Potty Training at 18 Months - Lexington Park,MD

Updated on October 01, 2010
V.L. asks from Lexington Park, MD
20 answers

I would like some opinions and advice for potty training my son at 18 months. I am a stay at home mom (and former teacher) so I have the time and willpower needed for this endeavor. If you have had success this early, please share what you did. If it was a nightmare, please share your horror stories as well. I am currently expecting my second child who is due when my son will be 21 months old, and I would really like to have him out of diapers by then. Everyone I talk to thinks I am crazy for wanting to try to potty train this early, but I am amazed at how much my now-14 month old can do and understand. Opinions?

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answers from Washington DC on

It's not a matter of him understanding what you're asking or telling him to do. It's a matter of his body being ready to potty train. My honest opinion on this is to really wait until he's ready. Get used to the idea of changing the diapers of two little ones for a while. It's really not as much work as you might think it is.

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answers from Cumberland on

You could try now-my second child trained early-like 17 months-if they have the willingness-and you have the time-try it!

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answers from Dallas on

He will train himself when he is ready. Just sit back and enjoy you toddler.

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answers from Bloomington on

i had the same situation with my oldest-- i wanted him done with diapers before the baby showed up at 23 months. i taught him all about potty, and he could go in the potty easily at 18 months. (both number 1 and number 2) i felt much like you, and thought there was no reason not to train him early.

however... he was unable to go by himself until well after his third birthday. (by that i mean he felt the urge to pee and stopped playing and went to the bathroom by himself--as opposed to me telling him to go every hour or so) and we had LOTS of accidents, puddles, wet underwear, tantrums where he peed all over his carseat......... and lots of power strugggles because i tried to make him go when he didn't want to. it was hard to potty train with a newborn-- how do you take a two year old potty and feed a baby at the same time? and it created a lot of stress for me.

looking back i don't know that i regret trying to potty train him early, but i do regret putting him in underwear before he could keep them dry and making so much stress for myself when he just wasn't interested/ready. when he decided he wanted to be a big boy, it was like a light switch. he just did it. but it was a really long, frustrating year for me until that happened. i wish i would've tried potty training, but kept diapers on him until he could keep them dry all day long.

i recommend trying cloth diapers for training him-- kids don't like the feeling of a soggy wet towel between their legs :)

my advice would be, whatever you do, to remember to focus on enjoying your baby and your toddler and not stressing out too much about potty. don't make it a negative thing for him or you.

good luck!

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answers from Indianapolis on

Our pediatrician's advice was not to push it with either child. Our son was 3 before he was ready. We had to wait for the obvious cues (longer periods of time before he needed to be changed).

Our daughter just turned 2.5, and she has NO interest. We're encouraging her, trying to bribe her with prizes for going, but we're making little progress.

It's possible with a boy that age, but most boys are closer to 3 because of their ability to recognize bladder fullness. Another issue we took into consideration with both kids was the ability to pull their clothes up and down.

Our kids are 21 months apart as well......most of the people I know who potty trained early had issues with regression a few months later. My best advice to you, though you might night want to hear it, is to wait. That second baby is so much harder than you can possibly imagine, especially with the age difference being so close. I thought I was SuperMom, and reality hit like a ton of bricks.

Best wishes to you. Hope you have better luck than we did.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I have worked with my daycare families ( I am a provider) for the last year with the essentials of Lora Jensens 3 day potty training method . http://www.3daypottytraining.com/ It starts with a sort of potty boot camp. I have posted other lengthy explanations of it. The youngest in my care was 22 mos (a girl) for boys it was a 24 mos old. Usually, however, the poo part takes longer and I know many parents return to a diaper or PU at night, but not all (I prefer this, but thats up to them) I use nothing but undies here once they do this process.

Her methods recommend 22 mos but I actually have a 15 mos old girl in care who we may attempt this with in a few months as she is already showing us there may be some minimal readiness. I no longer will have FT children in my care who are 3 and not trained. right now I have none that even hit 2 1/2 who are not trained.

You could look thru this method and consider trying it. Don't believe all the naysayers who say you are crazy and he will be 3 before he is trained. I have a houseful of 2 year olds who tell ME (I NEVER take them at intervals..that just trains the adults, not the child) when they need to go pee and rarely have accidents all day. Its fantastic!

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answers from Augusta on

Here is the potty training readiness checklist for a 2 yr old , there is none for 18 months.
Physical signs

Can walk and run steadily.

Urinates a fair amount at one time.

Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.

Has "dry" periods of at least three or four hours, which shows that her bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.

Behavioral signs

Can sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes.

Can pull her pants up and down.

Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper.

Shows interest in others' bathroom habits (wants to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear).

Gives a physical or verbal sign when she's having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting, or telling you.

Demonstrates a desire for independence.

Takes pride in her accomplishments.

