The uncensored truth from our potty training experience

There are some activities which no parent can escape; rites of passage if you will. Potty training is one of them. You can delay it and defer it but at some point helping support your little person to ditch that nappy and not just wee (or worse!) on the floor is going to be the focus of your life. I knew as Little H approached two that that time was coming closer. But we had a lot going on at that time so I had planned to leave it until the spring. You would have thought I’d have learnt by now though: I have no control over what Little H does. The same week as her second birthday, she dragged the potty out from under the sink in our bathroom (where it had been sat for a few months so she ‘got used to it’) and asked to use it. Our potty training journey had started and I was not ready for it. But then when have I ever really been ready for any new stage of parenting?!

I didn’t have a plan for potty training. I’d read a few blog posts from various parents; about them deciding one day to take their toddler out of nappies and ride it out. I knew I didn’t want to do that because it would not have worked for Little H. She wanted to be independent and start behaving like a “Big Girl” but she didn’t have reliable bladder control so it would have just resulted in accidents left-right-and-centre. So I swapped her to consistently to pull-up nappies during the day (we’d been interchangeably using them with normal nappies until then) and started calling them her ‘nappy pants’. Then whenever we were near the bathroom I would ask her if she’d like to go and occasionally I’d get a yes. We started carrying a garish travel potty with us everywhere. Just in case.

Moving to the toddler room at nursery really helped Little H. The children there are routinely taken to the toilet so she would just go along to wash her hands. Slowly she copied and eventually the staff would leave her without a nappy for periods of time throughout the day. There were accidents but they cleaned them up no dramas (Guess you get past caring when you’re looking after a rabble of toddlers 5 days a week for your career!) and slowly the gaps between the accidents lengthened. Eventually, a few weeks ago, her Key Worker noticed Little H was starting to get lazy with going to the toilet. She knew how to use the toilet but had realised that if she was wearing a nappy it meant she didn’t have to interrupt her garden play to go to the loo! Cheeky so-and-so. The next day she swapped to pants at nursery and hasn’t really been back into pull-ups during the day since.


We’re about 3 weeks on from that day and the fact that she’s no longer sporting some Pampers is starting to feel normal. We’ve had a few accidents but I think that’s to be expected…and probably to be expected for some time. I suppose in my head I had expected that “potty trained” meant she would use a toilet like an adult but with reflection that’s a ridiculous expectation. She’s still young so she will have accidents. She still wears nappies for sleeping and I have several changes of clothes in a bag wherever we go. As with everything, toilet training is a gradual process. At least we’ve jumped the biggest hurdle by getting rid of the nappies. Well, until we tackle night time. But we’ll deal with moving to a bed first…

What did I learn through potty training?

  1. I was right to take the lead from Little H. It took her 4 months from showing initial interest to actually ditching the nappy (although there was an unplanned delay…more in a mo) but at no point did I feel stressed by that. I knew she’d get there in her own time.
  2. Toilet training is a big deal for kids and illness and other ‘upsets’ can set them back. Little H had chicken pox in March. During the 10 days she was ill, she was not interested in the potty at all. Then it took her a good 3 – 4 weeks to get back into properly after she recovered. I found it frustrating to start with until I realised she had a lot going on so I needed to give her some space.
  3. The fear of urine getting onto the sofa or rug turned me even more paranoid person than I thought was possible.
  4. When that fear became a reality I realised a couple of key things:
    1. Paying for sofa protection insurance (where they come out and clean stains for you) was definitely worth it.
    2. There is no point in stressing over a mishap on our upholstery because after watching Little H with eagle eyes for 99 minutes, it inevitably happened in the 1 minute I went to go and put her dinner on.

  5. Dealing with a No. 2 that’s escaped into a pair of pants is SO MUCH WORSE than dealing with a soiled nappy. I recently read a post from Winnettes on the same topic and she said the same – was good to read I’m not alone!
  6. Toilet training pants were a complete waste of money for us! I spent about £20 on some for the ‘big swap over’ only for Little H to still think she was in a nappy (because they’re still quite bulky) and have lots of accidents. As soon as she was in cheap cotton pants, no issues. They are now sitting unused in a draw…with her name written on the labels so I can’t return them!
  7. Now I’ve got through the hard part, I’m finding it quite liberating to have a child who is nappy-free. Sure there will be mad-dashes. But no more sore bottoms. Or having to use those horrific changing tables in public toilets. Hoo-rah!

How did you manage potty training? What worked for you? Did you have any major dramas or disasters?

