1–2 Years

Parents (USA) - - Contents - By LES­LIE GARISTO PFAFF

Tips for early potty train­ing

Con­sider the big pic­ture.

In the late 1950s, more than 90 per­cent of chil­dren in the U.S. were potty trained by 18 months. Kids to­day typ­i­cally stay in di­a­pers un­til around their third birth­day, largely due to the use of dis­pos­able di­a­pers. When cloth was king, the con­stant wash­ing mo­ti­vated par­ents to fin­ish potty train­ing ASAP. At­ti­tudes have also changed: Many pe­di­a­tri­cians now be­lieve that kids shouldn’t start train­ing un­til they are emo­tion­ally ready, some­where be­tween ages 2 and 3.

In parts of Asia, Africa, Latin Amer­ica, and Eastern Eu­rope, par­ents potty train much sooner than that. One study of Viet­namese moth­ers found that all ba­bies used the potty by 9 months and were fully trained by age 2, us­ing a method known as elim­i­na­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion (EC), or di­a­per­less toi­let train­ing. While it isn’t likely to be­come the norm in this coun­try, a grow­ing num­ber of eco-con­scious par­ents are giv­ing it a try.

Un­der­stand the tech­nique.

It’s based on the idea that ba­bies nat­u­rally sig­nal when they need to go. Once you’ve fig­ured out your child’s cues, you can po­si­tion him over a potty and make a sound (like a whis­tle or a hiss) that he’ll even­tu­ally re­spond to by pee­ing or poop­ing on de­mand. You’ll need to phys­i­cally sup­port him be­cause he won’t be strong enough to sit up­right by him­self yet. In China, where EC has been the pre­ferred potty-train­ing method for cen­turies, par­ents may dress their kid in split-crotch pants to sim­plify the process and let him go com­mando un­der­neath. Moms adopt­ing the method in the U.S. tend to sit fac­ing the toi­let as they hold their naked tod­dler in front of them.

Go with the flow.

Elim­i­na­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion works bet­ter for moms who can make ad­just­ments on the fly. State­side, par­ents of­ten mod­ify the tech­nique to suit their life­style—for ex­am­ple, by us­ing di­a­pers when they’re away from home and find­ing a potty may be dif­fi­cult. One strat­egy is to hold your

child over the potty when­ever you’re about to put on a fresh di­a­per to see if she has to go more. You can also try right after she wakes up from a nap or fin­ishes eat­ing. If she has to go, she’ll go, and if not, don’t worry about it. The up­side: You’ll use fewer di­a­pers while re­in­forc­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween the potty and the need to go.

Pay at­ten­tion to signs.

While all kids send sig­nals that na­ture is call­ing—typ­i­cally grunt­ing and turn­ing red while get­ting ready to poop and squirm­ing or crotch-grab­bing for pee—it may take a while to fig­ure out your child’s spe­cific cues and to es­tab­lish a con­sis­tent re­sponse that he un­der­stands. Thank­fully, a tod­dler’s cues tend to be eas­ier to read than a baby’s. You can get in the habit of ask­ing your child, “Do you need to go potty?” and make a pfff noise as he goes.

Stay pos­i­tive.

Don’t be sur­prised if fam­ily, friends, and your pe­di­a­tri­cian ques­tion this potty-train­ing ap­proach. They may think that you are pres­sur­ing your child to per­form. But EC pro­po­nents ac­tu­ally ad­vise par­ents to just ig­nore ac­ci­dents and stay pos­i­tive. You’ll also in­crease your odds of suc­cess if you join a sup­port group—such as the one at di­a­per­free­baby.org—and keep the fo­cus on get­ting in sync with your tod­dler. Sources: Chris­tine Gross-loh, au­thor of The Di­a­per-free Baby; An­drea Ol­son, au­thor of Go Di­a­per Free.

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