potty training

Potty Training: Booty Camp Style

This post was originally written in February 2021 and updated in August 2021 with the release of Potty by Design.

Snakes, long lines and potty training...three things that, until recently, the mere thought of made my skin crawl. While the first two will still send me running in the other direction, I have proudly conquered my fear of potty training.

The inevitable message from school came. We knew it, they knew it, Charlie knew it. It was time. He was ready to ditch the diapers and use the potty.

Our first experience with potty training our oldest son was, simply put, a disaster. Primarily due to the lack of confidence we had going into it and the amount of stress we put on both him and us! His SMART design (Social) did make things a tad more challenging, but had we been thinking calmly, we could have anticipated that it would be difficult for him to stop talking and leave whoever he was with in enough time to make it to the bathroom! Understanding his motivators on the front-end would have helped us to do a much better job of figuring out what works best for him.

We knew we had to do things differently this time. Thankfully, I work with some pretty smart people who know a thing or two about babies and toddlers. Through our many conversations about this, the Moms on Call team realized that there are 3 general approaches to potty training.

  1. The Unicorn Approach:
    • This one really doesn’t even qualify as an approach because all the parents have to do are buy some big kid undies! These kids just wake up one day, decide they’re done with diapers and that’s that. This is rare...but we can all dream, right?! This works beautifully with Rule Followers and some Engineers.
  2. The Patient, Persistent and Positive (Triple P) Approach:
  3. The Booty Camp Approach:
    • Jump starting potty training with a dedicated weekend. This approach is helpful for kids who are in daycare and are not with a parent or caregiver during the day to reliably provide that consistent environment. Most daycares will gladly help with potty training once it’s been started and are pros at it! Movement kids do well with this approach because they like to get it done and move on.

Despite the approach you take, there are some universal truths.

  1. Your child should show some or all of these signs of readiness.
    • They tell you before they have to go, as they are going or tell you they just peed or pooped in their diaper/Pull-up.
    • Are showing interest in others’ use of the potty.
    • They are able to pull on and/or off their own shorts/pants.
    • They do not like sitting in a dirty diaper.
    • Find a spot to hide to poop in their diaper.
  2. Every child is different. What works for one may not work for another. And a lot of this depends on their SMART design.
    • Take the Toddler by Design quiz and prepare to be amazed at the insight you’ll get into your toddler and their motivators!
  3. Don’t worry about pooping or peeing at sleeptimes. They will both come with time. Potty training is for awake times.
  4. If things aren’t working, it is OKAY to hit pause and restart at a later date!


All of this talk opened the Moms on Call team's eyes to the fact that there was a huge need for a parent-friendly, MOC-style potty training guide that addresses all SMART designs and childcare scenarios. Something that is practical, simple and straightforward to help you feel like you're #winningthepottygame.

So, drumroll please...we have built just that. Potty by Design, Moms on Call's no-nonsense guide to successfully potty training your child by understanding their one-of-a-kind personality, behavior patterns, and signals, is now available! Read Marissa Fidler's blog post, The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training Your Toddler, for her experience using Potty by Design with her daughter, Annabelle!

Our potty training adventure with the “Booty Camp” approach

With the pipe dream of Charlie potty training himself off the table, a weekend-long Booty Camp was our next best option, as we work and do daycare full-time. His design is Movement with a hint of Touch, which told us two things:

  1. He would have no problem running back and forth to the potty constantly. (Meaning we were also running back and forth to the potty.)
  2. He would want us in there with him at all times, likely holding his hand or providing some other sort of reassuring touch.

What we did:

(Again, every toddler is different! You know them and their motivators best!)

