Things you should gather before you start potty training

My son is potty trained. It took a week and he was 1-1/2. We often get lots of wows for it. After the initial shock and confirmation of his age, they usually ask me how I did it and how to handle outings. So then I start explaining and take out our travel potty and demonstrate how it works. Then they want to know where to buy it and what else they need. I had many of these conversations recently, so I decided to make a list of things you should gather before you start potty training. Here it is:


Before starting potty training, introduce the potty and the whole procedure to your little one via books. The Potty book is simple enough for 1-year olds and it gets the point across. There are plenty of other cute potty books, such as Even Firefighters Go to the Potty, Where’s the Poop?, and Everyone Poops, to name a few. You might want to educate yourself too and get some adult potty literature (how exciting…). Oh, and don’t forget about YouTube! There’s a few potty related videos that made a huge difference on our potty training journey – kids love seeing other kids doing a pee pee and poo poo. These videos really motivated my son, he loved them. If your kid is an Elmo fan, check out the 45-minute Elmo’s Potty Time video.


Stock up on rewards, you’ll need them the first, and maybe even the second week. And you’ll give out lots of them (even one drop in the potty deserves a big yay and a reward). It should be something your child loves and doesn’t get very often. It can be an M&M (this didn’t work for us though). But stickers worked. Kam is totally into balls, he walks around and says “ba-ball” (=basketball) all the time. So we got these sport stickers at Target and after every pee pee and poo poo he got one and proudly put it on his dresser (after poo poo, he also got a little bouncy ball). Avoid paper stickers, they are impossible to get rid of and make lovely stains on furniture.


I have 3 potties + 1 toilet seat in our apartment. Before you roll your eyes, let me explain. First I bought this amazing bECO potty by TrendyKid.

It’s made from natural plant fibers and it is biodegradable. It’s just one piece so the cleanup is super easy, no hidden crevices for germs. Size-wise, it’s a small potty perfect for elimination communication with infants and works well for small toddlers. My son is 22 months now and still uses it comfortably.  As much as I love its eco-friendly features and simple design, it has one flaw – no rubber ring on the bottom, hence it doesn’t stay in place and moves away when my son tries to sit on it. It makes a nasty sound on our hardwood floor.

This drove me crazy, so eventually I bought a second potty – this time I went with Baby Bjorn – both the Potty Chair and the Smart Potty are great choices.

These Baby Bjorn potties have the best design in my opinion – they are simple, with no crazy pictures and hidden crevices and pathways for urine. The guard in the front is high enough for boys. And it has a rubber ring on the bottom so it stays in place on our hardwood floor. It’s very easy to clean, just lift the white part, dump the mess and clean. We have the version with the longer back rest but I wish we had the smaller one because it’s a little difficult for my son to climb on his potty chair so I have to help him. But if your child is around 3 years old, then it should be OK.

However, if you have a super stubborn child who refuses to sit on a potty no matter what kind of bribe you offer, then you might eventually give in and buy one of these cartoon monstrosities, like I did. After three days of stress and tears, I went to Target and got this Disney Cars Potty.

It’s one of these tacky potties with many functions – it’s not just a potty, it transforms to a child toilet seat and a step stool. Who cares. More functions = more headache. And that’s exactly what it is. This potty is clearly marketed for boys – why it doesn’t have any pee guard is beyond my understanding. The design is so poor that after every pee pee you must wipe about 37 crevices (which are wet with urine that somehow got there), wipe the puddle of urine underneath the potty (go figure) and disinfect it all.  The cleanup is a nightmare. I can very much identify with all of the negative reviews (notice there are no positive ones) – it’s a piece of junk.  But – it has a picture of a car on it, and it has a stick which makes car sounds when pressed. My son’s eyes lit up and he sat on it. HE SAT ON IT!!! I was so happy and relieved he finally sat on a potty that I gladly went through the annoying cleanup every single time he used it. Not for long though. I got rid of this piece of crap once my son was potty trained and it became a routine and he didn’t need the encouragement anymore.

I also have a simple potty seat on a toilet and a step stool from IKEA (the price couldn’t be beat at $4.99).

