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Potty training - What you need (and what you don't)

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Potty training is a milestone that many parents find tricky to navigate and there is so much information about how to get your child out of nappies, that it can be confusing to know how and what to do and what you do and do not need. So, here are a few essentials that I recommend, along with a few that I don't.

Potty and toilet seat

Obvious, I know, that in order to get your child successfully potty trained you will need a potty, but if you have more than one bathroom, I recommend that you have one for each bathroom that your child will be using. This is super helpful when the potty has been left downstairs and you are up and will help your child learn to 'go' in different bathrooms - essential for being out and about.

You do not need to spend a fortune on a potty and it really doesn't need to sing, clap, cheer or make a flushing sound - there is no evidence that your child will be toilet trained any quicker, so save your money.

IKEA do a great potty that has a higher back, which can be more comfortable for your toddler and the middle part (where your child 'goes') is removable, making emptying much sleeker and easier.

Toilet seats are a must if your child wants to use the toilet, although bear in mind that they may not need one for long, so again, don't spend a fortune.

Some seats are quite thick and padded, making them comfy to sit on, but they often are not big enough, or they don't fit the toilet properly.

It is a bit of a faff, but installing a toilet seat that has a toddler seat built in, is a great idea.

Seats with ladders attached are not necessary and can be a pain space wise, instead, using a step, like this one from IKEA, is helpful and can then be moved to the sink to help with hand washing.


There is no need to go over board on buying underwear. Of course, accidents will happen - you should expect between 1 and 4 accidents a day in the first few days, but after a week, you should be seeing less frequent accidents and therefore, you will find that you won't need to be changing your child as much and the washing machine will get a bit of a break.

Training pants

If your child is ready, training pants are not necessary. Although these pants are slightly better than using pull up style nappies, it is best to move straight to wearing normal pants, or, if your child is resistant to wearing pants, keeping them pant free until they come round to the idea. This way there is no confusion and your child will be more inclined to use the potty or toilet if they don't have a 'safety net'.

Travel potties

These are not necessary, but they can be handy for when you are out and about and there is no toilet, you are away from the toilet for a significant amount of time, or you have a child who is anti using public toilets. Often the smells and noise can be overwhelming, but if your child is happy to use public toilets, I would recommend that you encourage them to do so.

Bribes and rewards

It is best to avoid bribes or rewards for potty training. See it as another milestone, such as sitting, crawling and walking - they all get there when they are ready, without bribes.

Using bribes often only works in the short-term, not the long term. If your child isn't ready, no amount of bribes will do the trick.

Potty training watches

A relatively new invention that I seem to be seeing a lot of on places like Amazon. These watches are designed for your toddler to wear and an alarm goes off, or they vibrate to tell them to use the toilet. I don't think these are a necessary piece of kit. Peeing on demand is not easy for a toddler and could cause some distress, meaning that your child may end up not wanting to use the potty or toilet at all.

Your child also needs to recognise when they need to go, they need to make the connections between bladder and brain, without pressure.

If you are in need of help with potty training, you can book a consultation with me here.

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