Early Stages of Potty Training...

Updated on November 12, 2010
R.C. asks from Lake Stevens, WA
14 answers

ok, so my son is really young and some would say too young to potty train. but,he's really interested and he will pee and poop on the potty willingly and is very proud of himeself. we still have a lot of accidents. i'm okay with that, i don't mind a little extra laundry. but i am a nanny and i bring my son to work with me and i feel bad working on potty training while we're there because i don't want him to have accidents on their new carpet. we do cloth diapers and i'm trying to find a really good cloth training pant solution. so far everything i've tried isn't working. I need a training pant that will absorb the liquid when we do have accidents. he's still learning to stop the pee once it starts so usually if we don't make it to the potty before he starts peeing then he fully pees in the training pants causing a big mess. i get that training pants aren't diapers and are made so kids will feel the wetness, but any child who wears cloth diapers feels the wet because they don't absorb it the way disposables do. even when it absorbs all the liquid it doesn't wick the moisture away from the skin like disposable. i think thats a big part in him wanting to pee on the potty rather than his pants. i'm seeking advice from other moms who have used cloth diapers/training pants and what they did in the early stages of potty training. How to avoid leaks/messes when not at home while still encouraging him to pee on the potty. please no critisim. i don't need the negative comments about potty training someone who's so young. i need sound advice from others who have been in my situation. Thanks!

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answers from Portland on

We used cloth training pants from One Step Ahead. You can order online. They work GREAT at containing leaks and hold a lot of liquid. (My son has autism and just got trained at age6, so he goes a lot) They come in day or night thickness and aren't cheap, but have lasted through many washes in hot water and bleach. "Poo" rinses off easily, as well. I really have no advice on what's right or wrong. A child will know when they are ready and, as my pediatrician says, you don't see too many kindergartners wearing diapers!:)

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answers from Portland on

I've been practicing potty whispering with my son since he was 6 weeks old. He was never comfortable with the peeing on himself thing. He would writhe and kick and arch his back and I'd take off his diaper and he'd pee in the sink or in the toilet. At about 4 months he started to refuse to use his diaper at night and would make a big fuss about going in his diaper, so I'd take him at night too. We co-sleep which makes it easier to read his cues. He is 10 months old now and uses 2 paper diapers a day, mainly for poo, because his cues for poo are virtually undetectable. I'm hoping that he will be pretty much be down to 1 diaper a day by 18 months.

The whole point of this story is that the techniques I used are very effective. Some people call it diaper free, others potty whispering, or the ever not lovely phrase, elimination communication. It's what moms in other countries like India and China use, because they don't have the luxury of diapers. The concept of too early to train is a very old Freudian concept that somehow early toilet training will damage the child's sense of well being, but I have to say that my child would have been damaged had I just tried to make him learn to pee on himself.

Also, the book that I read said that the techniques can be used at all stages of training.

Good Luck and here are some links.


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answers from Portland on

Hey, R. ...

In my case, I just had to talk the kids through (no tin these words) 'sometimes ideals have to bow to reality' ... teaching the child that until they could make it to the potty consistently, they did still need to wear (the cloth) diapers, but keeping their diaper dry was great ... and there were times even after we were in underpants, when I would put them in diapers situationally (visiting somewhere so interesting that the likelihood they wouldn't notice they needed to pee was high, long cartrips, when I knew they were going to go down for a hard nap, and ESPECIALLY when they were sick ... I STILL diaper the older ones if they are really sick). The "keeping the pee in" ideal is still the goal, but the "Mommy can't change reality" had to be admitted.

He can probably learn the "at this house we wear diapers" idea. You'll have to suss out how to deliver the message so he doesn't hear "I don't expect you to use the potty at this house" ;).

I don't know that I'd recommend it, but you could consider an "if you are still wearing the same diaper, dry, when we get home" acknowledgement, and I had some success with telling the kids early "as soon as you go (x) days without an accident, we'll try underpants (in that situation)" ... this might require a sticker calendar or something, especially for someone that little ...

I missed the window of opportunity that you have caught with my first, who really was ready at 18 months, and 6 months later tried the sticker-rewards method ... #2 and #3 I caught when they were ready (age 3+ and age 2+, respectively), let me tell you what! I think it's great that you are listening so closely to your son.

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answers from Portland on


How fabulous that your son is readily toilet learning and you are supporting him! It doesn't matter at what age he starts, so long as he's the leader in this!:)

I'm not sure about training pants, but here's an odd suggestion; perhaps you could talk to the family about bringing in a new blue tarp to cover the floor while you are there. I know it's unusual, but I nannied for a long time and most of the families would have been flexible about this. They'd rather the carpet be tarped over than have it pooped/peed on.I'm not sure how much carpet the family has,but creating some covered space to direct the play onto is better than nothing. Just offer to remove the tarp at the end of the day.

