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Poop, pee and the potty: How to train your toddler with empathy + humor

For more successful and healthier potty training, follow your their lead: when he’s ready to use the potty, he will.

Poop, pee and the potty: How to train your toddler with empathy + humor

Potty training your toddler can be very exciting—for both parents and kids. It can be very symbolic, representing the transition out of “Babyhood” into “Big-Kid” world. Toddlerhood is an age of tremendous emotional and psychological growth for your child–and potty training encompasses many of the issues that toddlers are sorting out: independence, self-regulation (mastery of his or her body) and social awareness.


Though all too often, amongst the excitement, there are inadvertently imposed feelings of pressure and stress to accomplish this task.

The pressure can have negative long-term physical and emotional implications on your child, such as stool withholding, chronic constipation, anxiety with toileting, control battles and self-esteem issues.

The simplest recommendation I can make regarding potty training is this: follow your child’s lead! Don’t put pressure on your child—or yourself—by imposing time limits and structures on potty training.

Follow your child’s lead: when he is ready to use the potty, he will.

Really, this is one of the few things in parenting that is better to be one step behind your child on, rather than ahead. Let your toddler show you when they are ready. You may end up waiting longer than your friends to have a potty-trained child, but chances are, the process will be shorter, smoother and have fewer long term negative consequences. It’s worth the wait, trust me.

When should we start?

Most children are ready sometime around age three years. Some kids are ready at two years and some not until four years of age. There is a huge range of “normal.” Often, first children take longer to train than their younger sibs—because the younger ones have their older sibs as models for their behavior and an obvious goal they are trying to catch-up to.

For your child to be ready to use the potty, he needs to be able to sense the urge, know what that feeling means, then verbalize the need for assistance or be physically capable of getting to the bathroom and taking care of business.

Very first steps towards potty training involve your child knowing (and usually caring) when their diaper is full. Taking off the diaper, complaining or crying when it is dirty—these are all good signs! When your child starts to show interest in you or your spouse or their sib using the bathroom—that too, is a first step.

Encourage them to join you in the bathroom. Let them watch and see what happens in there.

Have Potty Parties! Get him his own potty to sit on next to you while you are on yours. Let him first sit with his clothes on and get comfortable with the seat. If she wants to sit on the potty with her clothes and diaper off, even better! You can help facilitate your child making that mind-body connection by letting him run around naked (especially from the waist down). Summertime is an ideal time to do this—if you have a yard, you can let her run around outside naked. Then, “accidents” are not so bothersome. They are simply a perfect way for your child to figure out how his body works.

Positive rewards and interactive games are all great to use when potty training.

Remember, there are lots of incremental steps that most kids need to take to be potty-trained—so praise each one. Don’t just focus on praising the “goal.” If your child tells you he needs to pee, then does on the living room floor, try something like this: “That was great how you listened to your body and then told me you had to pee! Next time, let’s try to get the pee in the potty.”

For boys, throwing some fruit loops or cheerios in the potty can be fun target practice and make peeing in the potty fun.

Reward the successes, but never, ever, punish or reprimand the failures when it comes to potty training. Your child wants to be successful at this—really, they do! They want to please you—really, they do! But most likely, they are not going to do any of it until they are ready. On their own terms. Be patient. Your child is not going to kindergarten in diapers.

For more information, please go to the AAP’s website.

This information is meant only as a guideline, not as medical advice. It is important to discuss this topic with your child’s pediatrician. All children are different, have different developmental and physical growth trajectories and will be meeting milestones at different times.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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