Everyone Poops

Yep, it’s that time – time for potty talk! I’ve been delaying this entry for a while because I don’t want to sound all preachy. I know that parenting is nearly 100% subjective and what works for one family might not work for another, yada yada yada. That being said, I know some medical stuff, some psychological stuff, etc that I can’t ignore when making decisions for my family, so I thought I’d pass it along. And I’ll throw in a Kaufman twins update and a cute picture or two to make up for it. Sound fair?

The United States is insanely weird about potty training. Let me rephrase that – the United States TODAY is insanely weird about potty training. In much of the rest of the world, infants are trained before their first birthday. Not a typo, FIRST birthday. That doesn’t make me comfortable nor does it fit in my lifestyle, so I’ll be the first to admit that I have no issues that we (as a culture) don’t do that anymore. Still, even aside from sanitary reasons, I get why and how it works.
Let’s rewind to a time before most of my readers were even born. We used to be like the rest of the world (and wow, you will RARELY hear me say something like that in a negative light). Then sometime in the early 70’s (trying to spare you details here), a doctor wrote a VERY well accepted book about child rearing. In it, he suggested that we wait to introduce the potty to our youngsters. Wait, that is, until they were 8 or 9 months old. People were shocked – THAT LATE?! they thought.
Again – we had zero plans to bust out the potty that early in the Kaufman house, and would choose to wait “so long” again in a heartbeat. I’m just painting a picture that shows you it is a very recent development that we wait until our children are 2 and 3 years old to train.
You might have heard me advocate for children training when they are “ready”. To me, and again I know this is very much a “to each their own” sort of thing, “ready” means holding their pee a few hours (and those muscles develop at about age 3-4 months), following simple directions, and the physical ability to sit on a potty. That’s it. For me, it does not mean the following conversation:
Mom: Do you want to sit on the potty?
Child: No thanks, I’d rather continue to play.
PLEASE understand that I am not saying that’s wrong. I’m just saying that that situation doesn’t mesh in my brain.
Let’s talk about what does – my girls, and most 15-18 month olds – WANT to mimic grown ups. They love being pleased with their accomplishments. They soak up new information like sponges. They TOTALLY understand what it means to go on the potty (give your kids credit where credit is due!). In fact, studies will back up that the readiness for children to be potty trained – and not even just “mommy trained” (though I could show you some awesome stories about 4 month olds who pee in a pot on command!) – is at it’s peak before 18 months… before they start developing a love to defy you πŸ˜‰
All joking aside, Kyle and I think we started a little late, but are really excited for our girls. Not only does it make sense for our family, but there are numerous medical benefits to earlier training – less night wetting down the road, (much) lower risk for bladder infections/issues, self-esteem boosts, etc. Urinary problems galore – both “incidents/accidents” and actual medical diagnoses are linked to late training. My friends who are a bit more granola than I could also add in loads of environmental arguments, “chemicals on the skin” arguments, etc – but you know that’s not really my methodology! πŸ˜‰
Anyway, enough from me. I’ll GLADLY talk your ear off, or even just dialogue with you on the matter if you’d like – in another venue. Or you can ignore me, and just come back for the less-controversial stuff. Here’s what we’re doing though —
A few months ago, we started really talking in depth with each diaper change about wet vs dry, pee, poop, etc. About 3 weeks ago, the girls got new potty chairs. They learned the sign for potty. We sit them on it every morning, every night, and after every meal/drink. Sometimes, they even tell us they want to go (though it’s usually after their diapers are nice and warm with new pee. Great visual, no? ;)). Are they any good at it yet? Of course not. Do I plan to do this until they’re 3 anyway, thereby wasting all of our time? Of course not. For now, they get lots of praise when we so happen to catch their pee or poop (which is usually 1 time out of every few days, because I’m not very diligent). They know that mommy and daddy and big kids go on the potty, and are getting very comfortable with the whole process. The next step, after they’re 18 months (which again, I struggle – part of that sounds so late to me, after learning the things I have, but it also just seems unreasonable before that, likely since I’ve been led to believe that) – and mostly after the holiday traveling, etc – we’re taking the training full force. Potty-training-in-a-day, Potty-Boot-Camp, whatever you want to call it, we’re doing it. A short time frame dedicated to getting the job done.
Will it work flawlessly? Who knows. Is it harder than just waiting until they’re 3 and can do it overnight when they decide they want to? Certainly. But we feel like the rewards for the child(ren) far outweigh the inconvenience.
So there you go. Want some cute pictures now? You deserve it if you got through that. You deserve them even more if you chime in with your feedback, no matter which side of the fence you’re on on the potty training issue! πŸ™‚


