Potty Training Boys Early: Part Two of Two - How-Twos

Intro: After I trained my oldest, friends and acquaintances were often surprised that I had potty trained him before he was 2. He was in underwear full time during the day at around 20 months. Even I wondered if I was able to do it again with my second son, since you always hear that boys are harder to train. If anything, I discovered knowing what to look for and what steps to take made it easier. My little one ended up in underwear full time at 19 months.

I realize all kids are different. But if you have a boy, don't dismay! You may find that your child is able to use the potty with some assistance quicker! Before they are two, they will need help with taking their clothes off, wiping, washing hands. But that's what we're there for - to help them become independent! So, this is how I potty trained two boys. Since there is a lot of information to share, I divided it into two parts.

Part One of Potty Training Boys Early is describing my thoughts on knowing when your child is ready and what tools you need. Now here is:

Part Two: How-To's of Potty Training!

I have two scenarios, since I have two boys. If I had more boys, I could probably tell you more! But, I know Samantha at As They Grow Up has successfully potty trained her boy prior to turning 2, and she is writing up a how-to as well! So it is very possible!

When I mentioned that I was going to potty train my second son, many people said "Don't rush it", "Wait til he's ready", "It takes time" and "He'll let you know when he's ready." I have to say, sometimes you need to help them realize they ARE ready. Don't expect them to walk up to you and say, "I'm ready now!"

Be patient, kind and don't seatbelt them to a potty. Listen if they say no and don't yell. It took me a week to successfully potty train my second son, simply using a variation of what I learned from my first. (I am watching him go grab his potty to pee in it right now - 19 months old people!)

So let's look at the scenarios I have to offer:

1. If your child is dry after naps (or dry for a long period of time):
This was how I trained my oldest. His only sign he was ready was he was dry after 2 hour naps at 19 months. Yet, he would wet the diaper a few minutes after making. I used this to my advantage and would sit him on the potty after naps and he would pee. I would clap and praise him. Once we had that going well, for about a week, I started taking him to the potty about 30 minutes after that first pee. He would sit and we would read book...after book...after book. When he would pee I would clap and praise.

Then I realized the time span was too short and moved it to 45 minutes, then an hour. I then 1.5 hours. Then 2 hours. That was about my limit. If he wouldn't pee after two hours, I would go back to asking and taking him at 2.5 hours, 3 hours, 3.5 hours, etc from his last pee.

Praise was the important thing. If he ever had an accident, I would simply say "Peepee (or Caca) in the Potty." I would clean up the mess and we would move on. I never got mad, because I wanted no negative emotions tied to eliminating and me.

Also, once we started potty training I stopped using diapers. I used cloth trainers (very thick cotton underwear) during the day and pull-ups at night and during trips where I needed to ensure no accidents. I did not call them pull-ups, I called them underwear. If he wet his pull-ups during a trip, I would say, "Oh - you peepee'd in your underwear!" and change him. We do not want to use pull-ups like diapers, or it confuses them. But I would not fuss over a pull-up that was wet over night, that takes time.

He was about 20 months when I started taking him out in underwear in public. He did awesome. Accidents happened, but I brought a change of clothes and we moved on. Before he was two we even went to Disney with a toilet insert - and he had no accidents. Every two hours we would stop at the potty and he was good to go. By the time he was 2, we were accident free.

There was one week that we spent at a beach house when he was 24 months. He had no accidents in the house, but without a doubt be peed a lot at the beach. When we came home we had one week where it seemed like he forgot to use the potty. But by staying on course, after 7 days he was back to using the potty better than ever. It's about consistency.

Over the next year - from 24 months to 36 months - he went from being dependent on my reminding him to go pee - to telling me he had to go peepee and asking for me to take his clothes off - to stripping himself and becoming 100% independent, down to the wiping!

It was not a 1 day or 3 day affair, but it was honestly painless. I got him out of diapers sooner, he no longer was sitting in "waste" and everyone was happier with him being a big boy!

