One of the burning questions that comes up both in my consulting and my classes is: What potty training products should I buy? Lucky for you, the answer is simple: not many.
When considering potty training products, I think there are a few key questions to carefully consider:
- How does this fit into my current parenting lifestyle?
- How will my toddler perceive this item?
- What is the actual purpose of this item?
- How easy is this to use – for me AND for my toddler?
From my experience, many potty training products are more about making *us* (parents) feel better about the process - and less about being functional aids to help your child learn the potty. There is so much confusion and anxiety about potty training today that it is easy to think, “If I just get this handy sticker chart or this cool object for my boy to aim at, *SURELY* potty training will go smoothly.” We have a tangible item in our hands – that can be reassuring! Sometimes products make more sense to *us as adults* than to our kids: pulling the diaper down seems more like underwear than adhesive to keep a diaper in place - logical, right? But what matters for a child is being able to feel that they are wet. Likewise, the ever-popular sticker charts were understandable **to me** but I was utterly unconvinced that my daughter would “get it” – AND…. back to question #1: I'd never used anything like this before as a parenting tool - why start now? I felt as though I'd be spending as much energy getting her to understand a sticker chart as I would trying to teach her how to use the potty. As with all things potty training, we have to look at this from our child’s point of view – AND in the context of the rest of our lives.
What SHOULD you get then?
I think there are a just few MUST-HAVE potty training products.
- Small Potty:
Do yourself a favor and get yourself one! This is part of setting you and your child up for success. Small potties are less imposing, easier to sit on, and more portable, than big toilets. You simply may not have time to transport your child all the way to the big toilet in the bathroom when you first get started. Though it might be tempting to go for characters and “fun”, remember that this is a piece of furniture that should only have 1 function. Too much fun, and your child may get distracted – or just miss the point of what you’re doing. Instead, get a potty that is simple, straightforward, and clear in its purpose. If you need to make pottying “fun” for your child, there are plenty of other ways to do that.
The Primo Potty is my personal favorite. It is easy to clean, and the seat is a little cushier than the other little potties I’ve tried out. Though we don’t port ours around, it is easy to close up and has a nice carrying handle as well. A bonus feature is that the seat detaches and can be used as a seat reducer on the big potty – for a familiar transition. We used to bring ours to daycare, and they loved it so much they got one of their own!
- Travel Potty:
If you’re going to get just one potty, I LOVE the potette. Yes, it’s a travel potty – but this is currently the only one we have in our home right now (our Primo Potty went to preschool). It folds up to be nicely portable (though we use ours with a silicone liner, which makes it bulkier). And again, flexibility here is AWESOME. It can be used as a tiny, stand-alone potty (push the legs in until you hear them “pop” into place). In fact, my daughter lovingly calls it her “TINY POTTY!” But in addition to being used as a standalone, it can also be used as a seat reducer – and is more stable than the other, quad-fold seat reducers I’ve tried. We call this the “TINY POTTY ON THE BIG ONE!” which my daughter thinks is pretty silly and fun.
- Step Stool:
Getting a stepstool, if you don’t already have one, is really important for potty training. This helps your child to build a sense of autonomy – and as you move forward with potty training, you will realize just how important a concept this is. A stepstool is necessary for washing hands - it's great to incorporate this into your pottying process from the beginning. It can also be helpful for learning to use the big toilet. I was surprised at how difficult stepstool shopping was, but in the end was found the Ikea Bekvam stepstool, and it has met our every need. It is taller than most stepstools – you might be surprised at just how many stepstools don’t actually elevate your child to a comfortable height to use the sink. It is also very easy to move around – we turn it around with the steps facing the big toilet to make it MUCH easier to get up there too. This is also available - generally cheaper - directly from Ikea.
- Chux pads:
These are SUPER useful for peace of mind when traveling and night training. Simple enough: this is a thin pad you can cut a hole in for the strap of your carseat (always check with the manufacturer before adding any products to your carseat – but on ours this was approved). These also make for far less of a headache (and less laundry) when learning to stay dry at night. Bottom line: Give yourself a setup that will reduce your anxiety and make your life easier overall!
These really are the only must-have potty training products on my list. For the most part, keep it simple! All of these are easy to use for you AND toddler, and are super-functional for the purpose of learning to use the potty. None are overly-complicated. Stay tuned next week for other products that I also LOVE!Share This: