Early Potty Training
I started my 4 month old on the potty and he just loved it - all the excitement and recognition he got for going. Introduce your baby early to the potty and your child will recognise the potty just like they do a bathtub, a high chair, or a car seat. Why should a potty be any different to any other tool you use to raise your child? They actually learn what muscle to use to expel waste, where a nappy takes this sensation away. You can either teach your child to go in their nappy, or teach them to go on the potty or toilet. Either way they are going to go, one is just more pleasant than the other.
Late Versus Early
With the challenges I experienced toilet training a 2.5 year old, I decided that waiting until your child is so-called "ready" after the age of 2 may not be the best method after all. With my first child, I did everything by the book, as most first-time parents do. Everything I had read up until then, combined with like-minded parents (who were all told the same thing), spoke about waiting until your child was 2 to begin toilet training. This was deemed normal, and if you tried to toilet train your child before this time, then you would create all sorts of psychological problems. Personally, having experienced both toilet training late and potty training early, I can see how you can easily create bad habits and difficulties with your child, when you are battling with a 2 year old and their strong will. At 2 years old, a child can say NO really well!
It appears that problems arise when parents force their children into toilet training, ie. Trying to get them to sit on a toilet when they are opposed to it, etc. Subsequently, the "wait until your child is ready" theory, is emphasised to prevent this problem from occurring. The fact that force could even be a possibility indicates to me that maybe waiting until your child is older to toilet train isn't necessarily the best way to go. I know personally, I was scared of breaking this "no toilet training before 2" rule, because of the fear "the experts" created telling me I could adversely affect my child. We all want what is best for our children, and so because I had no one telling me any different, I never thought to question it. If I had actually thought about it, and put myself in my child's shoes, how unpleasant must it be to go to the toilet on yourself?
Is Your Child Ready?
At 2.5 years old Mya didn't want to even sit on a toilet. Listening to the experts, her actions could highlight to me that she wasn't ready, because she was defiantly refusing to go to the toilet. Once I changed my methods though and used the right tools, Mya was toilet trained in 3 days. The fact that it happened so quickly once I used the right methods indicates to me that I can't really rely on that theory. She could do it, she was ready, she just didn't want to. If we waited for our children to "be ready" to eat their vegetables, use their manners, go to bed at the right time, etc then we would have children without boundaries. We need to be the mentors for our children, not the other way round. You need to decide if you as a parent are ready.
The question I was asked before I even had my baby was, disposables or cloth nappies, there was never any other option even considered. Putting your baby on the potty or toilet is totally absurd to the majority of the population, and I was one of them.
After reading Early-Start Potty Training by Dr Linda Sonna, my thinking was completely changed. In the first two pages it spoke about a toilet trained 4 month old that used only one nappy a day. My second child Ky, was 4 months old at the time. It just made sense to me. I started to use the principles outlined the very same day. Within a matter days, Ky was going to the toilet on the potty. He is now 9 months old, has full bowel control and last week he had 5 dry nights in a row. He actually wakes up to go to the toilet – every single time to do poos, and is now starting to for wees as well.
In my research to discover more information about toilet training a 4 month old, health professionals told me that not only will I create all sorts of physical and psychological problems with my baby, it also was just not physically possible for a child under 2 years old to "hold on" to be toilet trained. Ky is one of the happiest, most contented babies you could ever meet. Where Ky started out weeing every 25 minutes at 4 months. He now averages every 1-2 hours while awake and longer when asleep (5 -10 hours). I am no Health professional, and my son is only one case study, therefore no accurate statistical evaluation can be drawn from this event, but Ky ignored the theories told to me and physically proved something different.
I shouldn't have been surprised though, because my niece was completely toilet trained by 12 months. She started walking at 9 months and was out of nappies, nighttime as well, by 1 year old. I remember at the time, I just dismissed the possibility of my child doing it, because "she was just one of those amazing, advanced children", and therefore not everyone could duplicate the same abilities. My little girl didn't walk until 14 months old. But I guess what it highlights to me now, is that it is possible, not just for the bright ones, and I am discovering parents every day with similar stories of toilet training their children by 12 months.
My sister started toilet training her twin boys at 14 months, to be totally out of nappies by 18 months, night time as well. It does appear that children can in fact hold on before the age of 2.
