Potty Training Lessons

I originally had this master plan to start potty training Sadie at 20 months (around October). I read countless blogs about what I’d need and bought supplies at the store. Then we finalized our holiday plans which included two 13 hour-long car trips and I thought to myself “Hmm, 13 hours in a car with a newly potty-trained toddler?” …And I decided to postpone our potty adventures until after the holidays in January.

In that 3 month span, I started to set Sadie on the toilet each night before bath and my Mother-in-Law (who watches her while I work) was putting Sadie on the toilet whenever she needed to do a BM. Sadie started to take an interest in the potty. Eventually she learned the words “potty” and “B” (for BM) and would tell us when she needed to go! She started being able to keep her diapers dry. By the time we got to January, she had half of the process down and the step we needed to take was moving from diapers to big girl underwear.

Here are some of the things I learned when switching to underwear:

  • Even with a child who already can go to the bathroom on the toilet, on that first day you still need to start by taking them to the potty every 15 minutes. Then, you can slowly lengthen the time in between trips. The sensation of wearing underwear is different and they need to learn they can’t even let a little bit out (like they might have before in diapers). It took me about 6 accidents to figure this out.
  • Setting aside a few days to work out the kinks at home really helps them build confidence. Then trying a very short outing (to a place where you know where the bathroom is) is a good test to see if they can (a) make it without an accident (b) tell you when they need to go in public.
  • Character underwear is awesome because it’s something they’re proud/excited to wear and you can celebrate things like “You kept Elsa dry!” It’s a great motivator.
  • When accidents happen, say “Oops, you had an accident!” and let them feel the underwear is wet (and then promptly wash their hands) so they can understand what happened.
  • Watch their fluid intake and look for signs they need to go (dancing around, touching down there, trying to go off in a corner by themselves, etc.)
  • As they get more proficient, keep asking if they need to go (especially when you suspect they might need to) but if they say “no,” trust their judgment. They like being able to own the process – or maybe this is just Sadie!
  • When they do say they need to go, drop everything and take them right away!
  • If they say they need to go several times and nothing comes out each time, either (1) they’re working through a BM, (2) they want to play with something in the bathroom, or (3) they’re avoiding something outside of the bathroom.
  • Be consistent on your policy for picking up toys on the way to the bathroom. I let Sadie bring one toy and they can “watch her go” on the bathroom floor. I don’t let her hold toys on the toilet because a couple have fallen in.

I’m sure I’m missing things, but these are the lessons that jump out to me. What have you learned with potty training? To those of you about to start: Good luck! I hope this helps. 


Sadie is 21 months old! When I first started this blog I wrote about our schedule. I believe having a schedule really helps Sadie and Wally because they generally have a sense of structure to their day and they can anticipate what’s coming next.

Here is our current schedule:

6:30am Sadie Wakes Up
7:30am Sadie Eats Breakfast
8:00am Wally Goes Out & Eats Breakfast
9:30am Sadie Goes Out for Some Activity (Music Class / Library / Farmer’s Market /etc.)
10:00am Sadie Eats Snack


11:30am Wally Goes Out
12:00pm Sadie Eats Lunch
1:00-3:30pm Sadie & Wally Nap
4:00pm Sadie Eats Snack
5:00pm Wally Goes Out


6:00pm Sadie & Wally Eat Dinner
7:30pm Sadie Takes a Bath
8:00pm Sadie Goes to Bed

Hopefully this helps anyone who is looking to establish a schedule for an almost 2-year old  (dog or human)!

Sadie & Wally Update: 20 Months-Old

Happy Fall! 🙂 Sadie is 20 months old! I can’t believe how fast everything is going. I truly love this age – her personality is in full bloom, she really understands things, and she is learning so fast! Here are some of the things she has been up to with our puppy, Wally:


What is Sadie currently into? She’s really into getting “on” and “in” things – the couch, the chairs, the beds, her toy baskets & boxes – you name it! When she gets on our bed, she calls for everyone else to join her, including Wally, who was previously not allowed on the bed. (oh no!) Then she will climb down and yell “Ah-f!” telling everyone else to get off. I’ve held onto the rule that the bed has to be made for us to play this game so that Wally’s hair doesn’t get on the sheets.


What is her favorite activity with Wally? Sadie loves to call Wally’s name – she refers to him as “Nine” or “Nine-knee” (don’t ask me where that came from) – and she will look for him in the apartment or he’ll come running to her. Whenever she comes home from an outing, the first thing she yells when you open the door is “Niiiiiine!” and she’ll run to his crate indicating he should be let out.


Is there anything Wally does that always makes Sadie laugh out loud? Yes! Sadie thinks Wally is hilarious. She bursts into a fit of giggles when he sniffs her hair/neck or when he gives her kisses all over. Unfortunately, she also thinks it’s hilarious when Wally gets yelled at or when he tries to attack the vacuum. She literally cackles like an evil character in a movie. Truly like siblings.


Is there any toy/object Sadie is very attached to at this age? Sadie loves cats. She likes to see them in the pet store, she likes to read about them, and she likes clothes with cat designs. One day after we moved into our new apartment, I saw a cat outside of our window and pointed it out to her. Now, every morning she goes to that window and screeches “Mmmm!” (that’s meow) and looks for the cat. Wally happily assists her in her search.


Any funny things they both get excited about? When I ask “Should we take Wally outside?” they both freak out. Sadie starts yelling “Ah! Ah! Ah!” kind of like a battle cry, and runs to her shoes. Wally starts running in circles. It is an immediate reaction and happens every time.


What has been a change you’ve made recently? Sadie used to love to give Wally treats. She’d run to where his treats were stored and say “Ga-kum?” which, clearly, means treat. I’d have Wally do a trick, let Sadie give him the treat as a reward, and then she’d run away clapping. During that time, we’d been trying to figure out why Wally’s stomach had been getting so upset – it was the treats! Sadie was actually more sad about this than Wally. She’s finally stopped asking to give him treats because I’ve said “No, it’s hurts his tummy,” a bajillion times. Now she likes to help fill his water bowl. Also to note, since we stopped giving Wally the treats and put him on Science Diet Sensitive Stomach, all tummy problems are gone!