Potty Training on the Go
Top Tips for Potty Training Outside the Home
6/2/2008 | by
By Kelly D. Burgess
Sarah Kuehn of Enid, Okla., is going to approach potty training a little differently with her second child. Overall, things went pretty smoothly when she went through the potty training process with her first daughter, Katrina, until a bad experience with a high-tech toilet.
“It was one of those automatic flushing toilets, and it flushed when she was on it,” says Kuehn. “Katrina was terrified and for a long time wouldn’t go to the bathroom when we were out. I had to make sure she went beforehand, make sure the trips were short and just drop everything and come home if she had to go.”
Thankfully, Katrina got over her fear, but Kuehn will be sure to warn her 17-month-old in advance when it’s her turn for potty training!
Starting the potty training process can seem overwhelming at first to parents and children. Add in strange bathrooms, adult-sized toilets and the less than pleasant condition of many public bathrooms, and potty training can feel even more overwhelming.
But you can’t let potty training tie you to your home. Parents with toddlers and preschoolers still shop, go out to dinner, go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house and take planes, trains and automobiles to get there. And their kids eventually have to learn to go potty along the way.
Vicki Lansky, a mom and potty training expert, says the best way to make using the potty on the go a little easier is to invest in a portable, fold-up potty seat that fits over an adult-sized toilet. Inexpensive and made of plastic, these seats fold up small enough to fit into a purse or other bag. They’re also easy to wipe down and can be used anywhere.
Lansky also suggests these strategies for potty training away from home:
- Be sure the child goes potty right before and after going anywhere.
- Use the larger, handicapped stalls in public restrooms. They allow a parent and child to be more comfortable.
- Take a change of clothes, and don’t make a big deal about accidents.
As for traveling in the car, Lansky says it’s a good idea to get children used to using unfamiliar toilets before going on a trip by encouraging them to use toilets at stores or wherever you’re normally out and about. When traveling by car, stop frequently at rest stops or other places where there are bathrooms to give the child plenty of opportunity to go to the bathroom. Don’t forget the fold-up potty adapter for rest stops and airplane or motel toilets. Another option is travel potty chairs, which fold up fairly small and have a carry handle. These are great for motels and for visiting friends or relatives who may not have a toddler in the home.
“The important thing for parents is to have children practice at home first,” says Lansky. “If you’re going to use a portable potty, practice before you leave for your trip. If you’re going to use a fold-up potty adapter, try it on the big toilet at home. Make sure the child’s comfortable with it before having to do it on the road.”
Lansky also suggests parents have a potty plan before leaving home. Know what you’re going to do before you go out shopping, take a long trip or go to a restaurant. Know where the bathrooms are in each place you go in case you need to get to one fairly quickly, and don’t be so distracted by shopping or visiting that you don’t pay attention to your child’s signals that he or she has to go.
Christine Hohlbaum of Paunzhausen, Germany, says potty training was a snap for her well-traveled children, probably because of her relaxed attitude toward the whole procedure. Just after her daughter was trained, the family took a transatlantic flight, and Hohlbaum made sure it didn’t interfere with her long-term potty training goals.
“What worked there was not forcing her into the scary, cramped airplane bathroom,” says Hohlbaum. “She used PULL-UPS® [Training Pants], and that worked for the duration of the flight.”
Hohlbaum also used a toilet seat adapter for both her children to bring big potties down to size when they traveled.
With patience and a little advance planning, potty training on the go should go along without a hitch.