Early potty training isn't about never putting a diaper on your newborn. It isn't about getting your 9-month-old to pee every single time in a potty. It's about sometimes giving your baby an opportunity to do her business somewhere besides her diaper. And if you are interested in saving money, reducing landfill waste, conserving water and energy, fewer diaper rashes, wiping fewer poopy bottoms, or reducing your child's risk of illnesses, infections, constipation, or voiding disorders, then early potty training is for you! And it's as simple as taking off your baby's diaper and plopping her on the potty.
But you do need a potty. And you need a potty that is the right size for a baby. (Most potties are designed for toddlers.)
When I first started early potty training, I put my 9-month-old on a potty seat on top of the toilet. But I don't recommend that. Because once she fell off the toilet onto the tile floor. Even though I was sitting inches away from her, looking right at her. Also because it's really easier to poop with your feet on the floor and your knees up higher than your hips. It's also nice to keep the toilet free for older kids and adults, and sometimes motivational to be able to use the toilet simultaneously with the baby using the potty. So I highly recommend starting with a small potty.
When shopping for potties, keep a few things in mind:
- Any detachable parts will detach, perhaps at a very importune time. My sister had a potty seat with a detachable pee guard. After fishing the pee guard out of the toilet bowl a few times, she returned it.
- A single piece of molded plastic is ideal. Imagine your child sitting down on the potty while peeing. If there are a lot of nooks and crannies on your potty, it isn't going to be very fun to clean.
- Beware the poorly designed pee guard. Imagine your child sitting on the potty incorrectly. You really don't want your child to be capable of injuring their private parts by sitting a little bit inaccurately on the potty. In addition, a very large pee guard makes it difficult to sit down on the potty at all. So watch out for those pee guards in particular.
- You want a potty that is low to the ground and not too wide, because it's hard for little babies to open their legs very far, and they have to be able to straddle the pee guard.
Below are the potties that we've used and liked, as well as a few we haven't tried personally but seen in the store. As you will soon realize, I am a big fan of BabyBjorn potties (and IKEA potties). Apparently those Swedes know a thing or two about designing potties for babies. The pee guard is just the right size to prevent a boy from peeing all over the bathroom (although he will most likely need to hold down his penis himself a little bit, or do so with some assistance) without endangering the family jewels. Made from one or two pieces of molded plastic, they are very easy to clean.
The Little Potty is by far my favorite potty for a baby. I still have two, even though my youngest is 3. One is an emergency outside potty for my girls, and the other lives in my van. We call it the van pot. Unfortunately, it's not available anymore. I leave it here as a reference point, and in case you can get one off Craig's List, eBay, or as a hand-me-down from a friend. However, there is a very similar potty that only costs $5.
This potty is about the same size as the Baby Bjorn Little Potty (both are about 7" high). It's the closest thing I've seen to the Little Potty. And oh-so-affordable if you frequent IKEA. If you don't live near IKEA, you can pay IKEA's hefty shipping fee or purchase on Amazon. Probably worth it, because I don't know of anything else as well-proportioned for a baby since the Little Potty.
The Smart Potty is another excellent choice for a baby. It is slightly wider and higher off the ground than the Little Potty. But I think you could make it work with most 6-month-olds. My husband preferred this one to the Little Potty because of the removable pot. The larger pot capacity also means you'll be able to use it for a longer period of time as your child and her deposits grow larger. We took our Smart Potty on our last road trip, so that all our kids (7, 5, 3) could use it when the public restroom was looking neglected. My older kids do still rarely use the Little Potty (our usual van pot), but we have come dangerously close to capacity on occasion.
The Potty Chair is a bit larger than the Smart Potty: a bit higher, a bit wider, and a bit larger capacity in the pot. I have never owned this potty, but I had a friend successfully use it with a 7-month-old. I think it would work for almost any 9-month-old, but might be a little less comfortable for a 6-month-old. IKEA makes a potty with a very similar design: the LOCKIG Children's Potty (also available on Amazon).
At some point, you will probably want to graduate from a potty chair to a potty seat. Because it is nice not to have to transfer the potty contents to the toilet, or to clean the potty. You might give one a try around 18 months or whenever your child is big enough to sit comfortably on the toilet with a high stool. The only potty seat I've ever liked is the BabyBjorn Toilet Trainer.
I returned several less expensive potty seats before forking over the dough for the BabyBjorn Toilet Trainer. It fits on any size toilet seat -- you adjust it once, and then you never have to adjust it again. It has a handle to make it easy to take on and off the toilet, and you can use the handle to hang it up if you want. It has a little bit of rubber around the bottom to keep it from slipping. It is a single piece of plastic -- no nooks for pee to get stuck in! The pee guard is the same size as on the other BabyBjorn potties. Remember, if your pee guard to too large, it will be tough for your kid to even sit down. My 5yo and 3yo girls both still use it.
My kids always use a stool with the potty seat so they can rest their feet on a flat surface and have their knees up close to hip level. We use a simple nonslip stool, but it would also be nice to have one of those Squatty Potty stool that goes around the toilet.
What is your favorite potty chair or potty seat?
And for what ages have you used it?
For more tips, tricks, and tales about early potty training, visit my Early Potty Training page.
- Comparing Brands of Reusable Training Pants
- 10 Benefits of Early Potty Training
- When to Put Your Child on the Potty
- My 2-year-old is Potty Trained! (Early Potty Training Reprise)
- Avoiding Toxins in Baby Products
- Eco-novice's Favorite Kind of Toy
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