Out for a walk, sans diapers, to watch the seaplanes taking off and landing.

Out for a walk, sans diapers, to watch the seaplanes taking off and landing.

Previous: Potty Training. Days Five and Six.

And now we come to the last post in my potty training series. I’m sure this will come as a great relief to some :).

We have just finished Day 12 of our potty training adventures. Yes, Day 12 — come on, did you really think I was going to “jinx” the process by publishing my blog posts in real time? 😉

Quick recap of the last six days:

Day Seven. No pee accidents. Two poop accidents (one after breakfast; one after supper). We need to watch him more carefully after meals! He was quite upset about both accidents, which is actually a good thing because it means that a) he recognizes the feeling that he has pooped; and b) he doesn’t like it and/or he knows that pooping in his pants is not a desired outcome.

Day Eight. No accidents! We haven’t succeeded at getting him to use any public toilets, but he’s been great at holding himself when we are out (up to about 90 minutes at a time).

Day Nine. We went out for dinner this evening and the whole public toilet aversion thing came to a head. He refused to pee upon arrival at the restaurant, nor before his meal. I spent more than 20 minutes in the washroom trying to coax him, to no avail. Shortly after we started eating, I saw that he was grabbing his crotch. I went to lift him out of the high chair to take him to the washroom, and discovered he had peed himself. We went to the bathroom to change his pants and try another pee, but he wouldn’t go. Almost immediately after we got back to the table, he was grabbing his crotch again, so I picked him up. On the way to the washroom, I noticed that he had peed a little in his pants — again! I realized then that he had been trying to hold it (literally, with his hand) but was not succeeding; hence why he had only peed a little each time, not a full pee. This is generally a good thing because it shows that he is conscious of the feeling of needing to pee, and that he is at least trying to control it. But it still didn’t negate the fact that we had a major issue with public toilets on our hands.

As we were walking to the bathroom, I told him, “Mommy is not happy that you are making pee-pee in your pants instead of the potty. Pee-pee does not go in your pants. It goes in the potty.” He started to cry a little and I had a twinge of guilt, but at the same time, I knew it was important to reinforce that this was not a desirable outcome. When we got into the washroom, I sat him on the toilet (on his seat insert), pulled up a chair and sat down beside him. I said, “I can see that you have to pee-pee. We are going to sit here until you make a pee. When you finish all your pee-pee, we will go back to the table and eat.” He cried, fussed, protested and was generally unhappy. I sang songs, talked to him, and reminded him that we were not going back to the table until he peed in the toilet. After about half an hour, he finally peed! We both cheered, and he ran back to the table to announce his success. About 15 minutes later, he said “Potty,” so I took him back and he peed again. We did one more (successful) potty trip before heading home.

Day 10. We decided to go back to the same restaurant for brunch, in order to reinforce Oliver’s success from the previous evening. He peed in their toilet several times, with no hesitation. In the afternoon we went to Safeway, and he actually asked for the potty while we were there. He went without any trouble. No accidents today!

Day 11. This morning we went to the community centre, and out shopping, and Oliver made several successful public toilet potty trips. I think we are over that particular hurdle… at least for now. No accidents again!

Day 12. Daycare. I drove myself nuts with worry trying to prepare for Oliver’s eventual return to daycare. I wrote extensive notes and instructions in his journal last night, and met with his head teacher to go over them this morning. I packed five extra pair of pants and socks. I still maintain that my concerns were justified, but fortunately the day was more successful than I anticipated. At around 4:00 PM the phone rang, with the daycare’s number on the caller ID. My heart sank. I figured they were calling to tell me to pick him up, as he’d gone through all of his changes of clothes. Instead, they were calling with amazing news — he was still wearing the same pants he’d been wearing when I dropped him off in the morning! No accidents! Unfortunately he ended up having one accident, just five minutes before I arrived to pick him up (if only I’d been half an hour earlier as I’d planned…). In general, the reports from daycare were good. He was using the potty when instructed, and asking for it at other times.


At home, we are totally confident in Oliver’s ability to either go to the potty himself, or to tell us when he needs to go. We are still somewhat on “high-alert” when we are out of the house, only because so much of Oliver’s success hinges on the ability to get him to a toilet quickly whenever he indicates the need. For now, we plan our outings carefully.

