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How early can we start to potty train?

(25 Posts)
2bfather Mon 03-Sep-18 20:13:50

I've just read à very thought provoking article in the Guardian from 2006. It talks about potty training in different cultures and how, for practical including economic reasons, many societies train their infants to wee and poo into a potty from a very early age.

Western society has got hung up on doing this after psychoanalysis theorised that early potty training can mess with your child's head and screw them up.

Does anyone have a view on this? I'm inclined to think that it's not ideal for a baby to poo into a nappy for many months or to have its legs hoisted up and their parent toil over rank smells while they passively just allow it to flow. I'm not squeamish by the way? I'm curious to know if people think it's harmful to gently start the process before the first birthday.

OP’s posts: |
Thesearepearls Mon 03-Sep-18 20:17:26

Oh this is a real hobby horse of mine. The nappy manufacturers persuade us to potty train at a ridiculously late age plus then they convince us the kids need to wear pull ups at night until they're practically in secondary school

<Disclaimer - I am not talking about children with SEN or enuresis problems>

I had mine potty trained by 2 and dry at night by around 2.5. It could have been done earlier TBH.

LurkingQuietly Mon 03-Sep-18 20:18:09

It's not harmful but it would be fucking ridiculous imo. And exhausting. Just be thankful you're not in one of those cultures and let the kids get on with it when they're ready.

Standbyyourmammaryglands Mon 03-Sep-18 20:20:37

2bfather have you actually had your baby yet? grin

RiddleyW Mon 03-Sep-18 20:21:42

I think it’s interesting how culturally driven it is. Personally I see zero downside to doing it late so I did.

I waited for DS to ask for pants (he’d just turned 3) and he’s had about three wee accidents in total (no pooey pants ever). Completely got it no drama.

OhHolyJesus Mon 03-Sep-18 20:22:26

Have posted on similar threads. DS trained in 4 days at 20 months. Bloody proud of him and he did it with my help, very Lucy his idea believe me, I wasn't ready!

As PP I also believe nappy manufacturers benefit greatly by delaying but also I think it makes sense to do it when they are capable (hate the term 'ready') and Loved the Oh Crap method as it worked for us.

As for cultures, some are very attachment parenting, others more about independence but I wasn't bothered about that, more about landfill and the fact that he was wanting to get on with it.

Also, all that talk about boys taking longer or being harder to train. Lots of stats on this I realise but everyone child is different.

InDubiousBattle Mon 03-Sep-18 20:22:36

Anecdotally all of my friends who decided to potty train their dc early struggled, those who waited until their dc were ready had an easier time. I would class under 2 as pretty early and I don't think a child under 1 would really have any concept of it. My d's was 3.5 when we potty trained him and it took a day- into pants in the morning, one or two accidents then literally cracked it by bedtime. My friends who pushed their dc at 2 ended up carrying pottys around with them everywhere, lots of changes of clothes, many accidents etc. I just don't think that changing nappies is that arduous for either parent or child tbh.

svengoren10 Mon 03-Sep-18 20:26:18

Riddley & indubious does that fact he had barely any accidents and got on with it completely fine now make you wonder that you probably could've done it much sooner?

RiddleyW Mon 03-Sep-18 20:28:49

Yes it did me, definitely. But Im not too bothered, it worked well for us. One of my friends has her DD out of nappies at about 2 and we rarely had a day out for about the next year that didn’t involve a change of clothes. I did know someone else who’s DS was completely reliable at 2 though.

NotTired Mon 03-Sep-18 20:31:14

I don't think you can train an under one as such. Some other cultures just spend alot of their time holding their baby over a pot/toilet. Surely if they are having a mammoth cluster feed when they are little you're going to end up peed/shat on.

InDubiousBattle Mon 03-Sep-18 20:32:49

Yeah, he might have managed a bit earlier but I'd tried about 6 months earlier and he'd had many accidents throughout a day so we abandoned it. Tbh seeing so many of my friends struggle put me off making it any kind of battle.

DieAntword Mon 03-Sep-18 20:40:14

Mine was potty trained a couple of months before he was 2. But everyone says you can’t “train” for nights. Just wait for them to happen. Is that wrong?

AssassinatedBeauty Mon 03-Sep-18 20:41:02

It's not potty training it's elimination communication and essentially the parent learns to spot when the child is weeing/pooing and then puts them on a potty. I can only see it working if baby is with a parent full time.

I don't understand why it matters to anyone when children are potty trained, barring neurotypical children not being day trained by school age (4 and up). I trained DS1 when he was about 2.75 years old, over a long weekend. He was sorted in about 3 days and then very few accidents after that. Can't see any issue with that at all. I'll do the same with DS2 unless he shows signs he's ready earlier (or later).

2bfather Mon 03-Sep-18 22:10:47

I must admit the thought of holding a baby over a sink or toilet and waiting for Armageddon wouldn't be my life's fulfilment. I was just wondering if anyone subscribed to the psychoanalytical view that future personality might be affected by our actions at this point. No one seems to have mentioned this though so I'm thinking you all believe that Freudian theory is a bit outdated.

