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Potty Chairs vs. Potty Seats

Updated on October 31, 2014

Toilet Training Potties...Deciding Which One is Best for Your Child

The potty. Arguably the most essential tool in a parent's toolbox for toilet training your child. With so many potties out there, from completely no-frills inserts to fit on a regular adult toilet to stand-alone potty seats with toilet paper holders that celebrate your child's success with songs and lights, it can be hard to know which one will be best for your child.

I know I had a hard time figuring out which potty would help my child at first, but now that we've been through potty training, I've gotten much more perspective on the pros and cons of each of the two main types of potties:

Potty Chairs -- Toddler sized 'toilets' that sit on the floor.

Potty Seats -- These fit right on top of a full-size toilet, giving small children a safer, more comfortable way to sit on the toilet. (I've also heard them called toilet rings, toilet seat reducers or trainer seats)

Some parents swear by one kind, and some the other. My daughter and her cousins have used multiple versions of both types. Read about each and weigh in with your opinion, whether you're searching for a potty or you're an experienced parent who's been through the trenches of potty training.

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The Advantages to Potty Chairs

Here's what parents appreciate about this type of scaled-down toilet just for small children

It's low to the ground so a child can sit down on it quickly. There's no climbing involved, which makes things a lot more stable for children who are training at an earlier age. They don't have to master getting up on a stool or steps to reach the big potty. And, when every moment counts for getting on the potty when your child really 'has to go', having a potty at their own level can help a child succeed.

If your child is fearful of flushing or sitting on the big toilet, a potty chair is a welcome alternative. There's no flush noise, and no fear of falling in.

It's their own. Some toddlers appreciate having a potty of their very own and can be very proud of 'going' in it.

They can be incredibly cheap if you go for something like the IKEA Lattsam Children's Potty, which retails for around $4.99. It's lightweight and just one piece, which can be perfect if you need several potties around the house. We had a 2-story home during toilet training, so it was super helpful to have multiple potties.

Much more variety in form and design. Depending on your child's personality and motivations, you can choose from potty chairs that resemble thrones, plastic ones that are made to look like scaled-down versions of the real thing, ones with flushing sounds, and of course, potty chairs that look like animals or feature your child's favorite character.

Easily movable. Depending on what school of potty training thought you follow, it can be beneficial to be able to have a potty close at hand to where your child is playing so that he can sit down on it quickly when the urge to go potty hits.

More convenient for 'dry runs'. Even before potty training officially begins, many children benefit from practicing sitting on the potty.

Provides an extra potty. If you have more people in your family than bathrooms, it's inevitable that your toddler will need to 'go' when all the other toilets are occupied. As they are learning, it's great to have a dedicated place for them to potty as the urge hits. I've kept an old potty chair around for my daughter because we only have one bathroom and it has come in handy for bathroom emergencies.

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The Tried and True Workhorse of Potty Chairs

BABYBJORN Potty Chair, Blue
BABYBJORN Potty Chair, Blue

Parents rave about the usefulness of the BabyBjorn potty. Most of my friends have had one for their kids at some point or another. It's super easy to clean without a lot of the nooks and crannies that some other potties have around the seat for waste and bacteria to hide. The Bjorn has a high comfort level too; it's ergonomically designed for little legs with smooth contours. Another potty we tried with my daughter had more pointed edges which left lines on her legs, so this one is much more appealing. Its non-skid rubber-lined base keeps your child from scooting around the bathroom at inopportune moments, and the armrests and higher back make many kids feel more secure on the seat to do their business. Another thing to love about this potty? It's made out of recyclable materials, so you can feel better about its impact on the earth after your child graduates to the big toilet.


Disadvantages of Potty Chairs

Some kids need to re-train a bit when it comes time to transition from the potty chair to a regular toilet, and you may need to purchase a potty seat in addition.

It's not as easy to travel with a potty chair; they're not something you can take along to the mall or the grocery store in case nature calls. Some kids are very wary of unfamiliar toilets, so this is a consideration to take into account.

They can get knocked over. One time my daughter was really excited that she used the potty, then proceeded to bump it, splashing urine on the floor, her clothes, and herself. 'nuff said.

My least favorite aspect of potty seats is cleaning them. Even the easiest-to-clean ones need to be rinsed out every time, and cleaned out well each time your child deposits a #2 in there.

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Potty Seats have Many Advantages

Training your child to use the big toilet right away. There's no transition from a little toilet.

Being just like Mommy and Daddy or an older sibling who uses the big toilet. That can be a big motivator to some children.

Easier cleanup. Usually, this just consists of wiping off any drips, since the liquid and solid waste go straight into the big toilet bowl to be flushed away.

Portability. Most potty seats are compact enough to be easily carried in a bag to come along to the mall, a friend's house, or on vacation so that your child always has his or her 'very own' toilet seat wherever they go.

