Potty Training: The Only Two Products You Absolutely Need

Forget plastic potty chairs. Yeah, everyone uses them, but why? A chair that sits on the floor has to be washed by you after every use. Yuck! And if you opt for a portable seat you place over your regular toilet seat, you’ve got to hang the ugly thing on the wall, and take it down each time your kid wants to poop.

I settled on a simpler two-part long-term solution.

Purchase #1: A permanent adult-child combination toilet seat. It replaces your existing seat, screwed to the toilet. A toddler-size seat nests inside the regular-size lid and is pulled down, or left down, for use. The adult seat is used as normal.

I prefer toddler accessories which blend into a
normal household, treating my kid as an equal to mom and dad, rather
than as a special case.

If your toddler is skittish, you might at first have to hold her hands while she’s up on the toilet.

Purchase #2: A sturdy wood or metal stepping stool. First your kid uses it to reach the toilet seat, then he moves it to reach the bathroom sink. Or, buy two steps. Several years after potty training has ended, the stool will still be used to reach the bathroom sink.

I found what I needed at a Target chain store.

Photo of my toilet with the Target seat attached, in the up and down position.

In my own defense, that toilet bowl really is clean. My top-mounted flash (bounced off the ceiling) lit the water brighter than the rest of the bowl.

I found this Target “Home” brand white wood Adults’ and Children’s Toilet Seat alongside regular toilet seats in the bathroom aisle for $25.

When not in use, two plastic locking clips can hold the child seat inside the recessed lid.

Note: Two years ago I wrote about this Target seat and two others while Target was in the process of discontinuing the item.

As of October 2008 the seat is back, with slight improvements. That’s what spurred this article. We just bought this seat for the third toilet in our home that was not yet toddler-accessible.

Some Thinga-readers reported that the clips on the 2006 version easily broke off. I haven’t experienced that problem, but did notice the 2008 version has a redesigned, thicker clip. Take a look:

Photos of the old and new style locking clips. The new clip is wider and completely surrounds the screw.

Here’s another cool thing. You’d never store a portable plastic potty seat under your bathroom sink for a decade, right? But years from now, when my kids are in high school, I’ll still have a friendly seat available for the occasional toddler who visits, and I won’t use up any storage space keeping it around.

Similar seats include:

The Family Seat — (one locking clip)

Dr. Merry’s Potty Pal
— We own one. It’s good, except it is plastic and has no locking clip. It’s best used in a bathroom that adults don’t frequently use, or if your toddler regularly slams the lid down. It will still make a good amount of noise, but not as much as a wood lid slamming down.

Flip-N-Flush — This is the cheapest option at $13. It is a standalone attachment for your existing seat. There is no locking clip. It’s an ideal buy for grandparents because the seat easily removes and can be stored under the bathroom sink until your next visit. A small rectangular base remains on the toilet. Buy white so the base doesn’t look odd.

Secondly, buy a sturdy stepping stool. We bought one at Target that contains a storage compartment under the top step. Our daughter stores her hair supplies inside and at age 4 still uses the step to reach the bathroom sink. I’d show you a photo, but the linked stool is slightly different from the one we purchased two years ago.

If you’ve survived potty training, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell me how much you loved dumping your child’s waste products from that little plastic bowl into the toilet every day. Tell me I don’t know what I’m missing.


28 Responses to “Potty Training: The Only Two Products You Absolutely Need”

  1. BusyMom says:

    I’m liking it. We have rings that we place over our potties for the little ones. You are right though, it is a pain to have to store them and then pull them out everytime they are needed. When my son was training, it was pretty much just left in place in his bathroom and we only moved it around in the main floor bath. I might have to check this out for the main floor.

    October 15th, 2008 at 3:37 am

  2. Inki says:

    I have never seen these before! I like the concept though. As of right now, we’re still a little ways off potty training (we put her on the potty occasionally, but she doesn’t really understand the point), but that is definitely something to look into, thanks for the tip!

    October 15th, 2008 at 4:31 am

  3. Kathleen says:

    I really wanted to use something like this. I HATED the idea of cleaning another stand alone toilet. Too bad my 3.5 year old son had other ideas. He absolutely REFUSES to use the big potty. He only wants the little one :( Since we wanted him going on the potty rather than hiding in a closet, we decided on the whole “pick your battles” scenario and gave in.
    Fingers crossed that the 4 month old midget can be persuaded to the big potty when the time comes!

    October 15th, 2008 at 5:58 am

  4. anastasiav says:

    We now have *both* an adult/child seat (the exact seat you feature, actually) and a portable plastic one because we started training (back in AUGUST) while our family was away from home on a two week campground vacation.

    What I didn’t count on is that my son hates — HATES — sitting on the potty. Any potty. Ours, his, Grandma’s … any potty. “Nooooooo,” he cries, “I don’t liiikkkke it.”

