This is the article I wish I had read before I underwent the herculean journey that is potty training. There are at least 1,427 ways to do it, and yet there was only way that worked for me and many of my friends: The naked method.
Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s not for me,” or, “My mom friend with eight kids said to do the pull-ups thing or that stickers are the ticket.”
Nope, in my view, the answer lies in Jamie Glowacki’s book, “Oh Crap! Potty Training.” The self-proclaimed “Pied Piper of Poop” promotes her book as everything modern parents need to know to do it once and do it right. Because who wants to do this more than once?
One month after my daughter’s third birthday, I received a tattered copy of Glowacki’s book that had been circulating around my neighborhood moms’ group with a wink and an enthusiastic, “This works!”
My daughter was potty-trained four days later.
With a potty-training mantra that can be distilled down to nakedness, it may seem long-winded to take 277 pages to explain how to do it. Yet, I found myself clinging to Glowacki’s every reassurance that my child can do this, that she was ready and so were Mom and Dad.
Glowacki is the first to admit that nothing in her book is written in stone, as we’re dealing with little human beings. But if you take your child’s diaper off, watch and listen to her cues, and follow Glowacki’s framework, you have nothing to lose — except diapers.
When should you start? Glowacki says the ideal potty-training window is 20 to 30 months of age, but Dr. Jennifer Stevens warns against starting before 24 months.
“Potty training younger than 2 can result in prolonging the process or regression,” says Stevens, a pediatrician at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, who potty-trained her son using the naked method at 28 months. It took him just three days.
Glowacki breaks down her diaper-ditching magic into three basic blocks:
Block One: The first step is to let your child run around naked, at least from the waist down. You will spend much of Block One racing your child to the potty when you see her potty cues — whether it be a funny face, the pee-pee dance or when she starts to go. Underwear won’t do; your child will fully empty her bladder before either of you realizes it. Prepare for accidents and consider it a small victory any time your child finishes on the potty.
Glowacki says accidents are learning tools. She encourages parents to use simple matter-of-fact language such as, “You are learning. You pooped on the floor. Next time, your poop goes in the potty.”
When your child can successfully pee and poop on the potty naked, you’re ready for Block Two. This doesn’t mean perfection, but you should have a sense that your child is “getting it.” When our daughter asked to go for the first time — a mere 24 hours into our potty-training journey — we knew we were there.
Block Two: The next step is all about getting your child in clothes, usually around day three. This doesn’t mean it’s time to break out the princess or superhero underpants. We’re talking commando — no underpants while wearing pants.
Glowacki explains that underpants are too similar to diapers, because they fit snuggly, and a child’s muscle memory reflexively “goes” when something snug goes on. Underpants also are really good at containing poop.
For this reason, your child should go commando for about a month. I tried on more than one occasion to make the switch to underpants prematurely — she was doing so well! — but it only resulted in being stuck in “Commando Land” longer. If you haven’t already, now is the time to ditch Onesies, footie pajamas and bottoms with complicated snaps or buttons. Loose-fitting and easy-access clothing is key.
Block Two also is about leaving the house for short outings — and I mean short — to get a sense of how leaving the house with a potty-trained child differs from leaving the house with diapers. Think going to the grocery store for milk or taking a quick neighborhood walk. Don’t forget a change of clothes!
Block Three: The final block is about solidifying skills, roughly days four to 10. It also involves leaving home for bigger chunks of time, say to an understanding friend’s house or a park with a nearby restroom. I will never forget the pride I felt when my daughter announced she needed the restroom at our first park playdate. High-fives all around! By the end of Block Three, you should be reasonably confident about leaving the house with a potty-trained child.
If this sounds too good to be true, know that it won’t be without struggles. We’re talking about ripping off a Band-Aid potty-wise, and that’s never without pain. That’s why Glowacki devotes entire chapters to Block One “drama” — oh, there will be drama! — and Block Two and Three “dilemmas.” But it’s totally worth it.
The fun doesn’t stop there; there are still blocks four, five and six about making the transition to underpants, consistent self-initiation and night/nap training, the latter of which Stevens says some children may not master until age 6.
And we haven’t even talked about poop. There’s a whole chapter (the longest one, actually) devoted to poop. And you’re going to want to read it — along with the rest of Glowacki’s no-nonsense, get-it-done, back-to-basics, truly life-changing book.