Potty training can be a scary and intimidating time for boys. For this reason, parents are encouraged to teach them to use the toilet sitting down—on a potty chair—before showing them how to pee standing up. But how do you know if the chair they are using is safe?
According to one family in Riverside, California, who wishes to remain anonymous, the WeePOD Basix Potty Ring they purchased at Target "nearly dismembered" their 3-year-old son when his genitals got stuck inside the built-in splash guard. The family is now suing the retailer for undisclosed damages.
The lawsuit alleges that the boy was taken to the emergency room to have his penis glued back together after the polypropylene surface of the Prince Lionheart potty seat deeply cut his genitals almost all the way around.
“Target and Prince Lionheart knew there were problems with this defective potty-training device, knew of prior complaints but refused to take the product off the shelf. They had a duty to warn customers about the dangers of their WeePOD product,” attorney John Kristensen told CBS News Los Angeles. “Their failure to do so was reckless and led directly to the mutilation of my client.”
Kristensen also claims that another child was injured by the same Prince Lionheart seat in 2015 (also purchased at Target). According to the lawsuit, the child's parent left following comment at the time, but it is no longer available on Target's website:
"My 4-year-old son was going to the bathroom on his wee pod basix potty seat and when he stood up he started screaming," the Virginia parent allegedly wrote. "He had a nasty cut on the base of his penis and it was bleeding a lot. My husband and I cleaned him up and took him to the doctor. When we got home I examined the seat and the bottom edge is actually very sharp and just sliced open the very sensitives in that area. This has been horribly traumatic for him and could have been so much worse."
Though the potty seat is still available on Target's website with a near 4-star rating, Target maintains that product safety is something they take seriously. In a comment to GoodHousekeeping.com, a Target spokesperson said the company's legal team is reviewing the lawsuit.
"We take product safety incredibly seriously, are committed to providing safe products to our guests and require our vendors to follow all product safety laws and CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) guidelines for the products they sell at Target."
Last week, Prince Lionheart added the following statement on the Good Housekeeping website:
"We take the safety and comfort of the children and parents who use our products very seriously, and all of our products have been subjected to rigorous third-party testing to ensure their safety when used in a manner consistent with our instructions and warnings. We're a family-owned and operated business and have been making products for babies and young children for over forty years. Our practice is to design safety, quality and performance into every one of our products."
That said, make sure you inspect all products thoroughly—feeling around the entire surface for rough edges—before allowing your child to sit bare-bottomed on a potty-training device.