Most parents start potty training when their kids are between 22-30 months old, according to WebMD, but you can actually start them even earlier. Infant potty training—also known as “elimination communication”, “natural infant hygiene”, and “baby-led potty training”—introduces your baby to the toilet at a very early age. According to BabyCenter, infant potty training usually starts between birth and 4 months.
What can you read in this article?
- Infant potty training: Pros and Cons
- How to potty train a baby
- Best time to do potty training
- Signs your child is not yet ready for potty training
- Challenges and accidents during toilet training
Infant potty training isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s the norm in much of the non-Western world, according to Parenting Science. In these countries, diapers are considered unnecessary, and parents leave their baby’s bottoms uncovered. When their babies have to eliminate, parents usually hold them over a toilet, an outdoor latrine, or the open ground until they’re finished.
Today, more parents—especially those who practice attachment parenting—are showing interest in infant potty training for several reasons. Here are some of the pros and cons of infant toilet training.
Teaching a toddler to use the toilet is not the same as teaching a baby to use the toilet. For starters, a 2-month-old lacks the same linguistic skills as a 2-year-old and will never inform you when it’s time to use the restroom.
At least initially, baby toilet training necessitates patience and a certain level of alertness in anticipating potty episodes throughout the day.
But all of that effort isn’t going to save you a lot of time. It’s easier and more practical for some parents to keep their newborns in diapers until they learn to toddle to the toilet.
Let’s look closer to early potty training pros and cons.
Infant potty training: Pros
- You save money on diapers and diaper-related products
- It’s more comfortable for your baby because it spares them from diaper rashes and the discomfort of wearing a diaper
- It brings you closer to your baby because you become more attuned to their needs
- It helps your baby become more independent. When your baby starts crawling, he can go to the potty on his own.
- You don’t produce as much diaper waste.
- Your baby will be more at ease.
- It gives your child the opportunity to express his growing independence.
Infant potty training: Cons
- It doesn’t work for all babies. According to some medical experts, babies don’t know how a full bladder or rectum feels until 12 months, and can only control their bladder or bowels slightly at 18 months.
- It’s very time-consuming and frustrating
- It’s messy. Even if your baby learns to go to the potty by himself, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll never have an accident again.
- For parents who work full-time or don’t have the time to monitor their child’s every facial expression, early training is also difficult.
- It requires a significant amount of time and effort.
- It’s possible that your infant isn’t physically ready for it.
How to potty train a baby?
While some parents start infant potty training right after birth, others choose to wait until their baby is 3-6 months. Here’s are some tips to help you get started:
1. Make sure your child is ready.
Try not to rush the process and start toilet training your child before he or she is ready. Before you begin toilet training, look for these signs of readiness in your child:
- When your kid can sit for short amounts of time and is walking.
- Your child is growing more self-reliant in general, including expressing “no” more frequently.
- When your child has developed an interest in watching others use the restroom.
- Your kid can go up to two hours without changing his or her diaper.
- When your child poos or wees in their nappy, they tell you with words or gestures.
- Your child begins to resent wearing a nappy and may attempt to remove it when wet or dirty.
- When you child’s bowel motions are regular, soft, and well-formed.
- Your child is able to pull his or her jeans up and down.
- When child understands and follows simple commands such as “Give the ball to Daddy.”
Take a break if your child refuses to use the potty chair or toilet or doesn’t get the hang of it after a few weeks. He or she most likely isn’t ready yet. When you push your child when he or she isn’t ready, it can result in a power conflict. In a few months, try again.
2. Pay close attention to your baby’s signals before he eliminates.
You can choose to use diapers while you’re still learning to read your baby’s cues. Babies usually squirm, make faces, breathe heavily, or shudder before they need to void.
3. Hold your baby over a receptacle
When you understand that your baby is about to eliminate, hold your baby over a receptacle. Some parents use bowls or sinks for young babies and potty chairs for babies who can sit up by themselves.
4. Make a noise
While your baby is in the process of elimination, make a noise that your baby will associate with going to the toilet. Some parents use a hissing sound, while others use a phrase like “go potty”.
5. At night, keep a potty by your bed.
Babies don’t usually eliminate during deep sleep and will become restless when they need to go potty. When they become restless, you can put your baby on the potty.
6. You could also use diapers at night, and spare yourself from exhaustion.
Don’t pressure yourself to never use diapers—using them occasionally (e.g. at night or when you’re out) is perfectly alright.
Other strategies to encourage your child during potty training:
- Shower your child with praise. Tell your child straight immediately when they do a nice job on the potty! Give them a high-five or a hug, or whatever else you can think of to keep their spirits up and remind them that they’re doing a fantastic job.
- Have naked time. The basic point is that allowing your child to go naked at home encourages them to use the potty because they are not wearing a diaper. This method may be especially helpful for kids who are still having trouble pulling down their training pants to use the potty. This method may work best during the hot summer months, but it may not work for every child.
Best time to do potty training
Image from iStock
Potty train before bedtime and after waking. It’s a good idea to take your child to the bathroom before bed and again when they wake up in the morning. You could also take them to the bathroom if they wake up in the middle of the night.
Showing children how to go to the potty at regular intervals will help them develop good habits and may also help them avoid nighttime accidents.
To be successful with potty training, she should be dry for longer durations between changes—an hour or two is a good start. And if she’s dry after a nap, that’s a good sign she can hold off on going until she’s on the toilet.
Signs your child is not yet ready for potty training
- Your kid is unconcerned with dirty nappies.
- When your child’s diaper is damp, he or she does not protest.
- There is no interest or awareness.
- Doesn’t take off their clothes
- Your child resists and doesn’t sit on the potty
- They’re scared of going to the bathroom.
- Your method(s) of training are abrasive.
- Make sure you’re not constipated.
- If your child is going through a phase (e.g. shifting from sleeping on his crib to his bed)
Potty-training readiness may differ from child to child. A slow progress does not imply that your child is less capable than others. It’s not the end of the world if your child isn’t ready for potty training. All you have to do now is wait, and when things feel perfect, you’ll know you’re on the right course.
Challenges and accidents during toilet training
An accident or setback may cause children to become upset. If this occurs, reassure your child that it doesn’t matter and that there is no need to worry. Remain calm. Do not scold, discipline, or shame your kid. Prepare yourself. Make sure that a change of underwear and clothing is available, especially if you’re in childcare or at school.
Here are ideas to help avoid accidents:
- Pay attention if your baby says they need to go to the bathroom right immediately. They could be correct!
- Remind your kid that they may need to go if they haven’t done a poo or wee in a while. Your child may be too preoccupied with an activity to use the restroom.
- Determine whether your kid needs to use the restroom during a long play session or before going on an outing. It’s fine if your child doesn’t want to go.
- Make sure the potty or toilet is always accessible and easy to use.
- Just before bedtime, ask your child to wee.
If you want to start potty training your child early, the elimination communication/infant toilet training approach can help – but you must start when they are very young (between birth and 4 months).
Waiting until your child is 5 to 8 months old has worked for some mothers, but most children will be ready at a later age, such as 18 months to 2 years old, if you miss the early window to train by elimination communication.
Updates by Matt Doctor