After the first 72 hours; Solutions for Potty Training

72 hours of naked, going nowhere, cleaning up accidents, lots of chocolate for the successes, and then…what?
I’m talking about what the hoo-ha happens after
those first 3 days of at-home potty training boot camp. You can’t stay at home forever, you know…or at least, I can’t. The half week focused on urine, feces and laundry obviously drains me, but mostly I just need to leave my house every day. So after my kid is “potty trained” (according to the Internet), I’m supposed to get out there and trust him 24/7? Yeah. Right!


I’m reluctantly in the throes of toilet training business with my second child, Graham. He’s only turned 2 recently and yet wanted to be done with diapers. I figured out it was time due to him losing his mind when he’d have a bowel movement (he’d cry and whine or go hide and put his hands in his diaper to investigate), his forming a perfect yoga bridge position each time there was a diaper change while screaming out, “Ew! Ew! Ew! Ewwww!”, his attempts to remove diapers, and the obsession of watching everyone else using the loo.

We successfully navigated the first 3 days with minimal accidents (and even a BM in the toilet!). But are we fully potty trained? Unfortunately, it’s a “no” for now. We’re halfway there, or something. Graham doesn’t want to wear diapers, requesting “Unnerware!! Please,” and if he’s naked or pants-less, he makes it to the toilet 95% of the time. When he gets busy making a mess being creative and quiet or is wearing actual pants over his underwear–that’s when he forgets and has an accident. Which is expected for a 2-year-old, so we’re somewhere between wearing diapers and being potty trained. All of this leads to a post with some solutions I’ve been using to stay sane(ish) during this transition.

In General

  1. Have 1,934,883 pairs of underwear on hand. I bought a 10 pack and then my sister gave me her son’s hand-me-downs…about 12 pairs. I washed them on hot and said, “Thanks!”, because no, I don’t care about hand-me-down underwear when there are washing machines and bleach in the world. You don’t want to give up on potty training because you’ve gone through all 7 pairs in the first day and don’t have time to do the laundry immediately. Trust me, LOTS of pairs.
  2. #2 comes before #1…or not. According to some online sources, many kids get the concept of pooping in the toilet before they are able to pee in the toilet. This is not the way it has worked with my kids. My kids have been fairly successful with peeing right off the bat, but fear going #2 for what feels like an eternity. Queue lots of fiber additives and begging and electronic device time while they sit there trying to forget their fears of releasing their desperate need for self-control. There may have been some occasions where I strapped a diaper to them after 5+ attempts to get them to go #2 (because they kept telling me they needed to “go poop!!!”) and said, “Just go in your diaper, already!” #Fail. It’s hard… My advice here is to embrace whatever function your child seems to succeed at naturally and focus on getting them 100% potty trained for that function before you worry too much about the other. It will come with time.
  3. P.S. Being Naked-potty trained is not the same as being Clothed-potty trained. Best said in the following quote.

Remembering to use the potty while fully naked is an entirely different skill than remembering to use the potty while wearing pants and underwear. Think algebra as compared to calculus. – Ilana of Mommy Shorts


In the Car

We’ve just gone to the potty before leaving the house, we are driving and all of a sudden I’m hearing, “I gotta go pee-pee!” from Graham. (Which would be delightful if I wasn’t stopped at a light, still 10 minutes from where we’re headed!) Uhhhh…what now?

  1. After this happened to me the other day (and accident happened, duh), I changed Graham into his next set of clothing and proceeded on my errands, but I decided to start putting a diaper or pull-up over his underwear. The diaper is an obvious containment strategy for any accidents while en route, but he’ll still be able to feel the urine or feces against him in his underwear to remind him he’s wearing underwear and he can feel the discomfort of going to the bathroom in it. And if he stays dry, he’ll know he deserves that big boy underwear he’s wearing.
  2. If you have the space in your car’s trunk or SUV/van aisle, consider keeping an extra potty chair in your car. (I like the Summer Infant Lil’ Loo Potty for it’s light construction, price, and ease of cleaning.) If you have a potty and a safe place or parking lot in which to pull, you might just have a shot of success in the toilet! Make sure to keep plenty of sanitizing wipes, toilet paper or wipes, ziplock bags, and hand sanitizer in your car if you go this route.
  3. Always keep backup outfitS in your car (with socks…they always seem to get pee on them) for obvious reasons. Don’t think it will necessarily stop after the first accident, because that will be the day the universe laughs in your face.

In Public

Since kids generally learn how to use the toilet at home, things can get confusing when they’re in public: no potty in sight, no visual cues or reminders (like sticker charts or a sibling using the restroom), etc.

  1. Try to get the child to use the bathroom upon entering and exiting the store. It’s VERY annoying, yes! But not as annoying, or embarrassing, as your child smelling of an accident (and potentially crying about it) while you’re in the check-out line. I’m not speaking from experience or anything…
  2. Accept that your child is going to come into contact with crazy disgusting parts of a public toilet and plan to bathe them on any day you’re dealing with potty training and public bathroom usage. It’s just fairly unreasonable to hover a kid over a toilet and expect them to feel comfortable enough to relieve himself. Sometimes there are toilet liners, but there’s so much adjusting with these small kids that they end up sliding all over the place and the kid still ends up touching the toilet with his or her legs. And it makes me cringe so hard! Plan to bathe them later, so you can get this bathroom trip over with now!
  3. Positioning kids on a public toilet is kind of a magic trick, amIright!? They are terrified they’re going to fall in, and with boys, keeping the penis down is tough without it touching the inner part of the toilet. It’s just cringeworthy beyond everything, and though I’m not a germaphobe, when your baby is touching the same place where someone else’s STI might be lingering, you gotta do something. So, if you’re kid isn’t large enough or old enough to stand up and pee in front of the toilet, or is afraid of falling in, try one of these positions. 
    1. Boys: turn them 90* from how an adult would sit on the toilet, so that their bums are resting on one side of the toilet seat, and their legs are resting on the other side of the toilet seat. This position is good for peeing, because it lets the penis and testicles hang in the center of the toilet and not have to rest on the toilet seat. From my two kids’ potty training experience, it seems that they generally don’t want to poop away from their home base, unless we’re at a friend’s–where the toilet seats are generally less of a concern.
    2. Girls: I also turn my daughter 90* as mentioned above, but not so far that her bum reaches the other side of the toilet seat. Girls only need their very fronts over the toilet bowl, but if you put them so far that their bums touch the other side, you might be tempting “runoff” onto the floor.


When Sleeping

  1. I read recently that a pediatrician recommended using a diaper or pull-up during sleep periods until your little one has been consistently dry during that time for “four weeks straight”.
  2. Once that time has passed and your child is dry consistently while sleeping (this might not be until age 5 or 6, by the way), skip the rubber sheets and put one of these reusable waterproof sheet protector pads underneath your child at night while they sleep. If they move around a lot (mine don’t), you could sew a couple together to cover more area. These pads feel soft to the touch, but don’t let any bodily fluids or stains through them and can be washed. If your child does have an accident, you’re only swapping out a pad in the middle of the night, not having to do an entire sheet change! After several months of not having accidents on these pads, I placed it between my daughter’s fitted sheet, and her mattress pad. She doesn’t even know it’s there, but I know it’s adding an extra layer of protection for my peace of mind.

Has this post prompted any other suggestions or solutions? Post them in the comments. We can never have too many solutions for potty training!!!

If you’re in the middle of potty training, I wish you sanity, serenity, and at least one accident-free day in your future. Bon chance, amis!



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