Portable potty for toddlers turns sidewalks into open-air toilets

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Clinton Hill mom Anna Rascouët-Paz says she always carries a portable potty for her 4-year-old twins, Felix and Luz.
Clinton Hill mom Anna Rascouët-Paz says she always carries a portable potty for her 4-year-old twins, Felix and Luz.Tamara Beckwith/NY Post

When Anna Rascouët-Paz gets ready to go out, she makes sure she has the essentials: keys, MetroCard, snacks for her two 4-year-old twins and — most important — her Potette, a collapsible, portable potty that she totes around in case one of her kids has an emergency.

“I still carry a Potette around,” the 39-year-old Clinton Hill resident tells The Post — even though her kids, Luz and Felix, were potty trained about two years ago. “I consider it an essential accessory in New York City, no matter how many eye-rolls I get.”

Rascouët-Paz isn’t the only parent taking potty training to the streets. New Yorkers, tired of trying to frantically find an open public bathroom every time their toddler has to take a leak, have increasingly taken to toting tiny toilets for their tots, who use them at the park, on the subway platform and even in the middle of the sidewalk.

“My child has totally peed on Astoria Boulevard before,” says actress Nora Gustuson, who used the Potette for her 3-year-old son and plans to repeat the process with her 2-month-old daughter. “When they’re that little, it’s either they pee their pants, or they pee on the sidewalk, so it’s preferable to at least get it into a potty!”

The Potette and its ilk, such as the OXO [2-in-1??] Go Potty, have fold-out legs, so the toilet seat can stand upright on its own. Parents can drape a plastic liner over the seat to catch their kid’s business and throw it out like a doggie bag.

This kind of free-range toilet training has grown increasingly trendy among New Yorkers, thanks to parent groups on Facebook pushing alternative child-rearing techniques.

‘Either they pee their pants, or they pee on the sidewalk, so it’s preferable to at least get it into a potty!’

That’s where Galina Burdeniuc-Raileanu first heard of the OXO when her oldest son was potty-training, about five years ago.

“He was afraid to go to the public restrooms because all the hand dryers made so much noise, and he would get scared,” says the 36-year-old, who sought help from a Facebook mom’s group. “I had never heard of [the OXO] before someone suggested it.”

Now, she’s using it for her 2-year-old girl, too, and has noticed more moms using them in her Sunnyside, Queens neighborhood.

“They’re not even hiding [the kid] behind the bench or tree to use the potty. They would sit them there in the middle of the [play area].”

Not everyone loves these pots, however.

“It’s so gross,” says Gillian, a Clinton Hill mom who declined to use her last name for privacy reasons. “I once saw a woman hold her kid between cars outside Greene Grape Provisions to poo [on a portable potty] . . . I don’t care what age you are — if you need to poop or pee, do it in the diaper or the restroom.”

Mom of two Nora Gustuson swears by her Potette.
Mom of two Nora Gustuson swears by her Potette.Stefano Giovannini

Others are opposed for less visceral reasons.

“I’m not a big fan on cultivating instant gratification,” says Chantal Traub, a doula and childbirth educator based in Astoria. “If you observe your child, they tend to show some signs before they go, and I would act on that.”

Meanwhile, Samantha Allen, founder of NYC Potty Training, who charges $2,000 to teach posh tots how to use the toilet, tells The Post: “Even kids like privacy. No one wants an audience to poop!”

But for Rascouët-Paz’s kids, privacy isn’t an issue.

“Potty or no potty, they don’t care when they’re too busy playing, they’ll just go,” says the science communications writer. She admits some parents are “weirded out” when they see her kids using the toilet — particularly on the subway platform, but says they are quick to change their tune when they need to borrow it for their own kids. “I have saved those parents from a lot of emergencies!”

Tina Tiongson, who has just moved to Madison, NJ, from Astoria with her Potette-trained 2.5-year-old daughter, says she can’t imagine potty-training in the Big Apple without it.

“Honestly, if you’re potty training in New York City, and you don’t have a car . . . you don’t have time to go into a Starbucks and wait for a bathroom — and then hope your stroller will fit in there,” says the 39-year-old. “And it’s honestly probably cleaner than the public toilet!”

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