potty training park

While your child has started potty training, you’re left wondering when to go out and how easy potty training will be out and about. Read on for our tips.

Potty training on the go can be daunting at first but your little one will soon get the hang of it. Some parents like to start potty training out and about from day one of it. While others feel more confident potty training their little boy or girl at home and prefer to potty train for a few days or a week at home first. 

The advantage of staying home is that you are close to a potty or toilet at all times. But there is no reason why you can’t carry on all your usual activities while your child is potty training. You will just need to make a few more preparations and plan ahead if you are heading out. Read on for our tips to make potty training on the go easier.

1. Be prepared

There are lots of potty training products available in the shops and online. Some parents like to buy a travel potty or ‘pottete’ to keep in the car or stroller, or take a toilet training seat with them on trips out. 

You can buy washable liners to put in your little one’s stroller or car seat, which can be useful in the early days of potty training. 
You don’t have to buy lots of potty training accessories. You can also simply use the toilet facilities wherever you go. If you give your toddler the chance to try using the toilets at regular intervals, you can help reduce the risk of accidents. 

2. Plan ahead

While you are at home, encourage your toddler to try out their potty in a different room than usual. This familiarises them to using it in different locations. You can also get them to test out their travel potty (if you have one), so they are used to it before you head out.

Pack a bag with plenty of spare clothes and other essentials like wipes, toilet paper and a spare bag for damp clothes (ERIC, 2014)

If you are travelling on a long car journey or going out with the stroller for a few hours, try planning toilet stops for your route. Make sure you offer your child the chance to go to the toilet if you think they need it. You might start to learn the signs that they need to go. 

3. Regular pitstops

Always encourage your child to use the potty or visit the toilet before going out. It’s also a good idea to remember to do the same when leaving somewhere that has a toilet. 

Keep your eye on the time in the early days of potty training. While you are out it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re busy having fun. If your little one hasn’t been for a while, make sure you give them the opportunity to use the potty or visit the toilet (ERIC, 2014).

Taking your child to the toilet with you when you go is a good idea as they can learn from you. You can talk about using the toilet, the importance of washing hands and they can go themselves.

4. Accidents will happen

Potty training is a new skill that your child is learning, so don’t worry if it takes time for them to get the hang of it. Accept the inevitable – accidents will happen (NHS, 2015)

Don’t be embarrassed if your little one has an accident – reassure them that these things happen.  Most parents will have been in this situation themselves so don’t worry if you are out in public dealing with a puddle.  

Stay calm, don’t make a fuss and simply get your little one clean and dry (NHS, 2015).  

5. Positive praise

If your child has a successful trip out and uses their travel potty or the toilet while you are out and about, make sure you tell them how proud you are.

You can help motivate your toddler by giving them a sticker when they have used the potty or toilet successfully (ERIC, 2014). Some parents have a sticker chart on show at home and offer a reward to their child. You could get them a special toy or an outing after something like a week of successful potty training.

It’ll take little bit of preparation, planning ahead and encouragement from you. But your little one will soon get the hang of potty training when you are out and about. 

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

NHS Choices has more information on potty training.

ERIC. (2010) Potty training. Education and resources for improving childhood continence. Available from: www.eric.org.uk [Accessed 1st June 2018]

NHS Choices. (2015) How To Potty Train. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/potty-training-tips/  [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Further reading

American Academy of Pediatrics. (1999) Toilet training guidelines: Parents – the role of the parents in toilet training. Pediatrics. 103(6 Pt 2):1362-1363. Available from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/103/Supplement… [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Brazleton T, Christopherson E, Frauman A, Gorski P, Poole J, Stadtler A, Wright C. (1999) Instruction, timeliness and medical influences affecting toilet training. Paediatrics. 103:1353-1358. Available from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/103/Supplement_3/1353 [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Buckley S. (2002) Mothering, mindfulness and a baby’s bottom. An introduction to elimination communication. Mother. Issue 3. Available from: https://sarahbuckley.com/mothering-mindfulness-and-a-babys-bottom-an-in… [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Hatch, A. (2017) What is baby-led potty training? Available from: http://amberhatch.com/what-is-baby-led-potty-training/ [Accessed 1st June 2018]

Institute of Health Visiting. (2014) IHV Parent tips. Available from: https://ihv.org.uk/for-health-visitors/resources-for-members/resource/i… [Accessed 1st June 2018]

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