Traveling with a Potty-Training Toddler

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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.

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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: oxo.com

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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My Favorite Feeding-On-The-Go Products

As a traveling family, feeding on the go is a given.  What we look for in these products is function, ease of use, and size.  All of these products have been thoroughly road-tested by us and proven to be effective and dependable!  Read on to learn more about our top picks!

DSC00584Innobaby Packin’ SMART Stackables.  I was given a 5-tier stackable at my baby shower and I love it!  The tower is customizable, so I can use as many or as few tiers as I want.  I actually have yet to use all 5 tiers at the same time.  Each tier has a removeable pour spout, so they are easy to fill and easy to clean.  The tower is fairly skinny too, so it fits really well in a diaper bag.  It seems to keep things pretty fresh, so we always have snacks on hand when we need them!  We haven’t used this in awhile (because she eats a lot more than this!), but it was fantastic from 6 months to a year!

DSC00227Neat Solutions Sili-Stick Table Topper.  This placemat is great!  My goal was to find something that packed small for the diaper bag and provided a nice clean surface for Boo to eat on.  This particular place mat isn’t sticky really…more like grippy.  That means it doesn’t slide on most table surfaces and is a little more difficult for the baby to flip over than your standard place mat.  They are also easy to clean and inexpensive!  Sounds like a win all around!

A spill proof snack cup.  I really hesitated buying one of these because it is just one more thing to add to that never ending list of baby stuff.  I bought this one at the Dollar Tree (and it has surprisingly lasted 9 months so far!) as a spur of the moment thing before our last trip as more of an entertainment thing than a snack thing.  Boo loves it!  She thinks it is so much fun to jam her hand in and take out snacks (or pom poms or whatever).  About that spill proof thing…it might be spill proof, but when chubby little baby hands try to grab a handful of snacks, nothing can stop the mess!  At 20 months, she can now fill it herself and put the lid back on!

Inglesina Fast Table Chair with optional tray.  When looking for a high chair for camping, we wanted one that packed nicely, worked with any unknown picnic table, was reliably safe, and cleaned up nicely.  This high chair meets most of these requirements.  My one slight complaint is the cleaning thing.  This is a fabric high chair, so it doesn’t just wipe down.  It can, however, be thrown in a washing machine, which is nice!  Basically we can only spot clean while camping, but it gets a nice deep clean when we get home.  That fabric part is necessary to make it packable, so we were willing to bend on the cleaning thing.  I really like that it is easy to install on every picnic table we’ve tried!  Furthermore, if we are eating in the same place for several meals, we will leave the arms attached to the table and stash the chair part in the car in between meals.

The Original Squeeze with Eeeze.  This is our current favorite product.  We use it at least once daily…sometimes 3 or 4 times!  I found this older style on clearance at Target several months ago and have since bought the newer style as well.  This refillable squeeze pouch is awesome because it stands on its own for filling, has a wide mouth for pouring, cleans easily, and is super easy for toddlers to figure out!  The 4 ounce size is perfect for yogurt!  The company is awesome to work with, too!  My one complaint would be the screw top.  Sometimes it is difficult to get the threads to line up nicely for a good fit.  This is better on the newer version, but we still have issues sometimes.  The Original Squeeze comes with two different spout types: 6+ months and 2+ years.  The 2+ years version (“With Eeeze”) was the one I found on clearance and our 16 month old had no trouble figuring it out!  Love, love, love this thing!

I’m sure this list will keep growing and evolving as Boo gets older (and more awesome products hit the market), but we have been quite pleased with our experiences thus far!

I Bought My Kid a Leash.

DSC01896Along with every other decision in the parenting world, parents walking their children around on leashes get judged.  “Why are you treating your child like a dog?”  Or “Stop being lazy and just watch your kid!”  Or even “You shouldn’t have children if you can’t handle them.”  You know the sort.  Anyhow, I bought my kid a leash.

Boo is a toddler.  This joyful time in life comes with many positives, but there are also new, challenging waters to navigate.  By definition, toddlers can walk, but 100%, accident-free walking is still a ways off.  Let me put it this way: Boo is clumsy.  She is also a little defiant sometimes – if she is in a grumpy mood, or really can’t resist whatever it is she wants to do, or sometimes just because she thinks it’s funny.  And fear of heights?  Apparently that doesn’t kick in until later.  Toddlers have no concept of mortality.

In my post about conquering McAfee’s Knob, I wrote about the difficulties of hiking with a toddler.  They want to walk, but sometimes it just isn’t safe to let them.  For instance, we frequently find ourselves in this type of situation.  Not exactly toddler friendly.DSC01006

Anyhow, I am all about giving Boo some freedom, allowing her to explore her world, and burn off some excess energy (Read more about that here), but in the hiking world, sometimes complete freedom really isn’t a great idea.  I cringe at the idea of Boo tripping over her own feet and falling off a mountain.  Or racing to the edge of a cliff in a moment of defiance.  Yeah, I don’t even want to think about it.