    Gah. He’s going to be in diapers until he’s four, I just know it.

    October 15th, 2008 at 6:03 am

  5. brandy says:

    I can’t believe I have never seen this before. We are moving into the potty years with Child #3, and all those tiny potties and special seat inserts get so dirty. Of course I wash them, but there is only so much pee cleanup a parent can do! This seat looks perfect for us. I prefer putting them directly on the “big potty” anyway, as opposed to getting them used to a tiny potty and then getting freaked out in public restrooms or away from home. The only other vital “product” for us included Mr. Roger’s book “Going to the Potty,” which I loved for its gentle encouragement.

    October 15th, 2008 at 6:14 am

  6. Dani says:

    Wow. These look awesome and they come at a perfect time. We are just about ready to begin potty training with our son and these may be exactly what we’re looking for. They use a big potty at his daycare so he routinely turns up his nose at our little seat. Plus our downstairs (rarely used) toilet seat is cracked and I’ve been meaning to replace it. Two birds with one stone, yay.

    October 15th, 2008 at 6:47 am

  7. CanCan (MomMostTraveled) says:

    We have the little potty seat that nests onto the big potty, but these are way more functional. Totally next on my list!

    October 15th, 2008 at 6:49 am

  8. anjii says:

    I looked everywhere for one of these in Canada, and the only one I could find was over $50. Hubby said no way, so we have the $8 nesting one instead. Now he only uses it for #2, since he stands to pee, but next time my sister does a Target run, I’m sending her the money to pick this up, as we still have more potty training in our future. I also like having some basics in my house for making families/friends with kids of all ages comfortable. Playpen in the closet for babies to sleep in, some toys for various ages, etc. and intend to keep some of the stuff as we outgrow it to make their visits more convenient.

    October 15th, 2008 at 7:39 am

  9. Christy says:

    I’ve been looking for one of these for months now. I wanted to actually see how they work before buying one, but our Target has not been carrying this particular seat. I’ll check back now, as it’s been a bit since I last looked.

    I have to confess, we got two super cheap potties at Ikea. My daughter got to pick out the colors she wanted and we have one for each floor of the house. Yes, they are a pain to clean, but they are working for now. I’ll check into this seat again though.

    Incidentally, my parents did a fantastic thing when they built their house two years ago. They put in a kiddie potty/pedestal sink in one of their half-baths. My daughter is always better about “going” at their house than anywhere else. Plus it’s darn cute, and they can change them out to full size fixtures when the grandbabies get big enough.

    October 15th, 2008 at 8:07 am

  10. JC says:

    This is brilliant! As apt dwellers in nyc, there’s barely room in the bathroom to turn around. I thought the day we had to break out the hideous pink potty chair we received as a shower gift would be the day my husband learned to aim from the hallway! Thanks for the awesome idea – and sparing me the messy clean up of the alternative. ;)

    October 15th, 2008 at 9:07 am

  11. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Looks really cute. However since it seems to require drilling more holes in the toilet, I’m not sure if it is workable for apartment dwellers.

    We’ll see. I’ve heard good things about letting the child choose their own potty seat as an incentive to get them interested in potty training.

    October 15th, 2008 at 12:12 pm

  12. AJ says:

    MBR, no new holes are drilled. The seat replaces your existing toilet seat and connects using the existing holes. From a connection standpoint, it’s a regular toilet seat.

    October 15th, 2008 at 12:16 pm

  13. Rhonda (twinsanity) says:

    Great idea, but for those potty training twins, plan on getting at least one stand alone because BOTH of them will want to use the potty at the same time and a potty training toddler can’t be asked to wait her turn.

    October 15th, 2008 at 2:01 pm

  14. K G S says:

    This looks very useful! We’ve been using a toddler potty for the early stages, taking it along into whatever room we’re playing in; now that my daughter has more than one second’s warning before the floodgates open, this might be a good option.

    Incidentally, for those who do opt for a toddler potty, I LOVE our Baby Bjorn brand one. It’s simple, cute, and very easy to clean– absolutely no seams, holes, or rough spots anywhere for gunk to build up. Keep a tub of Clorox wipes on a high shelf, and cleaning is a breeze.

    October 15th, 2008 at 2:53 pm

  15. Noreen says:

    if only my daughter would sit on an seat that was not padded

    October 15th, 2008 at 11:16 pm

  16. Jen says:

    They have something almost exactly the same as the Flip-N-Flush at Babies-R-us for $8!

    also, for potty on the go… this has come in handy for my daughters when they’ve had to go in places where there was no way we could make it to a bathroom in time.

    October 17th, 2008 at 6:40 pm

  17. adrian says:

    hi where in south africa can i purchase one of these seats

    October 26th, 2008 at 11:03 am

  18. Jen L says:

    I’m dying for something like this for our daughter’s bathroom. Unfortunately we have an elongated toilet, so this one won’t fit. Might try the potty pal one, but it doesn’t seem near as nice for the price.

