Potty Training Seats for Special Needs | The OT Toolbox

Potty Training Seats for Special Needs

When it comes to potty training and toileting in general, there is a LOT of information out there. And, if you ask around for suggestions for the best potty training seats, you will probably get a variety of answers. It can be overwhelming to weed through all of the potty seats out there on the market and in the local box store toddler aisle. The difficulty compounds when you consider potty training with special needs children. Today, I wanted to pull together a list of potty training seats out there on the market that are perfect for special needs kids, as well as typically developing kids. These potty training chairs help address the underlying needs that kids might struggle with when it comes to potty training. These potty training seats and supports can be the tools needed to address a variety of underlying needs when it comes to getting started with potty training.

Here's the thing: it can be difficult to make suggestions or come up with a comprehensive list that covers ALL of the special needs out there. (That's where your occupational therapy evaluation or equiptment analysis will come into play!) BUT, I can definitely address some of the more common potty training seats out on the market and address the underlying areas that they can address and hopefully target a best fit.

These recommendations for potty training seats are guided by development and great for kids of all needs. Use these potty training seats as suggestions when starting potty training for toddlers or preschoolers.






Potty Training Seats are Not One-Size Fits All!

Let's face it. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to potty training. Because of the vast differences in in kids development, interests, motivation, physical or special needs, potty training can be a challenge to know where to start. This list is hopefully a start for addressing some of the areas kids need for successful potty training.


Portable Seat- This type of seat is great for kids who need a smaller opening on the toilet. Kids of all needs benefit from a larger seat area when first potty training. This one is nice because it can be carried from place to place when on the go outside of the home. Just fold it up and place in it's carrying bag. Using a portable seat can make it easy to add interests when beginning potty training. Add interests such as special toys and items to make sitting motivating.

Squatty Potty- The squatty potty is a helpful way to provide a more stable base of support while sitting on the toilet seat. Kids can place their feet on the support that curves around the toilet base and improve balance while sitting. This base of support can help kids who need extra support or have balance needs. The Step and Go stool is another, more inexpensive option. Adding a supportive base can help calm nerves of unsupported sitting. Children can use a wider base of support with this type of stool.


Potty Training Chart- While this isn't a potty training seat, a training chart can be used to promote extended sitting on a potty chair, and to allow kids the ability to build up patience to sit and wait on a potty chair. Starting out by using a potty training chart to encourage kids just to go to and sit on the potty seat is a great start for younger kids or those who need to accommodate for sensory needs. A visual tool such as a potty training chart can be a practical way to reinforce individual skills that make up the process of toilet training. The nice thing about toilet training charts is that they can be individualized, based on the child's needs. Some kids with special needs or sensory needs may be afraid of walking into the bathroom. A sticker chart can be one strategy to address that aspect given various modifications or activities that can help address needs.


Step Stool with Handles- Having a handle can help little ones who struggle with balance or feeling unstable when sitting on a regular sized toilet seat. This one has a step stool that provides a base of support through the feet.


Toilet Seat with Pee Guard- This seat insert has handles and slight curvature to the sides of the toilet seat ring, providing support and a sense of stability when seated on a regular size toilet. The urine guard is helpful for both boys and girls.

Three-in-one Potty Training Seat- As a mom of four, this 3-in-one potty training seat is a favorite. It goes with kids from the toddler stage when a smaller, floor potty chair is helpful in training. The ring insert can then be used when transitioning to a regular sized toilet. Finally, the seat forms a step stool for using either on the toilet or when washing hands. This is a convenient toilet training seat for families! This potty training system is great for the child who appreciates consistency.



 Ring Reducer- There are many styles of toilet seat ring reducers out there and they serve a great purpose; to reduce the size of the opening on the toilet seat, allowing for small kids to feel more safe and secure when sitting on the toilet. This is a good transition seat to a regular sized toilet. For kids who struggle with coordination and balance, this ring reducer can be just the ticket to potty training success.
Disposable Seat Covers- These seat covers are convenient for kids who tend to grab the toilet seat when sitting on a regular-sized toilet. When out and about in the community, it can be helpful for some kids to use a seat cover that is more effective than just using toilet paper. Some of our kiddos can't tolerate sitting without holding onto the seat or just can't follow the directions to "not hold onto the seat".

These special needs potty training seats can be a guide to getting started with potty training for special needs kids.

Physical Limitations and Special Needs Toilet Training

While these potty training seat options just cover the surface of potty training, it's important to remember to consider the underlying and developmental aspects of potty training. The therapist's perspective can play an important part in identifying any developmental or transitioning needs when it comes to potty training. While there are many more specific tools that can be used with special needs toilet training as well as typically developing kids, these are just some of the basics. Remember that there truly is not a one-size-fits-all aspect for toileting. Some of our kids with more physical special needs or developmental considerations may benefit from a more extensive and supportive seating system. That's where the occupational therapist comes into play with identifying needs and tools that will promote independence and function.

Use these potty training seats for special needs kids when beginning the potty training process with kids of all needs.

Potty Training Seats for Physical Needs

Toileting Seat System- There are many toileting systems on the market that address physical needs. Seating systems are intended to  promote positioning, safety, mobility, transfers, function, and quality of life of the individual. Look for a system that meets the budget and can efficiently accommodate various needs such as toileting, showering/bathing, hygiene, etc. 

Systems can come with a variety of ajustements and supports. Consider the need or use of the following supports:

Headrest
Backrest
Armrests
Lateral back supports
Harness
Seat belt
Tray
Anterior support
Hip guides
Abductor
Urine deflector or guard
Calf supports
Lower extremity lateral supports
Ankle straps
Footrest
Tilt in space (backward/forward)
Recline
Height adjustments
Push handles (for caregiver support)
Wheeled base
Molded and Foam cushions
Pan/adaptability for use over a toilet or as a stand-alone toilet chair

Support Station for Toileting- A standing support station can be used in assisted hygiene or assisted toileting. The standing station can be a support to transfers and can be beneficial t clothing management, self-care, skin care, and undergarment changing. 

The support station is a helpful tool for improving function and dignity of clients as can perform aspects of toileting, as well as participate in self-care. This is a means for reducing diaper use as well, further improving dignity. Additionally, support stations are a tool for improved safety of caregivers. When clients stand at a standing support frame, they are truly building strength, endurance and self-care skills in a natural manner within the occupation of toileting. 

For More information on Potty Training 

Watch for information coming soon to this space on the upcoming Toilet Training Book! It's about to be released and is your go-to resource on potty training based on development and individualized needs. This book was created by occupational therapists and physical therapists who are experts in the field of child development, sensory processing, motor skills, and function. 

Coming soon! The Toilet Training Book!