All About Babies

Ellen Pompeo Talks Potty Training, Spreading Kindness and Making an Impact as a Mom

The Grey's Anatomy actress tells us about the charitable cause that's close to her heart—and what she's found truly works for potty training.

ellen pompeo baby2baby Ellen Pompeo at Baby2Baby Event
Actress Ellen Pompeo may be best known for portraying Dr. Meredith Grey on the long-running medical drama Grey's Anatomy. But when she's off-screen, she's a mom of three who's worked for years with Los Angeles' Baby2Baby, an organization that provides low-income children with diapers, clothing, and all the basic necessities. This year alone, the group will serve more than 150,000 kids by distributing to nonprofit partner organizations including homeless and domestic violence shelters, Head Start programs, and children's hospitals. Most recently, Pompeo partnered with the group to accept a generous donation from Pull-Ups.

"Potty training is an important milestone for toddlers, and it's also an opportunity for parents to work together with their children," the actress noted. "However, not all families have access to the right potty training tools to get started and stick with it. That's why I am excited to accept a donation of 500,000 Pull-Ups Training Pants to Baby2Baby families in need."

At Baby2Baby and Pull-Ups event in Los Angeles, Pompeo chatted with us about her philanthropic work, what works when it comes to potty training in her own home, and raising her three kids—Stella, 7, Sienna, 3, and Eli, 8 months.

Q: What inspired you to get involved with Baby2Baby?

A: I supported Kelly [Sawyer Patricof] since the day I met her. Kelly and Norah [Weinstein] both, the work that they do [as co-presidents of Baby2Baby] here is so important, so how could you not support them? And this event, Huggies is involved also, and I've worked for them separately, so they're two companies I really love. Anytime they're willing to donate this many diapers and help these families, I'm happy to show up!

Ellen Pompeo Huggies baby2baby

Q: Is there a particular highlight of your work with Baby2Baby and Huggies that stands out to you?

A: When you hear the statistics about how many families are in need of something as simple as a diaper, then that really hits home and tears at your heart. Diapers are super-expensive, and you need a lot of them. It's incredible that Huggies is involved and donates such a volume. After Katrina, I worked with Huggies, and they [donated] diapers, so Huggies has stepped up so many times and given diapers.

Q: What was something that really surprised you the most while you were potty-training your kids?

A: I think stickers really work. It was a method that really worked for me. We're not quite there with Eli yet, but certainly with Sienna, that's what we do. I think when I'm not around, my husband [Chris Ivery] offers lollipops, which kind of gets me in trouble! But I don't know anything about the lollipops, I only know about the stickers...

Q: How has your eldest Stella been as a big sister to your younger two? Has she helped you with potty-training?

A: She's super-helpful. Her little sister is a handful, so she's amazing! I mean, I'm very lucky I have a lot of great people who help me, and I have help from wherever I can get it!

Q: This cause is about people supporting parents — and particularly, moms helping other moms. Unfortunately, on the internet, moms sometimes encounter judgment—maybe even shaming. What's your take on that?

A: Kindness just goes so much further. Everybody has their own story, and everybody's situation is different, so no judgment—only kindness.

Q: What is the ultimate takeaway you want people to have about Baby2Baby's work and how they can get involved?

A: Anywhere that you can be of service to someone else, no matter how small, makes a difference. I think sometimes people feel like, "I can't do enough," or "I can only do this little bit." Any act of kindness, no matter how small, will always be impactful.