Doing the Potty Dance – Questions and Answers on Potty Training with Dr. Gwenn

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A year ago, I was collecting potties and prepping for one of the most intense weeks of my life.  I planned on blogging a lot of it, you know, things I learned along the way, funny stories, pleas for advice and encouragement… I posted a few video diaries along the way.

But then it was OVER.  And I was so OVER it.

The days that I had dreaded since seeing four heartbeats on the ultrasound machine were behind us and I was too busy celebrating our graduation into “Big Boy” status to go back and revisit how we survived it. I buried the lime green IKEA potties in the closet, donated our left over Pull-Ups, threw away the sticker charts, and gave away every potty related video/book that we had collected.

But now that my quadruplet boys have been potty trained (both day and night) for nearly a year, I’m ready to revisit the topic and share what I learned along the way.  I’d love to be a resource and an encouragement to many of you going through (or preparing) for this much anticipated task. Trust me, if we can survive potty training four boys at the same time, you can do it too! 

Just because we trained four at once doesn’t really make us “experts”, but I had the opportunity to talk with one last night.  I spoke via conference call with Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, who is a pediatrician, health journalist, parenting and social media expert, and is the CEO of Pediatrics Now. (Yep, that makes her the expert not little ole me!)

She addressed many common questions and concerns that moms have on potty training, and I took good notes so that I could share them with you:

  • My child has no interest in potty training. What we can do to get him/her interested?

Dr. Gwenn: Some children, even at the age of 3, just aren’t ready to begin the potty training process. Try looking for your child’s cues on when they might be ready, as there really is no magic age for beginning the process, and consider beginning potty training at that point. It may even take the encouragement of a grandparent, teacher or other mentor to get your tot motivated.

{Personal Note: Our boys didn’t show every single sign of potty training before we started the process, but they picked up on it quickly through experience. Sometimes accidents were the best way (even with the mess involved) to increase their awareness.}

  • My child was having potty training success but suddenly decided that he/she no longer wants to use the potty. How can we get back on track?

Dr. Gwenn: A child may begin to demonstrate a power struggle with a parent, where the child wants to take control of the potty training process. Consider taking a break from mentioning the potty training to your child, and focus on other developmental milestones. You may find that your child takes control of the situation on his/her own altogether and has consistent potty training success.

  • What’s the best way to potty train at night? My child has been dry for several nights in a row. When is a good time to switch to underwear at night?

Dr Gwenn: The process of staying dry overnight is biological vs. behavioral. You can limit drinks at bedtime and/or wake the child up before you go to bed at night to encourage success. However, staying dry at night is a growth and urinary maturity issue that is very individual in nature.  You can always try underwear and go back if they regress, just remember that all kids have accidents at night periodically and reassure your child throughout the transition.

{Personal Note: We transitioned to underwear at night when our boys were staying dry at night more consistently. We didn’t worry about it in our initial stages of potty training.  I think their best lesson was through allowing them to have accidents at night and learn through experience, without discouraging their overall success.}

  • My child refuses to go #2 on the potty, but has had fabulous success otherwise. Any ideas of how to encourage her to attempt this next step?

Dr. Gwenn: There are multiple factors that can contribute to this common problem: fear, constipation, a battle of the will, leverage, etc. The big potty might be too difficult for your child, as they may need leverage and their feet on the ground. Celebrating the awareness as a success is key. Eventually they will want to and this issue will sort itself out with less pressure and anxiety.

{Personal Note: Training the boys to go #2 was almost an entirely different process.  It took longer and was more difficult to predict.  It also conflicted with nap schedules, which was stressful and exhausting. Try not to be discouraged over setbacks and accidents and know that this too will come along in time.}


You can find more questions and answers on the potty training process in the Advice Section of the Pull-Ups Facebook Page. Also, join thousands of moms and kids for The Pull-Ups Potty Dance Party on March 5th.  You can dance along with us at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum or watch the live concert from home.

Here’s more details:


Potty Dance Day!

· When: Saturday, March 5, 2011; 11:30am EST – 12:30pm EST

· Where: Tune in at at 11:30am EST for a special LIVE streamed concert from children’s music group, Ralph’s World, where they’ll be performing The Potty Dance or in person at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum

· RSVP: At Pull-Ups Facebook Page

What is the best advice YOU have received on potty training?


Pull-Ups has compensated me for my time and efforts in my involvement in this program, which includes talking about my experiences potty training. Additionally, the brand supplied me with upcoming reader giveaways. However, my opinions on the product and Potty Dance Day experience are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Pull-Ups® or their products.

5 thoughts on "Doing the Potty Dance – Questions and Answers on Potty Training with Dr. Gwenn"

  1. KS Dallas says:

    My comment goes to the night time training. When my daughter was little – she would be fine all day, but still had night accidents. So, of course, we did the pull ups at night. Well, one night I ran out of pull ups, so she went to bed in just panties. She woke up a few hours later, wet. The next night she woke up just as she started to wet the bed. After that – she never wet the bed again. It was the easiest part of the potty training process for me.

  2. Danielle Barton says:

    The best advice I’ve ever read, was to skip pull ups entirely. YES! I agree whole heartedly. I think pull-ups DELAY potty training because, like a diaper, it pulls the wetness away from their bums and they don’t feel the immediate “yipes! I’m wet and I don’t like it!” Even the cold pull-ups didn’t work for my 1st daughter. One time I was trying to get her to go potty before we left the house, and she proved it to me… she said… I don’t want to go potty, just put a diaper on me!! The diaper/pull up just becomes an excuse to not be potty trained! I went to underwear cold turkey for my 3rd daughter and while she’s not 100% potty trained – she’s been dry all day every day for weeks now. Her only accidents tend to be poop “on-purposes” because she’s been leery of going on the potty. My breakthrough with pooping is for her to sit on her potty chair and put her feet way up for leverage! works like a charm

  3. Julie says:

    I think the best advice to give to a potty training battled weary parent is that it won’t last forever, they will learn it and to not give up when it gets hard. If you do give up in the beginning, it will be that much harder the next time.
    Look for the signs of readiness, but don’t wait for ALL the signs to be there to start.
    Make it fun, give lots of encouragement and expect to have more patience than you ever thought you would need.
    You are so right, if you can do it with four boys at one time, anyone can do it with theirs.
    You guys do such an amazing job. We were by you guys yesterday on a way to a funeral (unfortunately) but while driving I couldn’t help but think of you all and how you were doing. Well I hope.
    It is so nice of you to unblock those sometimes not fun memories of potty training to help others.
    I shared a link to your story on my site to hopefully reach more parents looking for help.

  4. We got through potty training the twins a couple years ago and will soon start our youngest, who is now 2. With the twins, my son was eager to go potty although it took him longer to learn to stay dry. My daughter was leary at first but suddenly figured it out and trained pretty quickly once she got over her slight fear of the potty.

    Our youngest though has NO interest in the potty and is actually TERRIFIED of it right now. He’ll talk about the potty, read books, watch his siblings use it, but when we attempt to get him to sit on it or even stand near it, he freaks out. We’re not pushing him but I certainly wonder when he’ll come around!

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