So your toddler is ready to potty train. It was about this time last year that I was in the tick of potty training my daughter. And let me tell you mamas, it can be a stressful process. Anything that can help reduce potty training stress was what helped keep me and my daughter motivated. But instead of handing out advice on what process worked for us, I’m rounding up the products that made potty training easier for us. I’ll also share a few details as to WHY they helped, but keep in mind that it’s just one mama’s opinion about what worked for us.
(PSST! Are you looking for a comprehensive guide to potty training? Then you need to read Brittney Ferrell’s How to Potty Train guide where she rounds up advice from 27 moms).
Let’s start with the most obvious part. The kid needs somewhere to go. There are opinions about using a little potty vs big potty with a child seat, and I think for us, more options was the best approach.
Little Potty Seats
I ended up with two little potties. One was downstairs. One was upstairs. Later, I put one in the car for emergencies and outings in general. We like the Baby Bjorn potty. I’m hoping the taller “front” to this potty is useful when my son is ready to use it.
“Big Kid” Potty Seats
For the kiddo that wants to be a “big kid” and use the adult potty, I’d say to go for a seat with handles and a stool. Heck, if you really want to go crazy, replace your toilet seat with this seat that has a built-in child-sized seat. We went that route, and I’ll tell you why. We had an incident. Yep, I thought it didn’t actually happen in real life until it happened to my kid.
My son was about three months old at the time and we had been on a roll with potty training for about a week. No accidents. A couple short outings. My daughter was rocking it! I was nursing the baby when my daughter declared she was a big girl and was going potty all by herself. The bathroom was set up with a little potty and the handled potty seat for the big potty. Usually, the potty seat was kept on the potty, but this was not the case this time.So guess what happened? My daughter FELL IN the toilet! I’m talking all the way in to her knees, feet sticking straight out of the toilet! This completely derailed potty training for quite a while. She was now too scared to use the big potty. Big potty was the only option at preschool. She would happily use the little potty at home, but wouldn’t go near the potty at school. Once we installed this new toilet seat at home, she felt much safer about the big potty. She didn’t have to worry about getting the little seat on the big potty properly. She could just flip the child seat down by herself. With enough practice using this new set up at home, she eventually rocked the potty at school, too.
When accidents were still happening, two training underwear products worked really well for us:
- Hannah Anderson Training Underwear. These were used around the house and on short outings. I personally feel these hold more than the similar product sold by Gerber, which means less leaking onto pants and the floor. The fabric is also softer and the fit was better for us (more generous). I’ve seen these on sale more than once, so keep an eye out for that!
- Best Bottom Training Pants Kit. My daughter wore these to preschool before she was fully trained. She loved that they look like real underwear. I loved that they function just like a pull-up, but did not give her a rash. We loved using pull-ups overnight. But since she is rash-prone, her skin really needed a breather during the day. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way after a pretty traumatic trip to the Dr for a painful rash. And with this training kit priced at about the same cost of a box of pull-ups, it actually saved us money long-term.
The First Few Diaper-Free Days
At the start of potty training, my daughter was really motivated to wear big girl underwear. This was great until the stress of cleaning up all the messes hit me! I wavered between 1) keeping her in a diaper or pull ups until she had “mastered” the potty or 2) letting her learn how to use the potty by trial and error (e.g. accidents). She made the decision pretty easy for me with her vehement protest about diapers. So, undies it was. And then, to ease my mind… I covered ALL our living room furniture, her mattress, and her favorite kiddie chair with puppy pads. Seriously. This significantly reduced my anxiety. If you can’t tuck the puppy pad under something, put a blanket over them. Then, give your kid some juice, sit down, relax, and wait for the potty urge to strike. You’re welcome.
Because of the big potty fear, outings were much easier if we had a backup potty in the car. When nature called, I’d have my kiddo use the little potty in the car and then pour the contents out into a diaper. I also kept a package of Clorox cleaning wipes in the car to wipe the potty down. For potty accidents, I kept a wet-dry bag in my diaper bag stocked with clean pants, socks and undies. I also put a puppy pad in her carseat for a bit of time during our transition to undies. This seemed to make clean up much, well, cleaner!
So there you have it. Potty training isn’t easy, but it’s a HUGE step to your little one becoming a bonafide big kid! And that’s definitely worth celebrating!