The one thing I couldn’t live without when my child was potty training

Potty training can definitely vary from family to family. Some start it from birth with practicing elimination communication, some do intense 3-day “potty boot camps,” and still others take a wait-and-see approach. 

Whatever method you choose, they almost inevitably feature one thing: the children’s potty. It might feature a favorite character, or sing a song when your kid pees into it, or maybe it even lights up.

But I don’t care how exciting they are. I find all of them disgusting.

To me, there is nothing worse than trying to clean fecal material out of a potty that somehow has oodles of nooks and crannies. With a diaper you can just toss it, but with a potty, you have to take multiple (nauseating) steps:

  1. Clap and cheer for your child who has just pooped in the potty.
  2. Clean his/her bottom up, and try to keep his face out of the potty so he can get thisclose to the amazing thing his body just produced.
  3. Ceremoniously dump poop into your toilet, trying to keep your kid’s hands/face out of the trajectory and also avoiding a major splash effect.
  4. Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle the potty to get that last bit that won’t come out.
  5. Use toilet paper to get out the last bit from #4 that seems super-glued to the potty.
  6. Puke a little in your mouth.
  7. Use Clorox wipes to clean potty, but it takes at least 2 or 3 rounds to stop from just spreading feces all around.
  8. Use Clorox wipes to clean the areas on your toilet that all got splashed from steps 3-5.
  9. Consider Clorox wipes for your kid who stuck his hand in the toilet while you were too busy disinfecting his potty seat.
  10. Nearly lose it when he pees all over the floor.

So, given my feelings on the subject of the potty and all their grossness, I knew this wasn’t going to work for our family. This is where I discovered the one thing I couldn’t live without when my son was potty training: sweet toilet modifications that allowed him to use the grown-up toilet (and the magical plumbing that comes with it!), thus negating the need for steps 3-10. Hoorah! No more gross potty for us!

I found a few things to be pretty essential, starting with an adjustable toilet trainer. It allows your child to sit on a regular toilet but keeps them from falling in. And when they are done, just take it off and give the seat a quick wipe and move on with your day. Voila. You can also find some toilet seats at home improvement stores with this built in. Just move it down for kids, and back up for grownups. So fancy!

In order to get up to the toilet, a secure step stool can let children independently achieve the task while also giving them a place to rest their feet (which helps make having bowel movements easier).

My other favorite toilet modification should be handed out to all moms of boys as soon as they leave the hospital (I joke, but not really). This is a toilet lid and seat that are unable to be slammed down. Every year, so many little boys go to the ER for crush injuries to the penis as the result of a slammed toilet seat. It hurts just thinking about, right? These lid/seat combos make it nearly impossible for that to happen—and some even have a seat nested inside that are just the right size for toddler bottoms.

Even with all these nice little adjustments, some kids will refuse to use a regular toilet and prefer using their own potty. For those kids, I suggest waiting until they are 18 to potty train. Just kidding! You have to do what works for you and your family, but these tips might help make your potty training experiences a little more fun and a little less gross.

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Medical Director, Pregnancy

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.


  1. “Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle the potty to get that last bit that won’t come out.” The funniest yet truest thing I have heard all week.

  2. I am about to start potty training with my daughter, she is my first and only right now… Thank you for the advice, I hope it works for me!


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