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Potty Talk


From the folks who want to force help toddlers potty train early come some breakthrough products. Latest to the market is Peter Potty, the urinal for your home. You know that fact that, in general, boys potty train later than girls? Well, Peter Potty's makers, Visionaire Products, has just the solution. "When boys train in a standing position they can imitate behavior they have seen. This speeds up the learning process," says a doctor in the company's press release.

Visionaire isn't the first to think of the potty urinal. A visit to Pottytrainingsolutions.com reveals the L'il Mark urinal as well. And not to be outdone if the urinal isn't your thing, there's the musical potty and the school bus potty. On Amazon, you'll find pages of simple, everyday potty training products. But mixed in are several deluxe potty seats, equipped with toilet paper holders and a spot to hold books (in case you've got any pee proof books you're willing to sacrifice!).

Before you go spending your dough on these products, think of this: How many adults do you know who have chosen not to use the toilet? Somehow, we all learned. Some of us were pressured; some weren't (the better way to go, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics). If a kid's not ready to aim for the Cheerio, give it up and wait awhile. And if preschool/day care/you are pushing the potty thing too hard, tell everyone to give the kid a break.

How have you handled toileting your kids? Did pressure backfire in your house or did you take a more laid-back approach at the beginning? And what products did you find worth the money spent?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  July 25, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Preschoolers
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Comments


We always joke that I am stubborn, my husband is stubborn, and our daughter is stubborn squared. She likes to do things in her own time. We also figured that as she wasn't likely to go to college wearing a diaper it wouldn't hurt to let her set the pace for potty training. So, sometime around her 2nd birthday we bought her a training potty, the little foam seats for the big potties, bought a couple of books (I think there was an Elmo one that she liked a lot) and a pack of big girl underpants, and got a couple of videos from the library (Once Upon a Potty was a favorite). We discussed the option of using the potty with her when she wanted to discuss it but didn't push. Then, one morning she woke up dry and told us she didn't want to use a diaper anymore. She never looked back, wasn't stressed about it, and never had an accident.

Posted by: 21117 | July 25, 2007 7:33 AM | Report abuse

I will probably be villified for this - but i "pushed" potty training.

When my 2 children were each 2 years old, they were hiding to make BM's, told me they needed to be changed, etc. I figured if they were that cognizant of what was going on - they could be trained.

Neither liked it at first, but after 2-5 days both were able to go "on demand." At 2 years and 3 months both were trained day and night and have no problems going, and are developmentally very well adjusted.

What is so wrong about demanding a certain behavior? This is training for the potty, but also training for life: when I, and others will ALWAYS be demanding a certain behavior. Both children are loved and special - and trained. And had I not pushed it, I'd still be changing diapers and buying diapers for a 4 year old and 2 year old. The enviornment and my wallet thank me.

Posted by: the evil mother | July 25, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I actually didn't pressure my son at all. We had a couple of failed attempts, but it just sort of happened. I was a SAHM at the time and didn't really care when he became trained, but knew I didn't want to be sopping up pee and poop when there were accidents. So maybe I'm lazy. Anyway, it was like a switch flipped and he has had one accident in the past year and never wet the bed. Kind of amazing. There are parents who make this kind of nonsense a competitive sport, but I just don't participate!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 25, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX

"There are parents who make this kind of nonsense a competitive sport, but I just don't participate!"

You just did participate! "Kind of amazing."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Please. My point was that if you wait long enough (my son was almost FOUR), it will happen.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 25, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

This is a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately. DD is 19 months, and nowhere near ready for potty training. She tells me when she's dirty, but seems to have no awareness of being wet. She doesn't care what she wear, so grown up underwear holds no charm, and she isn't capable of dressing or undressing herself yet. I always assumed that the earliest we'd start training was 2 years old.

Several of the moms in my playgroup seem determined to potty train their kids before the kids turn 2. One has her daughter in big-girl underwear already, and was telling us how they go through five pairs a day. I have neither the time nor the inclination to spend my days doing laundry and mopping the floors, so I'd prefer to wait.

My motto for this, as in all other developmental milestones, is that she'll be potty trained before she goes to college. We have some time to wait until she's more prepared.

Posted by: NewSAHM | July 25, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Cats are notoriously easy to litter train. When they are tiny kittens still nursing just stand them in a litter box, let them scratch it with their paws. Instinctively they'll head for the litter box when they need to. I've had 2 cats over a period of 22 years and have never had a cat accident on the floor.

