Potty Training Age: Infant, Toddler, or Preschooler?

Toilet with Sesame Street Potty SeatEven though my baby has not yet been born and is not yet in diapers, I have already begun thinking about the right potty training age. When to start potty training often depends on the individual child. For example, my mom potty trained me when I was around a year old. I took only one day to learn to use the potty. Sure, I had a few accidents here and there, but I pretty much got the idea of using a toilet after only a day. With my baby brother, however, the right potty training age seemed to be never. He was not fully toilet trained until he was almost four years old. In either case, though, the age to start potty training was after infanthood.

Some parents, on the other hard, are teaching their infants to go potty on the toilet. Elimination communication is an early form of potty training that forces a parent to pay those attention to the cues that mean a baby is about to relieve him- or herself. In many parts of the world such as Africa and Asia where disposable diapers are largely not available, elimination communication is the norm. Therefore, in large portions of the world, the potty training age is right after birth. When to start potty training is not even a question. These mothers must pay attention to the toileting needs of their children or risk getting peed or pooped on.

I, luckily, live in an area of the world in which disposable diapers as well as the resources to regularly clean cloth diapers are readily available. So, the question of the right potty training age is still a concern for me. Should I begin teaching my baby to go potty on the toilet when he or she is a infant, a toddler, or a preschooler?

Because I plan on working part time, elimination communication could be an option for me and my baby. Although I do not think that I would be willing to commit to a diaper-less baby all the time, I do like the idea of paying attention to when my baby needs to poop. If I can get my baby to the toilet in time, I would have a heck of a lot fewer poopy diapers that would need to be changed. And fewer poopy diapers is a plus in my book. However, as I said, the right potty training age largely depends on the individual child. For all I know, I could have a child whose toileting cues are unpredictable and difficult to read. Nonetheless, infanthood might be when to start potty training my baby. I am definitely not ruling anything out this early in motherhood.

Update: When my daughter started eating solid foods at six months old, we started putting her on the potty when we noticed that she needed to poop. Now at almost nineteen months old, she uses the potty to pee every morning as well as at other times. She is definitely not potty trained, but I am sure that potty training will be easier because of elimination communication.

Originally written on July 23, 2011

Image Credits

Toilet with Sesame Street Potty Seat © 2012 Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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