Your Oh Crap Potty Training Cheat Sheet


When you’re already stuck at home, you might as well potty train your toddler right? I personally think there’s too much of a to-do about whether kids are “ready” and that it’s usually about whether the parents are ready! So if you have not potty trained yet, I recommend that you grab the chance to do it while we’re all sheltering in place.

My favorite potty training method is Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right. It’s the method I ultimately used to graduate from elimination communication and go completely diaper-free.

The downside of this method is that you can’t leave the house at the beginning. I have heard so many moms protest this limitation! That’s why I say you should do it now.

I read the book cover to cover and took detailed notes before I started training. I want to share my notes with you so that you can either 1) use them as a preview or 2) use them as a summary to refer back to after you read the book. I do not recommend that you skip over reading the book though! The author really knows what she is talking about and helps you understand her methodology in detail.

Some background: The Oh Crap method is broken into “blocks” instead of days, because each child will spend a different period of time in each block. Only move forward when your child masters each block.

Here we go:

Block 1

  • Remove the diapers from the home. Say “bye-bye diapers” to them with your child.
  • Keep your child completely naked for the whole day and watch them like a hawk. That means no playing on your phone or reading a book. Buy prepared meals or warm up something frozen.
  • Stare at your child all day. When you see them start to pee (or poop!) or you can just tell they’re about to, move them to the potty. Tell them plainly, “pee goes in the potty”.
  • You will figure out their poop signs first, but hang in there are trust the method when it comes to figuring out their pee signs.

Block 2

  • Put clothes on your child but NOT underwear. They are going to be going commando for approximately one month. When kids are accustomed to eliminating into a diaper, any clothing pressure will trigger them to go in their pants. Go for loose pants with elastic bands that you can pull down quickly, or even just dresses for girls.
  • In this block, you can take small outings. After your toddler uses the toilet, take a walk around the block. Don’t get to ambitious–set your child up to be able to get back in before they need to pee again.

Block 3

  • Now you can take longer outings (you know, as long as you can considering the Shelter-in-Place order).
  • Make sure your little one pees before you leave. That means you wait until they go.
  • Don’t have them sit for a long period of time, because that goes against this approach’s methodology.
  • Same goes for naptime and bedtime. Be a little flexible, allowing them to go before you put them down, even if you are electing to hold off on night training (which, by the way, the author claims is easiest done all in one go–personally I night trained two full years after I day trained, but I did go back to the same book)

Block 4

  • Introduce underpants! You can do this about three to five weeks from the time you start potty training.

Block 5

  • Block 5 is not something you do, it’s something your child does.
  • You will notice that he begins to consistently (if not 100%) self-initiate. That is when you have crossed over from a non-potty trained child to a potty-trained child.
  • Ease up on prompting when you see this, but don’t stop completely. Continue to prompt before you leave the house, before bed, or any other time that just makes sense.
  • Block 5 generally happens around three weeks after you start training. So hopefully that will be right on time for us to get back to normal!

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    • The main message is to be flexible with timing of the blocks. I believe both timeframes fit with spirit of the method, with three weeks probably on the low end. Agree with you that the inconsistency is a little confusing though.

    • You may want to stay commando for a full month even if your child moves into block 5 earlier than that. It can prevent backtracking. –Elisa (author)

  1. We are on day 6, (just finished) and my commando kid is now going when she wants to go, won’t be prompted (after day 3 or 4 she started screeching when led to the potty). No accidents for a few days now, and clear “I PEE” and a frantic run for the potty whenever that happens.

    I do have the cutest underwear for her ever but she has issues pulling it down so keep up with the commando for 3 more weeks? She’s 22 months the day after tomorrow.

    • I thought I had responded here, so apologies that this is coming through late. The answer was YES, stay commando 3-5 weeks. Introducing underwear too early can cause backtracking. We want to break that muscle memory that says “a diaper is a place for my pee” by not having anything up against the area for a while.

    • There are so many details that will inform your own experience potty training. If you provide me with more information (age, a description of your training, details on accidents and how often your LO does self-prompt, etc), I may be able to offer some advice. The author of OCPT also has an amazing YouTube page and offers private coaching. -Elisa (author)

    • lol same.. such April 2020 vibes. I had to scroll up to check the date. I used to love to say “back to normal” that ship has sailed.

