Mary-ed Life

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Potty Play By Play Part Four – One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back, Twelve Months

Potty Training, sigh.

I wrote once that, supposedly, easy-going children do exist, children that are relaxed and easily pleased and only want to please you (the parent). I also wrote that my daughter is absolutely not one of these fabled children. My daughter, Ariana, grows more beautiful and adorable with each passing day. She also grows more stubborn, hard-headed, and unyielding. To further complicate things, she isn’t stubborn about normal toddler things. She doesn’t really care what clothes she wears. She eats a wide variety of foods. She doesn’t cling to a specific color. She doesn’t have a favorite cup or plate and her favorite stuffed animal does not have to travel everywhere with us.

So what is she stubborn about? It varies. Right now she refuses to walk near elevators and will not consider changing the line-up of stuffed animals in her bed. Twelve months ago it was potty training. Twelve months ago I started training her. She did remarkably well. After two weeks, she was using the potty wonderfully, accepting her rewards proudly. She successfully did numbers one and two and even started going to the potty without prompting followed by success. Then, she decided she wanted control and the stalemate began.

I tried everything. It didn’t matter. I read everything and tried again. It didn’t matter. I bribed. I pleaded. I hunkered down. I lightened up. I worried. I didn’t worry. It didn’t matter.

Then, about three months ago, things started to progress again. It came about slowly. We would have a really good week with lots of successes followed by a week with no successes. This continued for a while and soon it petered out again.

I don’t know what possessed me at that point, but I got tough. I sat my stubborn daughter down and told her calmly and firmly that she needed to act like a big girl. Then, I sat myself down and stopped making excuses and letting myself let her slide.

Here is the formula that worked for us:

1. Find the kind of diaper/training pant that your child likes the least and use it.

I use Gerber cotton training pants at home (with waterproof PUL sewn to the outside to make them less messy). Ariana absolutely hates peeing in them because they get completely saturated. They are the only option at home during the day. Period.

I use cloth diapers made with natural fibers (cotton and bamboo) when we are out of the house. Natural fibers allow the child to feel wet. I also use these diapers at naptime.

2. I only use disposable diapers at night (and only then because my child is such a heavy wetter and a light sleeper). I only use disposable training pants when we travel.

3. I give half of one miniature cookie as a reward for peeing in the potty. Cookies are Ariana’s favorite thing in the world. She does not get them for any other reason (unless she is at Grandma’s house.)

4. I put Ariana on the potty at appropriate times. She is very predictable. Putting her on the potty when she really doesn’t need to go just frustrates her.

5. I keep a second potty in the back of my car. It is less scary than a big, public toilet.

6. I stay consistent and wait.

About a month ago, Ariana suddenly decided trying to potty train was worth her time. The first week she had a few successes. The second week she had two successes a day, every day. The third week she had no accidents (during waking hours). Last week, she still had no accidents and she successfully used the potty outside the house. She has not done “number two” in the potty since this most recent chain of success started, but I know that she will when she is ready.

Now that I can comfortably say she is training, I am slowly progressing forward. I have moved the potty into the bathroom (instead of keeping it in whatever room she is in). I’m letting her wear cloth training pants out of the house instead of diapers. Eventually we will tackle using the “big potty” and maybe wearing underwear. As long as she continues to consistently use her little potty, I’m not going to push the issue. I know I’m just a stubborn moment away from the whole thing stalling again. I have to stay positive. I have to stay consistent. No excuses.


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Potty Play By Play: Part Two – Ready, Set, Ready?

So Christmas has come and gone. Back in November, when I wrote Part One, I decided that potty training would officially start after the holidays. I travel a lot during the spring, summer, and fall, but very little in the winter, so it seemed like the best time. Since Part One, I have made many steps toward training readiness.


