A throne fit for the prince(ss) in your life: Potty training in style
It's not enough to sit your child on any plastic potty trainer these days. A whole industry has sprouted up with the belief, reinforced by consumers, that your child's bum deserves more, something that sings, simulates flushing, or is made of rich wood.
For some hopeful parents, summertime is "tinkle time," as in setting toddlers free and diaperless outside while potty training. And like so many aspects of life with kids, potty training means gear, lots of gear.Skip to next paragraph
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Something happened on the road to bathroom independence. The choices in potty seats and chairs proliferated and sprouted all manner of bells and whistles.
Many convert like Transformers to serve multiple functions. One has a voice recorder to add a personal message (Go Jacob!). Others belt out happy tunes, have cubbies to stash wipes and books, sport their own toilet paper holders, simulate flushing, look like mini-urinals and are decked out as fancy thrones.
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There's one with an iPad holder and another with handlebars that looks like a ride-on toy. Still more can be monogrammed, are round to appear as ladybugs and soccer balls, rock like rocking chairs and, for the design-minded, look like contemporary furniture. And there's no end to TV, movie, and book tie-ins, from Sesame Street to Spongebob.
Basic molded-plastic potties remain popular, high backed or low, in an industry worth more than $50 million in 2011, according to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, a trade group of companies in the US, Canada and Mexico.
So who's it all for, parents or little doers trying to figure out Nos. 1 and 2? Whether you decide on "elimination communication," where infants go without diapers earlier than the norm, take a cold-turkey boot camp approach, or have a late and reluctant bloomer on your hands, chances are a cheery potty seat is in your future.
"People talk about potty training more. Before it was something you just got through, you know. You just did it," said Angie Peterson, marketing director for Levels of Discovery, a company that puts out painted wood potty thrones — pink for girls and majestic blue for boys — for up to $83 a pop. They're bedecked with crowns and include a place to slide in a photo of your little one.
Grandparents are often the buyers of these thrones, she said, and the chairs match the company's bedroom furniture sets with royal themes. They come with matching wood seat covers that turn them into regular chairs when training is complete.
Sick of unsightly plastic, but not looking for ornate? The Potty Bench by Boon Inc. is sleek and curvy in minimalist color schemes of bright green or aqua against white.
"We wanted it to look cool. Take a look at the children's industry in the early 2000s and it was just all pastely and it had not had a facelift, ever. We wanted to bring cool style and design to parents," said Ryan Fernandez, co-founder of the company and father of four girls 12 and under.