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Potty Training: What I've learned after doing it 5 times!

Mocha Baby is potty trained!

Be sure to watch my YouTube video above on the subject. I won't repeat in detail what I shared there, but wanted to focus on my step by step approach of getting Mocha Baby to understand the steps.

In the past, I followed the model from the book Potty Training in Less than a Day by Nathan H. Azrin and Richard M. Foxx.

When I bought the book for training our son, I imagined he'd be a master at going potty and never have any accidents once we were done. Despite the clever title, the book lets the reader know up front that accidents will happen, but it does a good job of laying out a step by step method of communicating to your child what is expected and helping parents to have realistic expectations of what their child may be able to do. I still recommend it.

In following that book, we would set aside a day for potty training and select one parent to stay with the potty training child while the other parents leaves the house with the siblings for as long as it takes. We also got friends and grandparents to agree to be ready to offer praise by phone when we called them about a success with the potty training child. We followed the process exactly--complete with doll that wets, and massive amounts of snacks and drinks.

It worked well for us. Each child we used it with grasped what they needed to do and we were happy to have a model to follow when accidents happened later.

I just didn't have it in me to pull out the book again for Mocha Baby.

I was in no hurry to potty train.

Diapers were working fine for me.

Mocha Baby had other ideas. She started to talk about the potty a lot! She wanted to go like her sisters. She wanted to be a big girl. I ignored her, because I loved the fact that she was still my baby. I don't like potty training. I had made many mistakes with her siblings and wasn't ready to stumble around again. I wasn't ready for the accidents.

When your child is ready, she's ready! I had to listen when Mocha Baby started taking off her diapers and pants. When I found her sitting on my couch with her naked bottom I realized I had to take action. Accidents were happening anyway.

I was still not interested in the potty training book, we couldn't find it anywhere and we no longer had a doll that wets. I still remembered the basics of the approach and decided to make some changes.

1. I sent my husband out to Walmart for Pull Ups and 2 big packs of pretty panties. We decided we would let her wear the panties in the house and use Pull Ups when we leave the house and diapers at bed time.

2. While my husband was gone I washed out all of my old potties and made a note to pick up one more. I wanted to be able to put a potty on every level of the house.

*The best potty I've ever purchased is the Fisher Price potty. I got it from Target for $12. Watch my YouTube video above, for details.

3. I stood Mocha baby up in front of me and asked her to show me that she could pull her pants up and pull them down on her own. Then we worked on pulling the pants up by themselves and then the panties. Finally she practiced pulling the panties up first and then the pants.

4. I prepared myself to let her be in control of her own body. I would lead, guide and direct but I told myself I can't make her do anything.

5. I told Mocha Baby I had to go potty and she could come too if she wanted. Here's where I moved in a different direction from the book. According to the book, we would use the doll to demonstrate what needed to be done. I used myself and modeled for Mocha Baby what was expected. If you are working with a boy, or feel uncomfortable about your child seeing your body then you may want to GET THE DOLL THAT WETS and model the following with the doll:

I said something like now I'm sitting on the potty, I'm going to pee, can you hear it? Good! Are you peeing? (She may say yes whether or not anything is going in the potty...I'm only concerned about her registering the steps). Good! (I say good a lot because she likes to be praised.) Then I say, "now we wipe." I stand up and have her put her soiled paper in the toilet. Good! "Now we pull up our panties." (I keep it simple by just letting her wear only panties at first--no pants/skirt. I make sure her shirt is not too long so it won't get in the way of her sitting and using the potty). Good! "Now we dump!" (This is where I steel my nerves and let her do it herself if she shows any resistance to me holding the potty with her. I can always clean up later.) Good! "Now we flush!" I let her flush. "Now we wash our hands!" (I train her to allow me to squirt some soap in her hands and I keep the soap out of her reach. Mocha Baby loves to play with soap. Here is where discipline is an issue. She listens to me because I have trained her to listen. She is in control of her body but I am in control of what happens with the soap.) Good! "Let's dry our hands!"

We walk out of the bathroom together.

6. I call the above a successful trial whether she actually released anything into the potty or not--because that will come. The final step is PRAISE! I praise her profusely for following all of my steps and doing such a good job and being such a big girl. If you are doing a good job of praise, your child will be beaming and looking forward to trying it all again. After I praise my child, I tell Daddy about it. If he's not home we call him so that HE can make a big deal about it. Then we tell all the siblings and they get really excited about it!

7. After that I allow Mocha Baby to practice as much as she likes. I keep an eye on her but let her wash her hands over and over etc. This part is tough but I've learned that if I just leave the child alone he/she will get the practice they need and tire of playing potty. However, they will be ready to do the steps when necessary.

I tell myself there will be accidents and quickly clean them up while telling Mocha Baby in a "matter of fact" tone (never angry) that she had an accident. I point out she should stop and go potty quickly. "Where do we pee?" I wait for her to repeat the right answer. "Where should we make a stinky?" When she answers correctly I praise her. Good! I ask if she would like to try to go potty now. She will usually say yes. If she doesn't I leave her alone. I clean her off and Mocha Baby is especially happy when I offer her a clean pair of pretty panties and pants/skirt. Again, I don't become angry, yell or spank my child for having an accident. We are learning and mistakes are part of the process. If your child is rebelling and clearly having accidents on purpose to provoke you--you may be dealing with a broader issue involving discipline. You will need to take steps outside of potty training to improve the discipline situation.

Until my child is a master at using the potty I clothe her in simple pants and tops that stay out of the way when she is going through her pottying steps. I stay away from long shirts which could dangle in the potty or dresses which would be a challenge to maneuver. I also stay away from tights which could be difficult to push down or pull back up. I want to cause my child as little frustration as possible.

Within 2 days Mocha Baby was having few if any accidents. She'd go the entire day with the same pair of panties I offered her in the morning. We couldn't believe it! If she has an accident we take care of it quickly with very little drama.

Don't be discouraged if it takes your child longer than it did for Mocha Baby. Potty training is a process and if we keep repeating the above steps until the child is proficient, the process becomes such a part of our lifestyle that it stops being mechanical.

I also encourage Mocha Baby's father and siblings to partner with me in praising her, the girls will allow her to join them in the bathroom if she likes, and everyone knows that Mocha Baby is in control of her own body. Messes happen and we can clean them up later.

It's been working really well.


  1. Thank you for this! BTW, how old is Mocha Baby? We are kind of loosely potty training, my daughter is almost 3, but she doesn't really show much interest on her own. I don't mind, because diapers are so convenient. I'm just wondering when this is going to kick off. I really like your approach and will probably use it when the time comes. ~Jenny

    1. MB is 2. She's only been 2 for a couple of months. The more relaxed you are about this the better.


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