No more diapers. When Cora made the transition into “big girl panties” my potty training days were over.
Can I get a high five, fist bump, spirit fingers?
There was no sadness in my house when Cora stopped wearing diapers. I don’t miss them at all. After changing diapers for almost 18 years and I don’t know how many diapers that adds up to, but I’m sure it’s in the thousands or tens of thousands.
Now that all seven kids are out of diapers, I’m going to tell you a little secret.
After the first two kids I decided potty training didn’t work for me or my kids.
I’ll save you the painful details of my experience with the first two, but let’s just say the ordeal caused me to decide to give up on potty training forever.
When baby number three came along I decided I was going to wait until he was ready to introduce the concept of underwear. At two and a half he came downstairs wearing his big brother’s underwear and announced to whoever could hear that he didn’t wear diapers anymore.
Since it took until my first two children were three to have potty training success I told him that he did wear diapers and to go back upstairs and bring me one. He refused and I got busy with another child and forgot he was wearing underwear.
From that day on, he wore underwear during the day (pull-ups at night until he was a little older) and had only one accident.
I don’t really count that accident because he was being chased by his brother (who wanted the toys he had) and I found him standing in front of the toilet screaming. Both hands held high in the air grasping the toys and peeing all over the place.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was to NOT potty train this kid. I decided I was going to try it with his little brother, and the three little girls who followed.
To my surprised it worked. I had one who needed a little extra encouragement to wear underwear, but basically the underwear transition was a breeze.
So what does this mean for you? Nothing if you don’t have kids in diapers.
But if you do, you might want to consider this. Most kids (without special needs) eventually will learn to use the potty on their own. They don’t need intensive (and expensive) bribing, cajoling, discipline, or tears (from you or them).
I wish someone would have told me, when I was trying to potty train a 20-month old, to relax and give it a little time. That doesn’t mean that a child might not be ready at 20-months. However don’t try and force them to be ready.
There are no prizes for potty training a child before they are two.
No one graduates from college at the top of their class because they started wearing underwear before the age of two. There is no award for mother’s who potty train the fastest.
And all your friends on social media who are bragging about how they potty trained their one-year old, ignore them.
Most people I know who have kids wearing underwear at a ridiculously young age (well under two years old) were actually potty training themselves. They had alarms set, and were constantly taking their kids to the bathroom. Their lives were completely structured around taking their kids to the potty every 30 minutes… all….day… long.
In my humble opinion, a child is potty trained when they tell you they have to go to the bathroom. In the beginning, they may need encouragement. If they can’t tell you when they feel the need to “go” they probably aren’t ready to be wearing underwear full-time.
But I don’t want to spend any more money on diapers!
I know for many people, the cost of diapers is a big issue. The sooner your children are out of diapers, the sooner you have to stop buying them. However, I’ve known plenty of parents who spend more on bribes, books, and headache medicine than diapers because they tried to get their kids out of diapers before they were ready.
If you are struggling in this area, try the no-potty training method. We always had a little potty in the bathroom (so they could try it if they wanted to) and I often sat them on the toilet before they took a bath or when they woke up. But, I rarely forced the issue.
When they were ready, all my kids learned to use the potty. Without much help from me.
Stop stressing and wait until they are ready. It will be one of the best things you didn’t do during their childhood.
You might also enjoy these articles on Diapering from The Happy Housewife:
It is true that kids won’t train until they’re physically and psychologically ready, but your oldest might need a little help since they don’t have an older sibling to set the example. I feel like a older siblings exert a lot more influence over what kids think they are ready to do than big adults!
clarice a. says
We have a 15 year old son who we used disposable diapers on when he was a baby and now we have a newly adopted 13 year old daughter whom we have had now for two months and from the first day we got her,we put her into the size 7 pampers cruisers diapers with rubberpants over them during the daytime and at bedtime we put her into cloth diapers with the rubberpants.She wets out of nervousness and a lack of self confidance.Sometimes after she wakes up in the morning,i will put a pair of cotton training pants on her with the rubberpants over them and try and get her to use the toilet,but so far she hasnt made much progress.
Steffi V says
I’m potty training my son who is 2 and 10 months. It’s going terrible. I have now put him in pull ups and he is encouraged (and bribed) to try to go. That’s going so so. The thing is, he’s the first born and has no cousins and all his little friends are potty training too (none are there yet). So, will this concept work if he has no potty role models.
