There are two words that strike fear into the hearts of almost all toddler parents: potty training.
Making the move away from nappies to the big kid toilet is a major milestone in your little one’s life, but it also happens to be one of the most daunting. How do you know if they’re ready? What’s the best way to get started? What equipment do you need? And just how messy are things going to get?
As with most things child-related, there’s no hard and fast rule about when a toddler is ready to start potty training, but it’s generally not recommended to try before the age of around 15 months, as it’s unlikely your little one will have sufficiently mature muscle or neurological systems to control their bowel and bladder until then. If you’re trying to figure out whether your toddler might be ready to take the plunge, there are a few key signs to look out for: has your little one started showing an increased interest in the toilet or potty? Can they stay dry during nap times? Do they let you know when they’ve gone to the toilet in their nappy? Do they want it changed immediately after they’ve filled it?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, chances are it’s a good time start the training process - which means the next step is to stock up on all the kit you need to make things go as smoothly as possible. There are loads of products out there designed to make potty training quick, easy and (relatively) pain-free, from miniature toilet-shaped potties that actually flush to clever training flash cards and adorably designed travel potties that will make going for a wee in the playground a cinch.
Whenever you decide to start, the most important thing is to adopt a gentle approach and try not to put yourself or your toddler under pressure if it’s just not happening – if that seems to be the case, simply stop for a while and pick it up again at a later date. When you get the timing right, things will click and it should be a fairly hassle-free process.
Here we’ve rounded up the best items to invest in to get your potty training journey off to a flying start.
When you start potty training, one of the most important things to invest in is a decent travel potty.
This clever option from Potette ticks that box and a fair few others, including working as a regular potty at home (simply pop in the reusable liner rather than using a disposable one and empty the contents down the toilet) and transforming into a toilet trainer seat that you can pop on the loo (just fold the legs down flat).
When you’re on-the-go, the disposable liners are super absorbent and come with the added bonus of being biodegradable. It’s the little details that make this three-in-one option a winner with both parents and toddlers alike, including side handles for extra stability and a built-in ‘wee guard’ for boys.
Potette has also just released a handy pack of educational potty training flash cards, designed to help develop skills of communication from as early as six months.
Buy now £24.99, Amazon
Babybjörn Potty Chair
If you’re in the market for a stylish looking potty, anything from Swedish brand Babybjörn is a good option, particularly if it happens to be from their sleek new monochrome range.
Simply designed yet effective, the high-backed potty chair was a particular hit with our toddler tester, who liked that they could lean back while doing their business and meant they were less likely to wobble off when sitting down. Parents also loved the rubber strip underneath which kept the potty from slipping about on bathroom tiles. Sturdy enough to sit on but light enough to carry from room to room, it also comes with a detachable bowl with a handle for easy pouring and cleaning, as well as an in-built splashguard.
Buy now £33.00, Amazon
My Carry Potty
Chances are you’ve spotted these cute designs at the playground or in the park, where you’ll find mums and dads toting around bright-red ladybirds and adorable foxes in a bid to make going to the toilet al fresco more appealing. And here’s the thing – it actually works.
Our tester was more than happy to pee in the great outdoors as long as it was in her trusty My Carry Potty, and she then enjoyed proudly carrying it around afterwards. It’s very sturdy and leak-proof once closed - with a vacuum seal that ensures there won’t be any unwanted spillages. It doesn’t come with any liners, and cleaning it can seem a bit fiddly at first as the lid isn’t detachable, but you soon get the hang of it and the lack of liners means it’s ready to use at a moment’s notice. If your little one is a fan you can also buy a matching trainer seat and step stool, as well as coordinating training pants.
Buy now £28.99, Amazon
Koo-di Wetec Seat Protector
No matter how smoothly your potty training journey seems to be going, be aware that there are bound to be some accidents in the early days, and they usually come at the worst possible times – like when you’re a third of the way through a long car journey. That’s why a decent seat protector is a must-have when your little one is transitioning away from nappies. This towelling pad from Koo-di fits most car seats, prams and high chairs and is a godsend for little accidents on-the go, with a super absorbent filling and waterproof backing. It folds up small enough to fit in your changing bag (and comes with a handy waterproof pouch to stash it when wet) and when it needs cleaning you can simply bung it in the washing machine. An invaluable piece of kit for potty training peace of mind.
Buy now £9.99, Amazon
Jojo Maman Bébé Deluxe Step Stool
Along with a potty, one of the most important pieces of kit to invest in before embarking on potty training is a step stool that will help your little one reach the loo and the sink, so they can wash their hands after going to the toilet.
This sturdy option from Jojo Maman Bébé worked really well for our toddler tester thanks to how stable it was, with rubber grips along the bottom to stop it from slipping as well as on the top in the form of a cute footprint design. It’s available in either white or grey and once you’ve finished potty training will come in just as handy for getting your little one to brush their teeth at the sink, or helping them step into the bath themselves.
Buy now £12.00, Jojo Maman Bébé
No More Nappies Book
Stocking up on a few visual aids to help explain the process of potty training can be a great way to get your little one more engaged with the task at hand. This book from Campbell’s Big Steps series is a brilliant introduction to potty training for toddlers aged from 18 months, who will love all the interactive pockets, flaps, turning wheels and sliders. Fear not as the board book is made of sturdy enough stuff that they won’t be able to just rip all the flaps off as soon as they lay their hands on it.
