I am currently soaking two potties in my bathtub with bleach. Usually they look like this:
Today, they look like this:
And I can't think of a better time to go over what every parent should know before setting off to buy their child's first potty.
First, do not let the bells and whistles distract you. The potties I have chosen for my twins are amazing, in theory. They come with a wipe dispenser and a toilet paper roll attachment. They have a pretty sticker chart for when the babies make it in the potty. They have pretty pink lids, like a real potty, so your child can learn to put the lid down early, I would guess. The seats are soft, and sprinkled with the same design as the stickers. Later, they can be flipped over and used as a stepstool.
These are all awful ideas.
First of all, why you would ever want to teach a child to flip over a receptacle that may or may not have excrement in it is beyond me. My carpet is getting more urine stains than I can keep up because the babies will use their potties and flip the things over to stand on them immediately afterward.
The soft seats seem like a good idea - especially since my twins have decided that the potties make excellent mini-couches for watching TV - except that when they get up from the potty, the seat will often stick to their behinds, and splatter off after they've stood and started walking. The sticker decoration on the seats seems cute to an adult. Try explaining to a two year old that even though they used to have stickers that look like the designs on the potty, the designs on the potty will not come off, no matter how much time you spend trying to peel them. Expect massive tantrums when you run out of stickers. In fact, the stickers to begin with, at least in this house, are cause for trauma and pain. Something about stickers turns my two children into raving lunatics. We didn't even run out of those stickers; mommy threw them away.
The pink lids make for awkward handling, plain and simple. I wish they were not there. We've never used the wipe dispenser or the toilet paper roll attachment. My babies would pull all the wipes out and unroll all the toilet paper, making sure to shred it into the tiniest pieces possible. I already know this. We don't need to experiment.
But the absolute worst part of these potties is the reason they're sitting in my bathtub right now. Structurally, they just don't make sense. No matter how well my babies are positioned on their potties, they always manage to get a little extra not only on the rim or the seat, but inside the crack where the chamber pot meets the step stool. If you're a first time parent, and you aren't aware of this phenomenon, about three weeks in, you're in for a less-than-pleasant surprise. Stale urine drippings collecting in the bottom of a step stool - which, by the way, was not engineered to easily come apart - can smell up an entire house. I know from experience. And trying to wrestle that stool apart without getting any of the offensive stuff on your person is near impossible.
So, my advice on buying any potties that have more than one piece for any reason: don't do it.
Your best bet, parents of singletons, is to buy a little potty seat that sits directly on top of your toilet. The baby will get a sense of where the bathroom is, will know that urinating really only need take a minute, not an hour, and will feel more like a big kid. Clean up is minimal.
I can't do that because my twins need to do everything the same at the same time, but if I were to buy another potty set for them, it would look more like this:
One piece, one use, no stickers. If I can leave you with one message from this post it's this: don't do fancy. Your kids won't appreciate all the extras, and you'll come to rue them. I'd give you even more advice, but I have bleachy potties awaiting my return.