Thank you for this article! My almost 3 year old was never a fan of the potty, I sometimes manage to sit him on the toilet when I notice #2 is on the way, and he is fine with that. But if I try to take him just to see if something comes out, he gets really angry and most times there are tears. From now on, I will definitely wait for him to tell me when he is ready.
but what happens if they are not interested at 3.5 years old? our son turned 3 in november (so he is not quite 3.5 yrs old yet). i have heard of the not training method and decided i would wait for his cues. they havent come yet. this past weekend i did let him play some potty training games on the ipad while sitting on the potty and he peed in there 9 times with 2 small accidents. he didnt ask to do this, but really liked being able to wear underwear. 1.5 days later he wasnt interested in using the potty anymore and asked to wear a diaper. i feel like i have introduced him to underwear and i guess ill wait until he is interested. he seems very content in his diapers though 🙁
I didn’t potty train either of my children. They both decided when they were ready. One was barely two and the other was four, but it was the easiest thing I ever did, or rather, didn’t do. lol This is what I would, and do, recommend to all moms, but most of them don’t want to hear it.
I know this is a super old post, but it was just shared on facebook, and I totally felt compelled to comment. A lot of these comments were super discouraging…pshh, complaining that your child isn’t potty trained and the child is only 2 years old, that’s practically a slap in the face to mothers who have kids who are way older than that and refusing to potty train. My son was 4 years and 3 months before he potty trained. No amount of pleading, begging, threats, coercion, nothing could convince him to go. But when he potty trained, he trained fast. He went straight to big boy pants in a weekend, and has had maybe one accident in the last year. My baby is almost 3 and a half, and is proving to be just as stubborn as her brother. Don’t complain to me that your 25 month old, or 28 month old or any child under 3 won’t potty train, it makes me feel all the more like something is wrong with my child because they’re so much older and not trained. It’s maddening to have a 3.5 year old who won’t go. She’s totally able to tell me that she’s peed or pooped, but has zero interest in going on the potty. I feel like she’d happily go off to college in diapers. I’m not forcing her to go, I learned with my son that all that does is strain your relationship, but I seriously wonder if she’ll be 4 and still in diapers too. I’d love to see some advice for parents who have much older kids that aren’t potty trained because complaining about a 2.5 year old to someone in my shoes doesn’t garner much sympathy. I get flak day in and day out from well meaning family members about my child’s toilet habits, and I’m done with it. How do you deal with those people when you’ve got a child who’s well past the typical training age and still not going? Super frustrating.
Ok….but how old were your others when they decided to do it on their own?
I had no issues potty training,but still wears diaper at night at almost age 5. Wakes up completely full any suggestions?
Rebecca Armstrong says
My baby just turned two. I don’t think she is ready to be potty trained but should I have a potty or panties in the house in case she wants to start? She is the oldest and I guess I don’t know how to introduce the concept to her.
Brittany Chavez says
I totally agree. I have three. It’s when the child is ready. I wish mine were. But in time. They won’t go to college in diaper ( I hope lol )
My third child is now 2 1/2 years old and still in diapers, which doesn’t bother me at all. But to be honest I have no idea how to potty train and people keep asking for advice and I just say ‘wait until they figure it out on their own.’ They just look at me like I am crazy at that point. It was great to read your article because sometimes I feel like I am the only mom now a days that doesn’t train their kids to use the potty!!! I can’t wait for the days of no more diapers, but I will enjoy watching my youngest figure it out on her own, just like her two big brothers. 🙂
Sarah M says
I’ve been thinking this same thing with my 22 month old. The training potty is available but no pressure. He’s my first so I wonder how long it will take.
And with #2 on the way I’m wondering if you want to give me that lovely stash of FuzziBunz (our favorite) you no longer need? Just kidding, but I’m sure I will be swimming in cloth diapers soon.
Valeta Jean Brown says
LOVE this post! My Grandma is always telling me how ALL 6 of her kids were trained before age 2. My 3rd child at 3 1/2 is starting to go in the potty sometimes. I am pregnant with #4 and really don’t want to force him to use the potty. I have been taking it easy and following his lead. He wont be in diapers forever!!
I never had to fight with my children and they were all potty trained by eighteen months. The main thing I did was just be aware of my children and knew when they had to potty. It also helps to have the first one potty trained and the younger ones want to be like their big brother or sister. Of course, having to wash cloth diapers because disposables hadn’t been invented was probably the incentive to potty train.
I am in complete agreement. My son was actually pretty easy to train, but my daughter was terrible. It was several frustrating months before we gave up and then about a month after her third birthday she just started goingon her own. When my twins came along I had neither the energy nor the desire to fight over the potty (or to clean up the messes). They turned 3 in April and both are almost potty trained without much effort. They decided they wanted panties one day and it is so much easier to just let them take their time and do it their own way!
