Potty Chairs vs. Potty Seats
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.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/valentinap/3765631910/
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.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alohateam/4529046139/
The Tried and True Workhorse of Potty Chairs
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.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smalltownguy22/4270517760/
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.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bansal98/4626893485/
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
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.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/makelessnoise/2261024223/
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!
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.