My kids are past potty-training age — long past, I should add — but I still vividly remember the months... and months... of waiting, coaxing, sighing, and cheering that went along with that all-important learning period. Without getting too technical, let's just say that mine weren't the kind of kids who were ready to give up diapers the day after their first birthdays. I used charts and other potty training products. I used the words "big kid" in approximately every other sentence. I learned to watch for signs that they were about to go, so I could rush them to the bathroom in time. And I threw out more than a few pairs of underwear that were too far gone to bother washing.
There were times, I admit, when I thought I would be packing adult diapers in my children's college luggage. I was sure that I was the only mom whose toddlers were lagging behind the learning curve. But my pediatrician assured me that kids train at their own pace. Unless there are medical or developmental issues involved, eventually even the most reluctant children become potty pros. Happily, I soon found out that she was right.
Still, there's nothing wrong with offering a few incentives to encourage a child to use the toilet. It can make the process more pleasant and less stressful for both toddler and parents. These days, there are plenty of great products out there. Here are some worth checking out:
Personalized Potty Book
What better way to introduce the topic of potty training than with a fun customized story? Your little one will love listening to the tale of a teddy making the transition out of diapers, complete with their own name, hometown, and the name of a sibling or friend who already wears big-kid underwear.
A "Time to Go" Watch
Incentive Sticker Seat
This clever twist on the classic reward-chart model lets your child place a (washable) sticker on the bright star every time they use the toilet. Watching the star fill up will boost your child's confidence; plus, it's a handy reminder to put the toilet seat down.
Also available in a girl version, this doll can "drink" a bottle of water and then "go" in the provided potty chair, helping your toddler understand that what goes in must eventually come out.
Realistic Potty Chair
A Helpful Step Stool
Tablet Holder Potty
From the "Why didn't I invent it first?" department: This potty chair features an activity stand that holds most iPad models, thus ensuring that your child will happily stay put until nature finishes calling. The chair also has a snap-on cover for convenient playing between bathroom visits.
Princess Chart and Book Set
Got a princess in the house? She'll be enchanted by this deluxe set, which includes a storybook and a pretty felt crown. I especially like the reward chart, which offers incentives for every step, from asking to go to the bathroom to flushing and washing. Plus, it's magnetic, so the "stickers" can be reused every week until your royal learner masters the potty.
Aim-Improving Toilet Stickers
Travel Toilet Covers
Once your child gets the hang of using a full-sized toilet, you'll want to carry these protectors in your purse or tote for those trips to the mall or restaurant. The covers have tape to keep them from sliding off, and they're sized to drape slightly over the toilet so your child can hang on to the seat and still keep his hands clean.
Portable Potty Seat
Cotton Training Pants
Some experts think it's best to use underwear instead of pull-up trainers during toilet training. Why? The disposable pants can keep a child too dry, making it hard for a child to realize when she's had an accident and less motivated to use the bathroom. These transitional undies are a perfect compromise. They have an absorbent liner that keeps things from getting too messy, but the organic cotton material allows enough dampness to come through.