Friday, April 16, 2010

Potty training - Is it too early?

Question from a CMOTC MOM:

I am wondering if 17 months is too early to start potty training. I never would have dreamed of doing it this early, but my boys are ripping off their diapers pretty consistently. I try to keep them in clothes, but they rip off pants or just pull the diapers through the pant leg on onesies. Is it time to potty train? Any advice on timing for potty training, and also on how to potty train would be very helpful!

Advice/experience offered from CMOTC MOMs:

Duct Tape. One piece footless pjs worn backwards and pin the zipper with a diaper pin. I think at one time we did a backwards onesie, backwards pjs, AND tape. We would tape from front to back, then go around the waist, making sure to end the tape in the back. Some like clear packing tape. Use bandage scissors to cut the tape at diaper changes.

I wouldn't attempt potty training at that age. You'll be more frustrated. MOST kids aren't ready until after their 2nd birthday, and many aren't ready until closer to 3.

You could start reading books about it (adult and children), let them see trusted adults "do their thing", maybe even put a potty chair in the bathroom for the unexpected surprise. Put them on the potty chair right before getting in the bathtub. But I wouldn't do anything formal until they are verbal and can follow multi-step instructions. It's A LOT to remember.


My kids did that too. Its a phase. One of them just now got over it. I literally had them in footie pj's with the pin all day until we planned to go somewhere. Luckily, the last hold out got over it just in time for warmer clothes since all of our zip up PJ's are fleece. (She started a new phase but that's a whole other story) I've heard that if you start them too early with potty training it will take longer in the long run. 17 months is waaaay too early in my opinion. I started vaguely at 22 months, but even now at 26 months, its not really time for my girls.


We too used duct tape--eventually going completely around their diaper twice--even during the day. Also onesies backwards and footless zip up pajamas worn backwards (or footed--one size too big so you can twist the feet around) and then diaper pins upside down or to the inside if you can. I had one of my trio who has always been extremely good with fine motor control and could pick at duct tape and even undo diaper pins at a very early age. She also was a monkey and would climb out of her crib over to the next one and undo the other two's pjs, pins and duct tape for them. Very frustrating! And secretly very funny! I can't tell you how many times we came into their room in the morning or after naps to find more than one naked (sometimes still asleep!)

Thankfully we only came into a poop-fest one time and it was pretty well contained to the sheets and kids. I've heard of very very messy ones (and seen photos) though so I would get going with the duct tape ASAP if I were you! :)

Also, I'm a believer in wait-until-they-are-ready potty training. You will know. And it may save you a lot of grief in the long run. One of mine was just waiting for another to show interest and then she was ready that day too. So two were done within a day or two of starting. It was really pretty simple at that point.

On the other hand, my third went on for another 5-6 months past the other two being done potty training and she was still refusing to do it and saying, "No thank you, I like my diaper". But the moment she decided to do it she was DONE. Never an accident either way, ever. It was her decision and true to herself that is how she is in everything she does. 'In her timing.' All the talking about it in the world wouldn't have mattered one bit. Every child is so different. Use your judgement and know that if you lose your patience during the process too much, they may sense your frustration and use it to their advantage and drag the training time out longer than necessary.

One last thing, we never used potty chairs/seats except in the car on trips. Some people like them for around the house though but don't feel like you have to do it if you aren't sure about it. (The mess of potential potty spilling everywhere just wasn't appealing to me...) My kids instead just figured out how to sit on the big potty right away by themselves. I bought several little plastic stools (one for each bathroom) that they could use to climb up with and use at the sink too. Our stools were like this ebay one (non-skid & easy to wash).

Good luck! And trust your instincts but invest in several rolls of duct tape for now!


