Beyond the Potty Chair: 10 Other Toilet-Training Essentials (and Two Maybes)
1. Potty-training books (for you)
Every child is different, and figuring out when yours is ready to start giving the potty a try can be a tricky thing. Read the right sign the wrong way, and you might force things too early. Pay too little attention and you might miss important signals that your child yearns to ditch her diapers. There are lots of books that can help you map out your game plan. Here's a handful of step-by-step guides that can give you confidence as you gear up for this big-deal transition in your kid's life:
- Mommy! I Have to Go Potty! A Parent's Guide to Toilet Training, by Jan Faull, M.Ed.
- The Potty Training Answer Book: Practical Answers to the Top 200 Questions Parents Ask, by Karen Deerwester
- American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training, by Mark L. Wolraich, MD, FAAP, with Sherill Tippins
- Keys to Toilet Training, 2nd edition, by Meg Zweiback, RN, CPNP, MPH
- The No-Cry Potty Training Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley
- Stress-Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Child, by Sarah Au and Peter L. Stavinoha
2. Potty-training books (for your child)
There's nothing like a fun book to pique a kid's interest in something new. Place a few potty-training books in your bathroom and offer to read them as your child gives his new potty seat a spin. Some titles worth trying:
- Once Upon a Potty (one version for boys, another for girls) by Alona Frankel
- Everyone Poops, by Taro Gomi
- My Big Boy Potty or My Big Girl Potty, by Joanna Cole
- Pottytime with Elmo or Pottytime with Abby
- Diapers Are Not Forever, by Elizabeth Verdick
3. Pull-up diapers or training pants
Diapers or training pants that are easy to get on and take off will help your child take control of the important part of this process: deciding when he needs to go and sitting down for some potty time without help from mom or dad. Pull-up diapers wick away moisture so well that it's harder for a child to tell if he's wet. If you're eager to help your potty trainer feel the difference, try cloth-lined training pants with a waterproof outer lining.
4. Extra-absorbent underwear
Once your child starts using the potty regularly, she's going to feel like quite the big kid. She might be clamoring for underwear before you think she's ready to leave diapers behind for good. Accidents will happen regardless of when she starts wearing big-kid underwear, so for starters get several pairs with an ultra-absorbent center section. They'll help contain those inevitable accidents. When there's less of a mess, it'll be easier to enlist your little one's help with clean-up -- yet another reason for her to beam some big-kid pride.
5. Elastic-waist pants
Here's a question for all kids' clothing makers out there: Why on Earth do you make pants for toddlers with buttons and snaps and zippers? They might as well be padlocks. It's a bigger problem for boys than girls. The racks at kids' clothing stores are full of great potty-training options for girls: skirts and dresses, leggings and cotton pants with fun prints. For boys, it's mostly jeans, khakis, corduroys, and more jeans. So keep an eye out for sweatpants and anything else with an elastic waistband so your little guy doesn't make it to the potty only to have an accident because he hasn't mastered the art of quickly unbuttoning and unzipping.
6. Potty seat for the grown-up toilet
Some kids prefer the potty chair. It's just their size, easy to sit down on -- it's their very own special thing. Your child might be eager to go on the same toilet that mom, dad and his big sibling use. If you have more than one bathroom, you might try the potty chair in one and a potty seat in the other to help your big kid (with his still-little tushie) safely sit on the grown-up toilet. Clean-up is easier with a potty seat -- especially after messy poops. So maybe you'll be the one casting a vote for the potty seat over the potty chair.
7. Stepping stool
If your bathroom is small enough, the stepping stool your child uses to reach the sink can probably double as the boost she needs to get up on the grown-up toilet. To take one less step out of the process, get a fun little stool that you can keep right by the toilet. Make sure it has grippy feet so your child won't slip while getting on or off the potty.
8. Cleaning supplies for your child
There's only so much that a wad of toilet paper can do when your toddler is trying to wipe after a seriously messy poop. Sure, you can help. But you'll also want to encourage your child to figure out how to wipe on her own. So keep a stash of moist flushable wipes in your bathroom. If it takes more than a few to do the trick, bag them up and toss them in the trash rather than risking a clogged toilet. And for hand-washing time, try foaming soaps. Kids love the pre-lathered consistency, which grabs onto little hands better than regular, slippery-textured hand soaps.
9. Cleaning supplies for messes
Messes happen. A lot. Be prepared for big ones and little ones. Keep a pair of dishwashing gloves at the ready, or a box of disposable latex gloves if the thought of reusing pee- and poop-tainted gloves gives you the willies. Other essential supplies: non-toxic cleaner, rags you don't care much about, and trash bags to get soiled clothes and rags to and from the bathroom and your laundry room.
10. Waterproof mattress pads
Once your child does all her peeing and pooping on the toilet during her waking hours, she's more or less potty-trained. Nighttime is the final frontier. When your toddler wakes up with a dry diaper or training pants several days in a row, it's a good time to give nighttime underwear a try. But nighttime bladder control doesn't happen, well, overnight. To make 3 a.m. clean-ups easier, layer a waterproof mattress pad over your child's fitted sheet, then put an extra sheet over the mattress pad. That way you can just strip off the wetted sheet and mattress pad and put your child back to bed on the dry sheet.
And two maybes ...