Disclaimer: I am NOT a potty training expert and I in no way claim to be one! I am just a mom who successfully potty trained my son using this method.
There are so many potty training books and methods out there and it seems like everyone has an opinion about which one is “right”. There are also a lot of differing opinions about when is the “right” time to potty train a child. In the United States the average child is potty trained at 3 years old. In Russia the average child is potty trained before their first birthday! That’s a HUGE difference!! So clearly, it is a matter of opinion, and culture as much as it has to do with “readiness”.
Lora Jenson authored the Three Day Potty Training Method and I was instantly drawn to her claims that you could potty train a child as young as 22 months, a child with zero interest, and it could be done in three days. At 22 months my son was interested in the potty but he wasn’t waking up dry after nap or in the morning, and he definitely couldn’t even say the word “potty”. Based on Lora’s attitude toward readiness I figured why not give it a try? I bought her e-book and read it through about three times (it’s not long) and this is how I used it:
First, put it on your calendar. This way you are mentally prepared for the task of spending three whole days giving your toddler your 120% undivided attention for the pursuit of becoming diaper free. This method advocates a no diaper/pull up policy. Think of it like ripping off a band-aid. Pull off the diaper and never look back.
Next, get your supplies and start talking to your child about potty training. Get them excited! About two weeks before my planned three days I put his potty out in his bathroom. I hung his sticker chart (you can print these from Lora’s website). We picked out prizes and stickers together at the store. We bought big boy underwear that he picked out and wanted to wear. As you get closer to the day, stock up on juices. Now, many moms will argue about pumping your kid full of juice for three days, but it’s just three days, and the more opportunity they have to pee, the more opportunity they have to learn. You’re going to be confined to your home for three days so plan quick and easy meals ahead of time. Plan simple and fun activities that you can do together. If you have other children, enlist the help of your spouse, a family member, or a babysitter so there are fewer distractions.
The day you begin, start your day like normal. Get up and do everything as usual up through breakfast. After breakfast you begin. Since my son was cloth diapered we had a diaper clean out party. I brought a plastic bin into his room and he helped me take all of the diapers out of his drawers and even helped me push them out to the garage. This way he knew the diapers were gone. We then put on his big boy underwear and talked about keeping his big boy underwear dry and to let mommy know when he needed to go potty (you will literally repeat these phrases about 10000000000 times over the course of three days so be ready). Side note, you’re going to want to have about 10-15 pairs of clean underwear on hand as you will go through a lot. Keep your child in just their underwear and a shirt. Now go about your day as usual.
At some point in that first hour or so they’re going to have their first accident. It will likely be a big one. I suggest keeping off of carpeted areas during the early part of this process. You’ll scoop your child up while they’re peeing or pooping (you’ll be glued to their side and they’re just in underwear so it will be easy) and rush them to the potty so that they can hopefully finish on the potty. I do not suggest keeping the potty in the kitchen or play area for convenience. That’s just gross. They also need to learn to go to the actual bathroom. You’ll then tell them about another 10000000 times that they keep their underwear dry, they go pee pee in the potty, let mommy know when they need to go potty. On and on and on. This is a positive reinforcement method NOT a negative one. The purpose of all the repetitive language is that they will begin to associate what you’re saying with their body’s sensations of going to the bathroom. This is a big reason I chose this method. To me, it didn’t make sense to potty train by setting a timer and taking my kid to the bathroom every X minutes. Then YOU are the one being trained, not the child. It also doesn’t make sense to ask a two-year old if they need to go potty. Their favorite word is “no”. This method will actually teach them how to know when they need to go to the bathroom and how to tell you. The nice part about being glued to their side for those three days is that you will also start to notice their own “potty signs” like grabbing their crotch or doing a potty dance.
After you clean up those first few accidents you’ll swear they aren’t ready and you will feel like you’ve already failed before you even really got started. Don’t throw in the towel just yet! By the end of the first day I definitely started to see it “click”. Instead of full-blown accidents (he only had 2-3), my son started to have one then caught himself and then could run to the bathroom to finish. This is when the praise sets in. Go crazy when they start to do this! This is also when you’ll be glad you have 10 more pairs of underwear ready. While you’ll be tempted to use a diaper or a pull up at nap and bedtime, don’t. At least not for the three days. Don’t confuse them. My son surprisingly never had an accident at nap time. I’ll talk about night-time later on.
Day two started like the end of day one. By the end of day two, he was staying dry and successfully going potty when he needed too! Day three he stayed dry all.day.long.!! I thought I had found a miracle method. After the three days you won’t have to stay glued to your child (I had to go back to work on day 4) but you will continue with your prompting for a while. Fortunately, the daycare my son went to at the time did what I asked of them and he never had an accident at daycare.
After the three days I can say that my son was 100% daytime potty trained. He did stay dry at night most of the time but did have an occasional accident a few times a week for about 3 weeks or so but then never again after that. For the most part I followed the three-day method to the T, except for night-time. Lora suggests waking up your child an hour after they go to bed to go to the bathroom and then an hour before they wake up to go to the bathroom. At the time I potty trained my son he was having trouble falling asleep and I just couldn’t fathom waking him after he’d sometimes take so long just to fall asleep in the first place. And if I had woken him an hour early he would not have fallen back to sleep. Cranky, potty training toddler was not my idea of a good time. I decided that I would rather ride out a few night-time accidents than use her suggestions. That was just me.
Some moms have success with both day and night-time at the end of the three days. Some have nighttime issues for a while. For what it’s worth, my pediatrician said to not worry about nighttime because bedwetting was considered “normal” until around 4. There are also those who take a little longer than three days as well. Fair to say, every kid is different!
There really is no “perfect method” but I do believe that there are some really good ones out there and once you get started you’ll fine tune it to work best for you and your child. Like anything else, be consistent, and of course, patient and you’ll be diaper free in no time.