When I was previously practicing pediatrics, I talked to countless families about potty training. Every child will have a different experience, and there’s no one-size fits all approach to the process. My 5-year-old daughter was 23-months-old when she mastered potty training in 2 days. On the other hand, my 2.5-year-old son started a gradual process around age 25 months. Now, he is officially potty-trained!
Although potty training a child is intimidating for many families, children can achieve the milestone successfully if parents are calm and consistent with the process. In this post, I will share:
- Best potty seats for home and on-the-go
- Our potty-training experience and general tips
- Favorite story books about toilet-training
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not replace the in-person evaluation and advice from your health care professional. Further questions about potty training should be directed to your primary care provider.
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Best potty seats for toddlers for home and on-the-go
We have had the following seats for the past 3 years, and my 5-year-old still uses all of them!
Recommended potty seats for home:
Recommended potty seats on-the-go:
- OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty for Travel
- OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty Refill Bags, 30 Count
- BABYBJORN Smart Potty
Recommended potty seat covers:
- PottyCover Disposable Toilet Seat Covers
- Toilet Seat Covers- Disposable XL Potty Seat Covers, Individually Wrapped by Potty Shields – Extra-Large, No Slip
Potty seats at home
We have both the Munchkin potty seat for the toilet and the Baby Bjorn smart potty for the floor. When kids start potty training, you won’t know which they will prefer.
Munchkin potty seat review
Although we had the Bjorn potty seat on the floor, my daughter has always wanted to sit on the “real potty” like adults. Therefore, the Munchkin potty seat has been perfect for her. Because of the plain design, it’s easy to tell when the seat needs to be cleaned, and it’s blends into regular bathrooms! On the other hand, my son was initially afraid to sit on the “real potty” and preferred the floor potty seat. After a few months, he now prefers the Munchkin potty seat for the toilet.
Potty seats out and about…
Before you leave the house, I highly recommend the Bjorn smart potty and Oxo Tot Potty on the go!
Bjorn smart potty seat review
We keep the Bjorn smart potty in the backseat floor of our car, and my daughter pees right before we go anywhere. Disposable Oxo tot potty refill plastic bags keep the seat clean (although I wish we had a biodegradable bag option). As a result, my daughter can enjoy swim and dance lessons uninterrupted, and we can usually avoid dirty public bathrooms.
Oxo Tot 2-in-1 Potty on the Go!
Last but not least, we LOVE the Oxo Tot 2-in-1 Potty on the Go!!! This is a must have for any travel, such as summer camps in Taiwan and China. We keep one in our car and another in our stroller. The Oxo Tot Potty collapses flat for storage. You can use it in 2 ways: propped up on the floor OR placed on a regular toilet. Of course, you can cover the regular toilet with the aformentioned potty seat covers for maximum protection!
All seats are able to contain urine without leaks. You do have to remind your child to lean forward and not backward. Curious kids who peek tend to lean backward, which is when a spraying mess can happen!
In short, we have many potty seats in our life, but they make life more convenient and comfortable!
Experience and tips with potty training
How did I know my kids were ready to potty train?
In order to potty train your child, your child has to learn to recognize her body signals for peeing and pooping plus associate it with the toilet. Parents also need to be observant of their child. Often before pooping, children briefly stop whatever they’re doing, stand or squat, and grunt while pushing out the stool. Peeing is often more subtle, but children will begin to report when their diaper is wet.
Toilet training best occurs when there are no major life changes, and you have a few consecutive days to focus on the transition.
Our experience potty training our daughter
Starting around age 1, we read numerous books about potty training which I share in the second half of this article. When my daughter began to show clear signs that she could recognize pee and poop signals, I would bring her to the bathroom immediately so that she would associate those events with the bathroom. From around 15 months of age, she was “bathroom trained” and used to rushing to the bathroom when she felt the urge. She was also waking up at night asking to pee, ask for a clean diaper, and complained about the itchiness of the diaper.
Since we were relocating cities while my daughter showed potty readiness, we ended up delaying potty training for a few months. After we moved, she told us many times that she didn’t like her diaper, and we had to respect her wishes to potty train! For her positive reinforcement about the process, we bought new underwear and talked about how comfortable they are and how wonderful it is to use the same toilet as mommy and daddy.
