Sunday, August 03, 2008

Why on earth is she talking about potties already?!

A few months back I read the book Diaper-Free Before Three. It advocates early potty training, basically that you can introduce a potty chair much sooner than most parents realize (as early as 6 months). You look for patterns to your child's peeing and pooping and you sit them on the potty at about those times. The first "successes" by the child will be random, but the idea is that eventually they start catching on on their own and that you can have a fully potty-trained child by about 2 yrs old, as opposed to waiting till 2-3+ years old to even start (as is common place in the US today).

There are many things about this method that intrigue me. For example, that this "new" and "alternative" method used to be the norm up until about 30-50 years ago, and still is in much of the rest of the world. The book cites all sorts of research that shows that this earlier potty training may actually be better for little children's development, and how there has never been any research to show that waiting for "readiness signs" as is popular today works better at all. I also like that it gives the child independence from diapers, and a parent needing to change them, at an earlier age (how Montessori, right?), along with the idea of using fewer diapers overall over the course of the child's life (fewer diapers for the landfills!).

Unfortunately I'm starting to wonder how well this would work for D. It seems to work best for children whose bodies are naturally more regular, something that D has not shown to be. Even now at 6 months of age he has yet to form much of an eating schedule-- he eats anywhere from every 2-3+ hours throughout the day, with that pattern changing from one day to the next and as the day goes on. Be cause his eating is not regular yet, his peeing and pooping don't seem to be at all regular, either. He has yet to develop a napping schedule, waking for 1-2 hours at a tome before needing to nap (for 30-45 minutes at a time). Even his night sleep still changes from one week to the next (last week he was sleeping from 7-8 pm through till 4-5am, then the past few days started waking at 1-2am again).

I guess I don't really know how common this is for a 6 month old, but certainly from what I read most of these things tend to "settle" in babies by this time. I'm figuring D may just be one of those ids whose bodies aren't as regular as others. So I think I'll hold off a bit on the potty-introducing. Maybe after the move I'll think about it. I do like the idea of just introducing a potty chair and having him sit in it for a few minutes a day, even if there's no actual "pottying" going on in it but just to get him used to it. So I guess in a few months I might try it, and then follow his lead as to how interested and open he seems to the whole idea.


  1. Anonymous11:26 PM

    Good luck! Actually the norm in most of the world is to never use diapers, as they don't exist there. I've never read anything about waiting until six months.

    There's a very active Yahoo! Group called elimination communication that you might get some advice on. :)

  2. Speaking as a former nanny/childcare provider who has been directly involved in potty training at least 15 children whose parents used a variety of methods...



    The muscles needed to control your bladder and bowel movements do not completely develop until approximately 12-24 months old, depending upon your child's individual development. Boys tend to develop the necessary muscles a bit later than girls.

    In many cases, training early can work, do no harm to the child and is certainly convenient for the parents. But the child IS NOT potty trained because they are not yet able to control the muscles themselves. Rather, the parents are trained to know when to expect the need for the toilet.

    However, in some cases attempting to potty train early can cause serious medical issues. Boys especially seem to have a tendency to develop infections from attempting to hold their pee or poo before their muscles have developed enough. This can cause lifelong issues for them including the possibility of incontinence, constipation and diarrhea.

    By the way, I just checked the American Academy of Pediatrics website. Their recommendation is to wait until the child is physically and psychologically ready (generally between 18-30 months old).

  3. Honestly I think early potty training is over-rated. Not that I want my kid to sit in pee and poop all day, but life is much easier when I don't have to FIND A TOILET NOW! I confess that makes me lazy...

    A showed interest around 18 months or so, we bought her a potty and she sat on it a lot. She got to where she'd tell us she just went, rather than before going. That was ok. Then she actually went *in* the potty and FREAKED out and refused to go near it again for awhile. Eventually peer pressure at daycare worked - the other kids went so she joined along. babysitter insisted on NOT pushing her, but letting her warm to the idea over time. She just turned two, and does well at daycare, not so well at home. I'm ok with that.

  4. I'd love to talk with you about this when you return to CA, as we just went through this. I really believe it can be done much earlier than 3, as seems to be the case these days. Back when I used to babysit when I was like 11-14, all the kids I babysat were potty trained at 2, and they all had cloth diapers. It just proves we have gotten lazier. Anyway, if you want my advice/help, I'd love to be of help when you are back here and the time is right for D.

    Secondly, don't get discouraged if D is waking up from 1-2 suddenly. Babies seem to go through phases, it won't last long. Are his gums swollen? That can cause once all night sleepers to wake up in the middle of the night.

  5. I was just talking about this a couple days ago. Three and a half weeks ago my boyfriends niece showed me her big girl panties and I made a big show of it and was really thoroughly impressed- because she was only 23 months old, and only in diapers at night and during naptime. Even then her mom said she would usually wake up and tell her when she needed to go potty. She just turned 2 and she remains one of the coolest kids I know.

  6. I followed a friend's lead (whose son trained around 2). I moved her to pull-ups around 20 months I think, then one weekend around 2 yrs we just left those off one whole weekend. Every time she even looked like she might need to go, I ran her to the toilet.

    The flushing bit scared her, and it took a while to get both processes transferred to the toilet, but she got the hang of it within a few weeks.

    I just bought a mini seat that goes on the regular toilet and then had a stool in her bathroom. I didn't like the thought of cleaning a mini toilet



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