Potty Training My 20Month Old

Updated on October 20, 2007
J.H. asks from Rohnert Park, CA
12 answers

Yep, I know some are thinking...20 months old? But, my daughter has been copying me by sitting on her potty chair and let's us know when she goes in her diaper everytime. So, about 2 weeks ago she went pee-pee in her chair before bathtime. Everyone has told me to let her run around with no diaper and she'll want to use the potty even more. Well, yesterday, Day 1, she pee'd on the floor twice (didn't like it at all and got upset) and went on the potty several times with me asking and watching her body language.
My question is, am I jumping the gun? Since I started this thing should we keep going? What do you do during naps and night time? AND, should I just keep the insert on the regular toilet like yesterday or put her back on her own potty since she's so small (height wise compared to the toilet)? Thank you everyone for any advice you can give.

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone that has sent replies! I have gotten a laugh out of some and realization out of others. I have abandond the idea of no diaper at all and instead I'm using pull-ups during the most of the day. I bought these wipes for her that she can pull out herself and she is loving them. She actually sat on the potty before bathtime and went potty just so she could get a wipe to wipe herself. Yay! I'll keep everyone updated.

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answers from Sacramento on

I don't think you're jumping the gun, if she's interested. You should keep going, but don't push it if she loses interest. Keep her in diapers for now for nap and bedtime. I also found it much easier to train my daughter on the little potty rather than with the insert, even though, let's face it, the little potty is nasty. It gave my daughter a feeling of independence when she could use that potty all by herself finally without even telling us she had to go. I kept a toilet paper roll by it, and she did great.

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answers from Redding on

Both my girls were potty trained by 18 months so I would say go for it. It sounds like she is ready!



answers from San Francisco on

My daughter, who is 22 months old, starting wanting to go in potty about three months ago- I dont think Ive been to the bathroom alone since she was born, so she just knew what and how to do. We'd already gotten her a potty seat, and she was comfortable sitting on the big potty right from the get go: now, she continues to go both pee and poop in the toilet, but only when she wants too. And I like it like that - she is ready to start the training process and I know that she is comfortable with the whole using the potty situation but she is not yet ready to be completely out of the diaper.
20 months is young to start, but it is totally normal in little girls to want to start the potty earlier - so don't push it. Give her the opportunity to use the potty when she wants too (you can also ask her throughout the day if she needs to use the potty). Make a big deal about how wonderful it is when she does use the potty (even offer a sticker as a reward) in order to encourage her to continue with the bathrooming. If you feel she is ready, get her some pull-ups and see if that encourages her to keep wanting to go too. The key is that she will fully potty train on her own when she is ready: there is no forcing it unless the child is ready themselves. Personally, I do not believe in letting the child run around without a diaper: thats just asking for pee on the floor, and a great majority of children will just go to the bathroom anyway, diaper off or not.
I ask my daughter if she needs to use the bathroom throughout the day and during the times when she usually poops, but she wears pull-ups all day long (diaper at night): she will tell me spontaneously when she needs to use the potty sometimes, and other times not. I just make sure that she knows she can choose to use the toilet whenever she wants. Remember our kids are still just babies, and while showing an early interest in the potty is a good thing, it doesnt mean that they are ready to potty train completely. Let her take it with encouragement from you, but at her own pace. You should be VERY proud that she is starting the process all on her very own!



answers from Sacramento on

good for you. my first little girl wanted to pee pee on the potty at like 16 months. we let her do it at her pace. if going on the potty like mommy makes her happy then keep going. pull ups are great because they are uncomfortable when they are wet unlike diapers. you might get some training pants as well for staying at home. kids really don't like them when they are wet, but they won't instantly puddle the floor for mommy to have to clean up.