Because of his age and developmental stage, Oliver hasn’t yet mastered the art of manipulating his pants. He also doesn’t always remember that pants need to come down before he sits on the potty! So if I suspect that he is going to have to use the potty soon and I’m not in a position to give him my undivided attention (i.e. I might not immediately notice that he has run off to the potty), I will usually remove his pants and let him run around bottomless. This allows some of the necessary autonomy for him to eventually make the transition to full self-initiation. Some people would argue that a child is not ready to be potty trained if he or she cannot execute the entire process without assistance, but that is about as ridiculous an argument as insisting that a toddler not start walking until he is able to do so unaided. As with all learning, mastery of potty training is a process.


A few random bits and pieces, and lessons learned:

Potty training is a lot like sleep training. You need to have a strategy in place before starting; be unapologetically confident and consistent in both your expectations and responses; and be prepared to persist through episodes of resistance or regression.

Sometimes you have to encourage — or even, “push” — a child past his comfort level in order for him to achieve new things. Efficient potty training is largely a parent-led process. If these statements make you cringe, just think about some of the great milestones your child has achieved thus far: rolling over, crawling, walking… Did you sit by idly while he figured it out for himself, or did you entice him, physically manipulate his body, provide opportunities for practice, cheer enthusiastically when he succeeded…?

***(06/02/2013) Edited to add: With regard to my strategy for helping Oliver overcome his apprehension towards public toilets, I just want to clarify that this approach is not necessarily something I would recommend for every parent or child. In Oliver’s case, it turned out to be exactly what he needed, but this was a situation where I really had to rely on my instincts and trust that this was the right way to handle Oliver’s particular issue. For many children — especially if there is major fear or anxiety involved — forcing the issue could potentially make things worse. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with the various hurdles that crop up during potty training. 

Do not potty train in diapers. Pull-ups and other disposable training pants are diapers, not underpants. Cloth training pants with waterproof layers are diapers. They are all universally designed to contain accidents, i.e. they are designed to be peed and pooped in. This is the exact opposite of what you are trying to teach. Training pants also make it too easy for parents to not fully engage in the process. An accident should be an inconvenience to the parent, and should feel gross to the child. The desire to avoid this natural consequence is a very strong motivator to give potty training the effort it requires.

Do not confuse being “ready” with being “capable.” This is one of the most frequently reiterated points in both the Oh Crap Potty Training Blog and the e-book. Here are a bunch of posts where Jamie talks about what it means to be capable, as opposed to ready. Also, Jamie’s signs of readiness capability are quite different than those you will typically read about in other potty training resources.

It’s easier to find diapers for a five-year-old than it is to find underwear for a 17-month-old. I can find giant diapers in just about any grocery store or drug store, but stores that carry underwear small enough for a child under two? I’m still looking…


Finally, I must give credit where credit is due. There is no way I would have had the confidence to undertake Oliver’s potty training at 17 months without having read Jamie Glowacki’s e-book, Oh Crap Potty Training (yes, that is a link to purchase the book, and no, I don’t receive any kickbacks from it). If potty training is on your radar, you need this book! Fortunately, Jamie has generously offered a free copy to one lucky reader — and I’m not even going to make you sell your soul on Facebook for a chance to win it :). All you have to do to enter is share a funny potty (or diaper) story in the comments below. If you also want to like my Facebook page and/or share this post with others, that would be grand, but there’s no obligation to do so. The winning commenter will be chosen via random number generator. One entry per person (please post any follow-up comments by hitting “reply”), and make sure to enter your email address in the appropriate field so that I can contact you if you win (it will not be visible to the public). This giveaway closes on Friday, February 8th at 6:00 PM PST.

Peace out, diapers. You have served us well. Hang in there for your reincarnation with hypothetical sibling number two.

Peace out, diapers. You have served us well. Hang in there for your eventual resurrection with (hypothetical) sibling number two.

P.S. I did not receive any compensation for this post. We paid for the book ourselves, and I have no financial interest in promoting it. I just think it’s a really useful book, and I also love that Jamie is a mom who has found a way to make money by helping families and doing something she loves.