Over all, I think it was helpful heaving three potties and a toilet seat because in the beginning of potty training you won’t have time to go to the bathroom. It was really handy having one potty in the living room, one in my son’s bedroom and one in our bedroom. Wherever we were, it  was very easy to put him on a potty when he started peeing (phase 1), then when I noticed a cue sign (phase 2), then when he pointed towards it (phase 3) and eventually when he said the code word (phase 4). No need to buy so many potties, but I do think it’s a good idea to have the potty nearby during the day and keep it in the room where the child sleeps over night. And I definitely suggest getting a toilet seat and a step stool. They might not use it right away, but they’ll eventually be more and more interested and hopefully switch to toilet soon.

Waterproof pads

You’ll need a couple of these to protect your crib mattress, couch, and possibly carpet if you have one (if you have rugs I suggest rolling them and putting them away for a couple of weeks). You don’t have to get anything expensive for the purpose of potty training, the best deal I found so far is a pack of 2 waterproof pads (standard crib size, 27″ x 50″) for just $12.99. I got two of these packs, so I ended up with four pads and it was plenty – I had one on a couch (and one as an immediate backup) and one under a crib sheet (and again, one as an immediate backup in case of a night time accident).


Forget about pull-ups or anything disposable, unless you want to potty train for months. Get big girl or big boy undies. Even go for their favorite characters to motivate them. It was really hard to find underwear size 12-24 months. The smallest underwear in most stores is size 2-3 years and it was way too big for my skinny 1-1/2-year old. Then I found them – in H&M – and the price was right too. They have size 1-1/2 – 2 years and a pack of 3 costs around $6.

Now you might be wondering how to handle trips outside of the house… here’s what you’ll need:

Travel potty

Potette Plus travel potty by Kalencom is the best invention ever and has saved us many times, we don’t leave the house without it. The yellow base folds under the blue ring for easy storage. When you need to use it, you either spread the yellow base horizontally (1st picture) and place it over a public toilet (good bye germy public toilet seats), or you put the yellow base vertically (2nd picture) and place a Potette Plus Liner over it to create a potty. These liners are wonderful – there’s an absorbent pad inside which soaks up liquid. These bags have never leaked. You tie the handles and throw it to a garbage can without worrying about the environment – these liners are biodegradable – woo hoo! Be prepared to use this potty everywhere … in the park (check), at Target (check) or at the post office (check)… fun times.

Waterproof car seat protector

Yes, you can use your car with your newly potty trained child without stripping the car seat down after every accident (how annoying would that be). Just get a Piddle Pad by Kiddopotamus/Summer Infant. Amazon has a great deal for just $6.41. I got two of these – in case my son has an accident while driving somewhere, I have a backup for the trip back home. It does the job – soaks up liquid mess and protects the car seat, love it!

Cloth training underwear

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the house with your little one wearing just a thin cloth underwear, use cloth trainers instead (never disposable, it delays potty training). They look like normal underwear, except they feature an absorbent layer which catches one accident (so your child won’t be standing in a puddle in case he has one). These four cuties are handmade by Super Skivvies – aren’t they adorable? There are lots of Etsy sellers that make high quality cloth trainers in many sizes. Blueberry also makes great cloth trainers.

Cloth swim diaper

Remember the rule – nothing disposable – not even a swim diaper. There are plenty of great cloth swim diaper choices – they hold solid messes and are approved for public swimming pools. The first one is what Kamar is sporting this summer, handmade by Tangeroo. The second one is an adorable Swimmi by Bummies available at Metro Minis.

Potty tote

Yes, that’s right, dump your diaper bag and get a potty tote. Make sure it’s big enough to fit everything you might need (travel potty, potty liners, wipes, and a change of clothes). And make sure you like it, because you’re about to wear it everywhere you go – at all times. Or at least until your little one is OK to hold it and wait until you find public restrooms (we’re not there yet, so if you see someone with a raspberry-cream stripy tote on her shoulder, that’s me!). I think this grey & neon yellow tote is calling my name (handmade by byMART).


Images via provided links.


6 thoughts on “Things you should gather before you start potty training

  1. Thanks for the informative post! I am going to begin buying all the essentials and start in a week or two! I need to mentally prepare myself haha.

  2. I’m having no luck potty training E, so I’m rereading this in hope that some of the tips helps. Goal is for her to be trained before baby Boy is here

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