answers from Honolulu on

Hi J....
In my opinion it is never to early to start potty trainging as long as your child is receptive to it. I started putting my 24 month old on the potty before bath time at 9 months old. Just to get her used to the chair. I kept it at only before bath time till she was about 16 months old..then I started trying to sit her on it when she woke up as well and did that for a few months. At 18 months we started going potty when she woke, after lunch and before bath. She pee's and poops in the potty with no problems. As long as you are consistent..it will just be a normal thing. When she hit 20 months I got serious because I have another baby due in a few months. So We started using potty all thorugh the day and she wears training panties with plastic panties over it during the day. I put her in a diaper or pull up for naps and at night just a diaper. Even though she has no problems going potty during the day I do think she is still to young to get the idea of not peeing in her pants yet. Accidents are a total common thing. I NEVER did the running around without a diaper thing cause to be honest..I am too much of a clean freak to have my kid pee'n or pooping on my floors. I have had no problems and of all the kids we know..she is the only one as far along as she is. We are just about done and during the day she only wears panties now..I will continue the diapers at nap time and bed time until SHE tells me she is ready by waking up and going potty. Good luck and keep at it. Dont stress, always praise and have patience..it will all pay off when you've got the potty trained 2 year old that no longer needs Diapers.



answers from Fresno on

hi J.,

When it was time to get going on the potty, I made (she helped) a pretty potty chart. Everytime she went in the potty she would get to put a star on the chart. Of course, once a whole day or week or month (wherever she may be) she would get to do anything she wanted. I knew she would want the family to play games, so it was a safe offer! I tried with the potty pot out in the family room and she went to it a few times but didn't go. I think the big potty is more exciting to them, but if your daughter is very small, it may hurt her little legs to stretch that far.

But when it all comes down to it J....she will go on the potty and give up the diapers whenever SHE is ready. There comes a time when she won't like the icky feel of the diaper (don't change her right away).

We made a big deal whenever she would even sit on the potty, telling everybody that would listen. It made her feel important and hungry for more "potty" attention. Just trust yourself. With kids there are no right or wrong ways to do things. What works for one may not for the other ... just enjoy her every single minute, because it goes SO fast. I'm dealing with the empty nest thing. My daughter is 18 and I know she's going to want to move out soon. I'm not ready! I'm not "done" with her yet, I still have many things to teach her ... but I was lucky enough to stay at home and get to participate in every new thing, yet the whole potty thing, it's just like it happened yesterday. I can still see her little bottom almost fall in several times! I have to remember that they are not ours for long, and we actually teach them to grow up and leave us. There's something wrong with that!

You're doing just fine J.. Don't overthink it all, just enjoy it!




answers from San Francisco on

Got for it J.! Both of my daughters potty-trained around 19-21 months and I was out of diapers - horray! These little girls are communicative and proud to be understanding their own bodies. My oldest even stopped wetting at night at 21 months and only had 3 accidents since in her life (most when she was sick). My method - stay home or close to home for about 4 days in a row so they could get in the swing of things and let them wear dresses with no underpants then keep the potty chair pretty close to where they were playing. I loved to go on walks so we actually figured out a way to fit the chair into the bottom of my stroller. You will see her doing the "potty dance" when she is holding it and still wants to keep playing. I just gently let them know that their toys will gladly wait for a big girl to "do her thing".

Last and best advice I ever received about potty training. Let this be her thing. As soon as she sees that you are vested and too excited to be "done with diapers" she may freeze because you now own it and she is afraid to let you down. It sounds strange but when my youngest came in and said potty at 19 months I jumped out of bed to help her... she said "oh, no" and walked away. I remembered my own advice and got back in bed to read with my oldest saying, "do whatever you want honey - your chair is in the bathroom ready." She went in and began the process.

I had great advice to try before the 24 month "no's" began from a friend - it worked for both of my girls. Good luck!

K. von Raesfeld



answers from San Francisco on

I say if she's ready, she's ready. Keep doing what you are doing, but remember there will be some accidents. I don't suggest the naked thing, for your sake, but if she wears underwear she will probably have accidents in her clothes. I suggest pull-ups, especially for sleeping. They are more like underwear and I think are less confusing than diapers when encouraging your child not to go to the bathroom in them. One thing I do know is doctor's say that children will stop wetting themselves at night when their bladders are ready to hold pee. I found that the wetting at night stopped at the same time my son figured out the pooping on the potty. Your daughter is her own person and she's gonna do what she's ready for. Don't let anyone tell you that you should or shouldn't do anything, or that your're doing something wrong. Some people have it in their minds that things should always happen at a certain age, and that's just not the way it is! Good Luck!



answers from Sacramento on

My daughter potty trained herself at around 2 years. We had kids books about it and videos but she paid no attention to those. She just woke up one day and did it. Some people put diapers on for night-time ... our child didn't want them ever again. She had very few mistakes. We made a potty chair available and left the insert on the big toilet with a stool in front of it so she could choose. She mostly chose the big toilet.