Adventure for the young climber. A factor that you might not think of right away is if your child enjoys steps and climbing, going up a step stool to use a potty seat might have some extra appeal. I know my daughter likes to sit up there to have a bigger view of things.

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Built-In Potty Seat/Family Toilet Seat - Everyone's gotta go...Mom, Dad, older siblings too! A child size toilet seat and adult seat all-in-one on your most-use

Xpress Trainer Pro-All In One-Real Simple Potty Training Round/Standard Family Toilet Seat
Xpress Trainer Pro-All In One-Real Simple Potty Training Round/Standard Family Toilet Seat

I hadn't heard of a family toilet seat until a friend had one installed in her most-used bathroom. While the seat can be a little big for the youngest potty-training kids, it's still really nice to have a potty seat option built right in. My preschooler thought it was so cool that there was a seat her size built into a big potty. As for the adult size seat, it was just like a regular one. Seemed sturdy enough and fit well on the commode. This toilet seat would save a whole lot of cleaning, and it's so easy just to lift and lower the seats to have the right size one. This seat comes in an elongated version too.


Potty Seat -- The Disadvantages

I think the photo is self-explanatory.

Potty seats can't be perfectly stable on top of the big toilet unless they're clamped on, so it's essential to supervise your child. My daughter figured out she could rock from side to side on one and fell off the commode.

It's harder for kids to get up on themselves For early toilet training, it can take that crucial few extra seconds for a child to climb up to the potty and not get the urine or poop in before they start 'going.' At least in my house, even an extra split-second was the difference between clean success and a messy almost-success.

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Pick Your Potty - Chime in on what you think makes a potty training seat or chair work well

Which makes the better choice for potty training?

Another Option... A Travel Potty - Can't decide between a potty chair or a potty seat? You can have both in one!

Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus, Blue
Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus, Blue

Personally, I've thought that the Pottette 2 in 1 potty is a great solution for travel and at home. My sister-in-law swore by it with my oldest niece, who when she had to 'go', she had to go NOW, regardless if they were near a convenient toilet. They could just pull the car off the road and use the potty with its absorbent liner on the floorboard if they needed to. This potty would be great for camping too. We used ours for being anywhere out and about.

What's unique about this potty is that it can be used as a potty chair and as a potty seat. There are foldable legs that lock into place to stand the potty up for use as a potty chair, and there are disposable absorbent liners that fit under the seat. If you run out of liners --which can be a bit pricey, you can also use several layers of plastic grocery bags with a paper towel or two inside of them. The legs open up horizontally so that the seat fits on the top of an adult toilet as well. It also comes with a plastic carrying bag for more sanitary travel.

This was really helpful for public restrooms when we were first toilet training, since my daughter always had her own potty there to sit on.


More Thoughts about Toilet Training Potties... - Any other suggestions or comments about choosing the right potty for your child? Give feedback and help other

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    • profile image

      PottyTrainingWarning 3 years ago

      My son has BabyBjorn Potty Chair & Toilet Trainer and we use that for his training along with the 3-day potty training method. I also used motivational tools and stickers on the chart to encourage him to use the potty trainer and lately, toilet with potty seat in it.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      We have both the BabyBjorn Potty Chair & Toilet Trainer you've featured above. The potty chair was great when my son was first getting curious about toileting, but now he prefers the toilet seat reducer so he can be like the grown-ups.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      It is great to have so many options to choose from.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      I had forgotten how important the potty training was! The second one was much easier as she wanted to be like her older sister.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Great info and options for potty chairs and seats!

    • LNAngel profile image

      Lauren 5 years ago from Florida

      Fantastic resource! My son is not quite 2, but we are trying to get him used to simply sitting on his chair, potty chair, fully clothed. This next year is sure to be a wild ride!

    • Andrejk profile image

      Andrejk 5 years ago

      Nice lens, thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      GrinningFool 5 years ago

      I think having the flexibility of both is important! I do really like the Baby Bjorn potty chairs though!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      Great discussion. This page will be bound to help many parents (and children.)

    • profile image

      FashionMommy 5 years ago

      Nice work on this lens. Maybe you can use a potty chair first then gradually transition to a potty seat, whatever works out best for your child.

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Great lens with lots of helpful info! We have both. I used a toilet set for my boys. My girls freaked out over being so high, so they used/are using their own special potty chair. Blessed and liked.

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 5 years ago

      This is really a great and helpful lens. Great job.

    • maurissam profile image

      Chocolate Pickney 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Great lens

    • profile image

      qatoiletbowlbd 6 years ago

      Once again great lens. You seem to have a good understanding of toilet bowl. When I entering your toilet bowl lens, I felt this . Come on and keep writing your lens will be more attractive. To Your Success!

    • profile image

      raffic 6 years ago

      nice work

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 6 years ago from Central Florida

      @SandyMertens: Excellent suggestion! I'll highlight some of those soon.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Some decorative potty chairs. Great debate.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      I like the cute potty chairs shaped like animals, etc. :)