Maybe you should train your little darlings in a litter box. Cats don't do drugs, ask to borrow the car, or need orthodontia.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe you should train your little darlings in a litter box. Cats don't do drugs, ask to borrow the car, or need orthodontia"

And when they get pregnant, you can sell their children!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

We never pressured either. My daughter was almost 4 by the time she was completely "trained" (I hate that term) and my son was almost 3. Turned out that my daughter had some urinary tract issues that would have made it almost impossible for her to go earlier than that. If we had pressured her, it would have just meant serious frustration for all of us. They are now 14 and 11 and both very well adjusted and able to use the potty on their own!

Posted by: MDMom | July 25, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

To "the evil mother":

Yeah, great. Just what this world needs. Thanks for creating two more serial killers.

Posted by: Baba Booey | July 25, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

My son was trained at 2 years, 4 months. We just took away the diapers and it took about a day and that was it for daytime training. Naps and nighttime took a bit longer but it was very easy - he had one major accident on day 2, didn't like having pee and poop on him, and made sure it didn't happen again.

My 16 mon old is now telling us when he has poop. Seems a little young to start trying to train him but who knows. Anyone have any advice for early potty training?

Posted by: Robyn | July 25, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

There's no exact age that's appropriate -- nor does "demanding" or "taking a laid-back approach" mean entirely different things.

The key is whether your child is ready. The "evil mother" noticed some significant signs that the kids were ready. Other people who waited longer may have done the right thing as well because they could see that their kids weren't ready.

The real problem is trying to force things on a kid when the kid is not showing the appropriate signs of being ready. A friend of our tried too early with her daughter (and by "too early", I mean the daughter wasn't ready). It became a contest of wills, but, as everyone knows, peeing and bowel movements are completely under the control of the kid's body -- meaning the parent will lose that battle. The daughter proceeded to smear her poop all over her crib every morning and decided that doing this to irritate mom and dad was a LOT of fun.

So, there are two things that are important: 1) The kid has to be ready. And 2) the parent should be non-judgmental about mistakes, errors, whatever, on the kid's part.

Posted by: Ryan | July 25, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Do you see a definite leaning of this blog towards the area below the belt? Discussions on circumcision, potty training, masturbating while sucking their thumb. Sounds like somebody is obsessed with 'down there.'

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"Do you see a definite leaning of this blog towards the area below the belt? Discussions on circumcision, potty training, masturbating while sucking their thumb. Sounds like somebody is obsessed with 'down there.'"

Yeah, is Stacey's kid still sucking his thumb while playing with his privates 24/7?
Maybe that's why he isn't "ready" to learn to read. Who would be?


Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

To Anonymous at 10:26: Thanks for your comment, though I'd prefer you use a name for yourself. Today marks the 101st blog entry on this blog. So, no, three out of about 100 does not seem like an obsession. I do work hard to vary the topic, though I agree circumcision and potty training in one week may be a bit much!

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 25, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

To "Stacey Garfinkle":

Give me a break. We do not know who you are (nor do we care). That name could easily be fictitious. Do not attack your posters. It's in extremely poor taste. Be grateful that anyone responds to your vapid blogs.

Posted by: Baba Booey | July 25, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Stacey. I thought blog leaders could actually identify posters by their e-mail addresses and block the habitual trolls/nut cases who are attracted to these things. I was certain one other blog leader knows who I am. I've been shouted down by rabid bloggers on the Achenblog thing so in down time I surf.

Posted by: 10:26 | July 25, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"I've been shouted down by rabid bloggers on the Achenblog thing so in down time I surf."

Ah, the Achenblog. The best sleeping pill substitute known to man!

Posted by: Jake | July 25, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

!Off-Topic Alert!

I, like Stacey, am tired of posters being anonymous. However, if the Washington Post is frustrated by this, then it has the power to rectify this situation: Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.

It is not the posters' fault that WaPo does not follow its own policy. If Stacey, as a representative of WaPo, is annoyed by this practice, then she has the ability to stop it.

I am also very tired of bloggers defending their writing with veiled insults to posters. There are several blogs on this site that I no longer read because the authors are offensive when being defensive. Readers are encouraged by WaPo to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, Instead of insults, bloggers should attempt to intellectually engage posters so that the overall quality of what passes for debate on these boards can be raised.

