Ready to say goodbye to diapers? Here’s how to use the Oh Crap potty training method to successfully potty train your toddler!
Parenting is a fantastic job with many rewarding benefits, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. From the moment your baby is born, you are learning how to parent day after day; you are learning while you are teaching, and one of the most challenging teaching lessons we face is the dreaded potty training.
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What is the Oh Crap Potty Training Method?
The good news is that there are great sources that can help parents battle this task without feeling overwhelmed. Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right by potty-training expert Jamie Glowacki offers an effective process that gives you the tools to successfully potty-train your child.
The Oh Crap potty training method helps to steer clear of common issues such as potty power struggles and constipation. However, to really be successful with this proven 6-step plan, you need to be 100% dedicated to the steps I’ll cover below and remember consistency is critical.
How to Use the Oh Crap Potty Training Method Summary
Once you know your little one is ready for the potty, it is time to start the process. In the Oh Crap method, there are six blocks that you should follow to potty-train your child, that if done right, should work like a charm.
Don’t get me wrong, it is challenging and exhausting and HARD to follow these 6 steps, but if you can stick to it, it works. Jamie Glowacki is called the pied piper of poop for a reason! Her method works.
I realllllyyyy suggest that you purchase and read the whole book. It is full of tons of great information that I can’t even begin to touch upon in my blog posts. Reading the book is one of the best things you can do.
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for my tips on using the oh crap potty training method for twins, things to avoid while using the oh crap potty training method, aannnnddddd surefire signs that your toddler is indeed ready for potty training.
The Oh Crap potty method is one of the best ways to potty train. We potty trained our oldest using the 3 day potty training method and it worked like a charm. We foolishly thought that we were geniuses at potty training, when the reality was, we just got really lucky.
When we had to start potty training our twins? Totally different story. It’s really hard to potty train two toddlers at the same time, but it’s even harder when there is an older sibling who needs your attention as well!
We ended up not being fully committed. Finally, I read the Oh Crap method summary and immediately knew every single thing I had been doing wrong. This is why it is extremely crucial to follow the oh crap potty training blocks exactly and not to move forward until your child is ready!
Oh Crap Potty Training Method Cheat Sheet
The method is broken up into blocks and you stay on each block until it’s mastered. However long it takes to be mastered varies so much between children and that’s totally fine and normal! Here is a handy Oh Crap potty training cheat sheet that you can screenshot or print for reference when you’re ready to start potty training.
- Oh Crap Potty Training Block 1: Peeing and pooping while completely naked.
- Oh Crap Potty Training Block 2: Peeing and pooping with their clothes on, minus their underwear.
- Oh Crap Potty Training Block 3: Peeing and pooping outside of the house, in all types of situations and places, still commando.
- Oh Crap Potty Training Block 4: Peeing and pooping while fully clothed, including underwear!
- Oh Crap Potty Training Block 5: Peeing and pooping on their own, without reminders.
- Oh Crap Potty Training Block 6: Nap and nighttime training.
There you have it! Easy peasy, right? OK, I’ll walk you through the potty training oh crap method blocks below.
When you and your child are going through these steps, you must keep your cool and be patient.
Remember: your child must complete each block without having any accidents before you should move onto the next one. This is the most crucial step to potty training success using the Oh crap potty method.
Oh Crap Potty Training Method Cliff Notes: Step By Step
Oh Crap Potty Training Block 1: Naked
OK, Oh Crap method block one is letting your child be completely naked from the waist down and watching them literally for the entire day.
You will want to count on at least a long weekend for this block, but 4-5 days is also common. Don’t forget to give them plenty of liquids. We don’t do a lot of juice in our house, but when we are potty training? Juice all day (watered down, of course!).
Just take a little potty with you in whatever room of the house you’re in. I suggest camping out in the living room for the entire weekend with a movie marathon and covering any furniture with something that’s water-resistant. Roll up the rugs and hide away and throw blankets and pillows.
