Diaper Free Outings with your Toddler

Potty training a child in the home is challenging enough, but when it is necessary to go out in public, or travel, the change in routine is apt to wreak havoc with whatever level of potty training progress your child has mastered.

Here are some practical tips for how to handle potty training in public:

Plan ahead

If you are going out with your potty training youngster, ensure to take along wet wipes, a portable potty chair, if feasible, and a clean set of clothes. In addition, for the duration of the potty training days, you might get into the habit of slipping a few plastic grocery store bags into your purse or pocket. If you are traveling, add to the list a waterproof sheet.

Schedule breaks

If you are going on a shopping outing, visiting friends or even traveling to another location, try to time potty breaks to coincide as closely as possible with your child’s normal schedule. Children are easily distracted so don’t wait for your child to signal the need to find a bathroom, rather give a prompt every so often with the question, “Do you need to go potty?”

Expect accidents

Accidents will happen. Even a child who has totally mastered potty training on the home front might regress somewhat with a change of environment. When you are visiting friends or relatives, accompany your child to the bathroom, for small children often wait until the last minute and do not have the physical capability to hold back the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement and you may have to be the clean-up committee for last minute accidents.

Maintain a positive attitude

Praise your child for any positive performance that occurs in a public restroom or in any environment away from home. Upon arrival back home after an outing, in addition to lavishing praise for an accident-free outing, you might consider a concrete reward, such as a small new toy, a story book or something else pleasing to the child. This will encourage your child to be highly motivated toward success in potty training efforts away from home.

In the event of an unfortunate accident, maintain your positive attitude, reassuring your child that it was not a big deal, acknowledging the difficulty of being away from home while learning to master such a grown up skill as potty training.

Be committed

Some parents resort to using disposable pull-ups when away from home. This is not a good idea, for padded pull-ups are similar to a diaper. Once your child is in regular underwear, stay committed to the task of potty training and do not revert to a diaper situation for your own convenience, thus hampering your child’s success.

Public restrooms

When your child announces he/she has to “go” do not stand on ceremony; rather prevail upon anyone waiting to allow you to advance to the front of the line. Most people will grant your request with a sense of humor and an accommodating spirit.

Many public restrooms these days have an automatic flush that might scare a young child whose light weight is apt to prematurely set it off. Preempt such an occurrence by covering the sensor for the auto-flush with your hand or a piece of paper.

Small children have to get almost completely undressed in order to swaddle a full-sized toilet, so be prepared with plastic bags to protect the child’s clothing from a potentially dirty public bathroom floor. The plastic bags can also be spread about in the event that you need to kneel and assist your child, to avoid yourself making contact with the dirty floor.

In advance of your outing, scope out the availability of restrooms along the route. Many public venues these days have family restrooms which both mothers and fathers can be comfortable using when accompanying their potty training child. When that is not the case, it is easier for mothers to cope, for they can bring their young children, boys and girls, into the ladies room.

Fathers have a greater challenge, for bringing a female child into a men’s room is not advisable. Fathers also should not risk asking a female stranger or store employee to accompany a small daughter to the ladies room. Some creative thinking might be the solution to such a dilemma.

One young father carried a sign in his pocket to affix to the men’s room door when he found it necessary to accompany his potty training daughter inside. He would wait until he was assured the men’s room was empty, then hang his sign which read, “Do not enter, occupied for the next few minutes by a female child and her parent. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.”

Another option for a father could be to find a private place and use a stand alone travel potty when your potty training child cannot wait to relieve herself.

By planning ahead, being prepared and maintaining a positive attitude, parents can ensure potty training in public is equally successful and rewarding for their child as the transition out of diapers was at home.