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34 comments On The uncensored truth from our potty training experience

  • It has been such a relief reading this – my little one has been in knickers for a couple of months now and we are still having the odd accident. My friend just potty trained her daughter (who is 4mths younger than min) in 3 days and apparently they haven’t had ANY accidents. I’ve been feeling pretty rubbish, especially as hubby keeps saying to give up because she’s “not getting it”. I disagree – we only have an accident every few days so if she’s okay some days, she must “get it”. I hope potty training continues to go well for you. #dreamteam
    Lucy At Home recently posted…#BloggersBluff No. 20 ft Daddyness BlogMy Profile

    • Glad reading this has helped. I agree with you that it sounds like your daughter gets it. She probably just gets caught up in the moment and has an accident. Once we had a few dry days, I knew we wouldn’t go back whatever happened. She’ll only learn now from her mistakes so I’m sure the accidents will stop soon! Thanks for reading and good luck xx

  • I have a 4yo – potty training her was the worst 10 days of my life. So stressful for both of us, but once I’d started there was no going back – thank goodness for the nursery staff!
    Well done to you, you are absolutely right to let H lead the way – lesson learned here, I’ll be doing just that next time. Also just to say, my 4yo still wears pull ups at night. Most of the time she is dry, but sometimes she is wet in the morning. You can’t train them for the night time, it’s a completely subconscious thing, when it clicks it clicks! #DreamTeam

    • Thanks for your lovely comment – it’s reassuring that you are still using nappies at night time. I don’t feel too pressured but I definitely won’t rush it. You’re right that it just needs to click. Thanks for reading xx

  • This is really interesting as I feel like Baby Lighty will be the same. He turned two last week. He’s shown an interest for some time, but I haven’t started anything as I didn’t think he has the bladder control. We have some cloth nappy training pants and I’m wondering whether to switch to those when we’re indoors and just see how we get on, with a few to then buying cotton pants and seeing what happens, kind of what you’ve done I think? Thanks so much for sharing this with #DreamTeam, I’ve found it really interesting and informative and maybe not as daunting as I first thought!
    Mrs Lighty recently posted…#DreamTeam Linky – Week 59My Profile

    • Similar approach to me. Just try and see what happens. If it seems too tough for him right now then go back to nappies and try again a few weeks later. No point in pushing it until he’s ready but you never know when he might take to it! Thanks for reading xx

  • This is a really interesting read. Molly never really showed any interest in potty training; we had to encourage it. Everytime we would talk to her about it, or ask if she would like to wear her ‘big girl knickers and use the potty’ she would get really upset and say “no thank you mama, I’m fine..” Little monkey. They all take their own journey don’t they and get there eventually. #FamilyFunLinky
    Sam – StressyMama recently posted…Did somebody press fast forward? It is nearly Molly’s third birthday .My Profile

    • Shows that every child is different doesn’t it! I love she’d just refuse but so politely. My daughter can hold her bladder for a good couple of hours and when I ask her to try and avoid an accident, she just shouts “NO WANT A WEE WEE. NO WANT TOILET.”. Lovely. Haha! Thanks for sharing your experience lovely xx

  • Wish I’d had this advice when mine was a toddler .

    I think buys can be harder to toilet train than girls .
    Njnjakillercat recently posted…Puddle Watching Is a Rare And Noble ArtMy Profile

  • It’s a long process when you’re in it and I found myself running around like crazy with my first one. However, when I was potty training the second one I was far more relaxed as I knew it would happen one way or the other:)
    Mainy recently posted…Fabulous Fathers Day Presents – Reviews Giveaways and Discounts!My Profile

    • That’s good to here. I agree it feels long but now we’re coming out the back of it, it wasn’t that bad. Thanks for sharing your experience – it’s good to hear about the second time if we ever have to deal with that! xx

  • This sounds relatively similar to the journey I had with my eldest. My youngest is 2 and a half now and we still haven’t started training! He sits on the potty before bathtime but he seems to have no idea what it’s really for. He will just sit there for 2 seconds and then say he’s finished and refuse to do anything else. He also is more than happy to marinate in a poo-ey nappy for as long as I’ll let him. So I am not even going to try until I get a bit more understanding from him! I do hear boys usually are ready a bit later than girls. #familyfunlinky

    • Yeh if they aren’t interested then there is no point in pushing it. Boys do seem to be generally interested later than girls. He’ll do it when he’s ready won’t he. Thanks for reading xx

