There has been nothing in my parenting journey that has brought me to my knees like potty training. Holy cow, people say it’s hard but I did not realize how hard it would be. This article is about our experience using the Oh Crap potty training method with our 22-month-old toddler.
My daughter started exhibiting a lot of potty training readiness signs around 21-22 months. She would tell us that she peed or pooped and brought us diapers to change her. This was a big indicator to me that she was aware of her bodily functions.
- Related reading: 8 ideal signs of potty training readiness for toddlers
There seems to be a lot of potty training methods and literature out there. We bought Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. I personally was drawn to the title. After reading a few snippets online, it seemed like she made potty training fun and humorous (which it most definitely is not).
I went back and forth on whether we should potty train before two years old because it seemed really young. Reading the book convinced me that we should jump on the potty training readiness signs and start training.
Alas, we started the Oh Crap potty training method.
Oh Crap! Potty Training, the book itself
I enjoyed reading the book. It’s a very easy and funny read. If you have never potty trained before, a lot of it will go over your head until you’re knee-deep cleaning up pee off the floor and looking for solutions.
Jamie does recommend reading the book at least two weeks prior to your start date, or the date you pick to potty train.
I found the book most useful as a guide on the hard days of potty training. When it seemed like there were no solutions or we were out of ideas, my husband and I would rifle through the chapters in search of an answer.
And she has plenty of answers to a lot of the problems that come up. The book is organized by “Blocks” so it was really easy to go to the block we were on and start finding help.
It’s kind of funny because some of the passages would say, “You’re probably reading this right now because you’re experiencing this problem” and we were totally experiencing that exact problem. So, I have no doubt that she’s an expert in the field.
Picking the date and getting the gear
I look back at the days when we were choosing our potty training start date and buying potty gear, so clueless about what we were about to experience.
Luckily, during Covid, it was easy to choose a start date because I was working from home and we didn’t do much on the weekends. My daughter was attending daycare 2-3 days a week.
Despite working from home, I took off a Thursday and a Friday so I would have 4 full, uninterrupted days of potty training. It turned out we really needed all 4 days.
For gear, I bought a potty chair, a toilet potty insert, a step stool, pull-ups (even though Jamie says they are diapers), a waterproof mattress cover, a training mattress pad, and a faucet extender (super-nifty).
On the night before our start date, we rolled up our living room rug, set up the potty chair, and took out a bunch of old towels and bath rugs so my daughter would be comfortable playing on the tile floor.
Block 1 of Oh Crap Potty Training method
So, Block 1 is keeping your toddler naked until they figure out that pee goes into the potty and can successfully get the pee in the potty, with or without prompting.
Day 1 of potty training at 22 months
On Day 1 of potty training, my 22-month old daughter had no qualms about being naked. I think she actually prefers it over wearing clothes.
- Related reading: Get creative when your toddler refuses to get dressed
I will never forget her first pee that day. She was laying on her stomach on top of a plastic playmat and started peeing. She was so shocked, i.e. clueless, and I could see the confusion on her face.
After that, it was just pee after pee on the floor, the dining room chairs, and the bathroom. It was a little chaotic and tiring. I literally could not keep up. One time, I was maybe one minute behind her coming out of the bathroom and when I got to the living room, there was already a puddle on the floor!
I don’t think there was any pee in the potty on Day 1 although we would take her to sit on it after she peed.
Day 2 of potty training at 22 months
On Day 2, she started to hold it a few seconds and scream “Pee!” but would then pee where she was standing. So, a tiny bit of progress.
With these extra few seconds, there were a couple of times when we were able to lift her onto the potty so she got to experience peeing on the potty.
There were still many accidents on Day 2 and I didn’t feel that we were anywhere near ready to go to Block Two.
Days 3 to 5
We hit a few problems between Days 3 and 5 because it took my daughter a bit longer to learn how to release on the potty. She started holding her pee, which showed some bladder control, but she did not connect that she had to release on the potty.
There were a couple of times where I started to worry that she was holding it for too long. I could clearly see that she was uncomfortable. My solution was to fill the bath with warm water and put her in the tub. This was the best trick for getting her to release and I would tell her that she was peeing.
I wanted to seriously quit on Day 3 and Day 5. The progress for us was very minuscule during the first five days. I doubted that she was even ready for potty training, much less Block 2.
During these days, I really resented all the Pinterest moms and articles saying that they got their 18 month old to potty train in 2 days. Like, what the hell!
At one point, I started watching a potty training YouTube video and a mom commented, ‘This is almost too easy.’ Immediately, I shut it off. It frustrated me that there was an abundance of two-day and three-day potty training guides when it takes much longer in the real world.
Days 6 and 7
My toddler went to daycare on Days 6 and 7 with a diaper. Even though we didn’t have much progress up to this point, I explained to the daycare that we had started potty training.
They offered to put her in the two-year-old room in the morning so she could see that other toddlers went to the potty on a regular basis.
When she got home on both days, I took off her diaper and we ‘trained’ in the evenings.
Ironically, the first days at daycare didn’t derail the progress. The potty training concept clicked on Day 7 the evening after she got back from daycare. She, out of nowhere, decided to go to the potty twice without any resistance. I was shocked.
I can only guess that maybe seeing other toddlers use the potty helped her or maybe she just needed a break in the process to put the puzzle pieces together. Whatever happened, Day 7 was when it clicked.
Blocks 2 & 3 of Oh Crap Potty Training method
Jamie Glowacki says Blocks 2 and 3 are the crux of potty training. Once your toddler has the basic concept of peeing on the potty, the rest is about staying consistent and ‘stacking successes.’