For anyone who thinks like I did in the beginning, "my child wouldn't be able to do that, only certain children have the skills", we often underestimate our children and their capabilities. Ky is certainly not advanced in any way. In fact, he was born prematurely at 34 weeks, being 6 weeks early. While there were only limited complications, he was in Special Care in hospital for around two and half weeks to fatten up his tiny 2kg frame, before we could take him home. So while most babies are awake and developing skills, premmies sleep – a lot in the beginning – so he took a little longer to smile, roll over, etc. So if Ky can learn how to go to the toilet, any child can. Being taught from the beginning, he just doesn't know any different – he knows what a potty is, and he knows how to use it.
- You become more attuned to your baby and your baby's needs
- No nappy rash
- Save money on nappies
- More comfortable for your baby being clean and dry
- Teach skills to your child that creates confidence and independence at an early age
- No more changing poo-smeared bottoms
- Your child learns to use the right muscles to go to the toilet to avoid problems later (often trained out of them using a nappy as they lose the sensation of wetness, etc.)
- Create the desired habit from the beginning. Rather than teaching one habit, unlearning that habit, and then teaching a new one.
- Your baby is taught that using a potty or toilet is the normal event – not going in their nappy. Subsequently, there is no force required, it is just second nature. It is just like being placed in their high chair, a bath, or a car seat. They know what a potty or toilet is used for.
- Better for the environment - landfill, etc.
- Avoids the problems associated with toilet training later
- Fear of going to the toilet
- Not knowing which muscles to use
- Not understanding what to do
- Only wanting to go in their nappy because that is what they have done for so long
- Not able to read their own body signals
- Not able to relax to allow their body to go to the toilet
- Increased risk lack of bladder control, infections and increased urinary frequency
Are you Ready?
Starting your baby on a potty obviously employs different methods to a 2 year old toddler, and can require more involvement as a parent initially. Basically you have to be ready for the extra work involved with toilet training earlier, (whether you child is 2 months or 2 years) because let's face it, it is a lot easier to let your child go in their nappy. Unfortunately the nappy does make us lazier and less diligent, versus having the urgency of getting your child to a toilet in time or they will wet their pants. For this reason, only do this if you feel you are emotionally and mentally up to it. I started Ky at 4 months because that is when I first found out about the process. At this age, your baby has head control, which makes propping them on a potty easier. Maybe you feel more comfortable waiting until your child can crawl, or can show signs of communication. This is why it is entirely up to you as parent. Your child will still regularly wee and poo every day, so they are ready when you are.
By starting the extra work now, it will save so much in the future – both time and money. Just imagine - you could still save a year or more of nappies, not to mention having a more comfortable baby. By the time your baby can communicate, they already know the why, the where and the how for using the toilet. There is no old habits to break and no new ones to learn like it is starting a 2 year old. No bad habits are established, and it is a gradual process with an obliging child that is looking to you for teaching and mentorship for all areas of their life. A 2 year old is still doing this obviously, they just have an opinion now, with ingrain habits and beliefs, that can be used to employ different methods to refuse your requests if they don't entirely agree with you.
Where to Start?
Early-Start Potty Training by Dr Linda Sonna, is an invaluable resource for any parent wanting to toilet train their child. The book is so easy to read with great hints and tips throughout and relatable stories beginning each chapter to help illustrate the topics discussed. Whether your child is 1 month old, 1 year old or 2 and over, Early-Start Potty Training dedicates specific chapters to cover every age group eg. Lessons for Infants (0 – 6 months), Lessons for Babies and Young Toddlers (6 – 18 months), Lessons for Toddlers (18 – 24 months) and over 2 years old. By doing this, Dr Sonna provides dedicated techniques for parents to use, specific to each age group discussed. This makes it a must for the parenting bookshelf. A common scenario is parents with a toddler and a baby on the way, it is an excellent resource that can be used for both children, making it very versatile and great value for money.
Early-Start Potty Training just makes so much sense, you are left with the question, "why didn't I think of doing this before"? The methods and techniques discussed, from potty training a baby to toddler bedwetting, are easy and relatable, allowing you to start with your child as soon as you put the book down. Dr Sonna cleverly uses factual information combined with historical data to provide a greater understanding of "why" something should be done, to back up the suggested techniques and methods.
This book will change your life and your child's.