Posted by: minniwanca | July 25, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Baba Booey | July 25, 2007 11:15 AM

Bababooey, go back to your nutbag posts on ON BALANCE.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 25, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK onbalance is really bad today.

About the potty training issue. My daughter's day care in VA started her at two and she wasnn't ready. They really pushed it, which made her all the more stubborn when it came to going. I took the laid back approach at home and it worked out much better. She was potty trained by three with a few set backs when we travled due to strange bathrooms and pull ups on the road.

Posted by: Irish girl | July 25, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hi IRISH GIRL, my son started around 4, I guess. My unsinkable molly brown daughter started just before three. She wanted to do it herself, including wiping and never looked back. Hope you are well.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 25, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Love your molly brown reference. I think boys train later than girls do, so your son was probably right on track.

I am doing good. The doctor said all is well. Hope you are having a good day!

Posted by: Irish girl | July 25, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK:

"Bababooey, go back to your nutbag posts on ON BALANCE."

Yeah, that's an adult attitude. Try to form a real argument against the content of my posts and then I will argue back. That's the whole point of these blogs. God forbid that not everyone should agree with your point of view. Last time I checked, the United States of America was a democracy with the right of free speech. That means I can express my views, and you can express your views. And then we can argue about our differences. What an amazing system. Apparently you would like to go back to the U.S.S.R. under Andropov. It is certainly your right to agitate for a police state, but you will find me right here, fighting against your desire for a dictatorship.

Posted by: Baba Booey | July 25, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Irish girl

"I am doing good."

Grammar Police!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Irish girl

"pATRICK onbalance is really bad today."

pATRICK knows, hon. He knows.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"pATRICK knows, hon. He knows"

AHHHHHHHHHHH. It's Attila the Hon. For all of you that aren't in the know, apparently everyone in Baltimore calls everyone else in Baltimore "Hon". Yeah, I know. It's freakish. That's why us sensible people live in Virginia. God Bless Virginia. God Bless Jim Webb!!!! Carry that side-arm, you rebel you.

Posted by: Baba Booey | July 25, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"pATRICK knows, hon. He knows"

AHHHHHHHHHHH. It's Attila the Hon. For all of you that aren't in the know, apparently everyone in Baltimore calls everyone else in Baltimore "Hon". Yeah, I know. It's freakish. That's why us sensible people live in Virginia. God Bless Virginia. God Bless Jim Webb!!!! Carry that side-arm, you rebel you.

Posted by: Baba Booey | July 25, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Hi Irish Girl! Hi pATRICK!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 25, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Hi WORKINGMOMX, I see that somebody trolled your nice post here. My daughter is doing really well at ice skating, she really picked it up. I of course, love to brag on her, but isn't that a Daddy's right? HA!BTW tell CATLADY, teh flan was delicious. lol

Posted by: pATRICK | July 25, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

It's absolutely a Daddy's right. I remember my dad teaching us to skate, too. He wrapped a towel around our bellies and sort of dragged us around until we could kind of walk on skates, and then watch out, world! I wish someone would post the recipe for virtual flan. :)

I'm checking On Balance less and less because of all the trolls and anons. It's annoying. I think we used to have good debate there and mostly you "knew" who was posting, but it has just deteriorated so much in the last month, it's not worth my time.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 25, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

That's why I left. I like having conversations with people, not one hit anonymous trolls. This blog let's me talk about things related to my kids which can be a lot of fun.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 25, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK

"I like having conversations with people, not one hit anonymous trolls. "

Me, too!

Posted by: Gore Vidal | July 25, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Irish girl

"I am doing good."

Grammar Police!

There is nothing wrong with my sentence. You really need to get a life.

Hi workingmomX.

Posted by: Irish girl | July 25, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I think the at-home urinal is a really terrible idea. What's going to happen when you go to someone else's house, or have to take your son to the ladies' room and there isn't a urinal? And even if there is one, who wants to hold a 30-lb toddler 3 feet off the floor to use it?

Posted by: reston, va | July 25, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Irish girl

"I am doing good."

Grammar Police!

There is nothing wrong with my sentence. You really need to get a life.

Hi workingmomX.

