In the Parenting Olympics, Potty Training can be both a sprint and/or a marathon. There’s the famed 3-Day Potty Training Method (often credited to the self-proclaimed “Potty Training Queen” Lora Jensen, but with roots that reach back to the 1970’s) and similar bootcamp-esque approaches. There are also those among us who do all the things and over the course of months have to remind ourselves that we won’t be sending them to college in diapers.
In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by the time they’re between 5 and 6, the majority of girls and more than 75 percent of boys are fully potty trained and dry at night. The trickier part can be determining when they’re ready.
Experts suggest there are two forms of readiness, emotional and physical, and both matter equally. Some key indicators are things like curiosity about the toilet itself, long stretches of dry diapers, hiding while they poop and even showing an interest in wearing underwear. Of course you know your little one best, and they may be ready before checking all of those boxes.
Digital Classes from Motherly
Digital Classes from Motherly
This clear, direct and useful course is designed to help you potty-train your child with ease. This course will provide you tips to beat the “overwhelm”, manage the chaos that can be potty training, and, ultimately — MASTER potty training.
Whichever way you choose to approach it, success favors the prepared. If you’re ready to ditch the diapers, you’re going to need a few key potty training supplies. From potty chairs to step stools, underwear to toilet inserts, we’ve gathered up the most highly recommended must-haves to make reaching this milestone a little easier.
Read on to find all the potty training supplies and tips you need to make the whole process a little easier on everyone!
Best potty chairs
Perfect for the early days of potty training, the BABYBJORN Potty Chair is a classic for a reason. The Swedish design has been a best seller for ages, helping little ones and their parents find comfort, confidence and toilet training success. (My oldest is 16 and he had one!)
It’s sized just right for toddlers, sitting directly on the floor and calming any fears of the “grown-up” toilet. The high back and armrests make it inviting to relax and stay awhile while the groove-free construction and removable inner potty is super easy to keep clean.
As an added bonus, it comes in a wide variety of soft neutral colors that won’t clash with your bathroom decor.
The First Years
With a few extra bells and whistles, the Super Pooper Plus (you just giggled at that, admit it) is a great option for kids who struggle with number two. The scaled-down mini toilet comes with a tot-sized Squatty Potty-esque footrest that helps get them into more of a squat position that can help ease the process. It also comes equipped with two “flush” buttons that make realistic flushing and cheering sounds to congratulate them on their performance. When they’re ready to transition to the real thing, the seat itself can become an insert for the regular toilet.
Best toilet seat inserts
Once your kiddo is a little older (though you can totally use this from day one) many prefer to use the regular toilet. In that case, a potty seat is a great option to reduce the size of the opening and the risk of them falling in. (As an added bonus, no need to empty after use. #Winning!) This super popular model from BabyBjörn is the only version we know of with an adjustable dial underneath, a feature which helps better customize the fit and keeps it from sliding. It also has a built-in splash guard and a convenient hook for hanging.
For families who’d rather not deal with the fuss of plopping an insert in and out each time, the NextStep2 Toilet Seat with Built-In Potty Training Seat provides the best of both worlds. The standard sized toilet seat has a toddler seat built right in which can be flipped up and down as needed. We also appreciate the magnet which holds the toddler portion up and the slow close feature to keep little fingers safe. (And bonus! No slamming!)
Best Travel Potties
With a near-perfect rating and thousands of reviews, parents of potty training (and potty trained) kids call this foldable seat a “total lifesaver,” a “must-have,” and “the best potty seat on the market.” It sets up in a cinch and can be used with a liner (or regular ol’ plastic bag) when you’re on-the-go, from the sidelines of the soccer field to the back of the SUV. And with the legs locked, it can be used on top of public toilets, reducing their fears and the ick factor.
Another model that gets top marks from reviewers and experts is the super simple Jool folding travel potty. The impressively compact design can be used at home or in public to make them more comfortable on the grown-up toilet. Suction cups keep it secure and when they’re done, it folds flat into the included travel bag.
Best Step Stools
Best potty training charts
Thee Bomb Mom
This Montessori-inspired chart clearly connects their successes with a fun visual. You could opt to reward with a small toy or treat when they fill it, but if the thrill of getting to plunk one in is enough…
Lexie’s Silver Lining
Sure, you could arts and crafts something, but it wouldn’t be this easy or stylish. The digital downloads from LexiesSilverLining via Etsy can be printed to your heart’s content and filled out with stickers or a simple check mark.
Best potty training underwear
Regardless of the fact that disposable training pants have become synonymous with potty training, let’s call them what they are–more expensive diapers. Because they wick wetness away, kids stay comfortable peeing in them and carrying on about their business. Experts instead generally recommend cotton training underwear which allows the child to know when they’ve had an accident but keeps it from leaking through. They also look and feel like big kid underpants–a point of pride for most kiddos!
We love all things Hanna Andersson for their reliable, high-quality organic cotton clothes and their training underwear are no exception. The 4-ply construction features an absorbent poly interlining that doesn’t touch their skin but helps corral wetness inside. (Note: Some say the leg holes are on the smaller side, so be sure to check their chart when sizing!)
Moo Moo Baby
This top-rated style comes recommended by experts and parents alike for their value and performance. Made from six layers which include cotton and PUL fabric (like you’d find in most cloth diapers) they give enough protection against accidents without defeating the purpose.
Nighttime accidents are bound to happen, so protecting the mattress from stains and wetness is key. This highly-rated waterproof cover is Greenguard Gold certified and designed for cribs and toddler beds with a 100% cotton terry surface that keeps little ones from overheating. It’s equipped with a noiseless waterproof TPU backing.
For kiddos in regular sized beds (or if they sneak into yours!) the SafeRest Mattress Protector comes highly recommended. Not only is it Amazon’s top choice, boasting over 208K ratings but one enthusiastic reviewer even notes his wife unexpectedly gave birth on their bed and thanks to the product, the mattress was completely fine. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.
When my son was potty training, I remembered the bag of leftover home birth supplies I’d stashed away. (Yes, I’m that mom.) I have to admit, I felt pretty smug about holding onto it once I fished out the remaining chux pads. They’re perfect for protecting the couch, carseat, or even the rug if you’re doing the no-bottoms method. And the best part? When an accident happens, you just ball it up and throw it away. They’re great for travel too!
Because no one loves stuffing pee-soaked underwear in their bag, these waterproof sacks are a great thing to have on hand. And you’ll find they come in handy in so many ways. From beach trips to our own gym sessions, they’re indispensable!
Desperate times call for desperate measures. My oldest could sleep in the middle of 6th Avenue during the Macy’s Parade, so nighttime potty training literally took years. I can count on one hand how many accidents he had during the day, but every night would have been puddle-city without a pull up, even if I dragged him like a zombie to the bathroom before going to bed myself. By the time he was almost seven I was at my wit’s end. At the recommendation of friend who had waged the same battle, I resorted to a bedwetting alarm. It took about a month, but it worked! The idea is simple. Clip the small sensor to their underwear (the front for boys, a little farther back for girls), attach the alarm to their arm or pajama top and when the sensor detects wetness, it vibrates, makes noise or both. For the first couple weeks, my son slept through it and it’d jump out of bed to dash him to the bathroom. Eventually he learned to wake up when it went off which soon enough translated to waking without a party in his pants. And then I went on vacation with the thousands of dollars I’d set aside for a decade’s worth of pull ups. (Kidding!)
A version of this story was published January 14, 2021. It has been updated.