  • Pants-less starting Friday night. A "no pants party" was not completely necessary, but it did do a few things:
    • If he started to go, he realized it sooner.
    • If he started to go, we realized it sooner.
    • No clothes to mess with once we got there.
    • Less laundry.
  • Watched him like a hawk.
  • Increased his fluids.
  • Took him to the potty every hour. We did not ask him every 10 seconds if he had to go potty.
  • Pull-ups for naptime and night diapers for nighttime. (We’ve found that night diapers are more leak proof than Pull-ups for nighttime.)
  • Sang an obnoxious “pee pee in the potty” song and danced every time he made it to the potty.
  • Did not make it a big deal when he didn’t make it to the potty.
  • Used the real, big potty with a stool.
  • Made the mistake of giving him a treat every time he went. Now, weeks later, we’re dealing with meltdowns at 7am when he doesn’t get M&Ms.
  • Sent him to school Monday with several pairs of elastic waisted and ankled pants and a good luck note to his teachers! We didn't start using big boy underwear until after about a week (i.e. he went commando). Simply because it was less to pull down and less laundry!

What happened:

  • Friday night:
    • Charlie was further proving that he was ready with an impressive amount of bladder control. He would start peeing and then stop himself. Only to start again a few minutes later, off the potty. One pee was broken into several small pees.
    • I abandoned my calm, collected Confident Face and was ready to abort mission.
  • Saturday:
    • I reset my expectations and took a deep breath with the help of pep talks from Laura, Megan and Katherine.
    • He got better and better as the day went on. We started to recognize the signs that he was about to go and so did he. The small pees consolidated as he learned to fully empty his bladder.
  • Sunday:
    • Only 1 accident the entire day! However, we were going on day 2 of no pooping and he was getting uncomfortable (and cranky). He’d sit on the potty but was trying to get the hang of “pushing”. We gave him 1 teaspoon of Karo Syrup and figured things would work themselves out.
  • Monday:
    • Two accidents at school, but they were back-to-back in the late afternoon during the parent pick-up shuffle. Still no poop and his agitation was growing. This was new for us, as Barnes would just wait for his Pull-up at naptime to go. (Both are totally normal!)
  • Tuesday:
    • Two more accidents at school, at the exact same time! And we finally got a poop. It started in his pants, but we made it to the potty for the grand finale. I’ll spare you all the details, but just know that every time after that has gotten better and better as he has become more comfortable.
  • Wednesday:
    • I picked him up before the parent pick-up shuffle and no accidents!
  • Since then:
    • A couple of poop accidents that were in route to the potty, so those don’t really count...right?!
    • A few pee accidents at school when he was playing and waited too long to tear himself away from the fun.
  • Three weeks later and we’re fully potty trained!
    • I’m not counting nap and nighttime, as those will come when he’s ready!

Other Observations:

  • As with anything in life, one of the most annoying sayings is “just don’t stress about it”. But seriously, don’t. Less stress and less pressure was a game changer this go round.
  • His naps have gotten worse. He “has to go potty” right after we put him down, despite going just before. Clever stall tactic. He gets himself worked up because we did not entertain that stall tactic, but does eventually go to sleep. I’m told that this is just a phase and not putting too much thought into it!
  • The bathroom at night conundrum.
    • Charlie is still in a crib, so going in his Pull-up during nap/at night is his only option.
    • Our older son, Barnes (4.5), is also still in a Pull-up at night but is in a normal bed and we want him to be able to go if he wakes up and needs to. However, he has proven to be quite the nighttime escape artist, so we keep his door locked at night which prevents him from having access to the bathroom (and the rest of the house). (This is a great blog post about the importance of keeping doors shut at night. Our Moms on Call Toddler book also explains the safety logic behind locking doors at night.)
    • To solve this, we keep a little potty in his room (with a disposable pad under it just in case). Wanted to throw this tip out there in case anyone else has wondered about the same thing!

Remember, there is no exact science to potty training. When planning your approach, think about your parenting style and your toddler's design. What is going to create the least amount of stress for everyone? That’s the most important thing!

For example, one of my friends made the simple realization that her son, an Engineer who wants to do what grown ups are doing, just wanted a stool so that he could stand up. He got a stool and, just like that, he was potty trained!

They can do this and so can you!! You provide the positive atmosphere and consistent opportunities, and they will get it! Good luck!

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