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Everything You Need to Potty Train, According to Experts

Photo: Paramount+

If you’re just embarking on the journey that is potty training your child, you know that it’s not necessarily going to be a walk in the park. Not only is it notoriously difficult to get a toddler to do anything, there’s also no one-size-fits-all approach. According to NYC Potty Training founder Samantha Allen, the most important thing to remember is to “stay calm throughout the process and find ways to set clear expectations without making kids feel pressured or forced.” Potty-training consultant Allison Jandu says that the right method will be the one that works with your kiddo’s personality and your family’s lifestyle. As far as when to start potty training, Allen says that as long as little ones can walk to the bathroom and follow simple instructions, “they can learn to use the potty.” Jen L’Italien, a certified consultant in the Oh Crap! potty-training method, told us the sweet spot for starting to potty train usually falls between 20 and 30 months of age, but adds you’re not doomed if you start younger or older than that. Whether you adhere to a three-day method or scheduled potty sits, Allen, Jandu, L’Italien, and the five other experts we spoke to say there are things you should consider keeping on hand to make the transition from diapers to toilet go a little more smoothly. From potties, to toilet-seat inserts, to step stools, to underwear, to books, to other helpful accessories, below is everything the experts recommend for effectively potty training a child.

Best training potties

Best overall training potty

While some experts like Allen and Laura Lynn LaPointe, a parent coach and child-behavior consultant, prefer starting toddlers on the big toilet, L’Italien thinks a small potty is useful for a couple of reasons. “Offering choice is always helpful for a toddler in any stretch of life, but certainly when you’re trying to get them to do something new,” she says. “If you can offer the options of a small potty or the toilet to a toddler, there’s at least some realm of choice.” Small potties, she adds, are “pretty much mandatory” for night training after you’ve taken the nap and night diapers away, because you’ll want a potty to put right next to a child’s bed so it’s accessible. “It makes for a much smoother process,” she promises. While L’Italien doesn’t have a strong affinity to any particular training potty, Jandu is a fan of this Learn-to-Go Potty from Summer Infant, which she trained her two kids with. “It’s lightweight and looks a lot like a regular toilet,” says Jandu. “It’s also very easy to clean and portable, so you can keep it within arm’s reach during those initial days of potty training.” Lifestyle influencer LaTisha Guster, the blogger behind, also used a Summer Infant potty to train her two daughters. “The point was to buy a potty that did not make sounds, whistle, blow confetti, or remotely look like a toy,” she says. “I wanted something as plain and boring as possible to stay intentional about what the potty is meant for.”

Best training potty for pooping

Jandu recommends the Super Pooper Plus Potty Seat for any kids who might particularly struggle with No. 2. “This potty has a built-in footrest that helps kids get into a natural squat position, which makes it easy for them to be able to poop on the potty,” she explains. The fact that it looks like an adult toilet “makes the transition from the potty to the toilet a little bit easier when the time comes,” she adds. To further help with that transition, this potty’s seat is removable and can be put on a big toilet. While Guster eschewed a training potty that made the process more fun, Jandu told us she appreciates how this one has two buttons to engage kids in the process: One makes a realistic flushing sound and the other makes cheering noises, two things she says can make it a bit more enjoyable for little ones.

Best overall travel potty

When your toddler has grown out of diapers, you have to be extra prepared when you leave the house. “There are so many different situations you’re going to come across: long lines at restrooms, uncomfortable toilet seats, being at a public beach or in the car with nowhere else to go,” explains L’Italien. That’s where a travel potty comes in. While our best overall potty from Summer Infant is portable enough to toss in a car, if you want a dedicated travel potty, Jandu and Ellie Rountree, an engagement editor at Vox Creative, recommend OXO’s 2-in-1 Go Potty. It has foldable legs that, when engaged, make it usable as a stand-alone potty. When you fold the legs flat, it converts into a seat that can sit atop a regular toilet seat — and Jandu notes that the potty has nonslip rubber on its body “so it doesn’t slide around on the toilet.” If it’s not in use, she adds that the potty packs down to be compact enough to fit in a diaper bag or backpack. It comes with three disposable liners that have absorbent pads, and you can buy additional liners separately (if you don’t want to use whatever plastic bags you have lying around). Rountree calls it “magical,” adding: “You can just put a plastic bag in it and you’re golden. It’s saved us so many times.”

Best ecofriendly travel potty

If your child doesn’t love the feeling of sitting on a crinkly plastic bag every time they have to go — or you don’t love the idea of using disposable plastic bags to collect their pee and poop — L’Italien recommends this travel potty that has a reusable silicone liner she calls “nice and soft.” Like the OXO potty, it has foldable legs that allow you to use it as a stand-alone potty or as a seat on top of a traditional toilet. (It can also be used with plastic or disposable bags should the need arise.) “It saved my life so many times when I was going through the process of potty training,” says L’Italien.

Best travel toilet-seat insert