Posted by: Irish girl |

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get a decent education before you pop out any more babies!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Happy 101 Stacey! I've enjyoed it as a good forum where I'm not constantly told to shut up just because I haven't been a mother (biological or otherwise) myself.

I dislike the idea of pushing it to happen, but I do understand that once the kids are independent enough to go to school on a regular basis, it's not the teachers job to clean up your kids poop and pee.

We had something of a rough time with the nephews in training, but I think that was partly due to some inconsistency and hectic pace of the mother. I personally tried to make them comfortable with it and respected their privacy while also being fine if they wanted to come talk to me while I was on the potty. I think it helped them not only allay their curiousity about 'girl parts' in a safe way, but also made them realize it's no big deal, secret, or naughty thing.

Posted by: Liz D | July 25, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Eeeeeeeeewwwwwww, ick, Liz D: I wouldn't like anybody talking to me while I'm on the john, male, female, child or adult. Toilets are for only one person at a time. I live alone and still close the bathroom door when I'm in there.

Posted by: 10:26 | July 25, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"Irish girl

"I am doing good."

Grammar Police!

There is nothing wrong with my sentence. You really need to get a life.

Hi workingmomX.

Posted by: Irish girl |

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get a decent education before you pop out any more babies!!!"


I guess she could have wrote "I am doing well". Pedantic types like you are truly the most boring people in the world. Lay off IRISH GIRL, you grammar twit.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 25, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"Toilets are for only one person at a time. "

Actually, one of the main components of toilet training is "modelling," which is to say that a child who sees older siblings or adults using the toilet is more likely to want to try it himself. This is one of the reasons that subsequent children usually train much earlier and faster than firstborns.

Posted by: reston, va | July 25, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Obviously 10:26 isn't a parent! Bathrooms in our house, when the kids were little and learning to use the potty, became the focal point of the house.

As to the grammar police, chill out! Most of is are typing these entries rather quickly and aren't double checking everything we type. Also, there is no grammar/spell check here either.

Posted by: MDMom | July 25, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

To 10:26,

I'm just not one of those people with those issues. I really have never cared if people were around me when I had to go to the bathroom. However, I certainly respect THEIR privacy and always let them decide if they wanted a "helper" or not, and don't barge in on people in the bathroom.

I just wanted to make them comfortable with going to the bathroom and realize it's no big deal. I certainly never invited them or forced them to watch. Seemed to work.

But then, I'm also the type who will need to be REMINDED to put on clothes before I walk out the door sometimes.

Posted by: Liz D | July 25, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

We tried off and on starting at 2. There were times we stopped, and then tried again. For whatever reason, it clicked when our son was about 2 and a half. We never pushed. We bought kid potties, encouraged, rewarded, etc... I can't think of any particular products I was pleased with. We did find our son preferred a separate potty than the seat covers you can buy. We did try a number of different potties. Ultimately he liked the baby bjorn ones.

Posted by: Cliff | July 25, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

So how is a child supposed to differentiate between an OK person in the bathroom and a skanky perv hanging around public toilets? That co-bathing thing you yuppies do gives me the creeps, too. Never happened at our house, believe me.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

To 3:57,
You comment about public restrooms doesn't make sense. My kids were actually quite old before they went into public restrooms by themselves or at least with me standing right outside once my son got too old to go into the ladies room. Allowing kids into the bathroom at home when other family members are using the toilet has nothing to do with teaching them about dealing with strangers in public restrooms.

Posted by: MDMom | July 25, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I am hesitant to post here because of the anonymous trolls. My son's pediatrician told us not to force the issue until he was 27 months. We started then, he learned completely with no accidents within 6 months. I'm happy. My wife's happy. He's happy.

I should mention that the sentence "I am doing good" is perfectly legal grammar! Altruistic people always try to do good, but they don't always do well. There is no reason to think that you, the reader, REALLY understand what the writer in this kind of forum was trying to say.

Posted by: DCer | July 25, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know anything about potty training at a very young age (younger than one year). My mother used to tell me that she started potty training me and my sister (I guess for BMs only) starting when we could sit up -- she knew when we needed to go and popped us on the pot. I guess she had incentive because she was a SAHM and only used cloth diapers (in the 70s). Still it doesn't seem to have hurt either of us any and I'd like to know if any one else has any experience. BTW my mom's dead or I would ask her.

