"I Potty Trained My Child in One Day!"

Filed under: Potty Training

It's no wonder that potty training is a milestone parents worry about. It's a lot of work, and when it doesn't happen right away, the results are...messy. So it's easy to see why a one-day potty training method sounds enticing. From diapers to big kid drawers in one day? Sign me up! But is it really possible to potty train a child in one day? Real parents weigh in and share their stories with us.

Though Dr. Phil made the one-day method famous, it's actually been around for a while. Here's the general idea:
  • Set yourself with supplies: A child-sized potty, big kid underwear, salty snacks, lots of liquid, party supplies, and a doll that "wets."
  • Clear your schedule. Nearly every parent Potty Training Central talked to warned that it's one long day.
  • Keep the potty nearby. Many parents corral kids in the kitchen to make messes easy to clean up, others wait for summer and use the backyard instead.
  • Help your toddler "teach" the baby doll how to go potty. There are special dolls for this, though a less expensive version will do.
  • Put your tot in big kid underwear, then give them free reign on salty snacks and drinks. The extra salt makes them thirsty, which means they drink more and have more opportunity to practice.
  • Wait. Read books, play games, make it fun.
  • When you see the signs, tell your kiddo to head to the potty. Make a really big deal. And once they're successful, celebrate with a "potty party."
Wendy Sweeney, a Chicago mom of six, shared her experience as a "Potty Whisperer" with the "Today" show last year. Sweeney's made a career out of toilet training toddlers and special needs children using the one day method. Calling it "Booty Camp," Sweeney holds the hands of anxious parents while their kids negotiate the potty and clean up their own messes. "Never ask if they have to go," Sweeney tells "Today," "If you ask them if they have to go potty, then you are the one who is in charge of their body. We're trying to transfer that responsibility over to them. So we just tell them if you have to go potty, go in the potty." Sweeney charges $250, but has a 98 percent success rate.

Teaching tots to be responsible for their own bodies is key to the one-day method. It's easy, during the potty training stage, to unintentionally find yourself in a power struggle with your little one, but by putting toddlers in charge that problem can be eliminated. Cathy DeValk, Iowa mom of four, has trained three of her four kids using this method and says she'll need to buy a second copy of her favorite book to train her fourth. "Basically you are giving the child a lot of opportunity for success," says DeValk, "And having the child 'help' train a baby doll how to go pee/poop in the potty. The child takes responsibility for cleaning up messes, and for cleaning up the used potty chair." DeValk says all three of her kids were trained in less than a day and were dry at night too.

California mom Kathy Partak saw the Dr. Phil special and decided to give the baby boot camp a try. She loaded up on fun snacks, diluted juice, and bought a doll, too. "(My son Mason) was two-and-a-half years old and we went from diapers to underwear. No pull-ups, no diapers at night (Partak woke her sone once or twice a night for a week), and no diapers at pre-school. His pre-school insisted that they have diapers on hand "just in case," and I put my foot down and said absolutely not." But Partak, whose son is now 5, says that she thinks the one-day method isn't necessarily appropriate for every child. "The child has to be ready and the parents have to be committed."

It's recommended that kids be at least two-and-a-half before even attempting one-day potty training. But even then there's no guarantee. Jennifer Chambers, Oregon mom of two boys, agrees. She tried the one-day method with both of her boys, with little success. "My kids didn't care. They had to be ready," says Chambers, who says both of her boys stopped wearing diapers -- suddenly, and with little fanfare -- at about three years old. And Colorado mom EllynAnne Geisel worries that parents are are too stressed about potty training in general. "Children eventually stop wearing diapers and using the facility. Then they move on to other behaviors for which even more books have been written. We can get so caught up in our attempts to control our children's habits that we forget they are children who will one day group up to be teenagers...another story altogether."

If you've got a toddler who's old enough (2.5 years) and who's showing interest in potty training, then the one-day method might just be for you. Load up on juice and treats and donate the rest of those diapers. But keep in mind that no potty training method is one-size-fits-all, so be ready to change course if necessary. And remember, almost every kid gets it eventually...yours will too.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.