Your Oh Crap Potty Training Cheat Sheet

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When you’re already stuck at home, you might as well potty train your toddler right? I personally think there’s too much of a to-do about whether kids are “ready” and that it’s usually about whether the parents are ready! So if you have not potty trained yet, I recommend that you grab the chance to do it while we’re all sheltering in place.

My favorite potty training method is Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right. It’s the method I ultimately used to graduate from elimination communication and go completely diaper-free.

The downside of this method is that you can’t leave the house at the beginning. I have heard so many moms protest this limitation! That’s why I say you should do it now.

I read the book cover to cover and took detailed notes before I started training. I want to share my notes with you so that you can either 1) use them as a preview or 2) use them as a summary to refer back to after you read the book. I do not recommend that you skip over reading the book though! The author really knows what she is talking about and helps you understand her methodology in detail.

Some background: The Oh Crap method is broken into “blocks” instead of days, because each child will spend a different period of time in each block. Only move forward when your child masters each block.

Here we go:

Block 1

  • Remove the diapers from the home. Say “bye-bye diapers” to them with your child.
  • Keep your child completely naked for the whole day and watch them like a hawk. That means no playing on your phone or reading a book. Buy prepared meals or warm up something frozen.
  • Stare at your child all day. When you see them start to pee (or poop!) or you can just tell they’re about to, move them to the potty. Tell them plainly, “pee goes in the potty”.
  • You will figure out their poop signs first, but hang in there are trust the method when it comes to figuring out their pee signs.

Block 2

  • Put clothes on your child but NOT underwear. They are going to be going commando for approximately one month. When kids are accustomed to eliminating into a diaper, any clothing pressure will trigger them to go in their pants. Go for loose pants with elastic bands that you can pull down quickly, or even just dresses for girls.
  • In this block, you can take small outings. After your toddler uses the toilet, take a walk around the block. Don’t get to ambitious–set your child up to be able to get back in before they need to pee again.

Block 3

  • Now you can take longer outings (you know, as long as you can considering the Shelter-in-Place order).
  • Make sure your little one pees before you leave. That means you wait until they go.
  • Don’t have them sit for a long period of time, because that goes against this approach’s methodology.
  • Same goes for naptime and bedtime. Be a little flexible, allowing them to go before you put them down, even if you are electing to hold off on night training (which, by the way, the author claims is easiest done all in one go–personally I night trained two full years after I day trained, but I did go back to the same book)

Block 4

  • Introduce underpants! You can do this about three to five weeks from the time you start potty training.

Block 5

  • Block 5 is not something you do, it’s something your child does.
  • You will notice that he begins to consistently (if not 100%) self-initiate. That is when you have crossed over from a non-potty trained child to a potty-trained child.
  • Ease up on prompting when you see this, but don’t stop completely. Continue to prompt before you leave the house, before bed, or any other time that just makes sense.
  • Block 5 generally happens around three weeks after you start training. So hopefully that will be right on time for us to get back to normal!

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23 COMMENTS

    • The main message is to be flexible with timing of the blocks. I believe both timeframes fit with spirit of the method, with three weeks probably on the low end. Agree with you that the inconsistency is a little confusing though.

    • You may want to stay commando for a full month even if your child moves into block 5 earlier than that. It can prevent backtracking. –Elisa (author)

  1. We are on day 6, (just finished) and my commando kid is now going when she wants to go, won’t be prompted (after day 3 or 4 she started screeching when led to the potty). No accidents for a few days now, and clear “I PEE” and a frantic run for the potty whenever that happens.

    I do have the cutest underwear for her ever but she has issues pulling it down so keep up with the commando for 3 more weeks? She’s 22 months the day after tomorrow.

    • I thought I had responded here, so apologies that this is coming through late. The answer was YES, stay commando 3-5 weeks. Introducing underwear too early can cause backtracking. We want to break that muscle memory that says “a diaper is a place for my pee” by not having anything up against the area for a while.

    • There are so many details that will inform your own experience potty training. If you provide me with more information (age, a description of your training, details on accidents and how often your LO does self-prompt, etc), I may be able to offer some advice. The author of OCPT also has an amazing YouTube page and offers private coaching. -Elisa (author)

    • lol same.. such April 2020 vibes. I had to scroll up to check the date. I used to love to say “back to normal” that ship has sailed.

  2. We’re on day 7. My son is 29 months old. He’s been in loose pj pants since day 4. Yesterday afternoon he started having more accidents and just standing instead of running for the potty. He hates when we prompt him, even for before meals and sleep times. Trying not to pressure him but be present and observant to catch the start of accidents. Any tips or is this in the range of normal?

    • I would take off his pants again, at least when at home. Whenever you do leave, it’s best if you wait until he pees and then go. Same with naps and meals. You may have to let your schedule slide a bit and wait until he goes to do things like meals and bedtime. Move the little potty into close range to wherever you are too.

    • You can also try having a toy or stuffy “go potty” in a little cup before meals/naps. “Oh it’s almost naptime, and Mr. Snuggles (or whatever) needs to go potty. Can you help him go?”

  3. Does anybody see that this is unhygienic? Kids sit on the floors and on furniture etc. This is the most ridiculous method I have ever seen.

  4. We’re struggling because my son is still commando. We’re a month in and he’s still just completely peeing through his pants once or twice a day. The rest of the time he is willing to go to the potty to pee if we prompt him but he’s fighting that more and more. I’ve read and reread and it seems that we’ve done everything according to the book so I am not sure why he is stuck at this stage! He’s pooping in the potty fine.

  5. I would go back to naked while at home for a little while. Watch him like a hawk and move him to the potty if he starts to pee. Keep the potty in close range. Try to stay in until he does pee and leave the house right after to set him up for success on outings. How old is your son?
    -Elisa (author)

  6. Is 3 years old too old for this? I see many people started when their child was younger. As you indicate, we, the parents, were likely not ready…ugh. thanks in advance!

    • According to the author, 20-30 months is the sweet spot. Of course you can still potty train an older child. There are some unique aspects to it though, and the book has a section devoted to just this topic. I would recommend reading it! I actually skipped that part since I trained earlier than 20 months, but based on my overall experience with the book and upon what I’ve heard from other moms training older toddlers with this method, I would venture to say that you will find it very helpful to read and refer back to throughout training! You can also choose another method such as using rewards (in this method you specifically reward “staying clean and dry” as opposed to rewarding “peeing in the potty”), or look into the 3-day method. Good luck!

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