    October 29th, 2008 at 11:45 am

  19. Christy says:

    We finally found one at our local Target.

    So far, it seems to be working! My 3y/o daughter loves it.

    November 21st, 2008 at 9:50 am

  20. Dilbitz says:

    I bought the flip n flush back in 2004 for my first daughter. I am now using it for daughter #2, and even though it is great for small bathrooms, it has a built-in pee shield that stabs you in the back when it is in the up position. You have to hunch over while using the toilet! So we just take that part off and replace it if she has to go potty. I wish that it had an option to not have one on there.

    January 3rd, 2009 at 7:29 pm

  21. karen says:

    along the lines of your kids freakin’ out in public rest rooms… i carried a roll of black eletrical tape with me, and when we were in a restroom with automatic flush toilets, i’d use a little piece of the opaque tape to block “the eye” at the back of the toilet, so it wouldn’t flush while my daughter was peeing (happened once, she came unglued!) you could also use stickers, then give the sticker to the child afterwards as a reward, if you’re in the early stages of potty training.

    January 8th, 2009 at 10:26 am

  22. tripletmomma says:

    I’ve been looking online for this type of seat & found several more expensive & cheaper made options (Kohler makes one that costs $50-80 & has to be special ordered from them or retailers, it is plastic). After reading here I searched this one out at Target & not only do my kids love it but so does my hubby as it’s sturdy! It is heavier than our last toilet seat but so far no one’s tried to slam it on any hands or other body parts. My 3 year old girls were so excited when I put this one on! Now instead of all 3 going on those nasty little bucket seats they wait in line to use the big potty.
    One warning I would give though is the increased need to clean up under the seat. There is almost always a bit of pee dribbled from the toddler seat to the adult seat and in the morning the need to pee is so great there is usually a LOT of pee dribbled onto the adult seat. I find it easiest to have some wet wipes in the bathroom to quickly clean up both seats (bottom of toddler & top of adult) after my girls use the bathroom.

    February 27th, 2009 at 10:28 am

  23. Serena says:

    I’m surprised that this product doesn’t appear on target.com. I can’t check if my local Target has it in stock so I’ll have to actually go in which can be quite a feat with a toddler and an infant.

    But, I’m excited that there are options since I almost bought the expensive Kohler one and it even looked flimsy in the picture.

    AJ, thanks both for the original review and the update! :)

    March 9th, 2009 at 6:56 am

  24. Nicole says:

    Saw the wood version at my local Target. Great price and very sturdy looking. Loved it but I have an elongated toilet and it didn’t fit! They only sell it in the standard size. Bummer….

    April 12th, 2009 at 6:22 am

  25. Jennifer E. says:

    We have a 16 month old son that will hopefully be ready for potty training soon. I purchased an adult-child combination toilet seat from Home Depot that I was impressed with. The child seat stays in the lid by use of a magnet, which means it is automatically put away when the lid is closed. It also seems to be fairly easy to release from the lid for use.

    Now I’m searching for a stool. I’d really like one with a safety handle, so he doesn’t have to touch the toilet to balance while stepping up. Was this a concern of yours, or is it no big deal, since he should wash his hands after using the toilet anyway?

    June 25th, 2009 at 7:56 am

  26. Karen says:

    I found a Bemis combo toilet seat at Home Depot ($29) very similar to theTarget seat, but without clips as the child seat magnetically attaches to the lid when you close it. So when opened from the closed position, it’s in the ‘adult’ position, but the child can easily pull down the child seat without the need for any manipulation of clips, etc. When lid is closed again it automatically attaches child seat to lid (or can be put up manually, of course). VERY sturdy wood seat. Downside: One of my 3 young adult children and several guests have felt the opening in the adult seat is rather small. However since Granddaughter, who has been difficult to potty-train, immediately took a great liking to it (after trying and hating all manner of expensive child seats and rings) and is now using the toilet regularly. Since she is almost 3-1/2 I was getting worried so I tell the complainers to suffer or go elsewhere!! I think wood toilet seats normally have a smaller hole than the plastic counterparts anyway, don’t they? So it may just take some getting used to.

    July 19th, 2009 at 8:16 pm

  27. Alexis L. says:

    I wish I read this before the purchase of my potty chair and then 2 cushion seats! What a waste of money.

    August 11th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

  28. Leanne says:

    OMG, i wish i knew about this before the First Years foldable potty seat we’ve been using in our main floor powder room! We also use it for outings as I figured it would save me money than having to buy another one but it is a pain to fold/unfold.. not to mention, the screws that enable to folding has now scratched the paint off our toilet seat! So I would really like to get this Target version. Does anyone know where I can purchase this in Canada or at least in the state of Washington? I’m located in BC right on the border!

    August 22nd, 2009 at 2:17 pm