How I Potty Trained my 20 Month Old Boy

Try this no-fail method for how to potty train a 20 month old boy, or really kids of any age. Save yourself the stress and read this first!

When my friend Amanda posted in our Facebook group that she was reading the best book, she peaked my interested. She went on to describe it as funny and interesting. You can imagine my surprise when I realized she was talking about a book on potty training!

How to Potty Train a 20 Month Old Boy

I had never even thought about potty training with BabyE at 20 months, but my friend assured me that anywhere from 20 to 30 months old was the ideal time to do it, according to her book.

Up until then I had been wondering how I would hack it changing, washing, sorting, and storing two sets of cloth diapers after the new baby arrived. It never ever crossed my mind that there might actually be another way.

I immediately contacted the author of this amazing book and asked her if she’d be interested in a review here at GrowingSlower. She kindly obliged and sent me a copy of the book. I started reading that day, and well, it’s no exaggeration to say that it has literally changed my life!

Of course, the book can be entertaining as all get out, but what you really want to know is if it works. Here’s our experience implementing the potty training process and tips recommended in the book called Oh Crap, Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki.

What follows is my experience of successfully potty training my 20 month old boy from diapers to self-initiation in about 2 weeks. Here’s how we did it…

Pre-potty training To Do List

After reading about the first day of potty training, I knew that it would be intense. The idea is to completely ditch the diapers and let your little one run around in the buff all day while you watch them intensely to see when they start to potty. I’d have to be prepared if I was really going to watch my little one that closely.

Here’s what I did to prepare. Actually, I wouldn’t have gotten this done at all except that my husband really did most of it for me while I was getting my 20 month old to bed after a long and exhausting day.

If you’re able, I highly recommend doing this the night before you start potty training.

  • Pre-make meals and snacks in single-serving containers.
  • Barricade the kitchen (or other room without carpet) to keep toddler on an easily washable surface.
  • Separate out washable toys
  • Clear social calendar, not hard to do in a one-car family.
  • Make plenty of All Purpose Cleaner for accidents.

Day 1: Potty Training “Boot Camp”

Day one of potty training felt a little like a police stakeout. You sit and watch intently for hours and nothing happens.

Your vision blurs. Your eyelids get heavy.

You snack anxiously and wonder if anything is ever going to happen.

A full two hours after ditching the diapers, BabyE still had not made his move.

Then all of a sudden, some squatting, some toots, and I missed all the action.

The rest of the day went a bit better. After two hours of nothing, he decided to make up for lost time by peeing every twenty minutes for the rest of the day.

The upside was that it gave us a lot of opportunities to practice our potty skills.

Day 2

I was terrified to put pants on him on day two. How was I going to catch him when he started peeing if I couldn’t see it?

I had a whole stack of clean pants ready, just sure I would be changing him constantly.

Then nothing happened.

No accidents. No clothing changes. No extra loads of laundry. This really works!

I really did need to hand the responsibility over to him just like Jamie said. He was more than capable.

He asked to poop on the potty and actually did it!! What?!

Day 4 

Jamie lays out an option to either do potty training during the day at first and eventually add in naps and night time or to to do it all at once.

We opted to get it all over with at one time.

In a momentous mommy ceremony, I washed the diapers and packed them away for the new baby. We were not going back.

E continued to make progress every day.

He got the pee thing down as long as I prompted him. He also learned he was supposed to poop in the potty, and told me when he needed to go, but it was a bit of a struggle for him to actually do it once we got there.

Who can blame him? It was so different from what he was used to.

We had one accident at the end of the night, but cutting back on liquids earlier in the day took care of it.

This potty training was really just a time commitment over the first day. It’s was already SO much easier by Day 4! AND hello I hadn’t changed a diaper in 4 days! So weird!

Day 6

At some point, I realized that I had stopped seeing my child as a powder keg waiting to go off, or at least spring a slow leak.

Things were getting back to normal. He played, I wrote, and we did chores together. We went outside to play and for walks.

Day 8

We went down to one wake up at night and he was still dry on the morning of Day 8.

That was also the first morning he had an easy poop on the potty. Before that it took four or five tries of half an hour each to get it out. It was so hard to watch!

Day 9

We made the drive over to Nana’s house for my sister’s baby shower, and E hung out with Daddy all day.

It was great for us all to have someone other than Mommy be solely responsible for potty training.

I think there were a couple of accidents, but they both picked it up really fast. And the baby shower went beautifully, too!

We are still working on making sure he asks to go when we leave him with other caregivers for church, but we’ll get there.

Day 14

Self initiation started around the two week point. That means that almost every time, E was asking to go potty when he needed to go. I was no longer responsible for when anyone needed to do their business except for myself. Woohoo!

Potty Training and Beyond

As I write this, I have not changed a diaper in 25 days!!

I love that this was an all or nothing deal, kinda like ripping off a band-aid, except for it didn’t hurt.

It was exhausting at first, but it got a lot easier quick. And I got to pack away the diapers people!! 

There was none of this we’re going to try to potty train or getting stuck on wearing training pants at night forever. 

We did it and did it fast.

Now I just wish I could give Jamie a big hug.

I really like that this system does not rely on stickers or candy as an incentive for going in the potty. (BabyE eats them both, and neither is good for him.)

It gives personal responsibility to your toddler for something that they are fully capable of doing. I wish all of toddler parenting were this easy.

Now that I’ve been through the potty training process, I realize that E was probably actually ready for this around 18 months.

Potty Training Update: My little one is now 3 years old. It is still going great! It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing there for a while after baby sister arrived, but we never had to go back to diapers or anything like that. Here’s my advice for avoiding any issues with regressions and bed wetting along the way. 

Oh Crap, Potty Training! Review

The book is very entertaining and a quick read. In fact you only need to read the first five chapters to get started. If you don’t run into many problems, you probably won’t have to visit most of the later chapters at all. If you do, then every question you could possibly have is answered there.

If you are sensitive to a little language or potty jokes just cover your eyes for those parts. Jamie is in fact a hilarious writer, which is a nice feature for this sometimes stressful subject matter.

One of the other great things about this PDF eBook is that it’s actually formatted for an e-reader rather than a letter-sized sheet of paper. Almost no other PDF eBook I’ve read to date has had this amazing feature. Of course, you can read it right on your computer screen too.

Oh Crap, Potty Training! is now available for Kindle and in Paperback on Amazon.

Seriously, get the book. Read it. Do exactly what Jamie says. It will work.

Are you thinking about potty training? Have you tried it? How did it go? 

Title Image by thejbird on Flikr.

shannon Clark, LIFE & FINANCIAL Coach

As a mom, I know what it's like to feel exhausted, overwhelmed by life, and inadequate to meet my children's needs. But I also know you don't have to stay there.

As an author and coach, I've had the joy of encouraging more than 9.1 million moms to find forward motion with their faith, family, and finances — without the frenzy.

Will you be next?