Block 2 is about putting on pants with no underwear. She recommends that toddlers should go commando for a solid month. Apparently, snugly fitting clothes or underwear can trigger a toddler’s muscle memory to pee or poop, like in a diaper.
So, we ended up transitioning to Block 2 around one week, which is way longer than the timeline Jamie gave in her book. She also states that she hates giving timelines for blocks because parents might have unrealistic expectations of where their child is at.
Knowing that my daughter was only 22 months, I wanted the foundation of potty training to be solid for her. It was difficult to look at the timelines because we were always lagging but I got over it after my daughter started making progress every day.
The biggest Block 2 learning moments for my daughter were having accidents in her pants. I could see the horror on her face and she did not like the sensation of wetting her pants, socks, and shoes. I would gently tell her that ‘pee goes in the potty’ and we would have to go through the routine of changing her clothes.
Once she had accidents in her pants, she was much more inclined to use the potty.
Block 3 brings small outings and should be worked alongside Block 2. After a good pee, we started by taking a walk around the neighborhood with the stroller. This slowly progressed in a matter of days to park outings, picking up food, and small errands.
After a few days, I ended up stocking my car with plastic bags, a change of clothes, and some towels, just in case. On days that we went to the park, I brought along the potty chair too.
I found that around a week and a half of potty training is when I really started to ease up. I didn’t have to be watching my daughter like a hawk and I could trust that sometimes she would tell me she needed to pee. Not always but sometimes.
In each passing day, I also gained more confidence as a potty training parent. If this is your first-time potty training, it’s a huge lifestyle change for parents too!
Jamie promises that one day you will wake up and not have potty training on the brain. That day has yet to come for us because we started facing regressions.
Regressions and Blocks 4 and 5
So, we faced some pretty big regressions early on and did not make it to Blocks 4 or 5. Block 4 is wearing underwear and Block 5 is consistent self-initiation.
My daughter’s first regression came after she started going to daycare wearing pants but with no underwear in the second week of potty training. She was doing great up until this point but I couldn’t avoid sending her to daycare due to work obligations and meetings.
On the first day going commando at daycare, she refused to go potty and held her pee until she had an accident around naptime. She was in the two-year-old class during the morning to practice going to the potty.
At naptime, her infant room teacher decided to transition her from the crib to a mat on the floor and my toddler was not having it. She can be resistant to change like most toddlers. It took an entire week to make the transition to a full-sized bed at home and we really talked it up for her. This change at daycare was very sudden, unexpected, and too much.
Related reading: Transitioning to a toddler bed under two years old
Needless to say, after the two days at daycare where she didn’t use the potty once, she was back to having many accidents at home and even started to resist the potty. Given the progress we had in the first week and a half, this was devastating.
We decided to work through the first regression and got back to a point in a few days where she was using the potty consistently at home. The good consistent use lasted a solid day until Easter came along.
We had already planned to spend the entire day with family outside of the home and were about 2.5 weeks into potty training at this point.
I decided to take the toilet potty ring to our destination and use it there. On the way over (it was a long drive), we stopped at a gas station and I took her with me inside to use the potty. That was not a good idea because she sat on the toilet for a second and then wanted off the toilet immediately.
For the rest of that day, she held her pee. By noon, I was starting to worry that she hadn’t peed, so I put a Pull-up on her. All attempts to take her to the bathroom at my relative’s house were absolute fails. We ended up leaving the Easter get-together early and she finally peed on the ride home. She held her pee for 9 hours that day.
The next day, there were many, many accidents. It was like she didn’t care anymore. We had two accidents on the carpet when she never had an accident on the carpet before. She had an accident in her pants and carried on as if nothing happened. She would turn into a spaghetti noodle when I tried to help her on the potty. It was a mess.
This second regression seemed insurmountable.
Deciding to take a break
We tried to overcome the second regression for about 3 days and it was just not happening. She also had to go to daycare one of these days, which did not help.
In those 3 days, we probably got one or two pees in the potty. On that last day, she started to withhold her pee again, and that’s when we threw in the towel.
As a parent, my first concern is my toddler’s safety, and to see her try to hold her pee for long periods and not understand the concept of releasing into the toilet was devastating.
That evening of our decision felt like a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders.
Not all hope is lost
So, I took my daughter to daycare on her regularly scheduled day and let the director know that we put her back in diapers.
Since potty training is part of the curriculum and schedule of the two-year-old room at daycare, she will still get some exposure and practice with using the toilet. The director assured me that they could work with her slowly and gradually, which I think is a much better learning method for her.
I plan to leave out the potty ring hanging near the toilet at home, so if she asks, it’s readily available.
Final thoughts on the Oh Crap potty training method
I found out a lot about my toddler during this experience, especially her learning style. We grew an even closer bond and I did my best to be present with her as much as possible but it was tough for the both of us.
The Oh Crap Potty Training method seems great and the book is a good read, but it simply didn’t work for my toddler’s learning style. It’s definitely an all-or-nothing approach, which can be startling for toddlers who are engrained in routines and don’t like change whatsoever.
We made it to 3 weeks of potty training with this method and I kept holding onto the four or five good days we had in the second week. After the second regression, my toddler would not budge and we were stuck in a rut.
I can’t help but think that this method probably would have worked just fine if we were able to stay home for a longer period of time without having to go to daycare. Also, I wonder if she would have been able to withstand the regressions if she was a little older or had more of a potty training foundation.
We quit the Oh Crap Potty Training method and are taking the slow and gradual approach with daycare taking the lead. This will involve wearing Pull-ups and getting rewards for her efforts, even if that’s just sitting on the potty.
I still stand by my toddler’s potty training readiness signs because she showed me that she could do it but there’s a big difference in her ability to do it versus her wanting to do it. That was the link that was missing for us.