No matter how much you adore your kids (and no matter how ready you are to stop forking over the big bucks for diapers), almost no parent looks forward to the potty training process.
It’s a daunting task. Pee and poo end up in places they shouldn’t (like, really shouldn’t), the laundry is endless, the carpet will never be the same, and everyone’s patience will be pushed to the limit.
However, toilet training is a big milestone in any toddler’s life, and will be well worth all of the effort you are putting in. As one pro mom told me when I was despairing of potty training my (very stubborn) son, “he won’t go to college in diapers!”
Having the right equipment can make a big difference in how the potty training process goes for your family. Just imagine approaching a toilet that is higher than your belly button, and you may be able to sympathize with how your toddler feels about the toilets of the grown-up world.
Then there’s the loud flushing noises, and the sight of things just being whisked away to who-knows-where (does that thing swallow kids, or just toilet paper? They’re not so sure yet).
A potty seat or chair sized just for them can give your toddler a big confidence boost as they tackle the process of ditching diapers for underwear.
You’ve got this, and we’re here to help. So take a deep breath (or grab a big drink), and read on for our top recommendations in toddler potty chairs and seats!
When it’s time to use a potty seat or chair
While many of us would prefer to minimize the baby gear, a toddler potty seat or chair is a very worthwhile investment. One accidental tumble into the toilet may be all it takes to scare your toddler away from the porcelain throne for a good long time. (And who can blame them?!)
In addition to making your child feel more secure, a toddler-proportioned potty can help with the ergonomics of “the go.” Having their legs at a 90-degree angle (or even slightly squatted), feet flat on the floor or a footstool, and sitting securely will help your child move their bowels more easily.
Plus, sitting way up high with legs dangling and hanging on for dear life just isn’t comfortable, especially for a newbie.
While children don’t have bowel and bladder control until after the age of 18 months, you can begin exposing them to “their potty” at any age. Depending on your potty training approach, it may help some children to become familiar with their very own potty seat or chair ahead of time.
When your child starts showing signs of toilet training readiness, you can start incorporating “sitting on the potty” into their daily routine. Equipped with lots of patience, some books, and cups of their favorite beverage, you will see them start to understand the sensation of “going” in the potty.
Not to mention, many toddlers feel a sense of pride in having their very own potty, or love getting to copy their parents by sitting on the “big potty” (complete with toddler seat, of course).
What’s the difference between a seat and a chair?
A toddler toilet seat is a removable seat that sits right on top of your regular toilet seat. It is sized for a toddler’s bum, and may have features such as handles or a splash guard to provide added security for your little one.
A toilet seat option is much easier when it comes to clean-up, since you can flush waste away as opposed to potty chairs, which will have a bowl that needs to be dumped and wiped out — amazingly, cleaning a bowl of toddler poo might actually be worse than changing diapers.
A potty chair is a freestanding small potty of some sort. It may resemble a bowl or an actual tiny toilet. This option may feel much less intimidating for your child than climbing a step stool to sit up on a full-size toilet.
As a general rule of thumb, toddlers under the age of 2 or 2 1/2 years often seem to prefer potty chairs, while toddlers who are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old seem to prefer using the “grown-up potty.” But just as each child is ready to train at a different age, each child may have their own preference for a seat or chair.
What to look for in potty training seats and chairs
The most important features are safety, security, and “kid appeal.” If your child feels safe using their toilet (chair or seat) and thinks it’s fun and exciting, you’ve already won half the battle.
Additionally, it may be helpful to take your toddler with you to pick out his or her “special potty.” They might feel proud of choosing and using their particular potty or toilet seat, which will only make your job easier.
If you have a toddler who especially wants to be just like mom and dad, or observes older siblings, you may lean towards a toilet seat with an accompanying step stool. It really is a personal decision based on your bathroom setup, your individual child, and your own preferences.
How we chose
We interviewed parents, read reviews, and tested some products with our own kids (don’t worry, no toddlers or parents were harmed in the testing of these toilets) to bring you our list of top picks for toddler toilet training seats and chairs.
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$30
- $$$ = over $30
Best overall potty seat
Best overall potty chair
Best potty seat/chair for travel
This ingenious potty from OXO gets rave reviews from parents — including Parenthood editor and mom of three Saralyn! With quick-fold legs, easily wipeable surfaces, disposable bags (instead of a bowl), and a sanitary travel storage bag, this potty is beyond easy to transport.
And while it’s especially well suited for use on-the-go, many parents prefer this as their only potty training seat. You can use it as a seat on any toilet, or pop out the legs and attach a waste bag for a freestanding potty chair that can be used anywhere — including the side of the road.
While refill bags have to be purchased separately, the convenience of this toilet is impossible to beat.
Best full-size toddler potty chair
Best training seat for boys
Best potty training seat for girls
Best adjustable potty seat
Best adult-and-child seat
Parenting can feel overwhelming, and seasons such as potty training can make it seem especially so. Fortunately, there are a lot of great options for toddler potties to help make the process smoother. And really, this could be fun — how many times in your life will you have to buy a miniature toilet?