Potty Training Your Infant Is An Exercise In Futility‏

By  | 

baby on potty

After so many months and years or changing diapers, most parents are understandably thrilled to get their children potty trained. The extra room in the budget after eliminating diapers plus, the freedom of a child that can take care of business on their own is all incredibly enticing for a parent. However, research would suggest that starting potty training too early is usually an exercise in futility. Often, you end up spending a longer time potty training rather than having a young toddler who is totally proficient.

A Reddit user asked the parenting forum about sitting her 14-month old on the potty. As a “seasoned” mom who has potty trained two kids, I will cop to rolling my eyes. It just seems silly to start so early:


Some users were encouraging and others questioned why she would keep the baby’s clothes on. I just thought it sounded like a totally pointless endeavor. When my kids first saw the potty seat around age two, they were excited about it and it was novel. If I brought it out when they were barely over a year old, I know they would have gotten used to seeing it to the point where they may not be interested when the time came to really use it. Research shows that it is best to wait until a child is over two years old, providing they show signs of readiness. From ABC News, information from a study on the ideal age to begin potty training:

A new study suggests 27 to 32 months is the ideal window for moving your child out of diapers. Children who were toilet trained after 32 months were more likely to have urge incontinence — daytime wetting and bed-wetting — between ages 4 and 12.

And potty training children sooner than 27 months generally doesn’t work either, according to background information in the study. Prior research has shown potty training too soon just prolongs the process.

From the moms I know, I can safely say that second part is true. Starting very early may work with a small number of children but for most, it just means a much longer time spent potty training. We tried training our first child right around age two and while she got the general idea pretty quickly, it was a good six months before she was totally proficient. Our second child, we decided to wait until he showed more signs of readiness and not just blindly start because he was a certain age. Around two years and eight or nine months, he began going on his own at daycare. He was out of diapers and in underwear full time after only a few days and never had accidents afterward. We are convinced that if we waited a little longer with our first child, we could have avoided those months of frustration.

Of course, all babies and toddlers are different. Some might be truly ready at a very early age, and more power to them. However, the most important thing for parents to keep in mind is that they have very little control over when that “ready” age will be for their child. It seems like a lot of parents get caught up in what age a child should be ready instead of waiting to train until their child is ready:

“Many parents approach potty training as something over which they have total control,” Stavinoha said. “Parents are a big contributor to their child’s development, but they don’t really control it. Parents are there to facilitate, to guide, to reinforce and to praise, but parents shouldn’t put pressure on themselves that if they do a series of steps, the children will achieve a certain outcome.”

This sums it up nicely. Parents should not beat themselves up if their child takes a little longer than they expect but they also should not initiate training very early if their child isn’t showing they are ready. You can’t force it (you can’t really force anything on a toddler, honestly) and it’s best for all parties involved to just wait for a more reasonable age along with the signs of potty training readiness.

(Image: Shutterstock)