The only thing she didn't want to do is wipe because she didn't want to wash her hands. We wiped for her but told her she still had to wash her hands but with our help. That was a little bit of a struggle since she didn't understand why she had to wash when she didn't touch any germs.

I don't think you are jumping the gun. I think they're ready when they're ready and not a moment sooner nor later. Grab that opportunity when it arises. I've passed up opportunities with other stuff like having her help clean house at age 2 because company was on their way and I didn't have time to teach her and re-do it and she didn't offer again and that is a struggle to this day (now she's 4 1/2). I blew that one. I kick myself HARD.

I almost forgot ... I wasn't expecting it and didn't have any panties for her the day she woke up and said, "no more diapers" so I took her to the store immediately and she got to pick out the ones she wanted. She picked boys Bob the Builder underpants and Scooby Doo boys and wears them still but also has princess ones now too.

Also, there was a segment on the morning show a few years back about moms teaching infants to go on the potty by watching for signals and then rushing them to sit each time they thought it was time. Babies were out of diapers soon after.



answers from Stockton on

I think if she's interesting in going in the little toilet let her go. I dunno if I'd let her run around diaperless, but could try the pull ups that feel wet if you start to go in them, or underwear even if you can find some little enough. Get her used to panties since technically when she's potty trained that'd be the next step. and i'd take her every time i went just to encourage her.
Girls must train faster than boys cuz my boys wouldn't get near the potty until around 3.



answers from San Francisco on

HI J. -

MY son who is 26 mths is pretty much potty trained...what seem to help him understand is making a chart then get two different kinds of stickers one for pee and the other for poo. That help him understand how many times a day he went. Second he did NOT like the little potty chairs at all. He would just play and sit on it. I ended up buying the little seat brand Munchkin from Target here is the site for you to see
and this just goes on top of the toilet. You will have to get a slip proof stool for her to get up and help her sit. This help so much cuz he now thinks he is a big boy instead of a baby with the little potty chair. Let her flush too. And even watch u and dad go to the bathroom. My son has been trained since he was a little over 24 mths and wet the bed once and millions of times on the floor every where in the house. He now wears pull ups when we go out just in case and briefs at home. The day time I would let him have briefs on. Go with her to the store and let her pick Cartoon Character undies. She will wet herself for awhile so make sure to get 3-4 packages of undies but eventually she will understand how the process works and take them off to not get them dirty. As for night or nap times. That was the only time I would put on diapers. Eventually u notice that her diapers are dry thru the night or nap then try to change it with letting her sleep with just the undies but make sure you have waterproof pads then sheets over it for easy clean up just in case. It will be frustrating at times but it all pays at the end.
Good luck :)



answers from San Francisco on

Hi J., my name is N., and I do Parent Coaching, having 30 years experience working with children. I have studied early childhood development, and done quite a bit of research on brain/muscular development. To keep this brief:
As myelin is laid down in the brain, different parts of the body develop control and coordination: first comes the head and neck, then the shoulders, arms, torso, legs, etc. One can see this, as the infant grows: first they can only hold their head up, then reach to grab things, etc. At around 5 months old, because the torso is myelinized, they can sit independently, and so on. The point of this being, that by 12 months old, they have complete control over their muscles, including their sphincter (anal) muscle. I have seen children as young as 14 months old use the toilet! Please feel validated that you are way ahead of others, by recognizing her awareness of her own body!
My suggestion: keep it up! If you pass up this "window" of development, and return her to a diaper, you are doing her a disservice. She is telling you, showing you, that she is ready: follow her lead.
The toilet: have both available--let her choose which one she wants. This gives her power, and control in an area that she should have power and control in.
Nap/night-time: this may sound strange, but, again, let her choose, as long as you can live with possibly changing the bed--in the beginning. From the sound of it, I wouldn't anticipate this happening, and if it did, it wouldn't be for long.
good luck!
A little about me:
I am co-owner of a parenting business: www.parentandchildtogether.com where you can read more about my credentials there.
I am the very proud mother of 2 children, ages 24 and 22.

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