  • Mine at almost 2 takes an interest in the potty but definitely going to wait for him to take the lead. He has weed in it though because he wants to sit on it but I’m no way going down a forcing route as it’s got to be him that wants it!! Well done! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬
    Karen | TwoTinyHands recently posted…It’s Always When I’m Tired My Profile

    • Yup, forcing definitely doesn’t work. On the one occasion I made Little H go on the toilet, she deliberately didn’t wee and then had an accident 15 mins later. I paid the price! Thanks for reading xx

  • Really interesting. I’m not at the potty training stage yet, but I’ll remember these tips! #coolmumclub
    Kelly | and Jacob makes three recently posted…Broad bean and goats cheese fritters—RecipeMy Profile

  • I’ve still this to come, Sounds like you went along with her lead and it all went well. I’m not sure what I’ll do but like you I’ll probably trust my instincts. #SharingThe BlogLove

    • You’ll find your own way when the time comes. You either follow the lead of a younger toddler or are able to have a discussion about it with an older one! Good luck when you start that next adventure and thanks for reading xx

  • It really is so liberating. Not only the fact that they can use a toilet and there is no need to use the change tables, but eventually you’ll be able to leave the house WITHOUT the nappy bag! I know right! Shocking!
    It’s all about goal setting! lol

    • I know, I can’t wait for not having a nappy bag. That said, I will always have to have a large bag of snacks for my small human dustbin!! Thanks for reading xx

  • I have been digging my heels in to try desperately to make it to the 6 week summer holidays to potty train our youngest daughter. POtty training + school run is a BAD combination!

    Thanks for reminding me of some top tips – I’ve pinned this to my potty training board 😉 #coolmumclub
    MMT recently posted…#coolmumclub Linky week 69My Profile

  • It’s interesting to read what you and others have to say on this topic. I’m confused as to whether they should be trained by 2 or 3 but I think it’s great to get them familiar with the potty and even better if it’s initiated by them. #SharingtheBlogLove

    • I don’t think there is a set age. My friend’s daughter wasn’t potty trained until after 3 years old because they moved back to the UK from Australia and her daughter couldn’t cope with anything else new. I guess ultimately it’s no rush. Thanks for reading x

  • My eldest daughter was done in 4 days! We are about to start with my youngest daughter and I have a feeling it won’t be quite so easy! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • That’s impressive! It’s interesting how some kids do that. My daughter is too stubborn and tries to hold on as long as possible, so we’ve inevitably kept having some accidents. But a few weeks on from swapping to pants they are very rare. Thanks for reading xx

  • Ooh I think that we are very nearly at this stage as our daughter nears to two years old. There are some great tips here, and I completely agree with going with the flow, and letting them take the lead. We’re already at a stage where our little one tells us if she needs a number 2, but I think we’re a while off the wees though. Your post reminds me that I should go and buy a potty, just so we have one. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x
    The Pramshed recently posted…Review of beautiful flowers by PrestigeMy Profile

    • That’s a really positive sign she tells you when she needs a number 2. My daughter was the other way round but it was when she started asking for a wee that we knew she was getting close. She’s getting consistently better and better as the weeks go by now. It feels normal for her to not wear a nappy in the day too! Thanks for reading and good luck xx

  • Potty training can be hard work! I had two who did it over night, and two who struggled with it, and still do! Great tips here! Thank you for sharing with us at #SharingtheBlogLove
    five little doves recently posted…BiBs 2017 Finalist – InspireMy Profile

    • Yes, it’s fascinating to hear how different children respond to it. Your experience really proves that it’s down to the child more than anything! Thanks for your interesting comment and for stopping by to read xx

  • aw it sounds like you’re doing amazing! we started a bit later with bran and all was fine but it took a while for him to recognise when he needed a poo. for a while I binned so many pants. id had enough of trying to clean them!
    emma me and b make tea recently posted…Top Things to do off the M5 Motorway – Junctions 16 and 24!My Profile

    • I get the impression that on average boys do seem to start later. And to be honest, I’m still a bit astonished that we’re done with it before she’s hit 2.5 years old – I had expected closer to 3. I’m glad to hear you binned the pants. So far at home I have managed to clean them but I told the nursery to chuck them in the bin if she had any mishaps! Thanks for reading lovely xx

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About Me

Hello, I'm Angela. I'm Mum to two small people (6 & 3). I'm a Gardener, houseplant obsessed and addicted to tea. By day I work in tech and also look after my littles. I'm trying to get our family to live a more sustainable life. I also have far too many opinions...hence the blog. You can read more about me here. You can also follow me on Instagram for mainly plant spam. Hope you enjoy reading!

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