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Yep! I’m going to talk about the good, the bad and the poo! Stress-Free Potty Training for Speech Delayed Toddlers! Why? Because there weren’t enough resources for me that catered to what we go through on a daily basis with Beck having a speech delay. With that said, I want to be clear that every child is different, especially when it comes to speech delays, so it’s important to know that just because this worked for us, it might not for you and your child. This also worked for us because Beck stays at home, so kids that attend day-care might not have this luxury.
When Beck turned two, we started noticing he would have a potty corner or hide under the table. He knew he had to go and needing that security/privacy is a tall-tell sign. For about 3-6 months, we would talk to him about what he was doing. Ask him if he’s going potty, tell him he’s pooping/peeing, signing the “potty” sign and made a clear statement that he’s going potty. This is when we started purchasing potty training items like a potty, undies, etc. Everything with him for speech and connecting words takes time, so we didn’t rush it. Build that receptive language as much as you can. I can’t stress this enough.
Between 2 and 2.5 years, I started reading the “how to potty train” tips/blogs/books and they were basically all the same: three to five days, every 30-45 minutes, it’s going to be terrible but stick to your guns, etc, etc. I had purchased absorbent boy’s undies earlier, and then got pull-ups, flush-able wipes, M&M’s for bribing and an array of potty seats. I set off to train him and frankly, it was hell. An entire week of crying, accidents, tantrums, etc. He couldn’t say the word “potty” and never picked up the sign for it (ASL has played a key role in certain ‘asks’ for him like signing more, want, me, etc when he’s learning a new word). We tried the typically training process two or three times but, it was pointless since we had no way of him prompting us that he needed to go. And because he’s strong-willed, he HATED us forcing him to go.
After 2.5 years of age, he started becoming more interested in the potty, not wanting to wear clothes and telling us “ewww” when his diaper was full. The key for us was talking about it a ton with him, letting him see us go and celebrating when we did. We would let him flush and we’d tell it “bye bye!” At officially age three, we are mostly potty trained. He goes on his own, doesn’t ask us for help, can pull down and pull up his undies and we can typically make it through public outings without an accident. By taking our time and letting him lead the way, it was ‘stress-free’ and much easier than I imagined.
Here’s a list of items you’ll need:
- First, we couldn’t live without our ABBY&FINN diaper subscription! Potty training still requires diapers! Bedtimes and nap-times are still diapered (when he makes it through dry several times is when we’ll switch to undies). At first we let him choose if he wanted to wear his “diapys” or his “undies”. Plus, having a busy toddler schedule, along with meeting all of his needs at home, keeping up with friends, running a business on top of all the other tasks that come along with daily life, having an adjustable subscription diaper service was one less thing we had to worry about. The one thing I really want to mention is that their diapers are super clean when it comes to chemicals and they cost 30% less than similar competitors (huge win for my wallet). They’ve also given my readers an awesome 10% discount for your first box! Just use the code “SARA10” (case sensitive)! And nope, I don’t get a cut of that sale – I genuinely LOVE their diapers and their founder Amanda has been gracious enough to provide that for all of you!
- You’ll want to get lined undies. Again, letting him choose was key for us. If he picked undies, we talked about how we have to keep them dry, we need to go to the potty, that we’re proud of him becoming a big boy, etc. I would also remind him where the potty was when he wore them. I didn’t force him on the potty as much as just show him the potty, ask him if he wanted/needed to use it and if he didn’t put up a fight, have him sit on the potty. I’ve love these Gerber Potty Training Undies (and you can find them in other cute patterns as well).
- Next up, training potties. We are now the proud owners of four training potties, all different styles. Two sit on the ground while the other two go on the toilet. If someone would have told me before kids that I would own that many potties, I would have laughed. Really, these are the potties that have worked for Beck: one that goes over the toilet (especially now that he likes to pee standing up — this version is easy to take on and off, which he does himself) and a “stand alone” that has a lid. The stand-alone got put in his potty corners to start so he would sit on them while wearing his ABBY&FINN diapers. Since it has a lid, it can also be used as a stool – which is really all that it gets used as now.
- Stools! Yes, you’re going to want step stools. Because this process involves him leading the way, getting stools that allow your child to easily access the potty without having to verbally tell you is key. They don’t need to be fancy… just high enough that their feet can touch when sitting down and are easy to clean. The stools we have are also easily moveable (and fold up) so that Beck can pick them up and wash his hands after.
- Flush-able wipes. Honestly, I’m a clean freak and my son is pretty gross. So keeping his bum clean helps keep any nasty bugs away. Just do yourself a favor and get flush-able wipes. I recommend the Kids Kandoo simply because they’re cheaper than the adult versions.
- Wet Bag for soiled clothes. Yep, it’s going to happen and you’re going to want a wet bag to put those things in so you aren’t running back and forth.