For 2 consecutive days, we stayed at home and let her roam around the house without pants, underwear, or diapers. For some children, having a bare bottom is helpful so that (1) they can feel wetness if they have an accident, and (2) you don’t have to deal with washing extra clothes if they have an accident!
As for nights, we kept her in diapers for many months until she was consistently dry. Since I was pregnant with my son at the time, it was too hard to change her sheets in the middle of the night with accidents, so we wanted to make sure that she was ready to go diaper-free at night. On average, it can take kids 1-2 years to remain dry at night after achieving day time dryness.
Our experience potty training my son
My son’s potty training timeline was quite different from my daughter’s. He became curious about potty training around age 25 months, but it was a on/off process over the past 5 months. We intermittently read books about going to the potty, but not nearly as frequently as with our daughter. We have been so busy with other things, but I think he just got the point from seeing everybody in our family do it! The only thing that we did was leave the Bjorn potty seat out in the bathroom as an option in case he asked to try it.
In contrast to my daughter, my son never liked walking around with a bare bottom. Therefore, he wore his underwear on days that he wanted to try the potty seat. For months, sometime he would only poop in the potty once and then resume wearing his diaper. We did not want to push him because we know that stress leads to setbacks. Although he will eventually learn to pee standing up, he is currently sitting on the toilet and has learned to aim down. For naps and night time sleep, he is wearing his diaper “just in case.”
General tips for successful potty training
- Every child is different! Do not compare your child with other children!
- Never shame or scold a child for accidents or potty difficulties.
- Don’t wait for kids to tell you when they have to pee. They often get distracted by playing and will wait til the very last unbearable moment to pee! Instead, take a “pee break” with your child to model the importance of going to the bathroom regularly.
- Take the kids with you when you use the bathroom. It’s important for dads to show sons how they take care of business standing up, and for mothers to feel comfortable showing their daughters.
- Routinely schedule longer toilet-sitting for 10-15 minutes, at least three times a day (eg, after breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
- Be a relaxed presence for your child
- Consider the company of a comfort toy but not something too distracting as they may need reminders to try pushing.
- Encourage passing gas
- If using toilet, make sure they have feet on step stool for support
- Know that it takes much longer to potty train at night; kids are often in nighttime diapers for months to even a couple years after daytime training (depending on the age that they start)
When your child has an accident, try to remain neutral with your response. Do not get angry or annoyed, because this may stress out your child. And do not laugh at them which can inadvertently reinforce the behavior! Instead, your child will learn that it’s a nuisance to break from playing during the clean-up process. After a few accidents, and quick redirection to the bathroom, the child should quickly learn to use the toilet consistently.
If you have carpet at home, you may want to avoid those areas to save you the clean-up trouble, and hang out in the backyard. We have mostly hardwood floors, so we just avoided any carpet and the couches for a couple of days and stayed as close as possible to the bathroom.
- Know that constipation can cause pee accidents because the stool burden can affect bladder capacity
- If stools are hard, give pears, peaches, and prunes
- Stay hydrated with water; avoid excess dairy and cow’s milk consumption and other constipating food
- Eat a healthy varied diet that includes vegetables
- Talk to your health care provider if dietary changes and/or laxatives are needed
Make potty training a fun experience for kids!
When my daughter was potty training, I often made up funny stories to help her relax and encourage her to be patient with her body so that she could do the necessary deeds. Here are some examples of humorous and relevant things we have said:
- When I was pregnant with my son, my daughter liked it when I pretended to ultrasound her belly and check on her “babies”. My daughter enjoyed pretending that she was “pregnant” with some of her stuffed animals, but I told her that the ultrasound couldn’t see anything with all the poop and gas. So with each poop and fart, I pretended that the ultrasound could see each baby better haha.
- Another time after we went to a wedding, we pretended her poop had to get married and have poop kids and be all together in the toilet and not in her belly!
- Here’s a clever idea that I got from another pediatrician. “Did you know that if you poop into the potty, it gets to go down all sorts of winding tubes and pipes! [Use lots of hand gestures and silly facial expressions]. Do you know where it ends up? [Big dramatic pause]. The poopy party!!!
If you have other questions about potty training, please talk to your health care provider for personal advice! Without further ado, here are the best potty-training books for kids!