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answers from Spokane on

They have Training cloth Underware at Wal-mart... They are thicker so when there is an accident it isn't all down the legs and floor. They are made by Gerber and that is what we are using with my Daughther 23 months and they work really well. She is able to pull them down and up all by herself... and they were pretty in-expensive.
Good Luck.



answers from Seattle on

Maybe get a little portable potty for him? It can be in the playroom or wherever he's spending much of his time? Then he doesn't have to go so far to get to the potty? My sister just gave me some cloth diapers that aren't waterproof. Something like that might help because it's much more absorbant than regular underwear so it would help contain his accidents. He would also feel the wet though. Mine were custom made for about $10 each by a SAHM trying to earn a couple extra $$. If you want more info, please email me.


answers from Seattle on


My advice would be to get some books that address the stages of potty training to read with him. Joanna Cole writes "My Big Girl/Boy Potty". The girl version wound up in my daughter's library and she loved it as young as 14 months old.

That's my two cents worth, and I'm adding the link to the book for you.





answers from Portland on

He's not too young. But try Zoom Baby Gear, great training pants!



answers from Seattle on

If you think your son is ready, good for you! We thought our little girl was ready around 17 months when she became very interested in her potty and was able to go--but alas, she's 24 months now and only really just started to be "dedicated to the process" We are so fortunate her daycare provider has trained so many kids in her 20 years of business and has also decided that it's time for our little one--she warned us at 17 months that her "signalsZ" weren't what she considered ready. Hopefully we'll be diaper-free by spring!
Here's a link to some AIO training pants http://www.kidsurplus.com/itemdetail.asp?item=09%20ABD%##... (never heard of this website, just did a search for training pants)

and here's a link to cloth underwear COVERS---which is what my parents used with us when we were potty training. We had the thick cloth training underwear and then wore these covers over them so accidents didn't leak, and we still felt wet.


Best of luck to you and your boy! Like the other moms said, don't be upset if it takes a while--it is most definitely a process!



answers from Seattle on

I don't have any cloth diaper advice, but don't worry about his being too young. My son decided he was going to be potty trained at 14 months, of course he wasn't fully potty trained until 20 months, so you could be in for a long road. If he is leading the charge go with it.



answers from Seattle on

Hi R.,

I noticed some cloth training pants with waterproof layers when I was looking for some other cloth diapering supplies.


My little one is still way too young for potty training, so I have no idea if they work as advertised.

Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

I haven't read all the answers yet, but, yay! My daughter is in pretty much exactly the same position. Last week she was doing so well that i thought i'd take her out of diapers over the weekend. But then the weekend was spotty, and i couldn't expect her nanny to do that much cleaning all week, so she is back in cloth diapers this week.

I'm really not sure how to go the last mile, since trying to emphasize being dry ALL THE TIME seems to stress her out. I have just read 'Toilet training in less than one day' and i'm trying to implement a few ideas from it - namely, rewarding for clean dry pants periodically, and, responding to accidents with a few 'practice runs' to the potty.

I found some training pants at Kid's Club in U Village. I can't remember what the brand name was, but, they are cloth pants, with a nylon outer layer. They are pretty water proof, although won't hold as much as a diaper. They can be pulled up and down like normal pants are. The only draw back is that they are spendy, so i only have a few pairs.

.... looking forward to reading what everyone else had to say.



answers from Bellingham on

Hi R.,

If your son is interested, he is ready. I think it is great that you clued into his interest. I didn't use cloth diapers but once my kids started showing an interest, I let them go naked. Once they would see themselves start to pee, they would run for the bathroom. I know this doesn't solve your mess problem, but is sure was an easy way to potty train my kids. They both trained themselves this way, and it didn't take very long at all. I think I only bought 2 packages of pull ups, and hardly used the last package. I have seen really cool cloth diaper covers that might solve your leakage problem. I don't think there is anything wrong with starting them when they are ready. My daughter held her pee all night from the time she was 6 months old and wouldn't pee until she got up. She was completely potty trained by the time she was 20 months using the no pants method. We just made a big game of it. She would know when she had to pee and we would just get all excited and say "hurry hurry, to the potty!" Then when she made it to the potty we would clap and make a big deal of it, whether she dittled on the way there or not. I was amazed at how fast she learned and has only had a handful of accidents ever since, and it is always very upsetting to her and she strips off all of her cloths and has to run around naked for a while lol. She transitioned from the potty chair to the big potty really easily too, we went on vacation and didn't take her potty chair, and she just balances and most times wont even let me help her on and off anymore. She is 3 now and sometimes kids back slide at this point because they get too busy and don't want to stop what they are doing to go potty. We play on her competitive nature by telling her, "I have to pee too, I'm gonna go potty first!" And this usually spurs her to run for the potty telling us SHE wants to go first lol. Kids are so fun and both my kids have been so easy I am fortunate, but we made it a very positive and exciting time. No charts or rewards other than praise and excitement. No talks of them being big now or bargaining or negative results for not making it. They were usually upset enough on their own for not making it. Just keep at it and try the no pants method if you think he is ready for it. They really don't pee on the floor more than a few times and they have it figured out. I think it helps them make a direct visual connection between the sensation of having to pee, and holding it and running for the potty. I hope this helps. :) Good luck :)




answers from Sacramento on

Instead of criticizing you for potty training you, I wanted to applaud you for doing something that so many people think is hard, and reaching out for advice!!! I don't have much personal experience, but found <a href="http://pottytrainingearly.com/&quot;&gt; this site </a> that gave me the basics to pass on to a friend who was interested in this concept for her baby due in January :D Good luck, and keep doing a GREAT job!!!

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