09 August 2010

Potty Training Introduction

I had found out that I apparently have a much different view on potty training than is popular right now, as evidenced by my 18 month old who has not been in diapers since...well, 4 days ago.

Up until the 80's children were potty trained much, much earlier. Thanks to an increase in disposable diaper popularity and decrease in disposable diaper cost early potty training headed to way of the dodo (the bird, not the bowel movement, eesh people). The average potty training age moved from 18 months to 30 months, with a range of 18mo. - 60mo. The process has also gotten more "child-centered;" waiting for the child to be ready, to express interest, to essentially train themselves. Well, as "themself" is not the one paying for diapers or being inconvenienced by having to change a diaper, why do it? It actually means that they have to stop doing what they want to and take the first step of responsibility for themselves; controlling their own body functions.

Now that being said, I am not an advocate for Elimination Communication (EC), if you want to try that route, go right ahead, but holding a 2 month old newborn over a toilet everytime they frown is not my idea of fun. So I hold the middle ground.

Most doctors and developmentalists will agree that there is a window of time between 18mo and 24mo when a child can easily be potty trained, once that window closes another does not noramlly open again until around age 3. So what does that early open window look like?

1. Physiological readiness - around 18mos the sphincter is fully matured and the child gains control over bowel movements. Usually this is evidenced by a decreased number of bowl movements and sleeping through the night without dirtying a diaper. (Once a child has reached or passed this age you can also help them regulate their system differently if their body has become accustomed tonight time movements with the help of juice and certain fruits and veggies given at timely intervals during the day).

Around 18mo is also when the child has developed some bladder control. He or she may go long stretches with a dry diaper, possibly all night. (All night dryness can be helped along by making sure they drink adequate fluids during the day, and nothing within an hour or so of bedtime.)

*Late walkers may have an issue to overcome, if they cannot move quickly and adeptly enough to get to the potty in time once they realize they have to go.

2. Cognitive/Emotional readiness - by 18mo. most children can control their impulses to a certain extent, they understand some amount of cause and effect, and they can tell you when they need something. Just as they learn to go to the fridge when they're hungry, they can learn to go to the potty when their bladder feels full.

3. Verbal skills - these vary by age, but most 18mo olds are capable of saying potty, pee-pee, and poop; or whatever simple words you'd rather use.

Once all of these are in place it's really up to you when you want to go for it. When Aedyn told me at breakfast one morning "Mama, potty." an I took him and he proceed to not only pee, but also have a bm we started that afternoon.

I don't believe Pull-Ups work. I've heard a number of parents say that their child knows the difference between being in a pull-up and being in real underwear, well, the kids aren't stupid, but children naturally go for what is easier, more comfortable and doesn't interrupt what they are doing. Pull-Ups are made to contain mess, but when underwear and pants are soaked, mom notices right away and the results - time out to go change clothes - are immediate, it's less advantageous for the child to go in their underwear.

So...that's my take, my next post will launch into the past 4 days and how we started and how things have gone so far, see you there!


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