Favorite 3 books about potty-training for children
Just like potty seats, we have a lot of books about potty training! Rather than listing them all, I am highlighting the top 3 books that both of my children like. These book deal with reality and not fantasy (eg Montessori friendly potty books), which I think is the ideal way to teach kids about their body. Although we like to make up silly pretend stories as mentioned previously, I recommend books with realistic visual images, because children are learning how to understand their body and may remember these images for a long time.
My top 3 favorite potty books are all available in English. The 2nd book is also in simplified Chinese, and the 3rd book is in traditional Chinese and Korean. I will also include some other popular potty training books in Chinese and explain why I did not include them on the list. However, you may wish to explore them if you feel that additional books are necessary.
1. Where’s the Poop?
- 作者 (Author): Julie Markes, Susan Kathleen Hartung
- English / ISBN: 9780060530891
This is by far the favorite potty book of both of my kids! They get to see where animals poop and how different they look like! The imaginary dialogue between the animals and their parents demonstrates confidence in pooping independently. The end of the book shows children using the toilet to contrast with the animals.
2. The Potty Book for Girls and Boys
- 作者 (Author): Alyssa Satin Capucilli
- Where to Buy:
This is another favorite potty book of both of my kids. We have the female version in English and the male version in Chinese. My daughter really resonated with the female character, Hannah, and the “reward” of getting to wear underwear!
2. Potty (上廁所)
- 作者 (Author): Leslie Patricelli (蕾絲莉‧派翠賽里)
- Where to Buy:
I don’t usually recommend cartoon books, but this one is really adorable! This was one of the first books that I purchased when my daughter was an infant, and I remember when she was only 8 months old, giggling at the page where the characters eyes are wide because he just used the toilet. You can see in the photos below that the character has to be patient and wait a while before anything happens on the toilet!
This page is both of my children’s favorite! The both would giggle when they saw the baby’s surprised facial expression!
We have this book in English and Korean, but you can see a narration of the Chinese version in the video below.
Other potty training books
Here are other potty training books that you may want to consider:
- 我的神奇马桶 (Simplified Chinese) / 我的百變馬桶 (traditional Chinese) – This is a very popular book about a little boy who got bored of his toilet and has a vivid imagination. The illustrations have a lot of interactive components like mazes and “I Spy” which may be interesting for both younger and older children. You can listen to this story for free on Ximalaya. Since we already have so many books, I did not want to buy another potty book.
- 尿尿大冒险 – This is a simplified Chinese book with nice, big font. Illustrations are cartoon, and the book comes with a reward sticker chart. My daughter likes reading it to my son because the words are very easy and large, but I don’t feel like it adds any other value compared to the other books. In addition, for my son, I did not need to use a sticker reward system and was not planning to unless natural consequences/rewards prove to be unsuccessful. So far, peeing in the toilet and wearing “big kid” undies was the ultimate reward for both of my children.
- Mimi Book Series (Simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese) – This hardcover series about a little cartoon characters comes with a bilingual audio CD and is very much enjoyed by my daughter. One of the books is about how Mimi has accidents because she is distracted by playing. Although the books are very cute, the set is optional in my opinion.
- Little Bear Series – This set of 15 simplified Chinese paperback books are very cute for young toddlers. There is one book about bed wetting, and the animals make urine stains in the shape of food and other objects. It’s a funny book but not really giving the educational message of the aforementioned books.
- Daniel Goes to the Potty – This English board book comes with a digital button that mimics the sound of a toilet flushing. Daniel goes out for the first time after being toilet trained and has to use a public restroom. I don’t care for this book because the flushing button broke after a couple of months and made a horrible screeching sound!
- Once Upon a Potty – We have the boy and girl version in Korean, and the books are exactly the same except for the character. I made the mistake of buying both as I did not need the female version. The English books have high ratings on Amazon. They show anatomically correct features and the content is reality-based. The illustrations are interesting, but the book has far too many pages in my opinion. These are the longest picture books about potty training that I’ve seen! While my daughter may have had the attention span for them when she was potty training years ago, my son certainly does not!
If you’re interested in these additional books, you can preview most of them in the hyperlinks above.
What are you favorite books about potty training? Do you have any toilet training tips for other families? Feel free to share in the comments!
Chinese audiobooks for kids
For free Chinese audiobooks for children, check out:
- Free Chinese Audiobooks for Children on Ximalaya 喜马拉雅
- How to Use Ximalaya FM When You Can’t Read Chinese
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