Chasing Davies: Four Phases to Potty Training

February 10, 2014

Four Phases to Potty Training

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Cottonelle but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CtnlCareRoutine

There are probably many ways to train your child to use the toilet, but we pretty much always listen to what our pediatrician suggests and run with it!  He hasn't steered us wrong yet in how to raise our first child, Liam.  From getting him to sleep through the night to time outs to getting him to eat what we make and not be picky, we're pretty please with his advice.  So at Liam's two year old check up appointment, we came full of potty training questions.  

Potty training can start at many different times depending on your child and their interest level.  Some say boys catch on closer to 3, while girls are earlier.  Some people choose to do an intense week of training or ease into it, like we're doing.  To each there own, but here are four phases that we're currently following after talking to our pediatrician while in the midst of potty training our boy.

Phase One: Peek Interest
We had gotten a little potty chair around 18 months, just to keep around for Liam to get use to it.  He'd sit on it while he was playing - with his diaper on and fully clothes, no big deal.  And we certainly weren't pushing it.  But as he learned more what it was actually for, he even started to associate it with going potty, though he'd still go in his diaper.  We picked up some books, like Elmo Goes Potty and started talking about it more.  I even made a bigger deal when I'd go to the bathroom.  Just little things to start to get him use to the idea and interested!

Phase Two: Look for Cues
We started to get to know Liam's going to the bathroom cues - like he'd run into another room to go poo-poo.  Or he'd get really quiet.  So if I could catch them soon enough, I'd ask him if he'd want to try going on the big boy toilet instead of in his diaper.  Sometimes he said YES! and sometimes he said no.  Sometimes we were too late.  But the times he said yes, we'd make a big deal out of it - celebrating his effort and if there was success, celebrating the heck out of that - giving him 2 M&Ms for every poo-poo and 1 for every pee (our doctor said this is one of those times that he is ok with celebrating with candy)! 

 After a few times of cleaning out the little potty, though, we quickly upgraded to an awesome seat that is easy to install (taking place of the regular toilet), accommodates adults and has a little seat that magnetizes to the lid that you pull down for the toddler to use and a slow closing lid (so no smashed fingers).  This makes clean up so much easier!  It comes in round and elongated, depending on the size of your toilet!

And with use of the real toilet came big boy wipes and toilet paper!  I took Liam to Walmart with me to pick out ultra soft Cottonelle Clean Care toilet paper and upgrade his wipes to Cottonelle Fresh Care flushable cleaning cloths.  When using the real toilet, we couldn't continue to use his baby wipes (not flushable), but wiping a little bum still requires a little work and a combo of wet and dry wipes (if you want to make sure you're getting the area clean)!  Plus, Liam loves the way the cleaning cloths feel and loves to unroll the toilet paper!

To get him to relax while on the potty, we encourage him to read a book, like his Elmo one or current favs.  That way he doesn't just jump right off (without leaving anything behind) and gives it a real shot.

Phase Three: Increasing Use & Moving Away from Candy
We are just starting to move into this phase.  Along with asking Liam if he wants to use the potty when we think he might be ready to do some business, we're trying ask him more throughout the day and have him sit on it before bed.  We're still celebrating with M&Ms, but working on a star-system to increase weekly uses and work towards a prize!  With this system, we will establish a goal amount of weekly toilet uses, and he'll get a start each time he goes.  If he makes his goal amount by the end of the week, we'll reward him with a toy, his favorite dinner, special snack or experience out of the house (TBD and will probably vary weekly).  As he hits his weekly goals quicker each week, we'll increase the amount we hope he'll use the potty.  Liam goes to daycare, so we'll just be counting his potty use at home (thus your goal might be more if your child is home more throughout the week).

After a few months of this, or once he's using the toilet a couple times a day, we'll likely move him from diapers to pull-ups.  It'll be much easier to let him try to go to the bathroom with a pull-up than a diaper, that's for sure!

Phase Four: Ditching the Diaper/Pull-Up
We will probably concentrate more on this portion and final phase of potty training this summer, when Liam gets closer to 2 and a half.   And this is when we feel like he's having a majority of dry pull-ups and really good at telling us when he has to go to the bathroom.  Once we get here, I want to celebrate this phase by taking him to pick out his own big boy underwear and once he's wearing those, we'll stop use of the star-system to allow going to the toilet to just become a normal part of his day. My goal is that he's potty trained by 3, but I'm not going to worry about it so much and just let him tell us when he's ready. 

Ultimately every child is different and responds differently to each new learning phase, but I'd love to know how you potty trained your own children and what tools you used to keep encouraging them!  

Also, on behalf of my partnership with Cottonelle, I also want to share a great deal going on right now!  When you purchase both their toilet paper and cleaning cloths in Walmart stores this month (February) you will receive a $5 Vudu offer. Vudu is like RedBox and offers HD movies. To receive the offer you you need to do as followed:

1. Take a picture of the receipt showing that you purchased both items text or email your picture to

2. You will receive a text or email back with a code valid for a $5 movie credit (you can get more information here).

Also, make sure to check out Cottonelle's website for great coupon offers!

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