How to use a timer to potty train

Photo Credit:  thejbird  via  Compfight   cc

Photo Credit: thejbird via Compfight cc

Today I'm potty training Amos! Since our approach with Griffin worked so well, I'm following the same strategy and thought I'd share a post I wrote on Salt & Nectar explaining our potty training technique. 

You will have correctly surmised from the title of this post that I have in fact potty trained. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I now only have ONE child in diapers. Let me try that again for those of you in the back...


My husband and I had used a busy schedule and several weekends of traveling to delay potty training Griffin WAY past when we knew he was ready. Finally, the weekend before Halloween we (and by we I mean me because my husband went out of town conveniently!) sucked it up and put the diapers away.

I'm proud to say the first day there were no accidents at all. We had one very difficult day establishing that poop DOES in fact go in the potty. However, we reached the one week mark with only a few accidents and two week mark with almost no accidents at all.

So, how'd I do it? What are my tips?

1. Tune out the noise. Between potty books, potty videos, and potty blog posts, I was stinking overwhelmed. Several close friends had offered advice as well but I was having trouble deciding on one strategy. What if I chose incorrectly? Or messed up some important step? Finally, I just adapted a simple technique to our lives and moved on.

2. Go big or go home. I had been offering the potty haphazardly for months. We would ask Griffin if he was ready and always be met with a resounding no. Finally, I just decided to dedicate an entire weekend to potty training. We weren't going back to diapers and that was the end of it. Zero tolerance was stressful but in the end it worked.

3. The potty timer is your friend. During my extensive (and at times paralyzing) research, I heard lots of parents recommend using a timer. The idea is that the timer is telling your child to go to the bathroom and not you. "Potty timer says go. Nothing I can do about it!" Some recommended setting the timer for every 20 minutes or (God save me) every 10. That seemed a bit rigid for me so I did something similar to the schedule you use in sleep training - only in the reverse. I started at 20 minutes. If he didn't go to the bathroom at the 20 minutes mark, I would set the timer for 15 minutes. If he didn't go at 15 minutes, I set the timer for 10. Worked like a charm.

4. Go commando. The first day Griffin wore nothing but an oversized t-shirt. I wanted him to feel the sensation of wetting himself, which he never actually did the first day. On Monday, when we went out, I just put pants on him with no underwear. That worked well until he had a VERY messy accident. The underwear came back and has remained, although I still think it's best to leave them commando at the very beginning.

5. iPotty. You know the easiest way to get a two-year-old to sit on the potty? Stick an iPhone/iPad/iPod in his hands. Who knew that was Steve Jobs's true legacy?

Despite one stressful day, potty training was much easier than I anticipated. We're not accident free but we are dang close and (just one more time because it makes me feel so dang good) I officially have only ONE child in diapers!!!