Going to the bathroom in public places

How should I handle taking my child to the bathroom in a public place?

The answer to your question depends in part on where your child is in the toilet training process. If your child is still wearing diapers from time to time, it might be easier to stick with diapers whenever you’re going to be away from home (unless you’re going to a familiar place with bathrooms designed for young children). It’s too much to expect a child who has barely mastered running to the family toilet to use a public bathroom where he might have to wait in line or sit on a toilet seat that’s very different from anything he’s ever tried before.

If your child is in underwear all the time, don’t put him back in diapers, but do plan ahead for outings. Pack some tissues or wipes in your bag, in case the bathrooms are short on supplies, as well as a change of underwear. And just before you head out the door, try to get your child to sit on the potty or toilet. Don’t say “You have to go to the bathroom before we leave,” because most children will tell you they can’t or don’t need to. Just have your child sit for a few minutes and hope for the best.

When you arrive at your destination, find the bathroom. You’ll want to know where it is before your child needs it, and you’ll want to give him a preview, too. You’ll have extra room if you use the stall for people with disabilities, but the seat may be elevated and your child will need more help.

An adult should always accompany a young child to the bathroom. If you’re a dad on your own with a daughter, you may need to be creative if the public toilet situation isn’t child-friendly. There isn’t a perfect solution: Some dads take their daughter into the men’s room, others will use the women’s room, and others ask a woman to take their daughter into the women’s room. You can ask other dads for advice on what they’ve done in similar situations, but the bottom line is that you – and other adults – need to be flexible so that you can meet your child’s needs.

Other common problems

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