OP’s posts: |
rainingcatsanddog Mon 03-Sep-18 22:29:36

Training before the first birthday is called elimination communication and not toilet training as it's about you noticing that your child needs the loo. The child doesn't actively train so doesn't learn anything.

I have 3 kids and they were trained at 24 months, 34 months and 38 months.

The biggest pro of waiting until they are ready is that their motivation makes it a quick process. They were all dry in 3 days.

I think that kids who are 2 years + have the advantage of being able to take pants off to go to the toilet and can communicate their need to use the loo and wash hands.

I think that my child who trained early did so because of his personality. He has always been paranoid of dirt and as a 17 year old has strong opinions on hand washes and hand creams.

Previous generations trained early because washing nappies was a faff that included boiling them on the hob. Not sure if that's better or worse than using disposable nappies slightly too long

Thesearepearls Mon 03-Sep-18 22:34:11

There is an important issue here though and i kind of wish MN would make a campaign of it

Here;s a headline from the Sun

We're all leaving toilet training too late and a significant minority of children are turning up at school not toilet trained

I blame the nappy manufacturers but still we as parents must take responsibility for ensuring our children turn up at school (at least!!) properly toilet trained.

Harleyisme Mon 03-Sep-18 22:41:51

I don't think there's a one size fits all kinda answer here. It really all depends on the child ds1 couldn't wear nappies after 18 months his eczema was so bad that where he wore nappies he ended up with fungal infections so he was potty trained day and night by 19 months. Ds2 is sn has no idea when he needs to see or poop and will be 5 in octorber. Ds3 potty trained himself at 2 and is dry and clean in day. He will be 4 in November but is struggling to be dry at night. Each child is different and each child has a different time during development when they are ready. I believe waiting for the child to be ready is the best way and easiest way.

Thesearepearls Mon 03-Sep-18 22:48:34


Do you believe that the reception teachers at your DC's schools should be toileting your children? Rather than teaching your DCs to read and write?

Because this is the issue - kids in the UK are being toilet trained way too late. Waiting until they're ready (AKA waiting until the parents are ready, which might really be never) means that a whole bunch of reception aged kids are not even toilet trained. The statistics are ridiculous and somewhat shaming.

Let's make a campaign of this. Let's get our kids properly toilet trained in time for school

Fatted Mon 03-Sep-18 22:49:41

Given that neither of my DS could walk until they were 18 months, I wasn't in the slightest bit interested in potty training until much later on! IMO there's no point in doing it until they can get themselves to the potty and take their own clothes off.

On the point that children are still in nappies when they reach school, is this not perhaps because children are starting school earlier and earlier. DS2 starts nursery school tomorrow and he's 3. There will be some kids in his class who just turned 3 a few days ago. confused. When I started school, kids didn't start until they had turned 5.

Harleyisme Mon 03-Sep-18 22:50:12

No I didn't say that at all. As you can see there s only my special needs child who's not potty trained why because he has zero control. Children without sn are very ready between 2 and 3 years old.

PasstheStarmix Mon 03-Sep-18 22:53:36

‘I'm inclined to think that it's not ideal for a baby to poo into a nappy for many months or to have its legs hoisted up and their parent toil over rank smells while they passively just allow it to flow.’

Have you tried to change a baby’s nappy over the age of 6 months old? Doesn’t sound like it. For starters you don’t lift legs up as they crawl away from you and you end up changing them from behind or in ds’s case while he stands up!

littledinaco Mon 03-Sep-18 22:53:42

Very early training is watching for signs and catching poos and wees in a potty - so you basically train yourself to know when your DC need to go.

Being properly trained is when a child can recognise they need to go, communicate they need to go and are physically able to hold it long enough to get to the toilet.

Children are able to do this at different ages.

I know lots of people who ‘train’ early but they basically watch for their DC doing a ‘wee dance’ or holding themselves and then take them to the toilet. They also spend a lot of time sitting them on the potty/toilet and asking if they need to go. Usually lots of accidents too.

Others prefer to wait until DC are physically ready, know they need to go, can take clothes on/off and go themselves. This usually doesn’t require keeping reminding DC to go or keep saying ‘do you need a wee’ etc. Usually no/very few accidents, not carrying spare clothes about.

There are positives and negatives to both approaches and will depend on your lifestyle and the individual child.

Bees1 Tue 04-Sep-18 20:47:57

Our little one is now 23months and has been potty trained for the past 2months. It’s been really straight forward and whilst every little one is different I really recommend giving it a try early!

Bees1 Tue 04-Sep-18 20:50:08

Ps. Also just to confirm I don’t watch him or wait to see a wee dance from day 2 into training he has said ‘wee wee’ whilst patting himself when he needs and either come and found me or I’ve heard him say that and he’s already half way to the toilet or potty himself.

kenandbarbie Tue 04-Sep-18 21:15:23

I don't think it makes any difference to child development. As long as they're trained by school that's all you need.

I tried ds at 2.5 had to give up weeing and pooing everywhere, tried again 3.5 done in two days no accidents or stress. I would definitely leave it till I felt it was going to be quick and easy.

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