If you've got a preschooler who is learning how to use the toilet, you are probably looking for help just about any place you can get it. While in theory all you need to teach a child how to use the potty is a toilet, some toilet paper and a willing participant (and therein lies the rub much of the time), there are plenty of products on the market designed to help your little one to know when to go and do it regularly. Here are our top picks for the best potty training aids.
One of the hardest things for little ones to master about potty training is aim. Trying to direct where exactly to go can be difficult, whether you have a boy or a girl. To help your preschooler figure out where to go, throw a couple of these (which are made from 20 layers of colored tissue paper) into the toilet water and them have at it. These are great too for teaching boys how to "stand up" and go, but girls can definitely benefit from them too.
A great method to employ when trying to teach your little on how to use the potty is to set a timer. For some 15 minutes is the magic number, others it's a half hour. With the Potty Watch Toilet Training Timer, set it to an increment that works best for you and then fasten it to your preschooler's wrist. Every 30, 60 or 90 minutes an alarm consisting of lights and music will play, reminding your child that it's time to sit on the potty and try.
For parents, the hardest part of toilet learning is often bringing your little one to a public toilet. Despite your best efforts, kids manage to touch everything, picking up who knows what kind of germs. Summer Infant Potty Protectors are small, portable and disposable and are great in any public setting -- even for adults. Come in a pack of 10 in a variety of patterns.
A potty ring works well in helping a little one learn to use the toilet, but many of them are removable. That sounds like a great idea until you realize you need to wipe it clean each time. The Mommy's Helper Flip 'N Flush Potty Training Seat fastens right to your toilet (it's available in regular or elongated models) and provides a semi-permanent alternative for small bottoms. It flips up and down easily for whoever needs to use it next.
Unless you have a very, very tall preschooler (or a very, very short toilet), she may have some trouble positioning herself. Enter the pint-sized step stool, especially designed for little legs. There are a lot of choices out there, but we are fond of the Fisher-Price Sing With Me stepstool, complete with a cheery face, a non-slip bottom and buttons that play a song for brushing your teeth and washing your hands. So once your preschooler uses it to get on the potty, it can be used for other important hygiene routines as well.
When it comes to little kids, stickers hold some sort of mystical power. They love to get them! Use it to your advantage with a reward chart, complete with stickers. Again, like step stools, there are many to choose from, but this one from Bright Products features charts, books and activities, all designed to get your child excited about using the potty.
One of the hardest parts of potty training comes at night, when your child has to try to stay dry while she is asleep. If bedwetting is a problem, you might want to check out this mat from ClevaMama. Two layers of brushed cotton cover a waterproof mat. It's nice and soft, so your child won't complain that it bothers him while he sleeps, but the polyurethane keeps sheets dry. It lays on top of the bed, so if your child does have a nighttime accident, you can simply remove the mat and your child can go back to sleep. Machine washable.
Does your young preschooler enjoy playing with your smart phone? I know mine does. And while there are plenty of educational apps out there that help teach him his letters, shapes and numbers, a new app has a more practical application that is really making our lives easier. The "See Me Go Potty" app, available both for iPhones and iPads as well as Androids, encourages kids to use the toilet by showing him or her the process of going to the bathroom. You can customize an avatar that looks like your child so they can actually see themselves going through the motions. Features include an "accident scene" that lets your child see what happens if they wet or soil themselves as well as plenty of positive reinforcement.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got regarding potty training was from a friend who said to always keep a potty chair in the car for any potty emergencies. It's such a relief to know that we always have a toilet on hand for my little guy, but where we run into trouble is keeping the chair clean. For a while I was lining it with plastic bags from the grocery store, but they wouldn't fit right. Enter Tidy Tots Disposable Potty Chair Liners, a universal fit liner. They feature an absorbent pad and are great for easy clean up.