Fear of Automatic Toilets: 3 Ways to Help Kids – Busy Toddler

Fear of Automatic Toilets: 3 Ways to Help Kids - Busy Toddler


A toilet in a bathroom with an automatic flush sensor. Text reads: Is your child scared of automatic toilets?

Inside: Ideas for how to support kids with a fear of automatic toilets.

Your child is not the only child with a fear of automatic toilets.

Just wanted to get that out of the way right off the bat. I don’t have statistics on the percentage of kids with a fear of automatic toilets, but anecdotally, it’s a high number. This is a pretty normal childhood fear.

Especially after a child has just gotten comfortable with using a toilet in potty training. Toss in a errant automatic flush from a “not at home” toilet and you may end up spending the next five years of your life covering automatic sensors.

I speak from experience. That entire paragraph is my life.

I commiserate with you – this fear of automatic toilets is real, and it’s a real bummer (for the kids and us).

What do you do when an automatic toilet scares a child?

It’s Murphy’s Law that if you have a child who fears the automatic toilet you’ll end up in quite a few locations that have just those commodes.

As glamorous as it is to stand in a Target bathroom with a baby strapped to your chest in an Ergo while you’re wedging your hand behind a newly potty trained AND trying to hold that toddler on the toilet…. look it was a lot. I’ve seen some things. I’ve had some things happen. I’m going to move on from “the problem” to “the solution.”

Enough times of playing the automatic toilet-toddler-front pack juggle and I had to find a better life for us.

RELATED: Have you taught your child how to wipe yet or even considered how to do that? Try my step by step method.

Here’s 3 ways to make automatic toilets “safer” to your child

I have three solutions to this problem – take a look at each. The goal with each method is to cover the sensor on the toilet to eliminate the fear that it may spontaneous flush.

That even startles me as an adult. I can’t even fathom it as a newly potty trained or any-aged child. Do you know how loud an automatic toilet is? I literally looked this up. 80 decibels. That’s like sitting on a garbage disposal and having it turn on when you’re totally vulnerable. I feel for kids with this fear.

The other goal is that kids can grow up to be more autonomous with their sensor covering. My daughter is 7 years old. She’s got her method down now and is (mostly) comfortable being near these dreaded toilets without Mom.

Option 1: Cover the sensor with a sticky note

Yep, I keep these in my diaper bag…purse…backpack… basically if you are ever near me and need an emergency sticky note, I’m your person.

What I like about the sticky note for sensors is: they’re large enough for full coverage, they work on sensors on the toilet OR on the wall, and kids can stick them on without help.

Consider tossing a few in your wallet. They’re life savers.

Toilet with a sticker note covering the automatic flusher

Option 2: Use a sticker

Would it even be a Busy Toddler post if I didn’t somehow bring a dot sticker into this?

Dot stickers are magical and their versatility knows no bounds. Let your child choose their own dot color and may that tiny sticker bring so much peace and serenity.

These are great because 1 sheet in your kid-bag gives you 24 bathroom visits before you have to remember to restock. Those are odds I can work with.

Toilet with a dot sticker covering the automatic flusher

Option 3: Grab some toilet paper

The caveat to this method is that it doesn’t work if the sensor is on the wall – bummer.

But if you forget your sticky notes or dot stickers, may you find yourself in a bathroom where you can lightly drape toilet paper over the sensory.

My daughter actually prefers this method when she can, probably because she’s seen her Grandmother doing this (look, fear of automatic toilets sometimes stays with you).

Toilet with paper covering the automatic flush sensor

RELATED: Have you potty trained your child yet? I’d love to help with that. Here’s a link to my FREE guide.

The bottom line: it’s normal for kids to have a fear of the automatic toilet

This doesn’t have to be a big thing. You don’t need work on making kids stop having this fear or put them down for their discomfort. Be a safe space that provides help in a situation where there isn’t a ton of option.

They will outgrow it OR they’ll grow more comfortable with being able to navigate these commodes on their own.

Our job right now is to normalize having a fear (everyone has things they don’t like) and helping them find a comfortable way to use these toilets. These 3 different options have been major game changers in our family.

Do you have a child scared of the automatic toilets?

Comment below with what’s worked for your child. How have you helped them be more comfortable?

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 1.9 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.


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