15 Tips For Cold Turkey, Boot Camp Style Potty Training

Last week I put the potty training smack down on my kid! I was sick and tired of spending money on diapers and knew my son was capable of using a potty! He was hiding to go #2 and afterwards would climb on top of his diaper changer and yell for me to change him. Those were true signs that he knew exactly what his body was doing, so it was time to teach him to go to the bathroom when he has those feelings.

I decided to make him go cold turkey, no more diapers. I call it the “I am sick of buying diapers and refuse to do it anymore boot camp“. I pulled out his new Disney underwear and we were ready to begin.

From chatting with other moms, this seemed like the only option that would work for us. We tried the Pull-Ups route in the past, but it was unsuccessful. He felt as though they were diapers and wasn’t concerned about going to the potty (could be because we received a case from Pull-Ups for our Potty Ambassador gig and used them as diapers…ooops).

Let me tell you…from day 1 of wearing underwear, he quickly realized there was no absorption whatsoever. He was not a fan of being wet and kept begging for a diaper. Eventually, I hid the entire stash so they were out of his mind. By the end of day 2 he was going #1 in the potty successfully every time! On day 3, he even started going #2 on the potty!

In all honesty, it was an exhausting and messy week – but it worked. My son even went back to napping regularly <insert cheers and fist pumps>!

Below are tips in case anyone is considering a similar potty training method. Obviously all children are different, but hopefully this will give you an idea of things to try and possibly avoid.

  1. Commit to staying home during the training process. You cannot be multi-tasking, your focus needs to be on your kid and the big task at hand.
  2. Be a parrot. Your toddler has a million things on his or her mind and most likely, using the potty isn’t one of them. Constantly ask “do you have to go potty”. You will feel like a broken record, but trust me they need the reminder.
  3. Use a process and stay consistent (pants down –> use the potty –> wipe –> dump & flush –> pants up –> wash & dry hands –> celebrate).
  4. Use a potty that your child is comfortable with. We bought my son a soft potty seat as well as a potty chair. He prefers to use the potty chair (it would be less messy if he used the potty seat instead, but it is what it is).
  5. Stay strong! Do not give in if he or she begs for diapers. It is difficult seeing your child sob, but if you cave then all the training will literally be down the drain. Your child is testing you, show him or her that you are determined to help them be a big kid.
  6. Be patient and have a sense of humor. Remember, this too shall pass.
  7. Keep it fun and positive! Go crazy and celebrate when your child has success. Using a potty is a VERY big deal! You can reward your child (yes, it may seem like bribery, but it works). We celebrate every success by cheering and giving high five’s, M&M’s are received when he goes #2 in the potty. We also got him excited about a Cars 2 Tokyo Spinout Track Set and told him he could have one if he continued having success. We kept reminding him of the race track and it worked! He received his track this past weekend!
  8. Expect accidents and remain positive. Tell your child it is ok (don’t show your disappointment or frustration). Let he or she know they need to listen to their body and make it to the potty on time. <– This one can be tough sometimes!
  9. The first couple of days will be very messy, so make sure you have the proper cleaning supplies handy. We are lucky to have hardwood floors throughout, which made for much easier clean-up.
  10. As trainer, you will need a release of some sort. Thankfully, my son went back to napping so I was able to use that time to blog and workout. A glass of wine at night is also very helpful.
  11. My pediatrician advised not to call my son a “big boy” until he started using his potty. I kept using that term and my son loved hearing it. I kept repeating how “babies wear diapers and big boys use a potty”. That seemed to help him understand why he was no longer wearing diapers and that he was not being punished.
  12. Keep your child excited with potty training dvds, books and fun tracking charts!
  13. Don’t potty train during a week when you have a bad case of PMS! 🙂
  14. Even after your initial potty training is complete, pack along your child’s portable potty when you run errands. You cannot expect your kid to immediately start using a public facility (and I personally cringe at the thought of it). Just make sure you bring along your potty cleaning supplies and antibacterial gels as well.
  15. Pack an extra change of clothing, you never know when your child may need them.

We still have an occasional accident, but I am so proud of my little man’s success in such a short period of time! He’s such a big boy! Any other tips or advice? Please share!

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16 Thoughts to “15 Tips For Cold Turkey, Boot Camp Style Potty Training”

  1. stefanie

    Some of my friends are going diaperless in the house and also out. They just put on loose shorts or a dress and no big kid underwear when out. They are all reporting success in just days.
    My daughter 15 mo. doesn’t want to sit still or be where you want her to be, so the potty was out of the question. Today I let her draw only on the potty and she sat on it for 15 minutes. Next, we will use your advice and try no diapers.

  2. It’s a messy approach, but I found it to be highly effective. We are on week 2 and his accidents have been minimal. I am honestly impressed! I wish I would have tried this technique earlier, he knew immediately I wasn’t playing games and if he had an “accident” then he was the one getting yucky.

  3. Ok I am officially hiring you when we are ready in a year or more that is! I am so nervous for this task I can’t even tell you and it is way in the future. But I think to myself I don’t know how to do this my equipment is different lol Really I may have to try this quick approach!

  4. Yes Tara, it is difficult with different equipment. 🙂 I obviously taught him sitting down, sinking the cheerios in the toilet will come later when he can aim. LOL!

  5. A good friend of mine has been working on this for ages with her now 2 year old daughter.. My son is only 18 months and I have no desire to even consider starting this process.. but those are good tips for the inevitable!

  6. Potty training is definitely no fun and very messy, but I am simply amazed at how quickly my son learned. I wish I would have tried this technique earlier. He quickly learned that he would get wet/dirty if he forgot to go to the potty. By day 2, he was running to the potty on time! He did not like being messy.

  7. Jessica

    Hi I am trying this with my 22 month old son. My first child was easy but the second son is taking me ages. I think he is just not ready.. But i am very keen to try the cold turkey approach. I am thinking of trying it in December during the school hols (he goes to playschool) when he will be 27 months. Is 27 months age appropriate for cold turkey?

  8. Elizabeth

    We are on day 3 of operation cold turkey and day one we had 3 accidents, day 2 we had 2 accidents, and as of 10:36 am on day 3 we have had no accidents! It totally works if you stick to it and dont give up! I wish I had done this with my 2 older boys. It took them 6 months to learn, this one takes about 3 days!!!!!

  9. That is wonderful! Cold turkey is the only way to go (or at least it was with my stubborn kid)! Congratulations to you and your little one! So happy for you. 🙂

  10. Ahh! THIS is just what I needed to read. I had heard about the cold turkey method but had been getting mixed reviews on it. I’m so glad you tweeted me the link. I will definitely try this and share how he does! Thanks so much!

  11. Good luck Charma! I really hope it works out for you! Let me know!

  12. Mrs. Gordon

    Thanks for the info. This is day 1 using this method and so far its going great. Hoping for much success.

  13. Best of luck to you! I hope it works successfully. Be patient and calm, that’s probably the best advice I can give you. 🙂

  14. CLS

    Thanks for your tips…my just 4 y.o. son has more than an iron will. I decided today that we are boot camping. I told him that we aren’t using diapers (his butt is sore) and that when I say it’s time to try to use the potty there are no arguments. Wish me luck, the Fprce is strong with this one!

  15. Jessica Beard

    Thank you for the tips! I think the most important one is to be patient with your child. They will eventually get it!

  16. Kim

    With this method do you do pull ups/diapers during nap/bedtime or no?

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