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Sunday, January 22, 2023

Potty Training at 22 months with the "Oh Crap" method

Oh Crap Potty Training

Diaper changes are never a pleasant experience. Changing a diaper on a toddler who refuses to sit still for even a second is challenging and let me go as far as saying dangerous. I have to haul this 30-pound child onto the diaper pad, keep him still enough to get a diaper loaded with poop off, clean him while he flails, kicks, and tries to flip over, and re-diaper this wild animal. All while trying not to spread human feces everywhere, or get kicked in the head. It's a miserable, stressful experience and one of the big reasons I was on board for potty training after the holidays and before the popular start age of 2.

The other reason I was eager to get him out of the diaper and into potty training was the arrival of his little sister and the slow timing of the holidays. Come February, we were going to have a newborn baby and it would be a few months before we were doing anything besides merely surviving. We also had that lull in our schedules after Christmas where life was quiet, daycare was closed for the week, and January was wide open for potty training and the isolation at home it requires. The Oh Crap method by Jamie Glowacki had been referred to me by several moms and a quick skim of the book was all I needed to convince myself that this method was for me. Her no-bullshit straightforward speech was the kind of pep talk I appreciated. I loved her model of really acknowledging how important this life skill is to teach, promoting toddler independence, and why it's best not to wait. I'm sharing a few things here and my experience but trust me, Buy the book and read it atleast the week before you decide to train. 

I was pretty confident the timing was right in n late December at 22 months as we fit into the 20-30 month window suggested by the author of Oh Crap. I was still a little hesitant but after reaching out to the author who strongly suggested I potty train ASAP (and before baby), I set the date of December 27 to roll up the rugs and start the deed.

I read the book cover to cover a few weeks before starting and kept it nearby as we approached "Day 1". My mom had already purchased the highly recommended Baby Bjorn potty a few months earlier and it had been collecting dust in the garage ever since. Keeping the book handy was key and I referred to the book as needed (and still do). I even took notes before we started because I'm really Type A guys. 

Basics of the Oh Crap Method

The Oh Crap method has a few principles:
  • The ideal window is 20 to 30 months. It seems young to a lot of people and I was hesitant at first. Whitney doesn't have great speech but communicates in other ways and I was nervous about this. I'm glad I went with my gut (and the book) and trained anyway. 
  • The success of the process truly depends on your commitment to it. Don't just wait for readiness signs from your kid. Follow her few basic signs and then the biggest predictor of success is your commitment. 
  • No rewards. No m&ms or sticker charts - I really liked this approach as I quickly saw how the reward system could create a slipper slope. That being said, I know several parents who have used a reward system with her training principles and had success. 
  • No diapers or pullups (can use diaper for nights/naps) - it will seem tempting to just put the pull up on for that dinner outing you have planned but it's not worth the confusion. Just bring extra pants and patience. You can night train at the same time but for the sake of preserving nighttime sleep, we are holding off on night training and tell him we only use diapers as "night night diapers". 
  • No underwear in the beginning (feels too much like a diaper) - It's tempting to put on underwear to help with the accidents but she is really adamant about underwear feeling too much like a diaper and delaying the process. 
  • Children will go along the learning process in a way that goes "clueless" to "I Peed" to  "I'm Peeing" to "I have to pee". 
  • Teaching kids to recognize the potty cues, not just sitting them on a toilet and waiting. You aren't asking them if they want to go but telling them to go. You will be prompted for a while as self-initiation takes time. 

The Blocks 

Jamie separates potty training into blocks, emphasizing that you must really nail down a block before moving on. She gives you a general timeline for the blocks but each child is different, just go in this order and don't move on before you are ready. 
  • Block 1: Naked and homebound
  • Block 2: Clothes 
  • Block 3: Short outings/different situations
  • Block 4: Underwear
  • Block 5: No longer needs prompting 
  • Block 6: Nights/naps 
Plan to be housebound and treat this like the most important thing you need to teach your child (music class and lunch outings can wait).

My Tips for Success

That morning, I did a few things that I think really set us up for success and I highly recommend you do the same. 
  • Roll - Up - Your - Rugs.  They will get peed and pooped on. It will really piss you off and make you want to quit when your furniture and rugs are constantly being ruined. I put a towel on the couch and rolled up all the rugs. It was a pain but also allowed me the chance to really shake out the rugs, vacuum, and mop underneath. By Day 3 I had the rugs back and all was well in the world. 
  • Leave a mop bucket with water out. Your child will pee on the floor several times while they go from clueless to I'm peeing to I have to pee. You catch them as quick as you can and place them on the potty but they will pee on the floor. Accidents are a given. The mop makes cleanup super easy. 
  • Start with the potty chair (not the toilet insert) and bring the potty from room to room the first week - after that, it can stay in the bathroom. Introduce the inserts and normal toilet when ready. 
  • Take them to the bathroom with you (and let them watch) - Jamie suggested this and I completely agree. Whitney is much more likely to sit on the toilet and pee if I sit on the toilet and pee too. Being pregnant, my frequent bathroom trips worked well for training a tot. 
  • Simple pull-down clothing and buy extra pants - When you finally switch to the pants phase, you will go through A LOT of pants. I bought a bunch of $4 pants at Walmart which helped me do laundry slightly less. I also bought more two-piece pajama sets and stay away from zip up onesies for now. 
  • Pick a long break (not just a weekend). Especially if you have a daycare kid you will need the extra time with the process. 
  • Revert back to Block 1 as needed. If he has to poop but it is taking a bit, we simply take off his pants, bring the potty in the room we are hanging out in, and he will go on his own when ready (this saves a ton of trips to the bathroom for a far or a "fake out poopoo". 

Where are we now

I have to say I was really impressed with this method and how well it worked, even on a kid under 2 with a limited vocabulary. He picked up on the idea pretty quickly and after the first week, we were really confident it all "stuck" and we had the basics down. We are on Block 3, I think ready for Block 4. He knows how to hold it, sits and pees when prompted, and rarely has accidents (maybe 1-2 a week). He self-initiates pee often but we still prompt several times throughout the day and before leaving, naps and nighhts. He is pooping on the potty as well, although that process seems to be a bit more involved. He's learning the differences between I have to poop and just passing gas, and how long it takes to pass a bowel movement. We go through a lot of poopoo false alarms but we eventually get him to poop on the potty (or in his nap diaper when he's relaxed). I truly think a lot of the false alarms are him being nervous and holding it, but I'm confident this will resolve itself with time as he adjusts to the feeling of "gotta go". 

My next "task" before putting the underwear on is to get him used to using a bigger potty (with an insert/travel top). I bought this travel potty that can be used as a stand alone potty or as a toilet insert and we are going to start using it now that we are confident with his training. We currently drag his baby Bjorn potty everywhere and while it works, it's a pain to log a childs toilet in a marshalls bag everywhere you go. 

I know we will have regressions when the baby arrives but I am so glad I didn't listen to the "hes to young" crowd, and that I used this slow time after the holidays to really establish the basics. Read the book, decide when you are ready to commit and go for it. I will update this post as we reach the other blocks - Happy Potty Training! 

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