his pants have snaps/buttons and zippers. Not the best for fast transitions if you need it. So, I'm adding to the collection.
My guess is that you'll know if you have an easy-to-train or hard-to-train little one before you even try. This method was fantastic for us because it seemed that he would be easy to train (although I totally had my doubts at the end of the first day when I couldn't wait to put him to bed in a cloth diaper, and collapse on the couch with a beer). Getting the initial association that underwear isn't like a diaper was pretty easy when doing it all at once. If we didn't take this approach, it would be gradual, and he probably would have gotten mostly trained at day care over the next year. During the week, we see him first thing in the morning and in the evening for a few hours, and usually one of us is off exercising while the other watches Baby X and fixes dinner. It would have been really difficult to do it at home gradually.