Man oh man. Where to begin? Around 20 months or so, Chickie started giving us (what we interpreted as) clear signs that she was ready to begin potty training. Almost overnight our girl went from being super oblivious to bodily functions to noticing them and showing interest in learning what they were. It began with her poopy diapers- before 20 months a funky smell was the ONLY tell (besides #poopface which is still a thing today!) Chickie had a poopy diaper. After the 20 month mark, as soon Chick went poop in her diaper she would seek us out, tell us she pooped and act grossed out by it, like she wanted to be changed immediately. Another tell was her interest in other people going potty- mom, dad, nannies- our little weirdo would ask us ALL if we went/had to go poop or pee anytime time we were near the bathroom.. But what did it all mean? Was it really time to potty train? Were we just reading too much into her toddler curiousity? 20 months seemed YOUNG and we had a big European adventure coming up.. it really could not have been worst timing! So what did I do? If you’re a regular here at LTL you know the answer.. I started reading, reading and reading 🤓🤓🤗
But.. Where to Begin?
Generally, when I want to learn about a specific topic before I settle on a particular book/theory/way of thinking about it I google the issue I’m interested in and find a couple of respected authors/experts on the subject. After the googling, comes the reading- I read online interviews they’ve done and articles they’ve written to get a sense of their vibe and see if we’d be a good match. I look for things like: the least-annoying tone (I find that a lot of parenting books can feel condescending.. just me?), humor (a must!), real life examples, digestible language, etc.. We all know by now that there’s no “right” way to parent so finding a good fit is more important than finding the “best” theory or way to do things. My thinking is that If we actually like the person and enjoy their writing we’re much more likely to actually read the whole book and implement their strategies.. agreed? One more thing- always start any parenting book/strategy (about potty training and beyond) KNOWING that you’ll adapt whatever method you’re learning to YOUR FAMILY and make changes to it as necessary. Giving yourself permission to do that from day one goes a long way in avoiding unrealistic expectations.
Oh Crap! Potty Training
After cruising the interwebs for a very long time and reading more poop articles than anybody should I settled on Oh Crap! Potty Training, a book by Jamie Glowaki that one of my girlfriends had recommended. Oh Crap! preaches a three stage approach to potty training. NOT three days, three stages or “blocks”- do not confuse the two, God knows I did! I loved that Oh Crap! Gave a step by step concrete plan to follow which seemed logical and was explained in a simple, to the point way. Jamie, the author, was a bit intense for me at times (particularly on the using too many diapers earth conscious guilt-trip) but she was sarcastic/funny enough that her intensity didn’t overly bug me. My main point of contention with Jamie is her assumption that all (most?) dads are hands off and would not be a part of the process.. this could not be further for the truth in our case and I was offended on #handsomehubbs’s behalf! Putting the intensity and the dad shaming aside, I really liked Oh Crap!’s approach and would fully recommend it. Let me break down the basics of Jamie’s method. Keep in mind this is only a summary, and just like your English teacher in high school, your kid will know that you only read the Sparknotes version of the book if you attempt to potty-train after reading only this post. The woman has a whole chapter on poop for God’s sake! 😂😂😂
The goal with potty training (in Jamie’s terms) is to get your kiddo’s consciousness about bodily functions to go from completely clueless to I’m peeing to I peed to I need to pee. That’s it! That’s all we’re going to accomplish.. But how do we do it? Let’s get into it..
Block One is all about getting your kid from from completely clueless to I’m peeing/pooping. Remember, your kiddo has never had to think about peeing or pooping before- it’s always been something that just happens when it happens and adults take care of with no effort on his part whatsoever, ZERO thinking involved. Block One is where we get them to understand what it means to pee and poop. For Block One Jamie is very clear in that your babe needs to be naked all day with the potty chair in close range and under your VERY watchful eye. 👁 The idea is that anytime you see your kid begin to pee or poop your RUUUSH them over to the potty so they at least finish there.
On day one of Block One, Chickie had about 4-5 mini pees outside of the potty, 4 pees and one poop completely inside the potty. This is rare! Most kids have trouble going number two in the potty. Each time Chickie peed, she gave us a little bit more “notice’ that it was coming- sometimes it was a weird face, or a little pee-pee dance- we used those extra seconds to take her to the potty and do a big HOORAAH each time she did. On day one we also increased Chick’s water/juice intake so she had to go potty more than usual which made the learning go a little faster.
Keep disinfectants near- day one is FILLED with “accidents” – although we can’t technically call them that since again, the kid has no idea what peeing/pooping even IS at this point! Also- when you kiddo starts to pee/poop and you rush them to the potty, be mindful not to scare them- just say something like “hold on babe, you’re peeing; lets go to the potty!” No big fanfare required.
In Block Two we introduce clothes. No undies, just clothes- the book is very specific about this. According to Jamie, undies can feel too much like diapers and they can make it harder for parents to know when the pee/poop is coming. Some people are weirded out by this- I certainly was!- but after going through it, I’m fully on board the no-undies train. It really did help! Once we were comfortable enough with Chickie’s progress, we made a big deal of buying her big girl undies and she has been using them ever since. I’d say all together it was around 4 weeks commando for us.