      • When this one written, no one could have known what the future held. But, at that time, there was a lot of fear and we were in a full lock down. What a perfect time to potty train with this method. Now, life looks quite different. We understand so much more about how the virus spreads and almost nobody is still afraid to leave their home. But, with Omnicron we are also seeing a lot of quarantines. Obviously, if your family is infected, I would not use that time to PT. But if you need to stay home because school or work is on a 2-week shut down I would definitely grab this opportunity to train. Elisa (author)

  2. We’re on day 7. My son is 29 months old. He’s been in loose pj pants since day 4. Yesterday afternoon he started having more accidents and just standing instead of running for the potty. He hates when we prompt him, even for before meals and sleep times. Trying not to pressure him but be present and observant to catch the start of accidents. Any tips or is this in the range of normal?

    • I would take off his pants again, at least when at home. Whenever you do leave, it’s best if you wait until he pees and then go. Same with naps and meals. You may have to let your schedule slide a bit and wait until he goes to do things like meals and bedtime. Move the little potty into close range to wherever you are too.

    • You can also try having a toy or stuffy “go potty” in a little cup before meals/naps. “Oh it’s almost naptime, and Mr. Snuggles (or whatever) needs to go potty. Can you help him go?”

  3. Does anybody see that this is unhygienic? Kids sit on the floors and on furniture etc. This is the most ridiculous method I have ever seen.

  4. We’re struggling because my son is still commando. We’re a month in and he’s still just completely peeing through his pants once or twice a day. The rest of the time he is willing to go to the potty to pee if we prompt him but he’s fighting that more and more. I’ve read and reread and it seems that we’ve done everything according to the book so I am not sure why he is stuck at this stage! He’s pooping in the potty fine.

  5. I would go back to naked while at home for a little while. Watch him like a hawk and move him to the potty if he starts to pee. Keep the potty in close range. Try to stay in until he does pee and leave the house right after to set him up for success on outings. How old is your son?
    -Elisa (author)

  6. Is 3 years old too old for this? I see many people started when their child was younger. As you indicate, we, the parents, were likely not ready…ugh. thanks in advance!

    • According to the author, 20-30 months is the sweet spot. Of course you can still potty train an older child. There are some unique aspects to it though, and the book has a section devoted to just this topic. I would recommend reading it! I actually skipped that part since I trained earlier than 20 months, but based on my overall experience with the book and upon what I’ve heard from other moms training older toddlers with this method, I would venture to say that you will find it very helpful to read and refer back to throughout training! You can also choose another method such as using rewards (in this method you specifically reward “staying clean and dry” as opposed to rewarding “peeing in the potty”), or look into the 3-day method. Good luck!

  7. My 18 month old is on day 4. Day 2 he was peeing in the big toilet with a few accidents, day 3 he stopped. He’ll sit there happily but stopped going (no accidents either). How do you know if he is a camel or holding it? I stopped pushing fluids after day 2 when he was getting the hang of it.

    • First of all you’re right not to push fluids. This doesn’t work well for younger toddlers–their bladders just can’t handle it. You really don’t need to worry about whether he’s a camel or holding it. What I would do is keep that potty near and continue to keep a close watch for now. Definitely still commando now and I’d do naked/bottomless while at home until you figure out more about his “potty style” if you will! -Elisa (Author)

  8. We’re on day 3, block 1, my son is 26 months old. We’ve had a few successful pees in the potty, but it’s mostly him just standing there peeing and watching it, making no attempts to go towards the potty. If I get him and move him to the potty then he stops.
    I feel like we’re on the right track but still haven’t had any pees that we’re started on the potty.

    • Keep it up! Stay close to him and keep the little potty right next to where he is. Sit him down even if he has finished peeing and always say, “Pee goes in the potty.” Since this method is based on teaching him to read his body’s cues, it’s OK if you haven’t had any pees that were started in the potty quite yet. Sometimes parents get this more because they anticipated when their little one had to go and sat them down. That’s completely fine (and good!) but it doesn’t indicate a “faster” learning process. Self-initiation will come.