  1. It’s times like these that I really wish we lived closer together. I think you and I have a lot of similar ideas with parenting and I’d love to be learning this stuff along with you! So thanks for at least blogging about it. Gives me stuff to think about for Lydia! I’m already thinking about making sure she is familiar with the potty & what it is. She watches mommy go and I tell her what I am doing. She’s only 9 months old, but I’m hoping it is at least a step in the right direction for later!

  2. I love the cute potty chairs πŸ™‚ I obviously at this point don’t have an opinion either way but O do know that my mom crammed the potty training in for me at 20 months so I’d be able to do the daycare at the hospital when my sister was born. You had to be potty trained to go there. Sounds like you’re on your way.

  3. Leah, I love your mom’s motivation! I would venture to guess that most of us were trained sometime between 18 and 24 months, so it’s not totally crazy – even if half of my friends try to tell me otherwise πŸ˜‰

    Sarah, good for you! I wish we would have started then. It’s not as if this is new information for me either, but I guess I just felt silly when my friends still weren’t training their 3 year olds. Ultimately though, I need to worry less about offending them and just do what I think is best! It’s easier to take a stand like that on something a bit “bigger” than pottying though πŸ™‚ As for Lydia, keep it up! Then I would seriously introduce the potty as soon as she’s following simple commands (“bring mommy the ___”). It might not be right at her first birthday, but shortly thereafter. So long as you’re willing to put some effort into it (since 1-1.5 is obviously too young to do it on their own! :)) I think you’ll be in awesome shape. (And how is she 9 months old already?!)

  4. you go girl!! good luck. i admit i was a wimp. i worked, so i thought i would try to work on potty training with kyle on my days off. it seemed we were both miserable and i hated being the heavy on our days off together. soooo… we waited until he was 3 and i would say, so do you want to go on the potty today or wear diapers? he would say..”hmmm..diapers”. so i’d ask on my next day off and so it continued until one day he said he wanted the superman underpants and went on the potty. end of training. probably wasn’t so good on the environment, but it was better for my mental health. i think that every family is different and whatever works for you is the right thing. the girls soooo cute reading on their potty chairs!!

  5. Oh I’ll be the first to admit our reasoning is not at all environmental, for better or worse! It’s really a matter of our own sanity – I have several friends who swear by your method and it is the easiest training experience ever, but it’s just not for us to wait that long. Goes along with the pacifier thing I think – certainly a kid won’t go to college with a pacifier (as the saying goes), but that doesn’t mean we love seeing 4 or 5 year olds talk around one! Personal pet peeve I guess, but definitely easier – especially if you’re juggling work too!

  6. How is Lydia 9 months already? You tell me!! I swear she was just a teeny, helpless lump a couple of weeks ago. I can’t believe how big your girls are getting too! I still remember reading about your “fun times” being on bedrest waiting for their arrival. I know people always say that it goes fast… they aren’t kidding!

  7. Awesome post Jennifer! We are pretty much on the same track as you, except I have yet to get the potty seats out. I sit them on the toilet every now and then (like before a bath) and they see me going. Their cousin is here this week and I am watching her for 2 days and she is at the end of potty training, so this will be good for me and the girls. Hoping it is not a painful process, but a good learning experience! Thanks for your insight and information!

  8. Hey Jen, they’ll let you know if they’re willing to cooperate or not! If you could just get one of them interested then maybe the other would be competitive enough to want to “outdo” her. Or do they not act competitively for your attention at that age, in that manner? Can they do star charts yet? It’s been so long now that I can’t remember when kids do what! I’m glad to see you found some time to blog again, I missed you (and the girls)! πŸ˜€

  9. Kim, they definitely compete in just about every way! Even before that started though, I think they’ve always really learned from one another (the only way I know to explain how closely they’ve always achieved new milestones, etc). I haven’t thought about the star chart yet … maybe in the new year! I think they would almost certainly understand it then!

