When it comes to developmental milestones in a young child’s life, the start of potty training is certainly one that excites both child and parent. Trust me, every parent smiles at the idea of a diaper-free future. Of course, it’s a process that takes time—years, even—so worrying about what kind of potty training seat your child is going to learn on shouldn’t be another stressful consideration for parents.
There are two kinds of potty trainers: the potty chairs, which are self-contained, sit on the floor, and are generally used by kids at the beginning of the toilet-training process, and potty training seats that sit on a regular toilet. For this guide, we tested the self-contained or freestanding potty chairs. After several months of researching, testing, and training (using my 3 ½-year-old daughter and 1 ½-year-old son as test subjects), we found that the best potty training chair is the most simple of the bunch: the OXO Tot Potty Chair(available at Amazon for $24.99). This seat was comfortable, stable, and easy to clean.
If you’re looking for a chair that’s more versatile, our favorite 3-in-1 Potty Chair is the Fisher-Price Thomas and Friends Rewards Potty (available on Amazon). Trainers like this one also include a removable seat that can be placed on an adult toilet when your child is ready for that step and a lid that closes to become a stepstool.
The OXO Tot Potty Chair checks off all the boxes. For the parent: easy to clean, appealing for the child, not atrocious to look at. For the kid: simple, intuitive, comfortable. My notes include the words “simple,” “streamlined” and “unassuming” and that’s a good way to think about this potty seat. It’s not fancy and there aren’t any added features like sounds of cartoon characters. It is a toilet-training device, and it works well.
Of course, you want the potty to appeal to your child, and while the Disney 3-in-1 may have grabbed my daughter’s eye, she had no objection to using this seat. In fact, she enjoyed using it for one big reason: it has a high backrest, which allows kids to get comfortable. This could be a major bonus for the child that is in the early stages of learning and needs to sit on the potty for a while before the urge strikes. My daughter found it relaxing!
The OXO Tot also felt particularly stable despite its relatively small footprint. It didn’t slide across the ground when sat on, but it was easier than others to move around and even (slightly) move out of view when not being used.
The Fisher-Price Thomas and Friends potty is sturdy and secure. The lid is easy to open and close, but the plastic material feels particularly stable. My daughter said it was very comfortable to sit on, too.
But what really sets this 3-in-1 apart from the others are the special features. When a child uses the potty successfully—i.e. pees into it—it plays the theme song (without words) to the Thomas & Friends television show and/or the sound of a steam whistle. My daughter loved being affirmed each time she used the potty. (Note: the sound can be turned off by pushing a button on the underside of the potty.)
This potty had the added bonus of featuring a character that appeals to both my children. My daughter isn’t as interested in Thomas as she was when she was younger, but my son screams with joy every time we read a book about that lovable blue train. This was one of the potty trainers that he took to immediately; he closes the lid and sits on it anytime anyone is in the bathroom and he laughs when the song plays or the choo-choo whistle blows.
We know we said this guide was all about the self-contained potty training chairs, but just in case you came here looking for the kind that attaches to your toilet, our best-tested potty training seat is the BabyBjörn Toilet Trainer, which like most BabyBjörn products, is aesthetically sleek and well designed. Its seat is also adjustable, which is rare in this product category. You place the BabyBjörn onto your seat and there’s a little knob at the back that tightens it so that it’s more secure. This makes the seat especially stable and comfortable.
The design is minimal: there are no bright colors, handles or flourishes of any kind. The seat is a pleasing cream tone and has a thin turquoise piping around the edge (it’s also available with black or gray piping). It’s fairly small in profile and features only a slight curve at the edge. After use, it can easily be taken off and stored beside the toilet or in a drawer, or it can also be hung from the handle at the top of the seat.
My 3-year-old said she liked using it and that the seat was comfortable. While other seats tested elicited more of an excited response, there were no complaints about the BabyBjörn.
Hi, I’m Georgia Kral. In my career as a journalist, I’ve reported on many topics, from restaurants and food to parenting and education. I live in Brooklyn with my husband and two kids. When we found out our second child was coming, my husband and I decided to start potty training our daughter right away—the idea of two kids in diapers was far from appealing! She was a few months shy of two when we first introduced her to the training toilet and after about eight months she was fully out of diapers, and we are now dealing with overnight bed wetting as we prepare her to sleep without diapers, too. With the testing of these potty seats, we have embarked (even earlier this time!) on potty training our second child. So, you can say I’ve had my fair share of experience!
I decided to use my 3 ½-year-old daughter as the primary test subject, and my 1 ½-year-old son as a secondary subject (he’s interested in the potty seats, but really has no idea what they’re for—although, he actually sat on some of the potties after seeing his sister!) We tested seven different chairs to find the best potty trainer for you.
I tested each of these toilet training chairs for three to five days, which equals about 15 to 25 uses per seat depending on the day. We judged each based on the same set of questions like how comfortable was the chair? Was it easy to clean? Did it have any special features that appealed to the child? Did the chair feel stable? Was it easy to store when not in use? How did it look—both from the child’s and parent’s perspective?
I took notes each time my child used a chair and wrote about our experiences after each test.
