NEW YORK (AP) — 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.
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.
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 U.S., 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.