Posted by: teaspoon2 | July 25, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, MDMom, maybe for your special and gifted kids it wouldn't make sense, but for toddlers and kids who grow up with a crowd milling around in the bathroom, it might be an issue. For one thing, why can't the rest of the family just wait until the person in the bathroom is finished? Is there some really pressing need for more than one person to be in the bathroom at the same time? What about teaching them that other people might like some privacy? What about teaching them that some things don't need an audience? What about the old adage about mothers who lock themselves in the bathroom just to get some quiet time for themselves and the kids have to respect this quiet time?

Furthermore, we live in a pretty affluent age now and most homes have more than one bathroom or at least a bath and a half.
If somebody really, really, really has to go, use the powder room or ask the lingerer to hurry up. No need for a crowd in the bathroom. Yuck! Reminds me too much of those horrid gang showers in high school gym class.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Amazingly enough you can teach a child about privacy, respect, knocking on doors, and maintaining boundaries AND being ok with them watching you go to the potty. I learned it, as have my nephews.

It's not either/or. It was never allowed for anyone to just barge in. But knocking or talking to someone through the door and being told it's ok to come in was completely enouraged. And again, they were always asked if they wanted a "helper" and their answer was always respected.

Amazing how that taught them good manners and proper social boundaries while simultaneously making them more comfortable with bathroom usage and teaching them that "girls bodies" are no big deal in a non-threatening way.

Posted by: Liz D | July 25, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree with everything Liz D has said.

You also have to remember that children naturally develop a need for privacy by the time they are 4 or so, and by that time they usually don't want to be in the bathroom with their parents. It's not like they're going to be hanging out with you while you pee until they're 8.

Incidentally, our townhouse only has one bathroom upstairs, so we really have to share or things wouldn't work (ie, you can't lock the door if you're in the shower because someone else might need to get in there). It will be a good way to prepare the kids for dorm life later on :).

Posted by: reston, va | July 25, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

why do half these posts read like they're from non-parents. No need for a crowd in the bathroom? ok, YOU tell a 3 yr old who just trained that he has to wait to use the bathroom until you're done shaving- or walk down a flight of stairs and across the house to the other bathroom. riiiiight.

Posted by: DCer | July 25, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

My stepdaughter took AGES to train, because her school told her mother that she HAD to train. Her mom forced her to train, and my stepdaughter didn't like it. We tried to support the training (getting potty, panties, star chart, etc), but it felt wrong, because my stepdaughter was just fighting it every step of the way, and I knew the interest had to come from herself.

She trained at about 3.4, and there were some gnarly accidents through the ordeal.

I trained at just over a year. My babysitter bought me some offensively pink, frilly underwear as a bribe and I was trained. Apparently I lectured everyone I met for a while afterwards on my panties and how I didn't potty in them.

Posted by: Kat | July 26, 2007 2:48 AM | Report abuse

There is a poster on this blog who seems to have some weird hang-ups about privacy and body functions.

I think just about every parent out there must have recognized that pretty much the simplest and easiest way to motivate a toddler to do ANYTHING is simply to do it yourself in front of them. Want them to eat peas? Eat some peas in front of them. Want them to put on their shoes? Put your shoes on. Want them to pee on the potty? Pee on the potty.

Posted by: mom_of_twins | July 26, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Maybe it's better to have issues with privacy than to raise exhibitionists. Bizarre child-rearing tactics, twin mother.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Yes, you can help your child use a potty at a very young age. Google "elimination communication," "diaper free baby," and "born potty trained." Diapers aren't the norm everywhere.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"Yes, you can help your child use a potty at a very young age. Google "elimination communication," "diaper free baby," and "born potty trained." Diapers aren't the norm everywhere."

Call me when the shuttle lands.

Posted by: Baba Booey | July 27, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I think potty training depends on both the kids. My son was over 3 years old, and showing no interest in being potty trained. My babysitter at the time and I agreed to "push" him, and he was done in 3 weeks. Nighttime however, even at now at 7, he still has to wear pull-ups. Daughter will be 3 end of next month, we started with her at 2 years, slowly and on her terms. By the time she was 2.5 or so, after she demonstrated that she knew and understood what to do, we "pushed" her by taking away the diapers and pull-ups. SHe did well, although there were a few accidents, and even now, I would say she is about 95% reliable at home and believe it or not 100% reliable when not at home.

Posted by: may151994 | July 31, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

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