How to Choose the Right Potty Training Chair
Before choosing the type of potty training chair to try, it’s important to consider your child’s personality and development. We can tell you which product is best based on our scientific rankings, but some children may respond more positively to a potty training chair that plays music when they successfully use it, or one with their favorite cartoon character on it.
But you also need to consider your child’s sex. When researching which to buy, keep in mind that potty chairs are not gendered; there isn’t one that’s best for boys or girls. That said, make sure you get a chair with a splash guard, which is designed to keep urine from inadvertently being sprayed outside of the bowl. Male children’s anatomy are (obviously) different than female children’s, and splash guards become more important if you’re training a boy. In our testing, all of the potty training chairs had either a built-in or attachable splash guard.
There are two kinds of potty trainers, as we mentioned in the introduction: those that sit on the toilet and those that are freestanding and completely separate from the adult toilet. In our testing, we found that a third subsection of products emerged: 3-in-1 trainers. This adds yet another consideration for parents. You may be quick to think one of these training potties is a no-brainer; buy one and you’re done. But if you share a bathroom, or your powder room is particularly small, be aware that these 3-in-1 trainers take up more space. They are also generally more expensive.
Cost is, of course, another factor to consider. Most of the seats we tried are in approximately the same price range, but our number one product, the OXO Tot, is one of the more expensive models and isn’t a 3-in-1. The most affordable potty trainer was the Fisher-Price Froggy, which came in last in our testing.
Many parents wonder about how to clean the seats, and about general cleanliness—for good reason. The simple, freestanding seats were fairly simple to clean overall. The bowl is removed from the seat and the contents emptied into an adult toilet. A quick wipe down with soapy water is then all that’s needed. The 3-in-1 potty seats required a lot more attention to cleaning. The seat has to be removed before the bowl can be emptied and both pieces need to be cleaned after use.
Other Potty Training Chairs We Tested
BabyBjörn Smart Potty
The BabyBjörn is another simple, unassuming potty. Like the OXO Tot, it’s easy to use and clean, and it’s small enough that it can be moved out of sight, to some degree. (None of the potty chairs store very easily, unless you have a massive linen closet with space for a large item.)
The Björn is a great product for parents because it does nothing fancy for kids, which of course means your child will be less attracted to it. There are no sounds, characters or features to speak of. But again, if you want no frills, this is a good option.
While the Smart Potty isn’t the most comfortable, BabyBjörn also sells a Potty Chair for $29.99. While we did not test this product, it appears to be about the same as the Bjorn we did test, with the addition of a high backrest for leaning.
The Summer Infant My Size Potty stands alone in our testing because it was neither a 3-in-1 or a simple, freestanding seat. This potty trainer is a realistic, miniature-sized replica of an adult toilet complete with bowl, water tank (no, you don’t put water in it!) and flushing handle, which, you guessed it, makes a flushing sound when pulled.
My daughter thought the My Size Potty was funny, and when she first saw it she surprised me by not knowing that she was supposed to use it as a potty. “This is for me?” she asked. Once she understood she enjoyed using it, but she pulled the handle all the time, which, to be honest, became ever annoying!
When it came to cleaning, the My Size Potty required much more effort than the others. The seat itself wasn’t removable, so after removing, dumping and cleaning the bowl, I had to then get a soapy cloth or diaper wipe and use it to clean the seat while it was still attached to the rest of the potty. This was cumbersome and required more effort than it was worth.
This 3-in-1 potty seat is plain and unassuming—gray and white with no cartoon characters or animal faces—but its footprint is big enough that it doesn’t blend in the way the OXO Tot or BabyBjörn does.
Despite its size, the Munchkin has no features that might excite your child. An added bonus could be the Arm & Hammer tablet that is inserted into the underside of the lid for odor absorption. In my testing, I found that the smell was actually more overpowering than absorbing. It could work well if the potty is used in a household where the adult only empties the bowl after a couple of uses, but I cleaned up with each use, so I never needed the odor absorption.
The potty does have the extra perk of being a piece you can buy and use for potentially all of your potty training years, but it’s also the most expensive on the list.
My daughter, like many young females, is attracted to anything that’s pink, and Minnie Mouse’s presence on this 3-in-1—complete with a gloved hand that, when pulled, prompted the potty to say “Hip, Hip Hooray!”—was icing on the cake. So yes, my daughter liked this potty a lot, and as parents everywhere know, when the kid is happy, they are 100 percent more likely to do something you want them to do. That includes potty training.
But this potty was also less sturdy than the others, and at times felt flimsy and unstable. Like the other 3-in-1’s, it wasn’t easy to clean.
(Note: This potty is also available featuring with Mickey Mouse or the cast of Paw Patrol, among others.)
The Fisher-Price Froggy is a simple, freestanding seat like the OXO Tot and the BabyBjörn, but unlike those two trainers, this one has a loud and flashy appearance. It’s a particularly nauseating shade of green (my opinion, but one I believe many parents will agree with) and the potty, while not particularly large, appears bigger thanks to four sets of frog legs protruding from the bowl. The “legs” actually have a lizard or dinosaur-like appearance to them and are not at all subtle. In other words, this isn’t a trainer parents will enjoy having in their bathroom day in and day out.
My daughter thought it was fun, but mentioned it wasn’t very comfortable. The seat circumference is small, and there’s no backrest.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.