Isn't resistant to learning to use the toilet.

Is in a generally cooperative stage, not a negative or contrary one.

Cognitive signs

Can follow simple instructions, such as "go get the toy."

Understands the value of putting things where they belong.

Has words for urine and stool.

Understands the physical signals that mean she has to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until she has time to get to the potty.

In addition if you start too early and he's not ready it will take longer to train him.

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answers from Washington DC on

We started potty training my son at 19 months with the support of his child care provider. There were a couple of keys that made us feel okay with starting early: 1. He already had the words to communicate when he had just gone/had to go 2. He was no longer interested in sitting in a dirty diaper after not caring for most of his babyhood 3. He was showing interest in his potty and toilet. We did the "take a weekend to devote to it" method, with follow up from his child care provider. It took him about 3 weeks to get the concept down (daytime). After that point it had ups and downs for a few months, but overall it was quite successful. He had been completely out of diapers (including overnight) since he was 26 months or so. We usually take him around midnight (before we go to bed), and he's good until morning. In the last month (he'll be 3 in January), he has become much better at taking his own pants up and down, and ensuring the pee actually goes in the toilet (he has preferred to pee standing up since we were about 2 months into the process). If you're interested, I can provide the details of the guidelines that we followed (with some flexibility).

The biggest challenge I've found was finding underwear that was small enough when we first started (it tended to sag), having to ditch the overalls and the onesie style shirts early, and finding pants that fit him properly. He's a little on the skinny side anyway, and most pants are still intended to accomodate a diaper through size 2T. We do best with pants with an adjustable waist line.

Hope that helps, and good luck!

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answers from Wheeling on

Oh, I LIKE your question! I'm 53 and mother of 4 grown children who were all fully potty trained by their second birthday. Just a few suggestions that made all the difference for me.
>Notice if he's dry ASAP when he wakes from overnight sleep or a nap. If he is, the #1 training is twice as easy. Just take him as soon as he wakes up.
>Any time there's success (even a few drops -- which means you have to clean the potty out and dry it each time so you can tell), praise him and clap and dance (some people use skittles, M&M's or stickers, etc as 'reward', but it's not necessary. I didn't)
>Take him to potty about every hour and every time you go. Let him hear the noises made (by you AND by the receptacle) when eliminating (#1 AND #2)
>Take waterproof pants off while at home and use cloth diapers or thick training pants. When they can feel the 'cool' (evaporation), they notice more quickly that they're wet, and this doesn't happen with anything waterproof.
>Be consistent.

I believe early potty training empowers kids!

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answers from Washington DC on

There certainly is a lot of information here. I would just like to add that it's great that you are so determined to devote your time and energies to achieving this worthwhile goal. You are obviously a dedicated mom.

Something to keep in mind for this process is the developmental stage your son is in. He's doing more than just growing taller. In his body several billion changes occur every day. The bladder is growing at its own pace, and so are the number of nerves which provide cues to the brain to say "It's time to go." Training is woefully more than an education process, it depends on your child's physical growth as well. What's more, that part of the brain which controls muscle function of the bladder sphincter, the voluntary and involuntary coordination which are necessary for potty training is still becoming coordinated and fine-tuned. Please bear this in mind on those frustrating days. It's not simply a matter of willpower and determination, but also a physiological process.

One of your readers touched on this when she said to check him when he first wakes up to see if he's dry. By this, she means, is his bladder big enough to hold all his urine through the entire night. This is a good indicator that at least the bladder is becoming ready.

Another thing one of your readers mentioned is that children have different ages when they seem to be capable of doing this. It really is a physiological achievement, as much as a learning one, and only a part of it is within your son's control.

My mom was old-school as well and felt that children SHOULD be trained by two. Back in the 70's, it was like a sign of your parenting success if you did or did not have your child trained. But they did not have such things back then as access to the broad range of knowledge that we do today with groups like this, and the internet, where we can look up information for ourselves and not simply rely on our check ups at the pediatrician's office. I was urged on my my mom as I taught my daughter (We began at 19 months for her.....and she wasn't trained for another 14 months....yes, I put my time into it and was dedicated just like you).

For my two year old son, I continue to ask him if he wants to go potty when we get up in the morning, because he is dry, but he's not interested. He's very determined. I know that trying to force him when he's not ready will make it harder down the road by creating a potty "aversion" so I'm just waiting it out and trying not to stress about it. If it's going to take him as long as my daughter (and different kids have different timelines, even within the same family) then it is, in fact, less stress on me to not force him through it.

One of my girlfriends SWEARS by the candy method. Another one uses stickers and singing and clapping. Different things had different effects on my daughter depending on her mood that day. Sometimes she was buying it. Sometimes not. Ha ha.

I'm so incredibly excited for you with your new baby on the way. Congratulations! I'm wishing for a peaceful, stress-free journey into mothering with two!

