Toilet Training: How Young Is Too Young?
As with most things, there are a wide variety of opinions regarding the ‘correct time' to potty train a child. It seems many parents today feel that between the ages of 18 months and two years is the best time while some psychologists insist that a child should not be rushed. They advocate training at three, four or five years of age, suggesting the child will eventually train themselves and that's the best way. One has to wonder if these guys have ever changed a messy diaper from an older child.
How Did We Get Here?
Outside of Western industrialized countries, things happen a lot faster in terms of potty training. There could be several reasons for this, one of them being that disposable diapers may not be available as readily as they are in North America and Europe. Interestingly, before Pampers came on the scene in the 1940s, many babies in the Western culture were potty trained between the ages of nine months to a year old.
So, what happened? According to Linda Sonna, author of "Early Start to Potty Training", when Pampers came out they got a medical doctor to endorse their products and say that potty training children under the age of two could be psychologically traumatic. In those days, anybody with a Dr. in front of their name wielded great power and people listened. The rest is history.
Between Birth and Four Months - It's Possible
Today more and more mothers are gravitating to very early potty training for their babies. There is a window of opportunity before the baby is four months old in which they can be trained to use the potty by communicating their need to a mom who is really paying attention.
Of course they can't tell you they have to go, but they will definitely give signals which are easy enough to read when you know your baby. They will give a clue like a grimace, a shiver or maybe clasping their hands. This is the signal they are about to have a bowel movement. By carefully holding them over the toilet, you've succeeded in eliminating a poopy diaper.
You can accomplish peeing in the toilet (or sink) the same way. Hold the baby over the toilet and gently whisper "psss" into their ear. When they release, continue to whisper "psss" and they will get the idea that the sound is associated with the action. This is potty training for an infant. As with any type of training, dedication, diligence and determination are critical to its success.
Get Them Before the End of 18 Months - Freedom Awaits
The next age cut-off is 18 months. Babies up to this age are open and uncluttered when it comes to toilet training. The association that the diaper equals the toilet is not solidified in their thinking, so you have a great opportunity to help them connect the dots. Following the recommended methods for potty training works well and having a prop, such as a wetting doll, is often very useful.
Reward the child for success and never punish for messing up. Positive reinforcement always yields greater gain and before long your child will be fully day-time trained. They won't want to be in messy diapers any longer and you'll both enjoy the freedom.