When you see them start to pee or poop, immediately pick them up and place them on the potty, while telling them what they’re doing. If you miss any instance of them going, it will delay the process.
For this reason, put your phone away. You may think that you can just glance at Instagram super fast (speaking of, are you following me there? I post lots of fun stuff, so you should be!), but you will be surprised at how quickly your child can poop or pee EVERYWHERE and make the potty training process take longer.
I’m not kidding. This is why it’s sooo hard to potty train when you have older children. If you can have one parent handle school drop off, meals, etc, and postpone extracurricular activities for a week or so, it will be so worth it. I know that’s not always possible though, trust me.
When you see them starting to go: “Oh, look! You’re peeing! Let’s hold the rest of it until you’re on the potty! There you are, now finish peeing! Look at that, you got some pee in the potty! HOORAY! Next time let’s get all of the pee in the potty! Woohoo, great job!” <— say this AS YOU’RE PICKING THEM UP AND RUNNING THEM TO THE POTTY AS FAST AS YOU CAN!
You want to make sure that you don’t sound upset or panicked when you’re doing this. Being encouraging and positive and making a big deal out of getting the smallest drop of pee in the potty is so important!
Remember: they are used to going to the bathroom whenever and wherever they are. They don’t even notice that they are going! The entire goal of block one oh crap potty training is for your child to realize that they are peeing or pooping.
It’s also important to not ask them if they have to pee or poop. Tell them when it’s time for them to try to go. Once you pick up on their potty signs, this will be much easier.
The first day will be absolutely exhausting, and I think it’s even harder if it’s your first-time potty training because nothing prepares you for how mentally exhausting it is.
At the end of the day, make sure you have nothing important to do because you will need some serious time to relax (read: wine and/or ice cream) and recuperate so that you have the energy to do it all over again the next day (and the next, and next, and next…).
Tip: It’s really important to start out with an actual little potty chair, instead of a toddler-sized seat cover that goes over a grown-up-sized toilet. You need to be right next to the potty for so many days, and I doubt you want to camp out in the bathroom!
These potty covers are awesome for once you have successfully completed all of the oh crap potty training blocks. I like to switch to the regular toilet as soon as we are confident that we are potty trained. It’s much easier than having to dump out the little potty!
Oh Crap Potty Training Block 2: Commando
Once your child is not having accidents while being naked, it’s time for block two. Block two oh crap potty training method is putting clothes on BUT NO UNDERWEAR. The commando part is crucial!!!!! Why? Basically, underwear feels exactly the same to a toddler as a diaper does. Having that snug feeling of underwear will trigger their muscle memory and they will revert to peeing and pooping whenever they feel the urge.
So, for block two, you’re basically going to repeat block one, but with loose-fitting clothing and no underwear. Let me tell you, this is much easier with little girls than with little boys because girls can just wear a dress and still be commando!
You can take short outings in this block, like a walk around the block or to the local park. Make sure it’s someplace that it isn’t the end of the world if they have an accident.
Tip: plan to take this outing immediately after your child has used the potty!
Oh Crap Potty Training and Daycare
If your child is in daycare, you’ll have to talk with the daycare provider to see how they want to handle this. I know that some daycares don’t allow the children to be without underwear, and obviously the whole being completely naked part will not fly at daycare.
Depending on your work and daycare situation, you might have to put your child back in daycare in block 2. I strongly suggest you communicate well in advance to see what the daycare is willing to do and how much they’re willing to help out.
Tip: I have heard from other moms that they have sized up several sizes in underwear if their daycare provider wouldn’t allow their child to go commando. The larger underwear doesn’t even feel like underwear to your little one.
Oh Crap Potty Training Block 3: Real Outings
With oh crap potty training block three, you can finally go on some real outings… STILL COMMANDO. You want your little one to become comfortable peeing and pooping outside of their home and on a big potty.
I definitely suggest putting on shorts or pants and not simply a dress for little girls at this point. You don’t want to risk any exposure of their private parts. A dress is fine for at home and definitely the best way to go, just not in public.