    Stacy – as usual, I’m happy to be going through all of this with you! πŸ™‚

  10. Emily Gordon says:

    Jenn!e been a caretaker, and I can tell you that with every family… it was different!! I’ve been in households where a little girl was trained in 2 weeks at a year and and a half and little boys at 2years old took MONTHS! From my experience, it’s the time you have and the time you put into it and eventually, the girls will get it.

    a couple tricks from the trade that I’ve used:

    star/sticker charts… amazing how tiny sticky things are god’s gift for kids

    M&Ms (if you cut out chocolate of any kind, and ONLY give them tiny pieces when they go into the bathroom on their own, or tell you they have to go potty, or even just SIT there without anything, and up the anti when they actually go IN the potty, it makes the shock affect of the chocolate that much better!!!)

    for star charts_ have a big prize if they get like 5 stickers or something and have a picture of it on the chart…

    GOOD LUCK!! You are SOOO brave and strong taking on P-Training X 2~~~ Can’t tell you much I admire all you do!

  11. Thanks Emily, for popping in — and for the great advice!

  12. Theresa-babytrees says:

    Abi self taught herself at 14 months….she wanted to be one of the big girls (I was watching 2 other girls at the time. She would get in line to brush her teeth and go potty before bedtime. She only had one accident after that.

    With Cassidy, she was almost 2 and I was taking care of another girl the exact same age as her. For those two we let them go nudey patootie around the house with 2 potties available (one in the living room and one in the bathroom) for about a week. Want to know how we really got them potty trained? We bribed them!! We told both girls if they made it into the potty all week we would let them pick out their own big girl panties. Again, only one accident, 2 years later….so I am guessing that wasn’t an accident.

  13. I am so glad you blogged about this! I knew a lot of it, but it’s great to see someone (anyone!) who thinks it’s not “crazy” or “ridiculous” to potty train a child before age 3, or 2 for that matter!

    I might have more questions for you- what works, what doesn’t, time frame, etc! And what cute potties they have! What little girl wouldn’t want to hang out on a pink chair all day πŸ™‚ (even if it is for somedevelopmental milestone for mama! :):):))

  14. Jen, great post! I love reading everyones viewpoints on parenting issues such as these. Ultimately, I really think it comes down to the individual child. We all know that no one style works for all kids! Good for you for doing this and trying things like this. I know plenty of people who wouldn’t even so much as try at this age. I think it’s awesome!!

    I tried starting at 18 months with Mason and it was a nightmare…and I mean NIGHTMARE! He regressed in other ways…stopped sleeping thru the night, started getting clingy and hard to handle, so I stopped- it wasn’t worth it to me. I never pushed the issue again. Right after he turned 3, he woke up one morning, asked for undies and has never ONCE had an accident. He is such an independent kid and everything has to be HIS idea.

    Brody is 2.5 and we’re just starting the PTing. He’s doing ok and loves to do things to please mommy, but he’s definitely not like his brother! I wish I would have started earlier with him, but for whatever excuse I had at the time, I didn’t. I think he is a child that would have benefited from it months ago. Now I feel like we’ve sort of “missed the window” and it’s going to be more of a struggle.

    But like you said, he’s not going to go to college in diapers, and he’ll get it eventually!

    I love reading about parents doing things like you are doing though- maybe not “normal” in our society, but yet you go with your mommy gut and do what’s best for YOUR family! Good for you!!!!

  15. Lindsay – you’re right about it not being worth fighting! So long as we can keep it a positive thing, we’ll plunge forward. Good luck with Brody! I wouldn’t even know how to PT a boy! πŸ˜›

  16. One of your posters reminded me that my mom said that I potty trained because of M&Ms! And you know what? They’re still my favorite candy! πŸ˜€

  17. I think it’s awesome!!! If it’s a positive thing for the girls, GO FOR IT! I think they’ll be better off in the long run because of it.Keep us posted on how it’s going, for sure!

    I think the main difference between boys and girls is that boys are messier!!! πŸ˜‰

    Part of my struggle with Brody is that he is DETERMINED to stand, but he’s not quite tall enough to do it without a step stool…and I don’t want to have to carry one every where we go…LOL!!! Ah, the life of having toddler boys.. such fun!