Notes on potty-training a 21-month old

by Whitney Moss on May 4, 2009

in Blog,Momoirs of a Rookie Mom

Well, the first note is that the deed is done. Miss Scarlett is wearing diapers only during her sleeping hours. She hasn’t had an accident for four or five days, and therefore, I am the mother of two potty-trained children, and YES, I WANT A MEDAL.

Next, I’m going to assume that no readers are judging me for potty-training a kid who is so young. I’m assuming you are simply reading with open minds, curious about my experience.

As with all experiences, when you come out on the other side, it’s interesting to consider whether you’d do it again. The answer here is: I don’t know.

On the PROS list, we are not changing yucky diapers, treating diaper rash (an uncommon occurrence for this kid), or paying for diapers, or putting diapers into the landfill.

On the CONS list, our little monkey is nowhere near being able to go to the bathroom by herself, so the effort of changing a diaper is probably about the same as the effort required to take her into the bathroom, get her on the toilet, wipe, pull up pants, hold her up to the sink to wash her hands. Did I mention that she is tiny? When she climbs up to stool in front of the sink, she must still hoist herself up, placing her whole torso on the rim of the sink to reach the faucets. To keep her clean and dry in a public restroom, I will have to hold her up the whole time, which can be a strain.

Hmm. It looks like my cons paragraph is larger than my pros. Let me think of more pros. Did I mention the environment? Oh yes, check. Ok, what about the money? Oh, I already said that.

At the end of the day, this is an anticlimactic event. I am not really liberated from anything, and in fact, I have to be even more attentive to her potty needs than before.

So why did we do it? Why not wait? Because she was ready. Because at 18 months she would pee on the floor on purpose and laugh. At 20 months she started announcing she needed to “pee on the potty” and when we put her there, she would.

I’m sorry this post does not contain a tutorial. I am not qualified to write a “how to potty train” post. I can only echo what everyone else says: The kid has to be ready.

Julian, now four-and-a-half, was more than three years old the first time he peed in the potty. So you know I’m not in a hurry about this issue.

Did we bribe her? Yes, we did. We offered M&Ms as recommended by our pediatrician. (Hey M&M/Mars, how often do you get mentioned in the same sentence as “pediatrician”?) But she didn’t care that much about the M&Ms. I believe she really was intrinsically motivated and that we were just reminding her that she can pee in the potty and hold it when she’s not in the bathroom.

Girls versus boys? I am lucky to be conducting all sorts of social science experiments in my house by having one child of each gender. So based on sample sizes N=1 in each test group, girls are ready for toilet training earlier.

Julian, as some may recall, also didn’t poop in the potty for a few months after he started peeing in it. I called him half-way potty trained for a while. (Now I call him 100% potty trained, although Heather may not since he still sleeps in pull-ups.)

So there you have it. One small package of M&Ms later, I am a certified potty trainer.

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

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