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Potty Training 101

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Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson gives us the inside secrets for making the pull-up to potty transition.

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The average age for potty training is about 2.5 years, but in countries where people cannot afford disposable diapers, potty training often occurs by 8 to 9 months of age. If it is possible for a child to potty train so young, why do we wait so long?

For moms who rely upon daycare so that they can work, changing diapers is a lot more practical for a day care worker than potty training an infant. Also, American children are typically late potty trainers because we often miss a a window of opportunity. Once your child is about a year old, she has started to form some serious opinions. Control issues are paramount among young toddlers. So if you try to institute potty training measures around the same time that your child is starting to form strong opinions, you will find yourself hitting a wall. Here are my tips:

Top three tips for potty training

  • Give your child a sense of control: Put a potty (or for boys, a training urinal) in the bathroom starting around the first birthday. Don't say anything about it. Your child will figure out very quickly what it is. Initially, kids use potties as toys, storage bins, hats--just about anything other than a potty. Fine. Just ignore it. The first time your child sits (or stands) and attempts to use it, make a big deal. Your child will test you and see if you react to her using a diaper--pay no attention. Give positive reinforcement for using a potty and ignore everything else. Eventually, your child will seek the positive reinforcement.
  • Potty training for pee precedes potty training for poop: Most kids will urinate in a toilet months before they will poop in one. This is fine. Don't push the issue, because if you child has a bad experience pooping (if she is scared, for instance), it can trigger a cycle of withholding and constipation. Tell your child that you will be proud of her when she poops in the potty, but if she can't do it, then she needs to ask for a diaper when she feels the need to go.
  • Their friends count more than you do: Your child knows how to push your buttons, so even if you think you are being sneaky, it is pretty obvious that you are eager to have him use the toilet. Pushing your buttons is fun for your child, and one way to push your buttons is to refuse to use the toilet. But, most kids seek to impress their friends. Invite a potty-trained friend or family member over and, at some point, ask that
    child if they will show your child how to use the toilet. It is not uncommon for the play date to end and for the unpotty-trained child to announce that they want to use the toilet just like so-and-so.

Need to ask Dr. Cara a question? Click here.

Dr. Cara Natterson, author of Your Toddler: Head To Toe is a pediatrician and mother of 2. To buy a copy of her book, click here


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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Vicki July 6, 2008, 12:27 AM

It’s all well and good to suggest a potty-trained little friend or family member over but all our friends have kids younger than mine is.

tabletki na pryszcze April 3, 2011, 7:17 AM

Very interesting info, i’m waiting for more !!! Keep updating your website and you will have a lot o readers


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