- Variations of this popular folding design are sold by a number of manufacturers. We've tested many and its funny how the little details really do make a difference. This model by Grimars may be a few dollars more than most, but it's the best we've encountered and our top pick!
- Sturdy plastic construction and strong non-slip silicone grips are the best we've tested.
- Foldable design is clearly a winner—carry it with you so that it's always around when you need it most!
- Competitively priced (under $20 when on sale).
- The bottom of the unit is full of tiny nooks that make cleaning a bit of a chore (a helpful tip is to soak it in a sink).
- Although comparatively sturdy, you will always want to hold on to your child when using a foldable unit like this.
- A great example of another quality variation of the popular fold-able design. This unit is more aesthetically "stylish" than our top pick, but missed our top spot because we feel the suction cups don't work as well as the silicon non-slip pads used in the Gimars and also because it's clumsier to unfold and setup.
- Hinges are designed to prevent pinching.
- Relatively "stylish" compared to what's on the market.
- Foldable design is clearly a winner (for us)—like our top pick, you can carry it with you so that it's always around when you need it most!
- Suction cups either won't stick to certain surfaces or grip so hard that the unit is difficult to remove.
- Difficult to unfold with one hand (the unit kind of collapses on itself).
- The underside is also full of tiny nooks that make cleaning a bit of a chore.
- Functions as both a travel potty seat (i.e. placed over a public toilet) and a raised potty with bag for use on the ground (i.e. for emergencies away from the toilet). While we like it more than the model by Kalencom, its still too bulky to fit in most purses. Long story short—go with a foldable unit.
- Relatively sturdy unit with legs that easily click into place.
- Raised potty function (with disposable bags) is great for road trips (no need to find a toilet—just pull over).
- Wide seat is good for smaller as well as larger children.
- Design is in something of a "no mans land"—while the standalone function is nice for road trips, this unit is too bulky to fit comfortably in a purse and you can always bring your regular potty chair with you in the car for emergencies when a toilet isn't around.
- No silicone insert option.
- Like the model by OXO Tot, functions as both a travel potty seat and a raised potty for use on the ground. Ultimately, however, we don't feel its as well made as the model by OXO Tot and is also in something of a "no-man's land." Again, best to go with a foldable unit.
- Designed to work with an optional, washable and reusable silicone insert.
- Raised potty function (with disposable bags or silicone insert) is great for road trips (no need to find a toilet—just pull over).
- Design is in something of a "no mans land" (same as the model by OXO Tot)—too bulky to fit in a purse and you can always throw your standalone potty chair in the trunk for road trips.
- Not particularly sturdy.
- Disposable bags are scented.
The Deciding Factor in Our Rankings: Portability
So Why is Portability King? CONSISTENCY!
As mentioned in our review on popular potty chairs (accessible HERE), the KEY to proper potty training is C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-Y. If there were a Ten Commandments of Potty Training, the first would undoubtedly read something like: "Once the diapers are off, thou shall not be used again."
So why the focus on consistency? Well, diapers are all your child has known since the day he or she was born. They wrap the body and provide a sense of comfort. Once they come off, your child loses that sense of comfort and the experience can be quite jarring. This is one reason why top potty training books recommend spending the first one or two days of training at home with your child either literally naked from the waist down or wearing VERY loose pants (and definitely not with tight fitting underwear). This is done, among other reasons, so that your child becomes acutely aware that he or she is not wrapped in a diaper. This also lets you observe when he or she is going to the bathroom so that you can explain what is happening ("you are peeing") and place him or her on the potty chair ("big girls/boys go in the potty; good job"). The goal after this first day or so is for your child to be able to give you some warning he or she has to go. Some have put it as moving from "you are peeing" to "mommy I peed" to "mommy I am peeing" to "mommy I have to go pee."
C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-Y comes in because once your child is using his or her potty chair, its time to get out into the real world. When you do this, however, you must remember the first commandment of potty training (i.e. NO MORE DIAPERS). So how do you do this? With a travel potty seat you can bring with you EVERYWHERE. So that when he or she needs to go at the store, the DMV, your friend's house or anywhere else you might happen to be, you have your travel potty seat at the ready. (With this in mind, you can also throw your potty chair in the trunk so that he or she can use it if you are in a location without a toilet).
SO THAT'S THE SECRET, and why travel potty seats are such valuable training tools. The diapers don't (and shouldn't) have to go back on again and your child can continue to maintain and master this new skill.
Now that you know why portability is key, it's pretty obvious how we chose our top picks and why we aren't huge fans of larger units that won't comfortably fit in your purse.
We've Got You Covered
When Should I Start? Early! The proper window for potty training is is generally recognized as being between 20 and 30 months, although some children are ready at 18 months or even earlier (we know, it sounds crazy).
Why Should I Start So Early? In short, its good for you, your child and the environment. Specifically, aside from cost savings on diapers, time savings from reducing the need to change diapers multiple times a day (one famous book estimated this takes around 9 hours a week of a caregiver’s time) and the benefit of being able to get your child into a potty-trained only day care, is the fact that training early is better for the environment and will help build your child's self esteem.
Another reason why earlier is better—it's also easier! Specifically, it's best to train your child before he or she progresses too far down the process of individuation (i.e. recognizing his or her own sense of being), which typically begins occurring around 12 months but really takes off after 30 months. This is when your child will start saying "NO" just for the sake of saying no (the terrible two are often more like the terrible two-and-a-half's and threes). AT ALL COSTS you want to avoid teaching a child who is old enough to want to be rebellious.
What Equipment Will I Need? The answer is pretty simple: a travel potty seat (duh!), a potty chair (reviewed and explained HERE) and a training seat (also called a seat reducer—reviewed and explained HERE). All of these items can be purchased for under $50 or $60 if you select carefully—get the right equipment and get this OVER WITH!
The Four Best Method
What We Do . . .
We started Four Best on the premise that a great deal of the information required to properly evaluate a given product is already right in front of your (and our) eyes. In fact there is too much information! A crucial skill necessary to picking the best products is instead the ability to cull through the available information, focusing on what should really drive a purchase decision.
To make those crucial determinations as to what matters and what doesn’t, we begin by thinking through what really matters to us when we use a particular product. We then use the that type of product to further refine the features we care about and that we think you will care about too. Next we search the web, looking to manufacturer’s websites, product specifications, consumer reports, expert blogs, research reports and the like to obtain crucial insights and the facts.
Finally, we distill the results of our research and combine it with our own experiences as consumers, professionals, techies, mothers, fathers, hobbyists, designers, software engineers, attorneys (sorry) and more. Ultimately, this process results in the reviews we present to you. We hope you enjoy!
*Images have been cropped and/or resized.