November 16, 2016

Every child is different, but this mother of three shares her tips for saving sanity while toilet training toddlers.


I’ll never forget the fall afternoon when I received a text from my husband that read, “She will not wear the diaper. I could put it on, but it won’t be pretty. Please advise.” At first I was upset. Who was she to decide this? With my boys it had been my decision. Then I thought about the fact that everyone says girls are easier to toilet train. Third time’s a charm? What I learned was that every child is a little different. My girl was easier in the fact that she was the one who told us she was ready. We didn’t have to decipher any secret toddler code to know it was time. She was going to do it whether we were ready or not. (And I most definitely was not.)

Third time was the charm, but mainly because of trial, error, and more error from my previous experiences. Here are my third-time mom potty-training tips to help save your sanity.

1. Patience, patience, patience.

Did I mention that this requires patience? It’s so easy to get frustrated when accidents occur. This is especially true when it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you are changing soiled sheets for the second time. No one wants to change a fitted sheet at 2 a.m. Try to take a deep breath before reacting to accidents. I can remember being ready to rip all of my hair out at some point with all three kids. If your patience and sanity can handle it, try going diaper-free at night for a couple of weeks to see if your child can accomplish daytime and nighttime at once. I am convinced that this is reason that we’ve had the success that we’ve had. Of course, this is not the right approach for every child, but if you are willing to give it a couple of weeks, your child could surprise you. I didn’t think my daughter could handle nights, but within a few weeks she was waking up dry most nights. (If you attempt to quit diapers cold-turkey as I did, please pay close attention to the next tip).

2. Layers.

For nighttime training, multiple layers on the mattress make it possible for a quick transition back to bed for everyone involved. I love the ultimate crib sheet that is a crib sheet and water-proof pad in one. I had two of these and just pulled off one layer in the event of a nighttime or nap-time accident.

3. Incentives.

I am not proud of it, but the truth is that my boys responded well to incentives. I promised my first son some time on the Wii (he had limited screen time) if he would sit down on the toilet. Bingo. Video games for the win. My second son loved M&Ms, so I bribed him with them. Judge if you will, but with my second, we stayed home on a Memorial Day weekend and by that Wednesday he was completely trained, including nights.

4. There’s an app for that.

Watches and smartphone apps with timers are helpful tools to remind you and your toddler that it’s time to take a trip to the bathroom. The “potty watch” was key in my second son’s training because he wouldn’t listen to me. When Mommy would tell him it was time to sit on the toilet, he would outright refuse. When the watch started to play music though, he was more than willing to go.

5. Support system.

Make sure that everyone who is involved in your child’s life is aware and onboard with the transition. Teachers, nannies and/or grandparents who care for your child should all be on the same page. We are lucky to have amazing teachers who did much of the heavy lifting the first day with my daughter. Thanks to the success and the pride she felt that first day, she was motivated to continue. Her second diaper-free week included a weekend at my parents’ house while my husband and I were out of town. Without my parents’ support, our daughter could have easily had a set-back while we were gone. On the contrary, she managed to have fewer accidents.

Every child is different. What works for one child may not work for another. The key for us was finding the right motivator at the right window of time to set the child up for success from the beginning.

This post was written by Shabnam Aminmadani, a blogger, human resources professional and mother of three.


Do you have any tips to add? Did you find one gender to be easier than the other? Please comment below.