baby proof: win some, lose some.

potty training | reading my tea leaves


I recently posted a photograph to Instagram and inadvertently shared the fact that Faye’s now sleeping in a toddler bed. I hadn’t really meant to share the milestone (as people say in babyland), but we’d made a fort, and she was mouse-ing it up in there and sometimes you just have to pause and snap a photo of your kid’s toes under an enormous book. Nothing’s as cute as toddler toes. Especially under picture books. Especially in a fort. 


A few internet pals asked me how the new bed arrangement was going and being in a peppy mood, I wrote back that it was going great! “Pretty seamless” were the words I used. And at that moment, that was very true. At 1:00 in the morning on the very same night, that was not true. We awoke to a little whimper and found that the tiny mouse had tumbled from her bed. Inconsolable (though utterly unharmed) she came into bed with us. Minutes after that she peed in said bed.  

All of this to say that I’ve taken to muttering the mantra win some, lose some under my breath and I find it to be very helpful. 

In my experience of parenthood, these things have been consistently true: 1) Nothing changes completely overnight. 2) Nothing stays the same for very long. 3) Everything takes more patience than you think it might but usually it’s patience you manage to find. 4) Keep chugging along for long enough and you’ll eventually get to pat yourself on the back for having a tiny human who’s taken to sleeping, or eating, or peeing in a pot. 

A lot of you guys have been asking about potty training. I feel like I might die of boredom if I go into full detail our “process.” Also, gag. But here are some bullet points that might be helpful. potty training | reading my tea leaves

+ We took the cold turkey/never look back approach. At 22 months or so, we stopped using diapers and presented undies full-time. Even at night. Even in public. Diapers be gone, etc. (Maybe valuable to add: Since infancy there’s been a ton of diaper-free time around our house and for a few months before cold-turkeying we’d kind of passively encourage at-home potty use whenever the mood struck. Let’s say we were all already well-acquainted with pee on the floor.) We stayed close to home for the first week or so. We survived. 

+ This week’s little snafu notwithstanding, nights were absolutely easiest for us. After a few first wet nights, we’ve had mostly dry nights since after the first week.

+ To try to mitigate those early middle-of-the-night clean-ups without a washing machine, we used a few of these pads in the very beginning. Sometimes they were great. Sometimes they were useless.

+ We’ve still somehow managed to seriously up our time spent at the laundromat. For those of you who are in the possession of a washer and dryer, caress it for me. Also: send more quarters.

+ We’ve used these very terrific cloth training underwear with a little extra cushion for catching pees. We have a whopping 18 pairs. It sounds excessive, but we’ve found the number to be just right. We still do a lot of hand washing in the sink. (Maybe I can justify this lil’ cutie?)

+ We bought this toilet seat to replace our regular toilet seat. It comes with a little built-in seat for mini bums and a slow-close lid to keep tiny fingers safe. It’s extremely handy and unobtrusive. (Hell, it’s wooden and a huge upgrade from the plastic lid we had before.)

+ We’ve also used a borrowed pint-sized-potty, which is very nice to have. Ours is a handmade little number that’s honestly a little cumbersome for a wee pee(er), but I’m too stubborn to upgrade, so no specific recommendations on that front. Feel free to chime in if you’ve had success with any one in particular.

+ After a mildly mortifying incident at MoMA, we often double-up on undies when we go out to make any potential accident less…dramatic. They’re less frequent these days, but they definitely happen. We carry backup undies, pants, and a dry bag with us, just in case. Also: waterproof shoes have not been unwelcome.

+ We use public restrooms when we must and we pop squats on curbs and side streets when we can. If it’s a spot a dog could go without damaging precious city flora, I say one-hundo percent fair game. 

+ We’ve come realize that a potty training kid is just going to love on her potty. She’s going to dip her hands in the toilet water. She’s going to pick up her own poop at least once. She’s going to gleefully clamp both hands onto the edge of a public toilet and exclaim, “Potty!” Wash hands; move right along.

+ We sing lots of songs about pee. We do dances about pee. We are generally just very enthusiastic about pee and poop at all times. Especially when they land in the potty.

+ It’s been very nice to have an extremely on-board babysitter to help with the process while we’re not home. (She’s potty trained about one million kids by my last count and she’s even written her own handy and hysterical guide to the art.)

+ As for age, or readiness, or length of time this is all going to take, I don’t have any particular wisdom or knowledge. I know that toddlers are extremely aware of their surroundings and probably deserve more credit than they get. I think a lot of early diaper-free time helps a kid grasp the concept of what’s happening with their bodies and makes the leap to no diapers a lot easier. (Please note: I have not conducted a scientific study on this matter.) I don’t think you will permanently scar your child by teaching them how to pee in the potty at whatever age feels right for your family. I know we have many fewer accidents than we did a month ago. I know we’ll still probably have occasional accidents months from now.

Lose some, win more.

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