Make sure that you have a change of clean, dry clothes with you wherever you go. I remember when I was potty training my twins and one of our first outings was to the grocery store. As soon as we got inside they both announced that they had to pee. Spoiler: neither one of them actually went!
Oh Crap Potty Training Block 4: Underwear!
Underwear. UNDERWEAR!! This is a huge milestone in potty training and you should feel so proud (and also very relieved) that you have made it to the underwear stage!!
Once your child is wearing underwear, you still want to prompt them to use the toilet frequently. You can go about life as normal but with (very) frequent potty breaks!
Tip: Block four of oh crap potty training is the most common block for regressions. Don’t let it frustrate you! We are dealing with muscle memory and underwear can feel very similar to a diaper. Simply remove the underwear for a day and then try again.
Oh Crap Potty Training Block 5: Self-Initiation
When you reach block 5, you can stop telling your child to use the potty so frequently because they will start to initiate and tell you when they have to go. That’s the goal, at least!
They will definitely still need to be reminded to use the bathroom before leaving the house and before bedtime, but for goodness sakes, my 7 and 5-year-olds still need to be reminded at those times!
Night Training and Nap Training Using the Oh Crap Method
The book’s recommendation (and my recommendation!!) is to do night and nap training at the same time you do daytime training.
You might be thinking that I’ve lost my ever loving mind.
But let me tell you how it went for us. Our oldest, Theo, was potty trained in 3 days. The first day when I put him down for a nap, I felt like a huge hypocrite telling him that we were done with diapers and then putting one on him. I know it’s totally fine, but it felt weird to me!
We ditched diapers that night and didn’t look back and he was 100% potty trained, like for real, zero accidents, three days later.
When it came time to potty train our twins, there was absolutely no way that I was going to attempt nap time and nighttime potty training with twins. Noooo, no no no. Well, it took a really. long. time. to potty train them. When I say a long time, it took 8 months, and it wasn’t until I finally buckled down, read the oh crap potty training book, and took away the dang pull-ups for nap and bedtime that it finally *clicked* with them.
So, if you want to try just day time potty training, I get it. I completely get it. Potty training is hard work and having a break at the end of the day is such a relief. But, nighttime potty training is not as hard as it sounds. I encourage you to give it a try!!!
Oh Crap Potty Training Method Troubleshooting
There are some things you should avoid with oh crap potty training (actually potty training in general!) You never want to do anything that may discourage your toddler or make them nervous to try and go.
- Never use bribery to encourage your kid to go on the toilet. In the book, Glowacki discusses how bribing your child is setting yourself and your kid up for failure and can make the potty training process more difficult.
OK, so… the book strongly suggests not to use a bribe to reward your child for going on the potty, but I totally did, and guess what? My kids turned out totally fine. I think that the key is being very nonchalant about the reward. I do a single m&m or chocolate chip for pee and a small handful for poop.
If it’s a challenging time for parents, then guess what? It’s also a challenging time for the child! We’re rewarding ourselves in the evening with a treat, so the kids should be rewarded as well. Anything to make the process a little bit more enjoyable, if you ask me 🙂
And I phased out the treats when we were ready with no problem at all. But a few organic chocolate chips a day is not a big deal to me!
- Never force your child onto the toilet or hover over them while they are sitting there. A big step in potty training is learning independence. If you start to push too hard, you may draw out the process.
- Never yell or punish. Patience is a virtue; keeping your cool is key to success. Make potty training a rewarding experience.
- Avoid pull-ups. It can seem nerve-wracking to take your newly trained little one out without a pull-up on, but it is NOT a good idea. A pull-up feels just like a diaper and it will cause their muscle memory to go right back to peeing and pooping in their diaper. After all, they have been going potty in this method for their entire life!
- Do not push the steps. Trying to get through the oh crap potty training blocks too quickly will not be beneficial in any way and it might actually hinder any progress.