Following the story of toddlers Millie and Mo as they transition out of nappies to using the potty, it will keep little ones entertained while also being just as useful for parents, as each page comes with helpful potty training tips endorsed by leading Early Years Consultant Dr Amanda Gummer.
Buy now £5.76, Amazon
Bambino Mio Potty Training Pants
This British brand sells the world’s most popular reusable nappies and they also do a fine line in potty training pants. The innovative designs are made from super soft cotton blend fabric and come with a concealed water-resistant layer and inner pad to soak up any little accidents – but, crucially, they still let your toddler feel the wetness, to help them learn about bladder control and make them realise how unpleasant it is sitting in sopping clothes.
Our tester loved how many colourful designs there were to choose from, which helped make the process more fun, and found the shape and style really comfortable to wear. Team them with one of the brand’s waterproof wet bags and you’re good to go when inevitable accidents do occur.
Buy now £20.36, Amazon
Bumbo Step ‘n Potty
You’re probably familiar with Bumbo’s comfy seats, which help babies sit up for the first time, and the label’s multi-use potty is just as innovative and well-loved by parents. The best thing about it is that it’s three products in one – an easy-to-clean potty to use at the beginning of your training journey, a detachable trainer seat for your toilet once they’re a bit more confident, and a handy step for reaching said toilet. For the latter, you need to attach the lid that’s hidden in the base and hey presto! You have a non-slip way for your toddler to reach everything from the loo to the bathroom sink.
It may be one of the more expensive options out there, but our tiny tester particularly liked how soft the seat was compared to other potties she tried. Unlike most, which are made out of hard plastic, the Bumbo option is made from a firm foam that’s a lot more comfortable than the majority of options currently on the market.
Buy now £49.49, Jojo Maman Bébé
Ikea Tossig Trainer Seat
Lots of parents swear by Ikea when it comes to potty training essentials, thanks to the Swedish flat pack label’s inexpensive and smartly designed range of potties, step stools and training seats. This simple trainer seat got a big thumbs up from our testers for the price point and ease of use.
Designed for little bottoms, with soft curves and edges, it comes with a non-slip underside to hold it firmly in place, so you don’t need to worry about it wobbling around on the toilet. It’s super easy to take on and off and clean, and when you’re not using it, you can either hang it on the wall or stash it down the side of the toilet. Plus, they’re cheap enough that you can buy a few to keep in multiple bathrooms.
Buy now £10.95, Amazon
My Potty Training Pack
As any parent of a toddler will know, there are few things that will hold their attention longer than a pack of stickers – this information suddenly becomes invaluable when you’re going through the process of potty training.
If there’s anything that’s going to get them excited about the whole thing, it’s a cleverly designed training pack like this one, which has been developed by the UK’s leading toilet training expert Amanda Jenner and features a full training programme, as well as lots of reward stickers to keep them motivated. It also comes with a storybook about a pair of magic potties, which helps to make the arduous task a little more fun and interactive.
Buy now £14.99, Amazon
Pourty Easy to Pour Potty
This cleverly designed potty does exactly what it says on the tin and makes pouring straight from the potty a breeze. Designed by father-of-two Jon Rathbone after he became frustrated with the messy business of emptying a regular potty, the award-winning design comes with an in-built pouring spout at the back and a handle at the front, making it easier than ever to pour away the contents as quickly as possible without having to faff with separate inner bowls. The hard plastic construction is not the comfiest option on the market (though it does feature a wide flat seat to help in this department), but it comes in a range of bright colours that will appeal to little ones, and the cute cat design also scored bonus points with our two-year-old tester.
Buy now £10.95, John Lewis
Bambinex 2 in 1 Swim and Train Nappies
There’s nothing a parent likes more than a versatile baby product, which is why these two-in-one swimming and nappy training pants are such a hit. They’re slimline enough to work as training pants and fit well under clothes, while also containing a small absorbent layer that will catch little accidents (yet still stay wet enough to feel uncomfortable to sit in). Then, when you’re heading on holiday or for a session at the pool, the waterproof outer layer works brilliantly as a pair of swimming pants, while the small liner won’t weigh your toddler down when it gets wet. Available in a range of fun, eye-catching designs, each pair comes with little poppers at the side, making them easy to whip off when those accidents do happen.
Buy now £17.00, The Nappy Lady
Nuby My Real Potty
If your little one is struggling to take to the potty, it might be worth going for the novelty factor and investing in a miniature toilet – this one from Nuby is one of the best on the market. Little ones will love the fact that it looks just like the one their parents use, and even comes with its own realistic-sounding flush at the touch of a button. All the details have been thought of, including a lid that opens and closes, an integrated splash guard and a non-skid base – there’s even a handy place to stash wet wipes in the back tank. With a removable inner pot for easy cleaning, this one was a big hit with our toddler tester, who loved that it offered something different to the traditional potty.
Buy now £37.50, Boots
Our pick of the lot is the Potette Max, which we love for its versatility – this potty is just as useful on-the-go as it is at home, and will take your little one through multiple stages of their potty training journey. Well designed and easy to use, this is one product to invest in that will instantly make the whole process go a lot more smoothly.