  1. My son is 14 months old and I believe he’s right at the point of being capable of learning how to use a potty, I’m not sure how funny it is, but he just recently started saying “Du-du” whenever he poops. Since I have always said dirty diaper whenever he poops. It’s cute. I’m ready to have him potty trained! He knows sign language for nurse and can tell me whenever he wants to nurse, so I believe he’s close to being ready to potty train!

    Thank you for these posts! I loved them and if I don’t win the book I will be sure to buy it 🙂 I need all the help I can get. I’m clueless when it comes to this task.

  2. My son is the same age as O, but we’re just starting to introduce the concept of the potty to him. I want him to get used to seeing us on it, and sitting on his own, before we go full throttle. He’s not showing any signs of readiness, other than just wanting to sit there with his pants down! But I’d love a good book to help us in the journey! 😉

    • Letting him see you use it is a great way to introduce the potty and help him become comfortable with the idea! A lot of people find it sort of weird, but our kids definitely learn best by example. Lately, Oliver has taken to exclaiming, “Yaaaaay, Mommy!” whenever I go to the bathroom. Hilariously awkward when we’re not the only ones using a public washroom :D.

  3. I am a mom of 4 wonderful children. 3 girls and one boy ( not in that order lol) my first child took to potty training no problem at the age of 2 she hated being wet/dirty and it only took a day or two to train her. My 2nd child a boy, had some speech delay issues. He was a preemie and had a rough start in life 🙂 he didn’t train until he was 3 but because of his different therapies and delays we were THRILLED he picked it up once he could sign and say a few words to let us know he had to go. When he trained our 3rd child, second daughter trained at the same time! She picked it up in no time! It was wonderful to have them both trained. Now fast forward to our 4th child. Our little girl is 3.5 and has ZERO desire to use the potty. I feel like I am a pro at the potty training after training 3 children before her. But NOTHING has worked!! She too is a preemie with some speech issues but nothing near what my son had. I am at my wits end and just want her to get it so bad! THANK you for your book recommendation. I’m excited to see what her ideas are :)!

    • I guess that all the experience in the world can’t prepare us for every curveball that our children’s unique personalities throw our way :).

      It must have been pretty chaotic while your second and third were both training at the same time!

  4. We did EC with Z. from birth, so she was already day and night dry from about 10 months (she’s 12.5 months now). Her night dryness relies on me getting up to take her potty since she obviously can’t remove her clothes or navigate her way to the potty in the dark. She still wears a dry cloth diaper when we’re out because, like you said, tiny undies are hard to find (the EC stores have them), and she is still at that toddling stage where a diaper bum provides a cushy landing when she falls :-).

    You might like some of the strategies from Hand-in-Hand parenting. It was great when you sat with Oliver in the restroom and held the limit that he would pee and you would return to the table when he was finished–all the while listening to him offload his fears. I always admire your limit setting skills! I am glad it worked out. With next baby you should try some EC–it was much easier than I had anticipated and Z. has been able to cue us/or at least I have been able to pick up her timing accurately since about 3 weeks.

    I just like this post–we won’t need the potty-learning book this time around.

    • Amazing! How often do you have to get up with Z to keep her dry through the night? We are going to have to tackle night training eventually (actually, sooner than later), but for now I am taking a breather and luxuriating in having four fewer loads of laundry to do each week :).

      Just had a look at the Hand-in-Hand Parenting blog – I love it!! I am adding it to the Resources page on here as soon as I’m finished replying to all these comments. As you may have noticed, I edited my post to add more information about “the restroom incident” :). At that moment in time, it was exactly what Oliver needed, but I don’t necessarily think it would have been the right approach for, say, a child who tends towards being anxious or very sensitive.

      Having worked through this whole potty training thing with Oliver, I am definitely more open to the idea of trying EC with the next kid. When Oliver was younger, I found the whole idea to be quite overwhelming, but I now see that what work we *did* do with the potty paid off in spades.