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm in the 'GO FOR IT!!' camp.
I read a book about EC (elimination communication) when my daughter was about 8 months old and it just made sense. I started with her right away and she was potty trained just after 2 (also just after my son was born - I had the same goal you do). So, yeah, it took a little while, but since I started her early I didn't feel stressed to have her figure it all out right away. She could move at her own pace with no pressure.
I started doing a little bit of EC with my son and had him peeing on cue at 5 1/2 months. There are certain physiological changes that need to happen with them before they will 'see it coming,' but I know from experience that they have SOME control much earlier than we often give them credit for. He's now 18 months and still in diapers (I'm not a die-hard ECer) but he goes on the potty several times a day and occasionally lets me know when we needs to go or when he's just gone. Putting them on the toilet about 10-15 minutes after meals is a good rule of thumb (just remember to watch those little boys! My son had an absolute fountain last night when I turned my back for a second!). I also purchased some little Baby Bjorn potties (they make an excellent little one that can be used for babies) that I keep around the house and he's gone in them a couple of times by himself. I'm due with another baby in January and my goal is to have him out of diapers a couple of months after that.
Good luck!!

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answers from Houston on

I'm going to try not to say a lot because a lot has alraedy been said. But I will say that my daughter was 29 months when my son was born and my first thought was to have her trained before my son was born so I wouldn't have 2 in diapers. The idea is great- the execution is not so easy. I won't get into if you son is ready or not- who knows really. But even if he is ready- as somone else says- it's not like he'll be going without any help even if he starts going. So helping him go with a newborn might actually turn out to be more trouble than just changing his diaper too. There are times witha newborn that you cannot stop what you are doing to go help and little ones cannot hold it. Also, a lot of kids regress so in the end I decided to wait until the the baby was home for a while and everyone could get adjusted before we started to train. I was happy with this decision because she was even more ready and it was a less stressful time.

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answers from Washington DC on

I started potty training my daughter at 16 months and she was using the bathroom consistently by 18 months. My son was born when she was 23 months so your situation is similar. First off because he's so young you are at an advantage. He hasn't begun the stubborness of the 2's so you won't be dealing with his resistance to go to the bathroom because you're asking him to. Second I think it takes a lot of pressure off of you because he's so young you expect him to make mistakes not be potty trained in 3 days.
What I did was I got rid of the diapers except for nightime. I wouldn't even worry about that until he is waking up dry. I used training pants (not pull-ups) at home and used rubber covers for when we went out. Every 20 to 30 minutes I would sit her on the potty. In the beginning she got 1 M&M if she sat on the potty, a small handful if she pee'd, and a lollipop when she pooped. Every time I took her I would say the word potty accompanied with the sign for potty. Eventually as she got the hang of it I would extend the time between sessions. After about 2 weeks it started to click and she would come to me right after she pee'd or while she was going and sign the word potty and after about a month she would come to me before. For some reason she got the the pooping thing down right away. She's now 2 1/2 and I think she's only pooped her pants like 5 times since we potty trained her. It does take work and consistancy but it is possible. And since he's so young if you have a bad day with accidents instead of getting frustrated just declare a mulligan, put a diaper on and be done with it for the day. As long as that doesn't happen consistently it won't do harm to the potty training.
As far as regression when the little one comes, it will happen so just be prepared. It is a little harder because you will have to assist him on the toilet but you'll figure it out. I ended up with a c-section with my second so we taught my daughter how to climb on the stool and sit on the potty. All I had to do was hold her hand and help with her pants and wiping. After about a week I had it figured out and was able to assist her on the toilet while breastfeeding my son. Most of our regressive accidents with her happened when others were helping me care for her and that was mainly because they forgot to take her, or didn't understand what she was saying when she asked to use the bathroom.
Food for thought...I see one mom mentioned some research she had done which showed that in the early 1900's the average age for potty training was 18 months and it remains that way in 2nd and 3rd world countries today. Do you know what coinsided with the increase in the average age of a potty trained child in the US to 36 months? It was the invention and easy accesibility to the disposable diaper.



answers from Washington DC on

18 months is a good time for starting potty training; Since you are a stay at home mum, you know basically when you baby usually pooh. Half and hour before that time put on the pot. You can sit beside him, sing, read or watch télévision with him the first days so that he feels secure. After 15 days of this regime, it should work. Also teach him the word and he'll ask when he needs to go


answers from Albany on

Hi V., both my boys were 4 before they were consistently trained. There was a period where I had 3 kids in diapers. My daughter took her diaper off climbed up on the pot and was done with diapers forever at 18 months, it had nothing to do with me.
In hindsight, I wished I had waited for my boys to do what she did. Potty training totally brings out the worst in me (wait til you have to teach them to drive, same kind of thing!). It was stressful and non productive for me to keep trying when they clearly weren't getting it.

