Put a Bib on It


Baseball Players Don’t Wear Diapers


My mother always told me that potty training me was as simple as building up hype to wearing big girl panties, receiving said big girl panties for my second birthday, being super excited about receiving the panties and never looking back to diapers. I thought it might be as simple with Bryce. I was wrong.

When it was Bryce’s second birthday back in July, I knew he wasn’t ready for underwear. Call it mother’s intuition—or maybe call it mother wasn’t ready (I was 8 months pregnant then, after all!). But, when Christmas rolled around, I decided to take the plunge. I was hoping it would play out just like it did for me and my mom and decided to give it a try, thinking, “How hard can it be?”

Christmas morning, he woke up to a present of some awesome big boy underwear with baseballs and basketballs on them—his favorite! To say he was interested in that particular gift would be a big stretch. However, we decided to proceed with the plan. We hoped we could spread the excitement about the underwear and he would want to go pee in the potty like daddy, mommy and big brother Ethan. His plan was much different than ours. There were a lot of outfit changes over the next few weeks, and very few potty celebrations. The frustration was evident throughout our house and we decided to back off until Bryce took more of an interest in the toilet himself.

As soon as we stopped hassling him to use the potty, and put him back into pull ups, he began to become more interested in it. He actually began asking to wear his underwear, and would tell us when he had to go potty. We usually just did short periods of time, to encourage positive results. (We had seen a lot of failure the previous month and we didn’t want potty training to feel like failure.) At that point he still didn’t want to wear underwear to child care. We didn’t force him to. By the end of February, he was still only using the toilet less than half the time and going in his pull up the majority of the day.

I knew Bryce had the control to go to the bathroom, we just hadn’t found the motivation he needed. We tried candy and small rewards for keeping his pants dry or for going in the potty. He just didn’t care about those rewards. Then we found the key: baseball.  It wouldn’t necessarily work for every kid, but for Bryce, it was the golden ticket. He loves baseball, and baseball players do not wear diapers. Baseball players go pee and poop in the potty. Simple as that. Upon this realization he began using the potty all the time. The first time that Bryce pooped in the potty, he looked at his accomplishment and said, “That’s baseball player poop?” I knew that day he wasn’t going back to diapers.

Potty training can be frustrating, not only for you as the parent but also for the child. It doesn’t have to feel like failure (like it did for us for a time). Trust your parenting instincts and listen to the cues your child is giving. It probably won’t be easy, but learn to trust each other and you will get through it together.


Who’s less ready for potty training… my toddler, or me?

Photo courtesy of Manish Bansal.

Photo courtesy of Manish Bansal.

Everett turned 2 in May and at his check-up, his pediatrician asked me if we had started thinking about potty training. The answer is a simple one (yes!), but it’s complicated, too. My husband and I talk about it all the time, but we don’t really have a plan. I am terrified of potty training and I don’t want to do it. Of all the “developmental milestones” we have gotten through thus far, I feel this is the one I am least prepared for. I haven’t even fully figured out the best time to start or the best method.

It’s not like I haven’t tried to figure this potty training thing out. Just the other day in a meeting I asked a crowd of early childhood professionals what I should do. The first answer was that Ev was far too young; that children his age don’t even have the muscle capabilities needed to control their bladder or the motor skills to undress oneself, so it’s an inappropriate time. But five minutes later, another person told me she had her sons start coming into the bathroom with her husband when they were very young and they started using the potty when they were 11 months old. Quite contradictory advice!

And I have asked those who claim to have had low-stress, successful potty training experience how they did it. There are those who swear that a parent must take off work and let the child run around naked for a week, spending lots of time on the potty. And when the week is over, viola! Potty trained. Others have said it’s a long process that shouldn’t be rushed and sometimes having a reward system, like a sticker chart, can help. Of course, I’m despairing because neither myself nor my husband can take a week off of work just to potty train (if I’m going to take a week off, I’d rather be on a beach in St. Lucia!) and reward systems send my head spinning about the age-old controversy about children being intrinsically motivated to do something versus externally motivated.

But there have been a few signs that make me think Ev is getting ready to use the potty. He says he wants to go potty three or four times a week, and every time, my husband and I have taken him to the potty and sat him down. Nothing ever happens.

He is also telling us now when he has to poop or that he has pooped. (Yes, when he says he has to poop, we sit him on the potty. But again, nothing happens). His diaper is still quite full in the mornings but the pediatrician told me that’s not a good way to judge if he is ready to use the potty or not because some children just have more active bladders and may need support (i.e. pull-ups) at night even when “potty trained.” She also told me one good sign is when Ev starts to “hide” when pooping, which he hasn’t started doing. He did, however, poop in the bathtub two evenings in a row last week.

For now, I am just going to breathe. I don’t think we are quite there yet so I have some time. But I know one thing: I don’t want to force Ev into it. I want it to come naturally, just like falling asleep on his own and not using a pacifier. I have always been a believer in the power of positive thinking so, that’s my plan. I think it’s going to be a positive experience, so it will be.