When police arrived they found Stuart's 2-year-old and 5-year-old sons so malnourished and dehydrated that they had to be rushed to the hospital.
"They were so dehydrated their ribs were showing, their skin was dry, they had bloody, cracked lips and the paramedics immediately took them to the hospital to be treated for dehydration and abuse," said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
The two boys, whose ribs were showing through their skin, remained in the hospital Thursday evening. They are expected to recover.
Stuart allegedly tethered the 2-year-old to a crib with a string, chain and gauze, and withheld food from him so his mother could better potty train him.
Investigators say the boys had bumps and bruises consistent with continuous abuse. The 5-year-old also suffered injuries to his head, hand and arms.
Bertagna said Stuart admitted hitting her sons but didn't think she was striking them too hard. Stuart also reportedly told officers the children each received two cups of water a day.
Stuart was jailed at the Santa Ana city jail, and her bail status was not released by police.
City News Service contributed to this report.