Loved your post!!! I’ve had 6, 5 boys and 1 girl. I have had many “you are going to be potty trained” fights and struggles with my kids!!! After doing this now 6 times, I’ve now learned that there is NO secret to potty training. The secret is… Just wait it out. One day, a miracle happens and that kid who is 3.5 years old , who you think will never be out of diapers, puts on underwear and never looks back!
The reason it was so easy was because the first one had a brother to relate to in fact he related so well that he went and got His underware. Likewise the others followed suit of smiply relating what all the others were doing. But if there is only 1 in the family it may very well take some RELATING TOO.. what it is…. similar to day care it is easy for one to learn when seeing others doing something they need to do like nap time….:)
This was awesome and stress-relieving!
Any sage advice for getting rid of the paci? Child #1 didn’t want anything to do with one, but child #2 is almost 2 1/2 and has a fit when its taken away. I’ve gotten her to the point where she’s only allowed to have it when sleeping, but really want to get totally rid of it before her teeth are affected!
Thank you. I was like he is my six boy I just purchased a new pack of pull-up today. I know he is no were near ready why as I was changing him this morning he peed right on the floor. He is my last and like you have changed numerous diapers over the last 18 years. I am not in a hurry and a little secret he still has a pacifier at night. The dentist said no problem since its not interfering with his teeth. As an older mother I have learned not to sweat the small stuff. He is my last son and its bitter sweet. So I am savoring all I can. Also we learn so much as we get older. The average age of all my boys with the exception of my first and my special needs the average age for us was three. So enjoy I only have one left and taking my time.
My question is what do you do when you don’t have an oldst to lead my example and your 3 1/2 still shows no interest?
Jodi Nevins says
Maybe play dates with other kids his age that are potty trained? It helped my first. Also, we watched a lot of videos and read books talking about learning to use the potty. We especially like the one of the Bear in the Big Blue House.
Sarah Schneider says
My son turned 4 and still was in diapers with NO interest in going on the potty. A month later we put the potty out where he could get to it whenever he wanted and let him pick out pull-ups. It really worked for him to be the the one deciding when to use the potty. He is our first born as well. Just keep waiting and encouraging and it will happen.
My third boy sounds like your third child – easy peasy. First one was so hard & I knew potty training was not for me unless they were ready & I mean really ready! My last one is currently transitioning out of diapers too – 10 years of diapers & so excited. Not that I want my baby to be grown up but out of diapers would be great.
There seem to be a lot of things I wish I knew & now with blogs etc I am hoping new Mommas will know more than I did. Thanks for writing!
We don’t really potty train either, though I do encourage quick learning/reinforcement by rewarding with drinks when they are keeping their new undies dry… 🙂
It’s been a long time since my girls were little (they are now almost 22 and 25), but I did not attempt potty training with either one. Both of them were 3-1/2 before they decided they were done with diapers, and each had only one accident. So I’m in full agreement with you – let the kids decide when they’re ready. It sure makes life more relaxed!
Your son may need a more effective incentive to #2 in the potty. Bribe him with a new unopened box of hot wheels car, or stickers to put on a spreadsheet that’s put up on a wall in the bathroom. My daughter was the same way and we got her to do it by bribery/positive reinforcement. “nope. No new doll because you didn’t poop in there.” it sounds cruel but it is not. The child makes their own choice.
I completely agree!! I have an almost four year old and tried early on with him, but he was just NOT ready. A couple of days before he turned three, it just kind of clicked in his head and he got it with only one accident! Now going #2 is a different story and he still goes #2 in his pull-up. If anyone can offer advice on how to train the #2 I am all ears. He screams when I put him on the potty to try to go, so I stopped pushing it.
I didn’t train either of mine and yes they were in nappies for longer but it was sooo stress free – and when it happened they stopped wearing nappies during the night, too. Because they were older we didn’t even bother with the potty and went straight for the loo option. My first must have had a bit of a scare when his first #2 splashed down and he insisted I put him in a nappy when he needed to go (thank goodness for washable nappies!!) but this only went on for a few weeks. It’ll happen 🙂
Laura Sheridan says
Love this! Finally did this with my third child (a son) and was more successful than I ever was with the first two (both girls)! Now pregnant with my 5th and a 2 year old still in diapers, I am not stressing one bit. When they’re ready, they are ready!
I TOTALLY agree…and only have a little bit of trouble making all my childcare families understand this. I dont potty train.
I totally agree. I always say… they won’t go to college in diapers. It will be ok.