  9. I would do it now, with very small outings like around the block only right after he pees already. Then, whenever you are at home, go back into block 1 mode. Keep that mentality, letting his progress guide you.

  10. Currently on day 5 with my almost 25 month old. We’re on phase 2. Alternating between just pants or just boxers since I anticipate him wearing them to daycare at the end of the week. He can go when prompted but has protested at times. He’s self initiated once a day for 4 days now. Some accidents he pauses and finishes on potty and others I may miss completely. Trying to extend promoting to closer to 45 min vs. 30 and while catching any attempts he makes before our prompts. Looking for confirmation that we’re on track. I feel like his “accidents” (ones we catch/miss) hasn’t really improved yet.

  11. We are in phase 2 right now, maybe week 2. My daughter can self initiate, and she’ll go most of the time when prompted, but if she says no, I don’t force her, and we do just fine! She wakes herself to pee, so luckily I don’t have to worry there. Lol. The only thing is she used to poop on the potty a few months ago when we first started, and now she won’t. When I catch her in the act and place her on the potty, she will force herself to not sit and cry. How can I get her to run to the potty and poop or finish pooping once it’s already started? She did catch herself 2 weeks ago and finish on the potty, but I can’t make it consistent for her, and if she could poop on the potty, she’d be ready for underwear.

    • Sounds like she’s doing great and I’m glad to hear that you do not force. This helps her pay attention to her body’s cues. There’s a chapter on poop that I want you to go back and re-read. I am less familiar with it as I used this method for pee only (I did elimination communication for poop and then she self-trained). Back to you though—my first instinct is that your child may be slightly constipated. I would start by bumping up her fiber and giving her fruits like pear, prunes, plums, apple sauce etc. as well as olive oil anywhere you can. Poop works differently than pee because you have to engage the sphincter and push to go. With pee, accidents happen because you have to relax and release to go, but with poop your child probably is aware that she has to go and for some reason is avoiding the toilet (or she could be holding it for a long time). Remind her to go “when you first have the feeling that you need to go.” and focus on a high fiber diet to encourage success. There might be more tips in that chapter as well, and the author has a helpful YouTube channel that you may want to check out.

      • The reason I suspect constipation is because she used to go and now isn’t. It’s that or something else that’s making her avoid the toilet

  12. On day three with my 27th month old. On day two she told me twice she has to go to the potty and did pee! But mostly she starts up pee and I tell her to hold it and finish on the potty and she will buy I know she’s not completely emptying her bladder on the potty. Day three she peed on the potty then I put pants on her and we went outside and she immediately peed in her pants. Then later she peed on the potty and we went outback naked and she peed in the grass twice in 15 minutes. Like a lot of pee. Am I on the right track. She says I’m going pee and watches it.

    • A few things. I would not tell her to “hold it” I would simply move her to the potty. When she says she’s done, say something to the effect of “Can you get all the pee out?” or even “Can you pee some more/ a little more?” For outings try skirts and dresses to begin. You don’t have to start outings yet too, you might want to stick in block 1 a bit longer. When you go outside, start with short outings and only leave right after a pee at home. Bring the potty outside with you if you are taking her in the yard. And keep watching like a hawk, moving her to the potty to finish saying “pee goes in the potty”. If she says “I’m going pee” you move her and say “pee goes in the potty”.

      • Thank you! If I have to do a quick errand with her I know I’ll wait until she pees to leave. Should I put her in a dress even though she may have an accident? Or should I do a pull up or reusable diaper. Both of which she has never worn. Or will doing something like that set her back?

        • No pull-ups. They are just diapers. Nothing that goes up against the area like a diaper would. According to the book, the muscles have basically been trained to release pee and poop into a diaper. This method reverses that. Pants can also cause this issue if right, which is why dresses are ideal. I used to wait until she peed, leave on a walk to a place with a bathroom, have her pee there, also pee before leaving the place and again upon arriving home. If you have to go to the store, go first thing and get in and out. Going to a park or outside somewhere is the ideal outing early on.

          • Thank you. We are over two months into potty training and she was doing really well. Now her second molars are coming in and I’m sure that has to do with this regression. But she keeps tinkling in her pants/ underware. And has been having more accidents. Do I start over or just keep going?