If you check out books from the library, you'll get a feel for what "ready" really is. For mine, taking off diapers was more about being able to undo the velcro tab and had nothing to do with an understanding of toileting or bodily functions. Like another mom said, we also had one with more advanced fine motor skills, and she would "assist" the others. I think toileting readiness is really about following the multi-step process and understanding cause and affect of the feeling, then the action. I've potty-trained 5, and some were easier than others. I'm certainly no expert, but I did learn with the first one that it shouldn't be frustrating. When you are getting angry and frustrated, then it's not time. The kids will pick up on it. My oldest didn't completely train until he was a bit over 4. He had #1 down as an older 3, but #2 was difficult for him and he soiled during the day quite often. A couple of my girls were fairly reliable before their 3rd birthday (about 2y10m, and the last was #1 trained at 3y1m, but consistently did #2 in her bedtime pullup until she was about 3.5. She was easy-peasy to #1 train. We knew she knew what she was doing with #2. She NEVER soiled her underwear, just saved it up for the bedtime pullup. We let her go with that until she was more comfortable with the "big girl" challenges of preschool, then we gently helped her to be comfortable going in the toilet.

You'll really get to know your kids and their learning style when you take it on. And one thing I learned from a mom of quints is that it's OK to teach them 1 at a time. We actually started with 2, because those 2 are quite competitive and it would have caused melt downs if one couldn't do what the other was doing. But the other 2 were happy to wait their turns. So you may find that one of your boys is more interested before the other, and that's OK. It's actually easier, I think. But if they are competitive, you can use that to your advantage too.


I bought potty chairs when my boys were 18 months just so they got to know what going to the potty was all about. I didn't actively start with them until they were close to 2 1/2 though. They didn't really show too much interest before then. They thought it was neat to sit on the potty but that wore off. I would get them to sit on their potties naked before bath or just periodically during the day but that was about the extent of it.

Even at almost 2 1/2 it was still a little frustrating at times but at some point they just "got it"! Now at 3 1/2 I have one boy who is completely diaper free (both boys have been diaper free during the day for a long while but at night would still require a diaper) and the other is still working on the night time diaper thing.

Someone else mentioned the potty seat and possibly not even going there. If I had to do it all over again I may not have even bought potty chairs. The only reason is that it's messy. Every time the pee you have to dump pee and clean it and then when they poop... well... I'm sure you could imagine having to clean up after that!!! I will say that I have been happy with the Bjorn potty's sold at Babies R' Us. The bigger one's, not the little one's. The big one's have an insert which makes cleaning A LOT easier.

Spring/summer is also a great time to potty train. They can run around in just underwear and socks (socks help if they do pee themselves by absorbing some of the liquid as gross as that sounds) or completely naked. Then you can "catch" them if you see them start to go. When you seriously start I would take them into the bathroom every 20 mins or so and get them to sit on he potty. It is a time consuming process but once they get it it is glorious!!!

We also used M&M's as rewards. They would get two if they peed and 5 if they pooped (since for my boys pooping was the tougher one). Some people prefer not to use treats and prefer to use a sticker chart to work towards a prize. Whatever works for you and your little one's! Mine didn't care for stickers but loved the M&M's :)

Good luck and try to just take it one day at a time when you do start. You WILL have frustrating days that seem like they will never get the hang of it but they will!!!

Oh... one last thing... in regards to Pull Ups. We used those for awhile but I think the absorbency on them is so good now that it didn't really phase them too much when they would have an accident. Just a thought. That's when we went the naked or just underwear route. We had more laundry to do but I honestly think they caught on quicker after we stopped the Pull Ups. I am no expert and every child is different so this is just my two bits!


My guys potty trained early at about 2.25 years and were in underwear overnight at about 2.75 years!! By most standards that is really early. I think 17 months sounds really early but if they are interested int he potty then go for it!! My guys would also remove their diapers and it drove me nuts because the bed and clothes were wet and sometimes the diapers were not!!! We used Duct tape at bedtime to keep the diapers on and made sure the seam was in the back. they were like houdini time the diaper was off but the onsie was still snapped at the bottom!! hahahaha! The duct tape was great!!. I used pullups for a while because they could pull them down if necessary but they weren't so great if they pooped - because you had to pull them down and eveything got pulled down their legs!! what a bonus! Until I figured out that when they pooped I would just rip down the side to take it off like a regular diaper. I liked the pampers easy ups because they were a little smaller and my guys were smaller around.


Do you have any advice to offer? Please share? Do you have any great potty training resources? Please share below or email us.


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