Our Potty Training Adventure

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Potty training or learning is always a hot-button topic in parenting circles. Everyone has their ideas on how it should be done when it should be done etc. As soon as my daughter hit 2 years old, the questions started coming “When are you going to potty train?” from family and others. Today I thought I would share our potty training adventure and also why waiting until your child is ready is the best.

First, a little history on my daughter so you understand why we decided to wait until she was basically 33 months old to start full “potty training.”

My daughter has always been a child who will only do something once SHE is ready to do it. It was that way with sleeping through the night, weaning from nursing, crawling, walking, basically everything!

She was never technically “late” doing any of these things, but she was typically a little bit later doing them than others her age around us. For instance, she weaned at 18 months and also at the same time suddenly started sleeping through the night. Before that time she would wake up 2-3 times a night to nurse. Then magically one day she was done and that was that!

With crawling and walking, she definitely had her own idea of when she would do it. She always did pretty well with tummy time growing up, so I just sat back and let her figure things out on her own for the most part. She started crawling at 10 months and then walking at 13 months. She literally went from one day not doing any of these to doing them almost exclusively.

Preparing your child and environment for potty training. Tips from an Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy blogger series.

So when it came to potty training, I figured we were in for more of the same; she was not going to do it until she figured out she was ready to.

A little bit after her second birthday I made it a point to take her in the bathroom with me so she could get used to the idea. Thankfully she was never afraid of the toilet flushing and actually picked up on the whole bathroom “routine” pretty quickly. But she never cared that she was wet or dirty in diapers.

After a couple of months, I decided to try sitting her on the toilet. She would sit and do the entire routine, but just would not actually go. We tried for 2-3 days with no success in any way. It was also at that point that I found out I was pregnant with no. 2. So potty training got put on hold since I was very sick for the first 4 months or so.

To be honest, at this point I was truly afraid of potty training. It seemed like an unattainable goal and I really had no desire to even try doing it. Of course, the questions of whether or not she was potty trained yet didn't help much.

I kept reminding myself, she was not going to go to college NOT potty trained. It would happen eventually and knowing her history when SHE was ready.

This also kept in line with the Montessori principles that I was learning about. Montessori is a huge advocate of sensitive periods and allowing the child to do things when they are developmentally ready to do it. This means each child is going to be different. Yes, there are age ranges that things typically happen in, but it's not a one size fits all concept.

So a couple of weeks ago I was 30 weeks pregnant and actually feeling like I had the energy to see if she was ready to give this a try. She was about 33 months old and we had just a few weeks before baby brother would be joining us. We followed some of the tips in the Potty Training in a Weekend ebook and actually started on a Wednesday.

We used a seat that sat on top of our regular toilet with a step stool and we also had a child-size toilet in an area between our living room and kitchen on the tile floor.

I also used our Thieves cleaning spray and wipes to clean out the child-size toilet after she went each time.

I did get some pull-ups to have on hand in case we needed to go somewhere and I really didn't feel like cleaning up accidents in the car. Thankfully this time, SHE was ready. By Thursday afternoon and Friday we were basically accident-free and she was even initiating when she needed to go herself.

So why am I sharing our potty training or learning experience? Because I just want you to know, it truly WILL happen, but real success will come when YOUR CHILD is ready. It may be early and it may be later. But the important thing is to realize when THEY are ready to learn and capitalize on that time.

Are you attempting potty training or learning with a child? Here are some resources for you as well:

Heather Greutman, COTA

Heather Greutman is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant with experience in school-based OT services for preschool through high school. She uses her background to share child development tips, tools, and strategies for parents, educators, and therapists. She is the author of many ebooks including The Basics of Fine Motor Skills, and Basics of Pre-Writing Skills, and co-author of Sensory Processing Explained: A Handbook for Parents and Educators.


  1. It really is best to wait until the child is ready. So many parents want to try potty training as soon as the child is 2 or even earlier.
    I love what you said about how she wouldn’t go to college in diapers — my BFF’s mom says something like that all the time about kids. Some kids learn to sleep through the night at an early age; some kids learn to read at an early age…but really, they all need to go at their own pace.

    Congrats on potty training success! (And even if she slips a bit when little brother comes, hang in there, momma!)

  2. My son was 5 years old before he was properly potty trained. He is autistic. I had tried him using the loo when he was 11 months old. He clearly wasn’t ready, because the process upset him to the point of tears, so I left it a few months and tried again. Again he was not ready yet, but at two he was comfortable at least sitting on the loo, not doing anything. I kept leaving it a few months before trying again and then at five he was mostly potty trained with little accidents when he got so involved with playing that he didn’t want to break off going to the loo. One day I had a stern word with him about going when he need to and from then on we didn’t have any more accidents. There were times when I despaired that he was ever going to be continent, but eventually we got there. Just be patient.

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