  13. We are on day 4 of potty training by your method. Moved to block 2 yesterday after he peed in the potty consistently on his own. We tried commando with pants yesterday but he wet 4 pairs. He went half clothed for half the day today without any accidents but peed in the pants when we tried them on again. He’s not even trying to go to the potty when he has pants on. Should we persist in block 2 or move back to block 1 for a day or two?

    • I would move back to block 1 for a day or two. I would also try to get the loosest pants you can find. Sometimes any fabric pressure at all activates the muscle memory from peeing in a diaper.

    • If necessary, you can do a hybrid for a short time. Keep him in block 1 while at home, but take him on short outings with super loose fitting pants. Take him out only right after he pees, and return in a short enough time that he will not likely pee while out. Think of it as trying to set it up so he doesn’t need to pee at all while wearing the pants (for a time).

  14. We are on day 3 with my 32 month old. He holds his pee. For hours. We don’t push fluids, but can tell he needs to go as he starts to clench and he’ll even stop himself when I come to grab him as he begins to pee. He will then only pee a small amount, like a drop, and we know there’s more. He’ll then get into the bath or somewhere else and pee the remainder. What should we do? He goes to school and must wear a diaper, but they are prompting. And lots of times he’ll just refuse to go/sit so we don’t pressure

    • Congrats, you have a camel. After he pees ask him if he can let allll the pee out. If that’s hard, ask him to pee just a little bit more. Saying, “I need to hear the pee” tends to work with this issue. I agree on not pressuring. Be ready to keep him naked below the waste for a bit of a longer time while at home, since he’s in diapers part of the day. It’s great that he’s prompting. When prompting, it’s more effective to praise “you kept your diaper dry!” as opposed to, “You peed in the potty, great job!” Especially since yours is resistant, I might speak to the staff about this language. Elisa (author)

  15. We have a 19 month old boy, are in week 2 of potty training. We have found a few of his cues. We have about 3 accidents a day. If we prompt him when he feels like going, he’ll sit and go for both poo and pee but if we miss the cues, he’ll start peeing in his pants and finish on the potty.
    What would you recommend?

    • I would continue following his cues for a while. Keep connecting the physical experience of sitting on the potty with the need to go. Gradually move to full self-initiation. You can always do like a mini-block 1 at home periodically to see how aware he is of his urge to go. Training below 2 I find is more collaborative for a while (but so worth it!). Elisa Cinelli (author)

    • Hi Heidi. I replied to you above. I am glad that we are not on a full lock down like we were when I wrote this. We have been through a lot, that’s for sure. I am grateful that this post has since helped so many moms potty train their littles! Elisa (author)

  16. My 2 year old hates being prompted to sit on the potty .. she throws a huge tantrum. Should I accept her refusal and just let her pee on the floor? She doesn’t like being still at all .. the only thing I can get her to sit on the potty for is to brush her teeth.

  17. I am a child Care worker who has had parents of twins try this method. After exactly 3 days at home, they brought them in commando for 5 day in a row ten hour days. Am I correct in assuming the author did not mean for a child to go from three days commando at home directly into a group childcare setting for ten hours a day? I am struggling to find the words to help them understand. They have on average 4-6 accidents a day, each. We are three days in and one of the children has yet to urinate into the toilet.

    • This is a tough one. This method is a process, and the childcare center would have to be familiar with the method. Caregivers would also need to be willing and able to implement the process at daycare. That may prove difficult when caring for a group of children. If you would like to follow the method the parents are using, the child should stay commando and have a small potty close to them throughout the day. When the child has an accident, you would move them on to the potty as soon as possible (hopefully mid-accident but move them anyway if they finish peeing). This takes close supervision. I would recommend frequent prompting, such as every 30 minutes and 10 minutes if they don’t pee when prompted. Try to get to know their pee schedule (and poop schedule) so that you can set them up for success. That is often the best way to support the method in challenging circumstances. You can also require a pull up, but tell the parents you will prompt. This really starts to veer away from the method, particularly since they are in your care during almost all their waking hours. But with daycare, there are going to be unique challenges. Another suggestion is to tell the parents that you will continue the method only if they take two full weeks off. I hope these suggestions help. Please feel free to comment here again for advice. Elisa (author)


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