This learning process can also be used if your child stays dries for long periods of time. The tricky part will be finding a good "starting time". Once you get them to pee on the potty once, start bringing them every 30 minutes (and so on).

1. If your child tells you they are wet or dirty:
Telling you does not mean it has to be words. They might say they went peepee or caca. Or they might simply have a body signal. My youngest was a combination between a few readiness signs. He would be dry after naps, he would sometimes tell me he went or was going peepee or caca (he always uses the word caca), he would have a signal when he had to go (lift his shirt) and he had an extreme interest in the potty since he had me, his dad and his brother as a model. Before he was 18 months, he would sit on the potty for fun. Then he would say the words ... and for fun I would stick him on the potty to see what would happen. And sure enough - he sometimes would poop or pee. So I went for it!

Then I realized that I needed a slightly different tactic, because he was a crazy, active boy. He didn't want to sit on the potty first thing in the morning, even if he was dry. So I moved our travel potty in the living room so I could keep an eye on both boys. I told him peepee went in the potty. I went in the kitchen to cook, came back out and there was pee in (and around) the potty. I praised him, high-fived and cleaned up the mess.

I later found out the reason there was pee around the potty is because this little one pees standing up. He mimics his daddy when peeing. (Yahoo for modeling!) And this was the first time he was aiming in such a small hole. But after a week of training, he has gotten really good at aiming and he will even take the travel potty out of the bathroom and bring it wherever he wants to pee.

I remind him to go peepee every so often. Since he takes the initiative after a week, I don't remind him as often as I reminded his brother. At first if we went out, I used underwear or pull-ups. I call both his underwear and I make sure he stays dry in his pull-ups. When we come back home from an outing, we immediately pee in the potty. And before we leave for an outing, I suggest everyone go peepee.

Every time he pees, I praise him. Public restroom or our own house, we make a fuss. And I am super proud when my 19 month tells us he has to go pee when we are at a restaurant or playzone. (I always know by watching for those signals prior to me asking.) But accidents are not a big thing - they happen.

It's hard for many moms, because they don't want to deal with a prospective mess in public. But you have to start trusting them at some time. And showing that trust seems to help them train faster. Partially because you believe in them, and partially because they do want to please you! Plus, it has to be a lot more comfortable to be dry! Don't worry about accidents. Cloth trainers really minimize it in public. And just tuck an extra pair of shorts and underwear in your bag.

  • Do not use pull-ups like a diaper - treat them like underwear
  • Practice going out in public with them in trainers. Short trips.
  • Suggest they use the potty before leaving.
  • Use the potty when you get home - immediately.
  • Ask them if you they have to go peepee in public. They might surprise you with their answer.
  • Bring a potty insert for pit stops during long trips.
  • Never get mad about accidents.
  • Don't force them to sit on a potty. Try to encourage them to sit willingly.
  • If you have a boy, they may like to stand rather than sit! It's nice in public restrooms - just have them stand on the seat and aim in the toilet.

So that's how I potty trained two boys. My oldest started potty training at 19 months and was reliable by 20 months. I would take him everywhere in underwear, along with our potty insert.

My youngest started potty training at 18 months and is reliable now at 19 months.

Overall, you see it is just mostly support and looking for signs I could read or use to potty train. You might notice something NOT on my list, that helps you train. For example, when my youngest lifts his shirt in public I know he needs to go peepee. I use that to my advantage. What do you notice that you can use towards your advantage?

Also - when you potty train this young, expect accidents and that it will take time. But I bet you will have a child in underwear by the age of two. Elimination Communication is something TOTALLY different and I know nothing about, other than it works with babies. And potty training a preschooler or older toddler is probably very different, since they are more aware and/or more set in their ways.

At 18 - 19 months there is a window you can train them - even boys. And while they are more dependent on you for help and reminders, just imagine the pride and relief you will feel in knowing they can successfully use the potty!

Don't forget to read Part One of Potty Training Boys Early if you are ready or interested in training.

And I love this list of potty tips from Mommy Perks. It is the first list that I agree with 100%.


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