Let’s face it, babies and toddlers aren’t stupid. They figure out how to walk, talk, eat, climb, and do everything else. Surely… they can figure out toilet training at a relatively young age if we encourage them? It’s only natural that they would want to stop pooing and peeing on themselves. I recently read an article about a woman who was against putting in any extra effort to toilet train her children and only let her kids toilet train when they were practically begging her. I just about gagged.
My girls were both potty trained, day and night, right around 15 months old. No, I’m not trying to brag and I know that sounds freakishly young! I wasn’t obsessed with toilet training by a certain age, it just happened that way. As soon as I caught on that my babies needed to go (which I did from birth), then I started taking them. Responding to a baby’s elimination needs is called elimination communication (you can read more about it here). I’m not saying that everyone needs to bother taking a baby to the potty from birth, although for me it was an awesome experience. But, I know that both of my kids really REALLY appreciated my efforts.
If a child always has a nappy (diaper) on, it can be very hard for them to know what’s going on down there. So, they should be given lots of ‘nappy free‘ time. Parents should NEVER tell their child that their poo is yucky, gross or smells bad, because to them, you’re implying that something that comes from their body is not nice and they can build quite a hang up around it. Although, you don’t want them playing with their crap either! Even my girls have tried to touch, it (once), but we watched them closely and quickly taught them not to touch it. Also, we have an open door policy in our bathroom, so they know that it’s pretty cool to do your business on the toilet and not in your pants. They never played with the potties or the toilet, because we taught them that that’s where the poo and pee goes, it’s not something that you mess around with.
Time and Effort
Short term inconvenience can mean long term benefits. By hoping on the toilet training ‘train‘ sooner, rather than later, it usually means missing out on a lot of hassle down the track. Kids with toileting hang ups can turn into adults with toileting hang ups… trust me! Of course, some kids toilet train easily, even when the parents wait, but it doesn’t always happen that way! Common advice is to wait until a child is two years old before you start toilet training. But, by that time, for some kids (not all), it may be too late and then toilet training becomes a struggle. First a child is trained to use a nappy, then you have to re-train them to go somewhere else!? It can be a very difficult thing to un-learn! Also, the earlier a child is toilet trained the less money and energy you have to spend on either buying disposable nappies or washing cloth ones! Mother Earth will thank you too.
A Huge Boost in Confidence
Kids don’t want to be hiding in a corner to poo when they are 3 years old. They don’t want to pee in their pants at the playground when they are 4. They don’t want to wet the bed when they are 5. The earlier a child is toilet trained, the less they have to worry about. Everyone knows that growing kids already have a lot on their plate to figure out! Getting toilet training out of the way early on is just one less thing for the whole family to worry about! It’s also important to not do toilet training by using rewards or punishment, rather make it a natural learning process built upon awareness.
But, shouldn’t you wait until your child shows signs of ‘being ready‘?
Many MANY parents I have talked to say that their children started showing toileting awareness around the age of 15 months. Even my own mother said that she potty trained easily at that age because of following her older sister to the loo! But, sadly, many parents ignore their child’s requests because they believe that their child is too young. Then, they wait until 2. Sometimes, waiting until 2 is ok, and the child toilet trains easily. Other times, it’s a nightmare that can go on for years. Sometimes, you have to wait a whole ‘nother year to give a go again so that it will happen easily. So, if a child shows signs of toileting awareness, JUMP ON IT! Don’t wait! The opportunity might not come again later. You’re not going to psychologically harm them if you gently encourage them to use the toilet! Interestingly, a young baby will easily let you know when they have to go, if you know to watch for the signs they need to go… but they stop making those signs around 3 months if their toileting needs have not been responded to.
Does it Really Matter?
Honestly, I had lots of people rolling their eyes at me when I told them that I was taking my kids to the toilet from birth. But, I was doing it because taking them meant everything was cleaner and they liked not having to pee and poo on themselves. Toilet training my kids early, gave me an extra bond with them that I really cherish. Wouldn’t you like it if someone took you to the toilet if you couldn’t verbalize that you had to go?! I know I would appreciate it. Once they were toilet trained, (and it happened at 12 months for one and 15 months for the other), then, all the eye rollers stopped rolling their eyes and instead I had strangers notice that my 15 month old was wearing undies! Now isn’t that nice! Nothing like patting a tiny little bottom in a pair of tiny little undies. I love that 🙂
Here’s a post on doing elimination communication with a newborn.
Here’s a post on doing elimination communication with an older baby.