Updated: Jan 30, 2020
What are your potty training must-haves? Here’s a checklist for 12 potty training essentials.
Being prepared is a lesson we all re-learn as moms on a daily basis — because sometimes you’re saved by the smallest of things. You find a lone hair-tie rifling through your bag, when you didn’t get a chance to shower. A granola bar soothes someone’s cranky mood faster than a pacifier to a baby’s cry.
And the small plastic potty that answers your bare-bummed toddler’s call for poop.
Coming any second.
HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED
Be prepared for any pee or poop emergency, with these 12 essentials for potty training and traveling with your potty training toddler once you venture out diaper-free.
1. A potty insert: Your small human is just getting used to sitting on a giant potty and releasing pee and poop in this thing that makes loud flush sounds. Balancing (don't fall in!) is not a recipe for potty success, which is why a seat reducer for the toilet is one of my suggested potty training essentials. This sturdy potty insert has handles so your toddler can steady themselves on the toilet.
2. A small potty: Wait, what about #1? I need both? Yes, you do. I consider both potty training must-haves. You are living with a toddler. Options are everything, so your toddler feels like it's their choice. I can't say how many times giving the choice of "small potty or big potty?" has worked. Also, you'll need a little potty to be by your toddler's bed when you start night training, so it's one of my essentials for potty training at night, too.
3. A travel potty: Whether the city is your backyard or you're car-bound in the country, you'll be so happy to have a travel potty. With the Potette fold-down potty, you can literally fold it down, stash inside a large wet/dry bag, and place under your stroller or keep in the back of your car.
Speaking of, if you rely on a car for getting around, you want to keep a travel potty in the back at all times. Not just during the first few weeks of potty training, but it's a potty training essential while they're young. (And you hear the chorus of "potty!" from the backseat and need to act fast!)
4. Silicone liner for Potette travel potty: Have you ever peed in a crinkly grocery bag? Me neither, but when I watched my toddler do it, the plastic bag looked and sounded makeshift. I quickly sprang for the matching silicone liner for my Potette. Kids love to ask for their potty by color name of the liner, which also makes it easier to communicate with your child (You: The green potty is in the back if you need it. Child: Green potty!)
5. Wet/dry bag: You'll want to replace diapers in your bag with an extra set of clothes for your child when you start potty training. A wet/dry bag lets you store extras in the dry part, and in case of accident, you can toss the dirty clothes in the zippered pouch. And with a large-size wet/dry bag, you can stash the Potette travel potty to bring with you when you're out-and-about.
6. Cloth prefolds: Yes, I just put cloth diapers on my list of 12 must-have potty training essentials! And here's why. Cloth prefolds are (understandably) super-duper absorbent, yet they're simply cloth squares. Prefolds make the perfect solution for the early days with wiping up accidents (and save some paper towels). Beyond that, you can use them to pad the car seat when you're nervous about accidents in the early days. And you can layer these thick cloth prefolds over bedding during nighttraining. (For a bigger mattress pad, I like this mattress protector pad.
7. Cloth training pants: Speaking of night training, you'll want a handful of unisex cloth training pants. These undies are also a great solution with dribblers, while you're working out that issue.
8. Step stool: The more your child clues into the process of using the potty, the more they'll want to own it themselves (which is awesome). For most sinks/vanities, you'll find that your little one is going to have a mighty tough time reaching the faucet or soap on a little plastic stool (designed for toddlers) to wash their hands. A simple, sturdy two-step stool gives an extra boost. A two-step stool is also helpful for toddlers using the big toilet, so they can steady themselves on (and sit more in a squat, the better pooping position, rather than legs dangling off toilet.)
9. Coconut snacks: Coconut does wonders for poop — it actually keeps things moving, if you know what I mean. And when you're first potty training your child, that certainly helps when things could go the other way. You can mix in some coconut oil into a nut butter or oatmeal — or make your own coconut fruit smoothie (made with coconut milk from a can) to help the cause.
10. Oh Crap Potty Training: Jamie Glowacki's book Oh Crap Potty Training shares it all, from how to potty train your child, to tips and tricks for how to work through issues that may come up. It's essential to potty training in my book!
And click below for more on my e-course Potty Training Solutions (the course for before you start potty training and solutions for the early days of potty training, when you feel stuck after you start.)
11. Silly fun books: In the beginning, it can be slow-going (especially for the poops). So it helps to have a couple special books to read to your child while she sits on the potty. But, don't feel like it has to be Elmo On the Potty. The silliest book that brings out laughs in every kiddo I've seen (for real) is the latest book by B.J. Novak, The Book With No Pictures. It's the perfect silly book to bring out the giggles and relax those sphincter muscles.
12. Calming jar: In the beginning, it can be tough to get your child to sit on the potty long enough to relax and release their pee. So try a ready-made version of a calming jar, a glitter wand or bubbles. It may bring some potty magic!
And I've learned to pack a couple of these granola bars, for those unexpected hangry moments, long lines, or later-than-expected meals when we're out.
Illustrations: Citrus and Mint Designs