First, I bought Ariana a potty. I chose the Fisher-Price Cheer For Me! Potty because it looked the most like a toilet. I figured Ariana might be a little confused if I was going potty on a toilet and she was going potty on a frog. It just didn’t seem logical to me to get a potty that didn’t look like a potty. So I bought the Cheer For Me! Potty and put it in the guest bathroom directly across from the toilet. Then, I sat on the toilet and invited Ariana to sit on hers. She got the concept immediately and began sitting on her potty each and every time I sat on mine.


I let Ariana take the potty apart and put it back together at least a hundred times over the next month. I kept a basket of board books in the bathroom near the toilet so Ariana could sit and read. I had Ariana’s favorite doll practice sitting on the potty too.


Next, I went out and bought training pants. True to my Mom-of-the-Cloth nature, I bought reusable cloth training pants. Luckily for me, my favorite cloth diaper brand Flip by Cottonbabies came out with a new trainer just last year. I went to my local cloth retailer, Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique, and invested in new, snazzy cloth trainers, patting myself on the back for being so frugal-chic. (I also went to Wal-mart and bought ONE box of disposable training pants for Ariana’s morning daycare. I hope I never have to buy another.)


Finally, I let Ariana wear her super cute overalls, one last time. They won’t work with potty training since they take so long to get on and off, but they are adorable.


So here we are. Potty training has begun. Stay tuned to my blog for updates.


Potty Play by Play: Part One – Before the Beginning

Call me ambitious. (Ambitious!) Call me crazy. (Crazy!) Call me what you like, but my daughter is nineteen months old and I’m ready to start potty training.

It’s not that I have anything against changing diapers. They honestly don’t bother me. I use cloth diapers, so expense is not a problem either. Really, potty training comes down to readiness, and Ariana is showing some of the signs of readiness. So why not give it a shot? Anyway, I decided to keep a record of my experience so that other mothers can learn from my successes and failures, both of which I’m sure I’ll have plenty.

So where exactly do I begin? Here’s what I’ve put into practice so far:


Currently, Ariana can say words like Mama, Dada, ball, book, meow (cat), all done, etc. She has not yet learned to say words for parts of her body or for what comes out of it. So, I’m working to teach her these words. I’m also trying to teach her to verbalize when she needs her diaper changed.


I checked out Once Upon a Potty For Her (DVD) from the library. It is an adorable animated version of the popular book Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel. It also features live action shots of toddlers that are my daughter’s age sitting on, dancing around, and playing with a potty while a catchy “Potty Song” plays in the background. I played the DVD for Ariana and she loved it. She really enjoyed watching the cartoon and dancing to the music. Now, when I do decide to buy her a potty, it won’t be a completely foreign object.


Most people know by now that I use cloth diapers. Of their many benefits, early potty training is often listed. This is truest of the old fashioned cotton diapers versus the more modern “stay-dry” cloth diapers. I personally prefer old fashioned cotton prefolds, but have used a fleece liner with them since Ariana started eating solid foods. Fleece liners make cleaning up easier, but also take away a lot of the wet feeling. Now that I’m starting potty training, I’ve taken away the fleece liners. Ariana is wearing only cotton prefolds next to her skin, allowing her to feel wetness and hopefully teaching her to associate it with the need to go.

So what is working?

Taking out the fleece liners has definitely made a difference in Ariana’s awareness. The other day, I was in her room getting something out of her closet. When I went to leave again and called for her to follow me, she refused to leave. Instead, she stood by her changing table. I asked if she was wet, and she gave an affirmative “Dah.” So I changed her and we went on with the day.

So what is kind of working?

I’m pretty sure Ariana has no clue what Once Upon a Potty For Her is about. Still, the main character, Prudence, has no idea what her potty is either. That’s all part of the story. I do believe the DVD explains things very well and on a child’s level, so I’m planning to go out and buy myself a copy after I return this one to the library.

What’s not working?

Ariana doesn’t seem interesting in repeating the words I try to teach her. She’s more interested in playing with the dog (also called “meow”), or playing with her toys, or discovering new way to assert her independence. So I’ll keep repeating without being pushy and hopefully she’ll come around.