      P.S. I am going to catch up on my comments backlog while Ollie is at daycare on Thursday. I saw that you had some questions a couple of weeks ago, and I do have some answers for you 🙂

      • I only get up to potty her when she sits up and starts crawling towards the bathroom-usually around 10 pm and 5 am. She pees very frequently in the morning, maybe every 20-30 minutes or so for the first 2 hours. It eases off after that. She is just now starting to crawl in the bathroom and attempt clothing removal to go potty. That’s kind of her funny thing now. I hear all kinds of grunt sounds as she is trying to get her shirt or her pants off..one of those articles of clothing comes off!

        I think your bathroom strategy would have been perfect for a child who is anxious or sensitive. They need clear limits and adults who will listen to the feelings that come up about those limits. It was great that you could just do it!

        Yes, do try EC with the next. It is all overwhelming with the first baby. I am much more “ah-whatever” with the second and my life is so much easier! With the first, I might have had reason to blog. Now my parenting method is more casually whatever works in the moment, vs whatever science says about x, y, z.

  5. I don’t have any funny potty training stories. I just have a 21 month old who we will be potty training soon and I would love to have this book as a resource! Love your posts on this. Such a different approach than you’d usually see to potty training!

  6. I use cloth diapers on my son. One Sunday for church I wanted him to wear a pair of pants that would be too tight with the cloth, so I opted to use one of our “backup” disposables. Well he pooped at church. It was a blow out, up the back. It went ALL OVER his back. And of course on my skirt. He has very rarely had a blow out in his cloth diapers. Lesson learned haha! Thanks for the giveaway, love your blog. I appreciate how honest and “real” you are.

  7. This is not necessarily a potty training story because we haven’t yet started that, but the other night me, my husband and my 12-month-old son were hanging out on our bed – us clothed, him naked post-bath. Usually I pay attention and keep a cloth diaper nearby, but my son suddenly started pointing at the window saying “a-rah?”, possibly at our reflections, so my husband and I started waving enthusiastically as he kept pointing and saying “arah!”. Suddenly I looked down and realized he’d peed ALL over the bed. Cheeky boy had basically diverted our attention elsewhere while he relieved himself on the bed. 😛

    Thank you so much for this inspiring series!

    • Hahahaha! We used to let Oliver have substantial amounts of naked time post-bath, until one day he wandered over to his sliding closet door, leaned his hand against it and peed like a drunkard in an alleyway. It was *such* a hassle to clean out the metal tracks, that I never wanted to repeat the experience.

  8. It’s still too early to start potty training for us, but I’m sure the book will come in handy soon enough when the time is here.

  9. This is inspiring? How important do you think it was that you did EC beforehand for using Jamie’s book? We have been doing it casually for a few months with our 10 month old, but he’s getting resistant and I wonder if we should take a break for a while and maybe come back to it when he shows more interest. Do you think EC is necessary for this potty training method?

    • I don’t think EC was necessary per se, but I think the preliminary exposure to the potty was one of the factors enabled us to start as early as we did, versus waiting until Jamie’s recommended 20 to 30 months. We had some potty resistance around 10 months as well – I suspect it’s a developmental thing. We backed off completely, but left the potty in the bathroom, and one day Oliver showed interest again on his own accord. You can definitely do Jamie’s method without having done any EC or early potty exposure.

  10. Yay for being done with diapers!!! Our little guy hates diapers, and tries to run away every time I go to put a fresh one on. I figure this is a fantastic sign for early potty training.
    I love your recommendation to not use pull-ups of any sort. I have watched people use them, and they seem to do much more harm than good.

    • Hating diapers should provide him with some pretty good motivation once he is old enough to grasp the idea that he can avoid them if he uses the potty :). Have you had a chance to introduce him to the potty at all?

      Even before reading the OCPT blog and book, I had the suspicion that pull-ups were at least partly responsible for the huge shift in average potty training age between our generation and that of our children.

  11. Unfortunately, I have no funny potty stories to share because I am 19 weeks pregnant, and I have been following your blog to know what to do when the baby is here. I use your blog as a resource since there are so few women out there that continue there exercise and lifting throughout pregnancy (and seems to be discouraged by many doctors). I wrote down your cloth diaper and wipe favorites so I can try out the same ones when the time comes. I love reading!