When you start Block Two you should have a better sense of when the pee is coming, DEF not with words yet but you should be recognizing the potty face/dance a bit before they pee/poop and heading straight for the potty when you do. Block Two brings along with it SMALL outings and a LOT of wet clothes. I’m not going to lie- Block Two was pretty brutal. Never have I done more laundry than during this block. It was probably the hardest part of our whole potty training journey. During Block Two (which for us started half way through day two of potty training) as soon as Chick went potty we all went on little walk either up and down our street or around the block. Sometimes we didn’t go anywhere at all but just stepped away from the potty for a bit. I could tell things were starting to click in her little brain but we were still having LOTS of accidents. The book says this is OK, remeber- just two days ago your kiddo had ZERO idea what peeing/pooping was! Keep at it. During Block Two, all the peeing and pooping is still done at home.
FYI- we did Block Two twice! We moved on too quickly the first time around and had to ditch the pants, go back to Block One and regroup. It happens.. Oh Crap! describes a successful Block One as your kiddo sitting in the potty to pee/poop while naked either by himself, with your prompting or just plain leading him. If you don’t see this at the end of day one, I recommend you keep at it before moving on and safe yourself the unnecessary laundry..
Block Three brings bigger outings and going potty in different situations. Make sure you get a big pee before leaving the house and EXPECT your kiddo to go while out and about. Bring extra outfits- there WILL be accidents. We brought along this car seat liner and this portable potty everywhere we went. Sometimes we bought the potty chair itself (photographic evidence below). Everything helped but Block Three still sucked 😂 Sophia went through THREE pairs of pants in one outing once. It was horrific. KEEP GOING MAMA (or Dada- most of my readers are moms but I can’t be complaining about the book dad-shaming and then do the same lol) YOUR KIDDO WILL GET IT.
Block Four and Beyond
To be honest, from Block Three on all the Blocks kinda all mesh together into one big KEEP GOING, KEEP PRACTICING, GO OUT OF THE HOUSE MORE pep talk. Jamie defines Block four as peeing and pooping with underwear, with prompting or without. After three or four weeks of Block Three (peeing in different situations, without undies) we eventually put undies on Chick and started relaxing a bit more when we were out and about. Still, to this day-9 months since we took off her diaper- we have to remind her to go potty if she’s having too much fun particularly when playing with other kids. We still have those moments of “OMG has she peed this morning? Chickie go pee!” and still make her pee before we go anywhere; it’s not completely a done deal by ANY means. BUT, she’s been diaper free for the better part of a year, us parents are still married and I didn’t rip ALL my hair out so I call it a win! 😆 At school, she almost never has accidents- I’d say she’s had around 5 accidents since she started her new school last October. Not bad at all!
Block Five is described as consistent potty without prompting- which is where we are *most days* and Block Six is dry nighttime and nap. We have been very consciously ignoring nighttime training and I have a feeling we’ll regret it… Under the Oh Crap! method you have to control the kiddo’s fluid intake in the hours before bed and WAKE THEM UP TO PEE in the middle of the night 😭 😭 😭 Chickie is a great sleeper and I REFUSE to wake a sleeping child.. I told myself when we started potty training that I would deal with nighttime training when then #BabyBruder (now out sweet Teddy Bear) arrived and was waking to feed- I’d kill two birds with one stone and wake ChickChick to do her business when I was already up feeding Bear. Of course that never happened and here we are, Teddy is 4 months old and sleeping through the night. Chick is still in nightime diapers. #MOMFAIL Oh Crap! says its ok to leave nighttraining in the back burner until kiddos are three to three and a half. If you wait any longer, according to Oh Crap! you will struggle with bed wetting infinitely because at around three the bladder is developing and if it develops without the practice of holding it, the muscles will atrophy – whoomp whoomp, whoomp. Chickie will be three in May so stay tuned on how out nighttime training goes.. good vibes appreciated!
What I Wish I knew
Toddlers are difficult. They push every single limit/boundary and rebel against every rule we set. Just our Chickie? Please say it ain’t so…😅 🤭 As soon as our girl realized going potty is something we WANTED her to do, she immediately started resisting- not because she wasn’t understanding the process and progressing in her potty “consciousness” but because she KNEW it would her refusal would get a rise out of us. I wish I had gone into the potty training experience with the understanding that “bad” behavior WILL play a role in potty training and it needs to be dealt with in whatever way “bad” behavior is usually dealt with, outside of potty training. I was so nervous about Chickie developing bad associations with the potty or putting too much pressure on her about it that I found myself letting things that would ABSOLUTELY not be OK at the dinner table or while out shopping, be OK in the bathroom. Once I realized what was going on, I went back to our usual way of dealing with tantrums- ignoring them! (I promise, promise that more on this is coming soon.. in the meantime, you can read this post).
A Note ABout Prompting
According to the book, and also in our experience, when and how much you prompt kiddos to go to the bathroom can make or break your potty training experience. Over-prompting can result in kiddos rebelling against the process. Too little prompting can result in unnecessary accidents. Jamie’s advice is to never ASK your kiddo if they have to go potty until they’re fully into Block Five (consistent potty without prompting). Before Block Five, rather than ask we are supposed to PROMPT our kids to use the potty by saying something like “I can see you have to pee, there’s your potty” and then LETTING IT GO. Ughh it’s so hard to let it go and not nag but I promise it really does make all the difference when you’re not hovering or making a big deal out of going potty.
That’s it! That’s all I have to say on potty training….for now. Whooof, what a long post! I hope it’s at least a little helpful. I know how impossible potty training can feel and I am here for you. If you have any questions or want to chat more, you can always drop a comment below, send me an email or just shoot me a DM on Instagram. YOU CAN DO THIS and so can your kiddo! Sending all my love your way.