Natalie is - for the most part - potty trained. Just shy of her third birthday. We've been working at this milestone for the better part of the last year. I'd love to tell you what worked for us ... and I am going to start with the equipment :)
Around 18 months, we started with one of those stand-alone potty seats with the lid that lifts up and the "collection" reservoir beneath. You know the kind that requires emptying into the toilet and then flushing. It's gross, and I often wonder, who's idea was this? For the most, NHV just sat on that potty with the lid down and treated it like her own little chair. I guess it was good for getting her use to the idea of sitting to do her business. We left it in the living room for a while and then moved it to the bathroom where she could sit while mommy was "in there." Side note: I do believe modeling is a part of the learning process.
Next, for her second birthday, we bought one of those cushioned, cartoon-character-clad, rings that you set on the actual toilet. Hers had Sesame Street characters on it, and I must say she did get pretty excited to sit on it. And it was a major step in the right direction ... at least now we had cut out the "middle man" - no more emptying and then flushing. However, I was still fairly disgusted by the idea of constantly moving the ring ... and figuring out where to put that darn thing when it wasn't being used ... but keep it handy enough that it be ready at a moment's notice, which is often the case with a potty training toddler. I especially hated having a "ring" in the powder room downstairs, our most utilized potty by those who live in our house and those who happen to visit.
And then, I used the bathroom at a friend's house and had a little potty epiphany ... before I even sat down! Allow me to introduce to you ... the integrated potty seat:
This lid replaces the existing one on your toilet. The toddler-sized ring is integrated into the lid. When you close the lid, a magnet automatically engages the smaller ring. You do have to pull the smaller ring down to use it. NHV loves this seat because it looks just like the one mommy and daddy use. She is very interested in doing things "like a big girl" and this seat fits the bill. I love it because it's easy to keep clean. I don't have to store it somewhere. Its appearance is not kid-like. I feel like we've streamlined our potty needs.
This particular potty seat was purchased at our local home improvement store for just under $30. It comes in both oblong and round; I didn't even know which we had until I got both of them home! I think it is well-worth the price considering that NHV can use this until her bottom is big enough not to fall through the regular opening and someday our second will be using it, too.