So now we have a leash.  After a lot of hunting around (and realizing that toddler rock climbing harnesses are difficult to find AND out of my price range), we chose the Zicac Toddler Safety Harness.  I like that this harness is very adjustable, uses buckles (instead of velcro) to fasten, and has a detachable leash.  As a bonus, we chose the frog harness (which happens to come in a not-so-subtle shade of florescent green) making Boo easier to see if the need ever arises (you just never know).DSC01897

We have yet to actually use the leash because we haven’t needed to, but we want her to consider the harness as part of her regular hiking gear.  She seems to be adjusting just fine!

So, my take on toddler leashes?  If it gives your toddler some freedom and yourself a little peace of mind, I’m all for it!

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My Favorite Baby-On-The-Go Products

It seems that my adventures (hiking throughPost3 the mountains, exploring a city, walking through a park, etc.) all have something in common – a LOT of walking.  Something babies can’t do?  Walk.  At some point children can walk through their own adventures without assistance, but we’re talking several years down the road here.

I knew all of this before having children (of course), but I don’t think I really comprehended the extent to which my daughter (now 17 months) would be off the ground.  Even though she is walking (running!) now, she still spends quite a bit of time off the ground – she gets tired easily, she wants to be at my eye level (I am 5’10”!), or she just wants some snuggles!  The point is, I need lots of baby transporting devices to meet my adventuring needs!  Strollers and carriers and hiking packs, oh my!

Here are my favorites for getting out and exploring world!

11236151_10204814187929974_4342975639140618965_nBoba 3G Baby Carrier – KangarooWe have been using this soft structured carrier (SSC) since Boo was 5 days old (she weighed about 8.5 lbs).  This is my wear-all-the-time carrier and was oDSC00749ur only carrier until my mom bought us a hiking pack.  It is fantastic for wearing around the house, but also great for hanging out around the campground, light hikes, and road tripping solo (Check out these  5 Tips for Traveling Solo (with Kids)).  This carrier allows you to front or back carry and it is super easy to adjust.  I used this video when I was first learning to back carry.  (Note: There is a newer version of this carrier – Boba 4G Carrier – and I hear the improvements are awesome, but I cannot speak from personal experience.)

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DSC00329Osprey Packs Poco Plus Child Carrier  – This is our hiking pack.  I used to think hiking packs were huge and awkward, but having used one for a fairly difficult hike (The Ammonoosuc Trail up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire), I am sold!  These are awesome because they are designed like backpacking packs, so the weight is on your hips rather than your shoulders.  There is also some space in between you and your child, so neither of you gets too sweaty from body contact.  Furthermore, the baby is situated higher up than with an SSC, so they can enjoy all thDSC00991e sights and sounds!  This particular pack is great because it has lots of storage pockets, a place to hold a water bladder, and a built in sun/rain shade. It is also really easy to adjust between different hikers without having to remove the baby from the pack.  It does take some getting used to because of the weight disbursement, so if you are planning on doing something difficult (like a fairly vertical rock scramble up Mt. Washington), you might want to invest in hiking poles.

 

100_5177Bumbleride Flite Lightweight Travel Stroller, AquamarineI absolutely love this stroller…mostly because iDSC00280t is the only stroller I will ever need.  What makes this stroller so amazing?  It has an attachment to hold an infant carrier.  It adjusts anywhere from a full recline to sitting straight up (without having to remove the child!).  That means when Boo falls asleep on the go, I simply slide the clip in the back and it is just like she is in her crib!  The foot panel folds down for larger children (My 5 year old nephew can go for a ride!).

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When folded, this stroller is maybe a little bit bigger than an umbrella stroller, but it fits easily in the trunk of my Jetta!  I could go on and on!  Really the only downfall is the wheels – these are smaller wheels that are not designed to handle rough terrain.  So maybe it takes a little more effort to push the stroller, but fitting in my trunk makes it worth it!  We have taken this stroller through grass, sand, and most recently through the cobblestone streets of Old Quebec without too much difficulty.  (Note:  Bumbleride makes a comparable stroller with bigger wheels, the Indie 4 Stroller, but again I cannot speak from personal experience.)

 

Well those are my top picks!  To be honest, I really haven’t tried out many options.  A lot of research went into these before purchasing and I absolutely love them!  I think Boo agrees!

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Do you have any can’t-live-without favorites?  Comment and tell me what makes your picks so fantastic!