Those are the essentials! Beck also has little magazines he can reach, read if he wants to sit and hang out for a bit. We have done the whole “bribe with candy” but he’s not stupid, he just has a speech delay, so he knows that if he sits on the potty, he’ll get a treat. That bribe quickly turned into a “let’s sit on the potty every five minutes” trick and ask for candy. Lastly, we’ve never really done the “watch an ipad and sit long enough” strategy as well.
The is the process we took over the course of 6 Months:
- Let your child lead the way. Yes, it’s going to take several months versus one week, but it’s less stress, less pressure. They need to feel they have control but encourage big kid decisions like wearing undies. I’m sure this process would work for kids without speech delays as well.
- When they do wear undies at home, they don’t need to wear pants. Trust me, the sensation of them getting wet will make all the difference. Also, being able to actually see when they go will help you with the next point. A lot of times, Beck is naked running around the house (if you’re ok with a few messes, them being naked will speed up the process).
- When they do have an accident, immediately take them to the potty. We always say “oh no, your undies are wet!” “uh oh, let’s get cleaned up!” This step doesn’t matter if it’s in a diaper or the undies – from now on, all accidents are treated the same and get cleaned up in the bathroom. Any solids get wiped into the potty so they see where it goes. You’ll then want to ask them to finish going on the potty, talk to them about how we want to keep undies dry and to do so, we go to the potty, pull down our undies and go here. We then wipe bottom on the potty – not lying down like a diaper change. There’s a TON of talking, building that receptive language and doing a repetitive process. We don’t scold, yell or punish. Once we are cleaned up, we put on new undies (we keep a stash in each bathroom) and go back through our “awesome choice, let’s keep them dry this time ok? If you need to go potty, we come here.” I typically look for a verbal or visual cue that he understands before we go back to playing. For him that’s an “Ok”. But getting that confirmation from them gives them a form of “choice” and “responsibility”.
- Before and after nap and bedtimes, we go straight to the bathroom, ask if he needs to go and if he’d like a new diaper or undies on. Now that he’s trained, we naturally just reach for undies. He tends to love wearing his undies or diapers now as well. You’ll know after awhile when to fully get rid of the diaper stash in the bathroom and solely keep undies.
- Celebrate wins! Dance, sing, tell the potty “bye, bye” when finished and let them flush! We do a TON of celebrating even after months of training. Every time he goes, we tell him awesome job bud! High Five! It’s a BIG DEAL in our house and it’s not seen as a chore. Beck has gotten to the point that he just goes on his own now, and doesn’t even tell us. It’s really amazing that by letting him make those choices on his own, he’s now graduated to going by himself and running out of the bathroom yelling “whoohooo!!! I did it!!”
- When going out in public, we still let him make the decision between diapers and undies. This is where pull-ups come in handy. Before we leave, we tell him it’s time to go potty before shoes go on. It’s a simple routine that has become habit and part of our “we’re going out” ritual. When we get to our destination (undies or diapers), the first stop is the bathroom. We show him where it is, talk about it and again, lots of explaining that if he needs to go potty, this is where we need to be. He rarely tells us “potty” or “poopy” but he will point, cry and do his little “grab, dance and wiggle” routine that signals we need to get him to the restroom. Public outings are in general, much harder but again, it’s all about practice. We are still working on mastering public outings so know it takes time! The comfort of our home is much different than the hustle and bustle of public spaces.
- Port-a-Potty! The stand alone potty now has a home in our car. I like the one with the lid, mostly so it doesn’t collect dirt and I don’t have to look at a “potty” but more of a “stool”. The trick I recently discovered is putting one of our ABBY&FINN diapers in the collection bowl so that when your child does need to go, it’s a super easy clean up. Literally, my mind was blown finding out this trick. You’ll also want wipes and extra diapers in your vehicle for this very reason. Just because you’re child is potty trained, doesn’t mean the diaper stash disappears overnight! This is a huge lifesaver and also great for avoiding those gross, outdoor restrooms. While we are driving to our destination, I will talk about the potty every so often and give him a little reminder. Also, bring extra clothes, undies, diapers and wipes in your diaper bag. A wet-bag comes in handy for keeping those accidents in while your out and about so you don’t have to make several car trips.
And there you have it! It’s been a longer process but he never cries or puts up a fight when we ask him to go, or try to go. I’ve also read that the health benefits on the liver and bladder is better long term when taking it slow and letting your child learn when to go rather than forcing. Yeast and UTI infections have also been stated as being lower when choosing to train later and slower. The best benefit for us was that he feels pride and a sense of accomplishment all while making it much easier on all of us. Good luck!
If you enjoyed this post, click here to Read about Beck’s Speech Delay Progress.