Saturday, January 26, 2008

Infant Potty Training

I am doing some research for one of my readers on what to do when an older child (5 years old) is still having potty training issues and whether this signals a problem. In the process, I found this article on Baby Center about infant potty training.I can't imagine teaching my 11 month old to use the potty, but it would be nice!

What is infant potty training?Also called "elimination communication" or "natural infant hygiene," infant potty training is the practice of introducing your baby to the toilet or potty at a very young age — usually between birth and 4 months.

Some parents who do this avoid diapers completely by racing their baby to the nearest bathroom whenever they anticipate a poop or pee. Others use diapers on and off. By 18 months, in most cases, their children have "graduated" — that is, they know when they have to use the toilet and get themselves there successfully.

In contrast, the average baby boy in the United States gives up diapers at 39 months and the average girl at 36 months, according to a 2001 study by the Medical College of Wisconsin. (It typically takes eight to ten months for a child to go from complete reliance on diapers to being fully potty trained, the study found.)

While the notion of potty training a very young infant seems radical to many American parents, it's not a new idea. Prior to 1950, most children in the United States were toilet trained by 18 months. And today, most African, Asian, and European babies are trained well before their second birthday.

So why are American babies and their parents so attached to their diapers? Many think it's due in part to the changing views of experts about toilet training, as well as the invention of disposable diapers. During the 1950s, Dr. Spock and other experts began advocating a more relaxed approach to toilet training.

Then, in the 1960s, parenting expert Dr. T. Berry Brazelton advocated an even gentler, more "child-centered" philosophy: He encouraged parents to allow children to follow their own timetable when it came to giving up diapers. Brazelton's view caught on around the same time as disposable diapers, which tend to be more comfortable for babies (they're so absorbent that babies don't feel wet) and easier for parents to deal with. Against this backdrop, it's no surprise that the average age of toilet training crept up.

Alright Baby Center, thank for making me feel lazy about training my kids to use the potty! Has anyone tried this? Is it as time consuming and frustrating as it sounds? Are we bad parents if we choose to wait until the child is two to start training?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Shannon said...

I have heard of this - am I really the only one? I know of at least one mother who has tried it but I'm not sure what success she had with it.

Like everything, I think it's just about doing what works for your family.

Also wanted to add that while I think there is logically a connection between disposable diapers and children waiting longer to learn to use the potty, it has not actually played out that way in our house. I have one who we used only disposables, one who had a combination of disposables and cloth but only disposables at potty-learning age, and one who was exclusively cloth-diapered. All three learned to use the toilet at age 3 - and so far, it was actually our girl who took the longest!

Knight in Dragonland said...

This method certainly sounds very labor intensive, and I have no idea if it actually works or not. It would certainly require a dedicated stay-at-home caregiver. Can you imagine trying to get a daycare to do this???

Children in Asia and Africa often potty train quicker ... but my suspicion is that this is due to crowded living conditions. Children watch older siblings and adults go to the bathroom more frequently than in our society and learn by observation.

Hand almost any American kid over 1 year a phone (toy or real) ... what do they do with it? They put it up to their ear and start jabbering. Why? Because they see it happening all the time.

The same theory can be applied to potty training. If that creeps you out, then don't try it.

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