Around my daughter’s first birthday she began to hate having dirty diapers. As soon as she had a dirty diaper she would bring me a new one and say, “biaper.” This window only lasted about three weeks and then she no longer had concern over her dirty diapers. But it got my brain turning. When does a parent begin potty training?
I did TON of research (albeit mostly on the web) as to the different methods, the averages ages of: different people groups, decades and countries. This is what I learned in a nutshell:
1. Many cultures use a method of potty training that requires attachment style parenting and these children learn to hold themselves for short periods of time before 6 months of age. I have met parents who have successfully used this method and it is mostly called infant potty training or elimination communication. http://pottytrainingearly.com/potty-training-methods
2. The average American girl was potty trained by 2 1/2, the average American boy by 36 months. (this average seems to changed the last year and a half to average 36 months for BOTH boys and girls)
3. The average child (no gender specification) in 1950’s was potty trained by 18 months.
4. Modern advisers suggest waiting until your child speaks in sentences and can play make believe to potty train, or waiting until your child takes the lead.
My thought and decisions on the above:
1. I travel for a living and cannot possible do elimination communication. When I move to Namibia, I will try it if I have more children since I will be using cloth anyway.
2. ALL my 6 siblings were potty trained BEFORE their 2nd birthday so I was not going to let averages guide my decisions.
3. The American people are no less intelligent now then they were 60 years ago so I set my goal to be 18 months.
4. I already decided that modern parenting experts are silly and create stressful household situations, so I decided against their advice.
I found precious few old fashioned advisers online but many older women who would talk and this is my story after following their advice.
Our little family had 10 days we were scheduled to be at home last fall. That was the longest bracket of time we were to be home close to my daughter’s 18 month milestone. I decided to train then. Before the day approached I bought a wonderful travel potty (mycarrypotty.com). When the day came, I rolled up my carpets (and was VERY grateful to have tile floor!), and let my daughter wear dresses sans diaper.
We went NOWHERE. I began on Monday so we could attend church on Sunday and my husband would be at work during the process. When my daughter woke up I took off her diaper and told her she was a big girl now and that she was no longer going to wear a diaper. (I NEVER put another one back on her either). I immediately put her on her seat and she was SO proud to have her own ‘chair.’
No success on the first attempt.
We read, played and just cuddled on the floor near her potty and she held it. And held it. And held it. For like 4 hours. She knew she was naked and when she was unhappy about it I knew it was time to go. I put her on the potty. She did not go. When I stopped looking at her, she crouched in the corner and started peeing. I CALMLY and SLOWLY picked her up and put her on the potty and said, “pee pee on the potty,” with a positive tone of voice.
This happened MANY times the first day with one or two successes. I felt like she did not really mind peeing on the floor and that she would never get it.
The second day was likewise with close to 50% success. I NEVER scolded her, NEVER freaked about the mess. NEVER moved her quickly or roughly. I would have rather her completely miss the potty than to be afraid to go.
On day three she was at about 80% potty trained (on day four she had 2 accidents but 13 full successes)! We began on Monday and I brought a potty trained girl to church nursery on Sunday. The next 7 days we had a lot of accidents while we were out (mostly because she learned to pee on the potty but was not used to having to wait to get to a bathroom), but I was NOT going to put her in a pullup and by the end of 10 days she was over 90% potty trained (one ever other day or so).
And then we drove about 5,000 miles that month. It was not easy traveling with such a child, and she had a few accidents in her carseat (much more inconvenient when far from home btw!) but all the laundry and stops off the Interstate was worth it.
At first she peed ALL the time. This was understandable because she was used to just peeing as soon as it hit her bladder, but after about 2 months she began going less and then not more often than I go. After the first month accidents were very rare.
Did it take a TON of effort? Yes. Was it inconvenient? Most definitely! Would I do it again? Yes. It is harder work upfront, but then instead of changing a wet or dirty diaper, I am sitting a toddler on a potty. After the first month it is no more work to have a potty trained child than it is to change a diaper. In all actuality it may be less work.