    • Congratulations!! I hope you’re having a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy. The great thing about a book is that you can always file it away for later use… or if you’re like me, you can read it way in advance of when you’ll ever need it, and start plotting your strategies 😉

  12. My little one is 10 months old. I haven’t tried any ec or potty training but I’m thinking about it. T has a distinct pee face and there’s no mistaking her poop face! Then 3 days ago we were in the bathroom and she walked across the room and crouched between the toilet and the tub. She was still (rare!) and quiet, and I realized she was having a bowel movement. She did the same thing the following 2 mornings as well. I’ll have to pay attention to see if she hides for her afternoon poops as well, as I didn’t notice them the past few days. Plus T has figured out how to take off her diaper if she’s not wearing pants. I sense trouble looming!

    • That’s hilarious! I wonder if you introduced the potty if she’d be willing to poop in there?

      P.S. We have many a photo of Oliver’s various poo faces. He is going to hate us for that when he’s older :D.

  13. I also don’t have any funy potty training stories (yet). My husband and i are foster parents. Our last couple “batches” of kiddos have essentially come potty-trained even though the younger ones have numerous “accidents” and some of them still wear pull ups to bed. And I agree pullups do nothing to “train” kids, they just relieve me from washing sheets every day! We had a 6yo girl who wet the bed every night. We tried limiting liquids as well as waking her up in the middle of the night to go…and still she would wake up with a wet pull up in the morning. I took her to the doctor and they said not to be concerned cuz she would eventually grow out of it. I will admit that I was always a little ashamed/embarrassed to purchase size 4-5 pullups though. I am, however, wanting to soak up all the knowledge I can about effective potty training because I know we will have younger children placed with us soon. I love your blog and your parenting style!

    • Thank you for your kind words 🙂

      I think with foster children you are dealing with all sorts of potential issues that could complicate bladder and bowel control — emotional trauma, physical trauma, delays due to in-utero drug and alcohol exposure, and even just the upheaval of moving to a new environment and having new caregivers. Bravo to you and your husband for helping all these children. There is really no greater gift to society than providing a loving and supportive home for a child whose parents cannot care for him.

  14. My little girl is just one month younger than your Ollie. We’ve done EC since she was 6 months old. The other morning after getting her out of her bed I took her strait to her potty (as that is our daily routine). On this particular morning I too needed to “potty” so we both sat on our respective potties. Right when she heard me start to go she stood up and ran away as fast as she could. By the time I could finish and go find her, she had gone to the corner of my room and left a lovely gift for me (i.e. a big, steamy pile of poo). I’m not sure what that’s a sign of, but I definitely think I need to read that book! 🙂

    • Hahaha! I’m not going to speculate on what she might have been trying to tell you 😉

      Actually, it sounds like she’s just looking for some privacy to poop, which is a great sign that potty training could be in the near future for you guys.

  15. My funny story: Her dad taught her to use the word ‘deuce’ in reference to a dirty diaper. It is super cute when she says it. She says it when we flush, too.

  16. When my daughter was 2 weeks old we were out to eat with my whole family. Her cars seat carrier was in a hammock style frame the restaurant had (very cool invention). She was sleeping nicely at first but started to get agitated and then really fussy. It wasn’t “time” to feed he yet do I was trying to figure it out when my mom said she could hold her. When my mom picked her up the poor thing was soaked. Then I realized the “water” spots on the concrete (thank goodness we were on the patio) was not water but pee. The car seat was also soaked. This was our first big outing after Cora was born and she had already pooped on her first outfit. But the poop was just a little and had dried so we put those clothes back on.
    I now have a back up diaper bag with 2 sets of clothing in the car.

  17. This giveaway is now closed.

    Via random number generator (www.random.org), the winning comment is #3.

    Congratulations to Rebecca, who has won a copy of the Oh Crap Potty Training e-book! Keep an eye on your email in the next couple of days, as Jamie will be sending you some instructions to download your copy. 🙂

  18. I have no idea if someone suggested these- too many comments to read through! This website has split crotch pants- great for toddlers who can’t pull their pants down to potty, and small size underwear. http://ecwear.com/

  19. Thank you so much for these detailed potty training posts. I’m ready to potty train my toddler with Jamie’s method and stumbled across this. So encouraging!

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