My Child Won’t Use Public Toilets: Try a portable potty!

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I never thought toilet training my nearly 3-year-old would take so long. We did infant potty training and she started pooping in the potty from 5 months of age. I use the term “training” very loosely here as it actually came very naturally to her. We eventually progressed to full toilet training at home by the time she was 18 months and able to verbally communicate when she needed to go. However, we then hit a curveball in that she had (and still has) a seemingly deathly fear of using public toilets (this includes toilets at other people’s houses). This made getting her out of nappies completely during the day an impossible battle.

We borrowed story books about toilet training, used sticker rewards, used chocolate rewards, always encouraged her and never pressured or scolded her…but still, her fear of public toilets never waivered. Using the toilet alongside her in nice parent-child toilets or bringing out the exact same child potty seat she uses at home didn’t help either. We didn’t want to turn toilet training into a negative experience so we decided we had done our best and would just have to let her decide on her own when she was ready to get out of nappies for trips outside the house.

But then, towards the end of last year we hit another curveball in that she refused to poop in her nappy anymore. So since she didn’t want to go in public toilets too, that meant that if she got the urge outside she would just get super distressed and cry nonstop to go home – which didn’t make for the most pleasant experience for anyone if we were far away from home or in the middle of something. So I finally had enough and turned to the internet for a solution…and what I found was the suggestion of using a portable potty.

Bumblebee potty

I found this portable potty brand called My Carry Potty that has very cute designs. I wanted to give my toddler a sense of control over this process so I talked to her about using a portable potty and she appeared pretty enthusiastic about it. I showed her the various designs online and let her choose which one she wanted and she chose the bumblebee design. This brand also carries a ladybird and cow pattern. I think the bumblebee is the cutest except that the antennae are above the eyes which makes it look like it has angry eyebrows. Luckily my toddler actually finds that funny. These potties are stocked at Target and Toys R Us but as I went looking for it just after the Christmas period, it was all sold out at the physical stores. So I ordered this from an online store.


The pluses of this potty:

  • Cute design – easier to convince a toddler to use it.
  • Convenient handle for carrying around.
  • Leak proof so you can simply close and lock it if you are caught in an emergency situation where you are unable to empty it straight away.
  • Doesn’t actually look like a potty – not awkward to carry around.


The cons:

  • No removable inner compartment to empty out. You will have to lift the whole potty to the sink to clean. (So it’s tolerable for outside trips but I wouldn’t use it full time at home)
  • In some online reviews mums have complained that the potty was on the smaller side and also that the splash guard was not adequate for boys (obviously I can’t comment on that). I have to admit the potty did look small at initial inspection but it has so far proven to be more than adequate for my 3-year-old daughter who is of average size.

My toddler was super excited when we got the potty in the mail. She asked to start using it at home which I happily obliged so that she could get familiar with it. The first time we headed out in undies with the bumblee potty in tow was to the library and I was certainly pretty nervous. At the library I told her I needed to use the toilet and asked whether she would like to come with me and use her bumblee potty. She happily agreed and lo and behold, used it with zero hesitation. Since then she has used it in a few different public places and has never had any problem with it. I suppose allowing her to use the same potty everywhere she goes has given her a sense of familiarity and control. It’s interesting to note though that using the same toilet seat with the different public toilets wasn’t enough for her. I’m guessing she still felt insecure being high off the ground on an unfamiliar toilet. It has been such a relief how well she has taken to the portable potty as trying to convince her to use a public toilet usually involved a lot of screaming and crying!

The only issue we’ve had is transitioning to it at school. It really is too bad we didn’t discover it earlier while she was still in the daycare class as she is now in 3-year-old kinder where the teacher-child ratio is much bigger. We have tried to send her to school in undies with her potty but she doesn’t seem to want to use it there and they are quick to give in to letting her wear a nappy. Oh well, I am happy to give her a bit more time to adjust to the idea of wearing undies to school. Just getting her out of nappies the rest of the time has really saved us quite a bit of stress and money already!

So that makes our last two hurdles of toilet training school and nights!

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