YES! I am so happy to see that someone else out there gets it! Why put my son and myself through all of the stress and hassle? I’ve worked with toddlers since I was in high school and I never saw anything positive come from it. It seems like one day, something in their cute little heads clicks, and suddenly, they love the potty! They love wearing “big kid undies.” It’s nothing their parents or I did. It just happened. Thank you for sharing this 🙂 I’ll feel a little better the next time someone asks me when I’m going to start training my 2 1/2 year old and the answer is “I’m not going to.”
I have two children. My oldest is 4 years (son) and one that will be 3 years in July (daughter). I’m still pulling my hair out. My son gets lazy and it’s a fight to get him to go potty. I know 4 years old is a little old… not to mention i’m a little embarrassed because I hear…”he’s not potty trained yet??” quite often! He has never shown an interest in potty training and he fights it still. I’ve done the bribing, candy and whatever else I can think of. My daughter won’t get out of the bathroom!! She acts like it is a playground and would stay in there for an hour if I let her, whether she goes or not. She is going through a really sneaky stage, too, so lots of times I have to shut the door because I have child proofed the bathroom as much as I can but she has found the linen closet and figured out the knob… which led her to painting her nails and one of my shelves. Any advice is appreciated because I feel like a failure a little.
Shannon M. says
I waited with my youngest son as well. When he was ready, he was fully trained (nights too) in a week. It was a breeze and he was exceedingly happy with himself.
Yes,, I thought I was the only one that did that..lol I have 5 kids now and my oldest pretty much just did it on her own when she was not even 2! but my 2nd son needed a little encouragemnet but not to much he was 3 when he was finally done! but my 3rd child is very independant and at just the age of 2 wanted to go in the potty all the time, I was working at the time and the daycare lady insisted that he was not ready and would not let him go there. well before baby #4 came i stoped working and with in 2 weeks of beeing home he was trainned! and he basiclly did it all on his own lol but my my 2 1/2 year old is beeing a stinker and she just dont want to go.. but all with time she will be dipper free too..lol
When ever I would get pressured by “well meaning” moms I would simply reply….. ” I will put my foot down and tell them they can’t get their drivers license unless they wear big boy pants… some got the humor others didn’t…. but it was always worth the shock on their faces and they never brought up potty training again!!!!! Ha ha ha
Bahahahaaa!! Thanks for the laugh, I deal with the “well meaning moms” a lot (like in-laws….). I’m going to have to remember this one!
Pam @ Keeping Life Creative says
This is encouraging, because my third child is 2 1/2 and I have to admit, I’ve been lazy about introducing potty training because our new baby and recent move. But she is starting to show signs and ASK to go potty on her own, so I’m kind of going with it.
This is really enlightening to me as I have a 2 year old and we have attempted the going in the potty…he doesn’t care for it yet and I was starting to feel discouraged because I know kids younger than him who are using the potty already but this post made my day! I will not worry about potty training I will just wait til it comes. Thats what I did when I took his bottle away…he just decided one day he didnt want it anymore and that was it. So maybe itll be the same way with the potty and no diapers 🙂 Thanks for the great advice!!! 🙂
I agree! On my fourth child now all I simply do is have a potty available and whenever I change a diaper I talk to the child about what they will do when they get a little older ie. “Let’s change your diaper… soon you are going to do poo in the potty! Where does poo go?” I make it very positive and matter- of- fact. I figure at some point it will click!
Christan Resz says
I agree 100%! I tried to force my oldest, at 18 months to potty train (because all the “experts” said that was the right age to start AND because I wanted to get her potty trained before her little sister came along in 6 months). Wow. WOW! It was TERRIBLE. She cried, I cried. I literally lost it for the next year and a half trying to force her to wear underwear, use the toilet, and stop having accidents all over the house. I never was convinced she was fully potty trained until I sent her to preschool and she stopped having accidents. After that, I decided I wouldn’t force it ever again. And I didn’t. My second basically potty trained herself at age 2 1/2. My next one took a little longer. All my friends had 2yo children who were potty training. But, I let my youngest wait until she was ready, and that was at 3. I just declared our home a diaper-free zone a few months ago. It’s a good feeling to not have to worry about diapers anymore. BUT – I also know from experience that waiting is the best thing to do.
I agree wholeheartedly! In fact, I “gave up” with my first and decided I was NEVER going through THAT ordeal again. Not a single one of my seven children has been out of diapers prior to his/her third birthday. Some closer to four. But it has been an easy transition with every one of them, because I let THE CHILD determine when he/she was ready, and left the burden of figuring things out up to them. I still have one in diapers. She turns three in August. Sure, I’m looking forward to not having to deal with the mess and stink, but not enough to traumatize her (and me too). 🙂
Heather L says
I was planning to wait a bit longer since we have a new baby in the house. But my son had other ideas- he decided he was ready at 25 months, and has basically potty trained himself. He is even usually dry when he gets up in the morning. We do have the occasional accident when he gets too involved in his play, but he is really good.