So even putting cheerios in the toilet and having them try to hit the cheerios with their pee will not work if they're not ready.

Good luck, maybe you'll get lucky and it'll take right away! 18 months is VERY young, but hey, it could happen!

Congrats on the new baby!


answers from Washington DC on

i think you're setting yourself up for disappointment by aiming for a fully potty trained child by 21 months. yes, it happens, but it's generally due to the luck of the draw. we started our first at about 18 months and it caused a lot of unnecessary tears and frustration. if he's ready, great! you're one of the lucky ones. but no way would i ever start pushing a child this young.



answers from Washington DC on

he could be mozart but unless he's physiologically ready there will many problems. you mention that you are ready for the endeavor, is he? whatsigns of readiness show? my daughter expressed interest at 16 months. we started at 18 months but it took many months. i would not have started except she so clearly wanted too. if you are looking for someone to support you you will find it here but look at how many people are advising you to chill.



answers from Columbus on

I read an interesting article recently (sorry, can't remember where, maybe the New Yorker or NY Time?) on potty training/elimination communication. According to the research done by the article's author, children used to be potty trained much earlier than they are today (ie, in the 1930s, it was 18m old, now it's 2.5 or 3), and that kids in 2nd & 3rd world countries are more likely to be potty trained younger. Unfortunately, it didn't give a lot of details of how this was done, except to mention that in 2nd & 3rd world countries, the kids can be naked (and some/a lot of homes in those parts of the world have dirt floors, so it wasn't as huge a fuss if the baby peed/pooped on it...).

If your child poops on a schedule, then I think you can start there. And I think if you can stand to try to have him run around naked in the house, that will really help him start to be aware of his body, his urges, etc. more. But I think you may just have to wait for his awareness and ability to control his little body matures some more.



answers from Washington DC on

My older son was completely trained by 25 months. He showed early signs of readiness and since it was summer, spent a lot of time without a diaper from about 18 mos on. My daughter was born when he was 20 months so had the same goal of having him done before then but it didn't work. He knew when he had to go but wanted to pee on everything but the potty (through the screen door was his favorite) and I was more frustrated than anything else. We stopped for a bit and right around his second birthday he built potties for all his stuffed animals, I asked if he wanted to go on the potty, and he has only had a handful of accidents since. During the time between when I started introducing the idea and when he was trained he stayed in disposable diapers but for the most part but if he ever wanted to sit on the potty, I let him and encouraged him to go when I was going. This way I stayed sane from cleaning up accidents around my house but the idea stayed fresh in his mind.
My daughter is now 16mos and I'm considering training her. She says "poop" when she goes and often tells me before. About 50% of the time she goes into the bathroom and stands near the toilet to do her business. She doesn't poop on a regular schedule so we're still working on catching it in the toilet.
I'd recommend starting to introduce the idea now and see how it goes. Though they often don't go, I put my kids on the potty when I'm running to water for the bathtub beginning around 12mo to get them open to the idea. I also try to put my daughter on in the morning when I first take off her night diaper. I try not to make the toilet a battle but a fun place to sit.
Oh, and one more recommendation. I did not use disposable pull-ups during training but did once my son was pretty good at the potty but I was still not confidant in his abilities (like on long car trips where he might fall asleep, at an amusement park or on an airplane). He stills (now 3) doesn't know they are different from regular underwear. It has eliminated any of the "waiting until the diaper is on to go" that other children do as well as me wasting my money on expensive pull-ups. Accidents in there were treated the same way as accidents in regular underwear to enforce the concept.
My son also wore a diaper for nap and bedtime until his third birthday. He only had an accident during sleep about 1x/mo for the 2-3 months prior to me letting him go diaper free but to me, it was worth the peace of mind to know I wouldn't be changing sheets in the middle of the night.
Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

I say go for it! A great book to read is "Toilet Training in less than a day" by Nathan Azrin. Really fantastic advice in there.

Alternately, my mom swears by the method of just having the kid run around naked from the waist down for several days. Every time he/she pees, scoop him/her up and put him/her on the potty (even if he/she had just finished) and tell her that that's where pee pee goes. As long as you consider it a learning experience and don't get mad about the accidents, it's a *fast* way to have the child understand what's happening and learn what their body does and what it feels like. The disposable diapers are so absorbent, kids can't tell that they're wet. After a few days of that, you can put them in cloth underwear (keeps the wet mess on them and not on your floor). You may still have some wet clothes to change, but they'll catch on pretty quickly if the diapers are gone. Also use LOTS of praise -- potty songs, clapping, cheering, candy, stickers, whatever. Make going on the potty the GRANDEST, most wonderful occurance!

This is what we did with our second child. We started a few days before she turned two and she was completely trained (wearing cloth underwear out of the house, telling us when she needed to go, no more accidents) two months later.

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