Potty training has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding parenting adventures yet. We used a 3 day potty training method that was effective but at the end of the 3 days I found myself frantically searching for information about what happens on Day 4. I couldn’t find much of anything.
In this post, I’ll share our potty training experience over the last 2 months.
We chose to use a 3 day method based on a friend’s experience with her two children. It also aligned with my original plan to pull diapers cold turkey. Diapers seemed like an all or nothing thing to me. I always struggled with the concept of pull-ups. It seemed like a half-assed approach.
I started off by reading Lora Jensen’s 3 Day Potty Training ebook. Most of it made sense to me. I then read Carol Cline’s Potty Training in 3 Days guide/ebook. Both books explained similar approaches: remove diapers, stay at home for 3 days, do nothing but run child to potty and reward for success.
Although the approaches were similar, the tone of each book was very different and the descriptions and explanations were slightly different. I needed to read both to give me confidence. I was nervous.
3 Day Potty Training – Day 1
We selected a long weekend when both my husband and I were going to be home all weekend. Hailey was 21 months. In terms of potty training, she was young by North American standards but old on the global scale.
We threw out her last diaper on the morning of day 1 and put her in underwear. She then proceeded to wet herself every 20 minutes for the first few hours. Who knew she peed so much? It was exhausting. Thank God there were two of us.
She had about a dozen successful potties on the toilet on Day 1 and at least that many accidents.
3 Day Potty Training – Day 2
We decided to pull diapers at night even though she had been waking up with a full diaper every morning. We didn’t really know what to expect but figured we’d find out how often she was peeing in the middle of the night. If it was too much for us to handle we would put her in diapers over night.
She kept her underwear dry until 10am on Day 2. That’s 5 hours. She was learning! We were very excited.
She only 3-4 accidents the entire day, 2 of which she stopped herself mid-pee and finished on the toilet. Woohoo!! Massive progress in such a short time.
3 Day Potty Training – Day 3
We had no accidents over night. We woke her up twice though during the night to potty: 1 hour after she went to bed and at 5am.
Hailey decided that the third day would be the perfect day to pee on the living room floor. She didn’t even try to get to the toilet. This happened over and over.
In fact, at one point she told me she didn’t have to go potty then proceeded to poop her pants right in front of me. I ran her to the bathroom and got her cleaned up. My husband wasn’t around at this particular moment and I decided to run down to the laundry room to soak her clothes. I left Hailey out of sight which is a big no-no in the 3 day potty training method. By the time I got back upstairs I found a puddle on my living room floor and wet footprints leading into the kitchen. Awesome.
She had about 7 full blown accidents throughout the day.
Day 3 felt like an epic failure. It was an exhausting and emotional day. We were left questioning our decision to potty train her.
We had no idea what to expect on Day 4. The books said that most children would get it by the end of Day 3 but that some children may not get it within the 3 days and it may be beneficial to commit more time at home to potty training. However, we didn’t have the flexibility in our work schedules the following day to adjust anything. We had to send her to daycare the next day.
There were so many emotions running through me on Day 3, especially when I thought about Day 4. Would the childcare staff hate me if Hailey just wet herself all day? Would they judge me for deciding to potty train her so early? Were we setting Hailey up to fail by not spending another day potty training her?
Putting her back in diapers didn’t feel like an option to us but I was nervous about sending her to daycare.
As I sat there crying on my kitchen floor (oh the drama…) contemplating our seemingly disastrous day I could feel deep within me that sending her to daycare the next day in underwear was the right move. I couldn’t see how it could possibly be successful but I felt like it was the best option.
3 Day Potty Training – Day 4
I packed a dozen changes of underwear and pants (and some socks) and sent her to daycare. I prayed it would be enough.
I got home from work and nervously waited for my husband to pick Hailey up from daycare with the news of how she did.
Apparently miracles happen. I was shocked and ecstatic.
The Next Few Weeks
We continued to wake Hailey up twice each night for the first 3 weeks. Some nights, she would wake up at other times asking to go potty. Sometimes we would get her to the bathroom in time, other times we arrived at her crib to find it wet.
She seemed to wet the bed every other night for the first week and then less and less often.
After about 3 weeks, she stopped going potty at the first wake up so we eliminated it. About another week later, we eliminated the 5am wake up. We are at the 2 month mark now and haven’t had to do a middle of the night bed change in a couple of weeks.
As for day time, the majority of “accidents” were the result of her starting to pee, realizing it, stopping it, and then going to finish on the toilet.
However, more recently she’s had numerous full blown accidents at home (she’s had 2 dry weeks at daycare). Although this may seem like a setback, she’s been holding it longer and longer.
During the last couple of months, we’ve been mostly housebound out of fear of accidents in public. Having said that, 1 week into potty training Hailey used a public toilet successfully.
Recently, we are venturing out more and more. We seem to be more confident doing short trips to places where we know we can find a bathroom if need be. The idea of wandering a grocery store or a mall is still uncomfortable to me. But that is just our fear leading us.
Prep for Potty Training
We prepared for potty training in several ways. We started putting Hailey on the toilet when she was 8 months old. One of the driving factors in our decision was the struggle we were having with Hailey rolling around during diaper changes.
About a month before pulling diapers, I bought a couple of dozen pairs of underwear and 2-piece pajamas. I got really excited about showing them to Hailey and let her play with them. They were put away and brought out again about a week before the big day.
Two weeks before, I let her daycare know of our plan. They had already been putting her on the toilet at diaper changes but Hailey hadn’t really started asking to go to the toilet like she had at home.
One week before, I told her daycare to try to point out to Hailey when the older potty-trained kids were asking to go and just letting her know that she was able to ask. I asked them to focus on getting Hailey to feel comfortable asking to go potty. They started taking Hailey to the washroom when the older kids were going so she could observe and join in the fun.
As much as possible during that week leading up to potty training, we talked about it enthusiastically. Three more days until she put on her big girl underwear! No more diapers in a few days!
In terms of purchases, we bought prizes (toys from the dollar store) for big potty achievements (e.g. first dry night, 5 pees on the toilet, etc.). We bought puppy training pads to put on the coach, in her car seat, and in her high chair.
We decided to use a potty seat as opposed to a separate potty chair. This was what we had started with when she was 8 months old and it made sense to continue with this approach. I would recommend investing in a good quality, comfortable, sturdy potty seat. You don’t want one that’s unstable and will create fear when your child sits on it.
We had a foldable travel toilet seat to take with us when we go out in public. Tip: Pack a small towel in your potty bag. Hailey is terrified of hand dryers.
We used stickers to track her successes. This is something we started when she was 8 months old but interestingly enough, didn’t last long once she was in underwear. The stickers didn’t seem to motivate her and we have discontinued this reward.
We still praise her every time she’s successful.