Traveling with a Potty-Training Toddler

Keeping a toddler confined to a bathroom requires lots of “stuff”

Now that it is summer (I don’t work in the summer…woohoo!) and Boo has been showing signs for months, we decided to take on the potty training challenge!  We opted for the 3-day boot camp style.  Basically, you lock yourselves in the bathroom on the first day (the entire first day), you leave the house for an hour the second day, you leave the house twice (for an hour) the third day, and voila!  The kid is potty-trained!  This is the basic plan we chose to follow – except we added a 5-hour road trip adventure to day 6!  Seriously, who does this?!

Did I mention Husband was working, so I took on this whole potty-training, road trip adventure all by myself?  Yikes.

Boo was doing pretty good by this point.  Not perfect, but good.  She would still have 1 or 2 accidents a day and she really doesn’t have the ability to tell us when she needs to go in advance.  Most of the training has really been training for me – recognizing the signs and figuring out her needs.

My biggest fear for this road trip was the obvious – an accident in her car seat (Or worse…a #2 accident in her car seat – EEK!).  Car seats are tricky to clean, especially on the road.  So I loaded up her car seat with prefold diapers**.  I’m talking legitimate diapers here – not those Gerber prefolds that are better used as burp cloths.  Absorbancy is key here (We used to cloth diaper and developed a preference for Diaper Rite cotton prefolds).  They make special seat covers for potty-training kids, but we already had the prefolds.

Please ignore the dirty car seat.  It is in desperate need of a washing!

**Note: It is not recommended to add anything to the car seat and bulky clothing is strongly discouraged.  However, we used to cloth diaper her.  She was sitting in a diaper at least this thick and strapped into her car seat for the first 15ish months of her life.  Judgment call here, but I decided she was fine as long as everything else was snug.

My plan was to stop every hour (unless she was asleep – she has been dry for naps for several months now).  This would allow me to choose our stops (safe places!) and (hopefully) prevent any last-minute demands for bathroom breaks.

I also brought along a carefully-selected travel potty, just in case we couldn’t make it to an actual toilet.  After quite a bit of research, I chose the OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty.  This potty has legs that allow it to stand alone or sit over a toilet.  It also folds reasonably small and seems like it would be great for hiking (after teaching your kid that pee and poo go in the potty, how do you teach them it is OK to go in the woods?)!

Photo credit:

After a 5-hour road trip – as well as the return trip and several lengthy side trips throughout the week – I am proud to say Boo did not have a single accident in her car seat!  (There was one close-call thanks to a leaky water bottle!)

Here is what I learned:

  1. Get your kid used to the travel potty before you leave. Boo rejected it the first time I asked her to use it.
  2. Use the travel potty on every toilet.  It provides a sense of familiarity for the child.  Also, your kid is more likely to use something gross, like a port-a-potty, if it is covered with their very own travel potty!
  3. Make sure your little one goes potty before you do.  Just the sound makes Boo empty her bladder (all over the floor) every time.
  4. Listen to your kid.  If your child is really fighting the potty, maybe they actually don’t have to go.  On our return trip, Boo flipped out because I tried stopping an hour after my first potty stop.  We stopped every two hours from then on without incident.
  5. Bring lots and lots of spare clothes.  And shoes.  And wipes.  And some kind of bag to put the dirty clothes in.  You just never know.  I once walked a half-naked Boo across a parking lot because she had a second accident (How many times can such a tiny person pee in an hour?)  and I only brought one spare set of clothes.  I spent the rest of the evening washing things like her shoes, my wallet, my key chain…good times.

At times it was frustrating…very frustrating…but I think this was a huge step forward in our potty training adventure!  Boo has learned to be flexible and I have learned to trust my child’s instincts (for the most part).  We have a huge road trip/camping trip coming up in a couple weeks, so this was an awesome trial run!

Good luck in your own adventures with your potty-training little one!  Just remember: lots of planning, lots of patience, and lots of spare clothes!


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