The book will explain in greater detail why you should not do these things, and it will give you a better idea of how to handle every situation you may encounter.
Oh Crap Potty Training Tips
- Make sure you take enough time to potty train. You’re just going to have to trust me on that. We attempted to potty train our twins shortly before going on vacation (I hadn’t read the book yet!) and it simply wasn’t enough time. We were nervous that they would have accidents on the airplane and in our rental house, so we put pull-ups on them. This completely caused them to regress. Completely.
- Stay 100% committed. Once you’ve committed to potty training, it’s crucial that you stay the course. Being wishy-washy about your decision or “casually” potty training will delay your progress.
Using the “Oh Crap” Potty Training Method for Twins
Potty training one kid can be a grueling task, so having to potty train two toddlers at one time can make any parent go mad, or so you may think. To be honest, training twins at the same time could make the process just a touch easier as one child could be a great mascot for the other.
Granted, both twins may not be ready to train at the exact same time, and you may end up holding off a little bit longer for one until the other catches up. If you are up for the challenge, you can start the “Oh Crap” method with one, but that may become too much for everyone involved when you have one child pooping on the floor and the other filling their pants.
No matter when you choose to start potty training your twins, you can follow the same directions as the ones above; you will just have to do it twice.
What Not to Do If You Have Twins
You do not want one twin to discourage the other, here are things you should never do when potty training twins.
- Stray away from award charts. You never want to make one child feel “less than” the other. Potty training isn’t a race.
- Do not compare. Never use one twin’s potty training success to make the other feel like they need to catch up.
Potty Training Signs of Readiness
Before you strip down your child and wait to clean up a mess, you need to figure out whether or not they are actually ready to potty train. Unfortunately, just because you are ready to be done with diapers and pull-ups doesn’t necessarily mean they are.
Pushing a child to potty train before they are mentally and emotionally ready to do so could cause more problems for you in the long run. So, how can you tell when your child is ready to potty train?
They Are Bothered by Dirty Diapers
If your child is taking off their diaper or pull up right after going to the bathroom in it, that is a great indication they are ready to start potty training. The feeling of being dirty is uncomfortable for them, and they are going to be more willing to use the toilet.
They Can Communicate
Can your child tell you when they are hungry or want another story at bedtime? If they can express themselves when they want something, they can express themselves when they feel like they need to go to the bathroom.
They Hide to Poop
If you notice that your child is standing in a corner or squatting on the side of the couch while they do their business in their pull-up, they are ready to use the toilet. According to Jamie Glowacki, if your child is going to a private place when they have to poop, it means they are more conscious of what they are doing and ready for some privacy.
They Are Mobile
If your toddler has perfected the act of running away from you in the middle of a diaper change—or even worse, as they are still going—you can rest assured knowing they will be able to make it to the toilet when the time comes.
They Wake Up Dry
Your child waking up dry in the morning or after a nap shows that your child’s bladder is capable of “holding it.” If your child can stay dry for 2 hours or more, chances are good they are ready. On the flip side, if they AREN’T waking up dry, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t begin potty training.
Preparing Your Toddler for Potty Training
To prepare your toddler for potty training success, try using a few of these tactics to make them excited to start the journey:
- Books, books, and more books. Read potty books to them about other children learning how to pee and poop on the potty.
- Talk to them about going pee and poop on the toilet and why it is important before you even attempt to make them do it.
- Let them into the bathroom with you while you are going in a “lead by example” approach.
- Read a potty training book with them geared towards children to help them understand what it means to use the toilet.
- Let your child “play” with a potty chair. Teach them what should go in there and what should not.
Potty training with the “Oh Crap” potty training method can make a very tricky milestone seem like a breeze. As long as each parent, teacher, babysitter, etc., is willing to follow the plan and be consistent, the method will be successful.
Jamie Glowacki really shows her expertise in the art of successful potty training in this book and has helped an enormous number of parents get through potty training within a few short weeks. Now it’s time for you to head over to Amazon and grab your copy to start your potty training journey today!