My wife and I were three weeks into potty training our 28-month old daughter and things were not going well. It had been a roller coaster ride of happy potty parties, unhappy accidents, and a lot of scrubbing Hello Kitty underwear in the toilet. So it couldn’t have been a more perfect when something called “Tot on the Pot” came across my desk. Billed as a creative “play-based” potty training program, it included a soft doll with her own personal mini toilet. And it seemed like an excellent Partner-In-Poop.
My daughter was too far along to start over using the Tot system, but there wasn’t any reason we couldn’t incorporate it into our training regimen. And when she excitedly grabbed the doll from my hand and raced its miniature potty to the bathroom, placing it next to the toilet, we knew it was the right call. She weirdly named the doll Ja-Ja (your guess is as good as mine) and quickly took to playing with it as designed, as a “partner in poop” with whom she could go the bathroom. “She has to go potty in here!” she exclaimed after positioning her Tot on the small toilet.
Tot on the Pot comes with everything a parent who knows nothing about potty training (and is too busy to spend hours reading books) needs to. In addition to the plush doll and toy potty, the set includes a comprehensive parenting guide, 20 laminated activity cards, and a Tot on the Pot board book. The doll, in addition to being super soft and having some great hair, is anatomically correct and available in both genders and two skin tones.
The book tells the story of two toddlers who pee and poop in the toilet and have a blast doing so. Throughout, it offers tips (rub your belly! blow bubbles to make pooping easier!). A big “reader,” my daughter was elated to have a new book and quickly worked it into her bedtime reading rotation. Just so you know, the Tot set does not come with an actual child-sized portable potty. Since every kid is different, they recommend picking out a portable toilet or training seat separately.
The Tot system is essentially designed around a three-day pantsless potty training program. After reading the board book and introducing the child to their new friend, you spend a long-weekend at home playing, reading, and not texting friends about fantasy football. In time, your toddler learns to avoid crapping on the carpet. The big difference with Tot, however, is that instead of rewarding kids with M&Ms or stickers or a brand new mini Tesla Model S, it celebrates each poop or pee with an imaginative activity designed to both entertain and assist with cognitive development.
The activity cards are stored inside the mini toilet and include fun celebratory tasks and games like: “Make 9 funny faces in the mirror,” “Go hide. Find a fun hiding spot and keep from being found as long as possible,” and “Take some cardboard, tin foil, and paper, and make a crown.” All are designed to get kids excited about their reward and the brain benefits of each activity ⏤ be it sensory awareness, motor skills, etc. ⏤ are listed on the back.
Only one card is attached to the mini pot at a time and after completing each activity, the kid gets to slide the card back into the toilet through a side slot. Which, by the way, was another big hit with my daughter. She loved sliding the cards into the pot to the point that she’d often rather just sit and do that as its own game. I don’t want to call it a drawback, but know that your toddler may wreak havoc on the cards.
Also, while the cards are great for weekends, if I had one complaint it’s that many of the activities simply aren’t conducive to a work-week routine. If she pees before daycare, we don’t have the time to make a paper mache hat or go on a treasure hunt. And while we have been able to incorporate some of the quicker activities into our day, future versions would benefit from a separate pack of weekend and weekday cards based on the length of activity.
One of the smart features of Tot is that it uses the doll to tackle a common potty training problem: kids refusing to stop playing to go the bathroom. In fact, that’s my daughter’s number one hangup. By blending play and potty time and giving them a toy they can actually bring to the toilet, it at least strives to cut down on accidents. While a sound theory, obviously, there’s only so long a kid plays with one doll. And it doesn’t necessarily help when they’re peeing themselves while building Duplos. That said, I did recently find my daughter sitting on her stepstool in the bathroom “reading” Ja-Ja activity cards while the doll presumably was going Number Two. Clearly, they were forming a lasting friendship.
Now, my daughter is still not fully potty trained ⏤ it remains a work in progress. And, again, we only integrated parts of the Tot on the Pot program sporadically and didn’t follow the program from start to finish. That said, I wish it had arrived a month earlier. It’s comprehensive, the parenting guide really does spell everything out ⏤ even offering tips for developmentally delayed children ⏤ and it’s tough to argue with how much my kid took to her tot. Whether she’d have the bowel control of a teenager right now if we’d started with it, tough to say. But it still would have been nice to try.
Tot on the Pot’s currently in the middle of successful Kickstarter campaign and has already cleared their goal, raising $14,066 on an $8,000 ask. It costs $40 (but will go up to $50) and is available for pre-order. It doesn’t ship until November, however, so if you’re thinking about putting a three-day potty training on the calendar ⏤ do yourself (and your rug) a favor and wait a month.