I’ve been potty-training my now 15 month old son for 1 month. He goes in the potty 95% of the times I put him there. He will go #1 and/or #2 in the potty no problem. If he goes in the potty, I put training underwear or a pull-up on him. If he doesn’t go I put a diaper on him. When we go out I put a diaper on him. He will pee in the pull-up or training underwear, then run around and play all wet. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all. On the plus side we’ve only had 2 “poop accidents” in a month of training – so that’s good right? He still wears a diaper to sleep and is nowhere near ready for night-training. He wakes up every morning full wet diaper, clothes soaked, but stays dry through his nap. Am I confusing him? Daytime sometimes diapers, sometimes pull-ups and sometimes undies, always a diaper at night? How do I teach him not to go in training underwear? How do I make him understand that being wet is “uncomfortable”? Any suggestions (except for he’s too young or I’m training myself and not my son) would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
He’s not ready yet, from a purely physical standpoint. What’s going on here is successful toilet timing on your part. If you like doing all that extra work, more power to you. I waited until 2 weeks before my daughter’s 3rd birthday to toilet train. It took 2 weeks. But I say overall to trust your own mother’s intuition – you know your child better than anyone else.
Grandma Blue says
Keep doing what you are doing. He is doing fine. I think parents do their children wrong when they stop using diapers at night too soon. It brings shame when no shame should be felt. He’s doing great with underwear during the day. I think that going back to diapers would confuse him.
Grandma Blue says
Oh, undies work better than pullups during the day. Being truly wet is uncomfortable.
Jennifer C. says
This is encouraging to read. I have 2 potty-trained and 2 to go. I waited with our son and it was soooo easy. I haven’t yet trained my almost 3 year old girl and I was feel some kind of condemnation when I talk to people who train @ 18 months or 2 years. But she doesn’t talk well and I don’t feel like she has the motor skills yet – but this summer hopefully! I don’t want to make it a battle – after training my son (#2), I felt like WOW – that was really easy because he was ready. Why stress and Potty-Train Mommy!
I absolutely agree!! As I’ve told many friends, “They won’t go to college in diapers.” Plus, after the first one, the second kid and on down have a prime example in the older one. They want to do everything s/he can do, so it’ll happen much more easily. To try before they’re ready only causes heartache for everyone involved.
My oldest is almost 8, and God has really relaxed me about a lot of things. As oxymoronic as it sounds, I’m working hard to slow down, enjoy life as it happens and intentionally invest my (our) time so that it aligns with our priorities. Life in slow Sicily has helped tremendously!!
Do you mind me asking, what were the ages of your last five when they decided to potty train themselves? Thanks for your story!
Between 2.5 and 3.25 years. A few took a bit longer to go through the night as I have very deep sleepers who didn’t wake up for any reason!
Amen! I would much rather change a diaper then clean up an accident.
I agree, from experience. I tried to transition my oldest son before he was really ready and he resisted…and resisted…and resisted. He is gentle by nature and so his resistance was so subtle I didn’t catch on to what it actually was for a long time and the process took over a YEAR. sheesh…I feel really dumb looking back, but I didn’t know anything, he was my first. With my other two sons I waited until they wanted to use the potty like their older brother and wear undies like he did…and they did. No problem. We had a few naked days in the beginning while they figured out the logistics on their own by watching ur oldest son…the “expert” and after that all was well. All in all I have spent 1+ year training the first son and 10 days altogether training the other two. I am thankful for our hardwood floors, absolutely, but other than that it was smooth sailing and no drama. I realize now that I was the source of most of the drama the first time around.
Dianne Andrews says
This method may work for my current almost 2 year old. She has fewer accidents in undies than in training pants or diapers.
None of the other 4 kids I trained would this have worked for. 🙂 One son was 4-1/2 and had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the big-kid-underware camp. He was quite happy in diapers. The other 3 weren’t so bad. I have seriously relaxed since #1 though!
My son is currently 4 1/2 and refuses to wear anything other than a diaper. He has tons of new underwear which he himself has picked out but still refuses to wear them. I really need help.
Arvemia Wilburn says
Tell him you are not going to change anymore diapers that from now on he is responsible for doing this. Give him a stack of diapers and let him handle it. It might be messy for a while.but he will learn.