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Bare Bottom Potty Training: Here's How It Works

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Let me tell you about potty training my son. I thought it would be so easy. He'd basically potty trained himself to go number two in the potty, each time happily saying "no mess!" You can see why I thought he'd be on board with peeing in the potty as well. I mean, no mess, right? Not even slightly. I was kidding myself. Everyone told us just to rip off the diaper and let him get the point. We used the bare bottom potty training method and how it works is definitely messy — there's no two ways about it. (I mean, the name kind of says it all.)

Bare bottom potty training — sometimes referred to as the "diaper free" method — and its more intense cousin, the "three day bootcamp" method, are exactly as they sound. It's all about allowing your child to go commando around the house for a few days to learn their cues and decipher how and when they need to get their tiny booties to the potty. You begin after you've assessed the readiness of your child to be potty trained, and communicated with them how and where to go, noted Potty Training Solution. You then schedule a period of days (usually three) wherein you set up a potty and them allow them to go about their day without a diaper or pants. You'll continually encourage them to try to use the potty and assess their own needs. The goal is that your toddler will be able to understand their needs better via the process of having accidents and successes with the potty.

According to the website for Dr. Sears, "Covering up the evidence delays toddler toilet training. Diapers keep baby from making the connection between the urge to release and what he needs to do about it, and they do for baby what baby needs to learn to do for himself."

When it comes to bare bottom potty training and how it works, you need to start with an open communication with your child. According to the Three Day Potty Training method, you need to be able to communicate several things with your child. These include discussing with your baby why they should want privacy to go to the bathroom, what they're feeling, and what they should do when the urge strikes. The website noted that contrary to popular belief, "Experts have proven that toddlers have sharp memories and can follow simple directions."

Both the Three Day Method and Dr. Sears' guide focus on using visuals like books such as Everybody Poops, YouTube videos, and even fun sticker charts or wall art for them to connect pottying with something more concrete in their mind. It also helps them associate the right words with the act, like "I need to poop" or "I need to pee pee."

I will tell you that years later, I can still sing the Daniel Tiger potty song from memory. Also, I still find myself singing it to my 10-year-old when he inevitably tries to leave the bathroom without flushing the toilet or washing his hands if he's in the middle of a video game. "Flush and wash and be on your way." Does he roll his eyes at me? Probably, but not anywhere I can see him doing it. He also washes his dang hands and flushes the toilet.

If only there was a "put the freaking seat down" song sung by a cuddly forest creature. I'd sing it to my husband.

When I did the bare bottom method, I took extra measures to ensure success. I'm not going to lie, I let my son eat his weight in honeydew and watermelon, kept his water cup full, and the soy milk flowing. When he inevitably had an accident, as toddlers are wont to do, I didn't make a big deal of it. I cleaned it up and moved on. (Although I did roll up the rugs for a few days.) If your child is one of those who doesn't like the feeling of being naked (at least from the waist down), this is kind of a big ask. It might be more challenging given the amount of bath and wash breaks this method requires.

To make the process as fun as possible, I also reinforced his successes with lots of positive praise. It was basically a party every time he peed in the potty and not in the corner. As per the Three Day Potty Training Method, "Appreciate them or give them a reward every time they do it right. This will excite them and make them do the job right next time. Children also love appreciation, so praise them when they do it right. Show them a positive response always."

For the long and tricky evenings, I started cutting off all his drinks and food after dinner. Yes, it's way harsh, but the bare bottom method aims for full control both night and day. I'd then wake him up three hours after he'd gone to sleep to go potty. I'd also, as per Oh Crap! Potty Training! by Jamie Glowacki, put him on the potty the first thing in the morning and just before bed to start good habits. It's a short time, and the rules are fluid (pun intended), but if your child is ready, it's totally doable.

As for the parents, you should buckle down and be ready to stay in for a few days. Whether you do the strict three-day plan, or you're spacing it out a bit more, have everything you need at the house so you don't have to go out. Also, buy stock in paper towels — you're going to use a lot of them.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.