"Oh Crap! Potty Training" by Jamie Glowacki

Review by Borodutch

So this moment has come. I'm reading literature on potty training as my first kid is inching toward the need to ditch the diapers. Initially, I thought we'd use the diapers until he's three years old, but after reading enough advice on the internet, it seems like having a child not use diapers is quite helpful.

But first, let me start with an important public service announcement: urine is not sterile, no matter what anyone tells you. I repeat: urine is not sterile! Don't drink it, don't put it on burns, and don't use it to "heal" the tissues. This is a highly harmful myth. Now, let's get back to the book.

For some unknown reason, the author overcomplicates the process by using made-up terminology that sometimes doesn't make sense. The whole method consists of a few "stages" that the author called "blocks." There are 5 "blocks" (but I'm going to use the word "stage" from now on). What are these five blocks?

  1. Take off diapers, hide the rugs, let the kid run around naked, have a potty nearby, and pay full attention to the kid for a whole day. As soon as they start peeing or pooping or give you a hint that they need to go — you move them to the potty.
  2. Next day you put on slip-on trousers and other closing and do the same for the whole day.
  3. The third stage is the longest because you spend increasing intervals outside the house trying to trust the kid not to wet or soil their pants. If they need to go, they ask you — and you get them to an appropriate place to relieve themselves.

But why three stages? Didn't I tell you there were five? Oh, so I did. And so did the author. I have no idea about stages 4 and 5 — and for some reason, I could make no sense of them. Anyway, here's what the whole process is about — gradually move the child through the following stages:

  1. Clueless (keeps running around without noticing that they peed)
  2. "I peed"
  3. "I'm peeing"
  4. "I need to pee"

We apply the same stages to pooping. There are a few other notes about the book I made:

  • Regressions happen for a variety of reasons; keep pushing through
  • There is an excellent summary of the book in the end for fathers
  • Having a red party cup in the washroom is a cool way to allow kids to pee while you're also peeing (and hence occupying the large bowl sometimes without the potty in sight)
  • Having a portable potty in the car at all times is a must
  • You can use sticky notes in public washrooms to fool the automatic flush sensors
  • The author suggests waking up the child in the middle of the night to pee; this is highly questionable due to how important sleep is for kids; don't wake up your kids mid-night
  • The author has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, like a stereotypical "mom with a wine glass"; normalization of alcoholism is not cool and must be frowned upon; don't make your spouse drunk if you want them to live longer
  • When you're potty training a child, cancel all plans — the whole week is going to be dedicated solely to this

Even though I bash the author with the number of myths, misconceptions, and harmful and unscientific advice sprinkled throughout the book, I recommend reading the whole book. Take everything the author says with a tonne of salt, but there are great tidbits of knowledge and valuable advice. For instance, the author addresses multiple regression scenarios and how to approach fixing them.

Worth a read if you have a close-to-20-month-ish baby. Godspeed!