Then When and How of Potty Training

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“Why, you still haven’t potty trained him yet? We trained you by the time you were 12 months,” I heard my mother brag more than once during her many visits with her first grandchild.  Each time she made that comment, my potty-training age got younger and younger in her memory as I gained another gray hair.  I was sure that she would soon be telling me that I was born potty trained.

I suppose cloth diapers back then were motivation enough to get your baby potty trained as soon as possible.  Diaper rashes occurred more readily, and the mothers got tired of washing dirty cloth diapers.  “It sent up a pungent smell every time I ironed them,” my mother used to tell me.  Why in the world would you bother ironing diapers? Talk about an overachiever.

Me, I thanked the Lord every time I opened up a brand new package of disposable diapers.  It always smelled fresh — no pungent smells here — and all I had to do was to wrap it around my baby’s buns and seal it closed.  Voila!  Clean baby.

Occasionally, I did feel guilty about the fact that diapers went into landfills.  I couldn’t very well recycle them, for goodness’ sake!  More than once, my baby would pee right on the clean, fresh diaper in the process of changing.  “Really?  Now?” I would lament.  Then I would stand there for about three minutes debating with myself: Well, it’s not THAT wet…no, he’s going to get a diaper rash…an extra layer of Desitin might help…oh, come on, have a heart, mother…and so it went.  When I did have to go through three diapers in about 10 minutes, I kept reminding myself that some people throw trucks and refrigerators into landfills, so what’s an extra diaper or two?

You’ve got to admit that putting off potty training has its advantages, though.  It’s great that we don’t have to sprint to public bathrooms on short notice.  I opted for the convenience of the diaper with my first child for as long as I could.  He had almost outgrown the largest diaper size before I began thinking about potty training — or Depends — and only because our preschool director sat us down for a heart-to-heart.

“Mrs. Cheng,” she said sternly.  “Your son is now over 3 years old.  He’s ready.”  I knew he wouldn’t be allowed into first grade unless he was potty trained, so we picked a holiday weekend, Memorial Day, to get ‘er done.

The preschool director suggested the all-or-nothing approach, so we started by going commando.  She thought that pull-ups only reinforced old habits so we bypassed using them except at night.  Good thing we have wood floors, because, sure enough, halfway through the morning he started to tinkle.  “Uh-oh…” he said, as he stood in a small puddle on our wood floor.  We spent the rest of the morning on the grass in our backyard.  He only had one more accident, and that was it.  “Mommy, I have to go,” he said the next time he had the urge.  What sweet music to my ears!

The real test was #2.  Surprisingly, he didn’t have an accident with that one.  After lunch, I sat him down on the little training toilet, and there he went.  That was it.  He returned to preschool on Tuesday as a changed, underwear-toting young man.  Yeah, I guess he was ready to be potty trained.  More than ready.

Could have I trained him sooner?  In hindsight, probably yes.  I wouldn’t recommend waiting until past 3 years of age for everyone (“trucks and fridges, trucks and fridges…”), but at least for my boy it was so surprisingly easy to go through the process.  Incidentally, I kept the pull-ups on him at night for another 6 months or so until I realized that I kept pulling it off dry in the morning only to reuse it again the next night.  I figured I might as well use underwear and wash them daily!

What was your potty training experience like with your babies?  Tell me here on the comments below!

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