Potty training tips for the science-minded
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Evidence-based potty training tips? There haven't been many experimental studies of toilet training, but helpful research exists. Here you will find information about:
• Signs of toilet training readiness
• What scientific studies reveal about the timing of training
• The anthropology and biology of infant training
• A scientifically-tested method of infant toilet training
• How to prepare reluctant kids for toilet training
• An overview of different toilet training methods
• An evidence-based look at "Toilet training in less than a day"
• How to prevent toilet training problems
When is your child ready to start toilet training? Some experts have developed a list of signs to watch for. For more information, see this article about
signs of toilet readiness.
Many pediatricians and “how-to” authors recommend that you delay potty training until your child is 2-3 years old. This might be the right answer for you.
However, the scientific evidence suggests that some kids might be better off if they began training much earlier. Even infancy can be a good time to start-—if you use the right methods.
Read more about your options and the scientific studies that back them up.
Planning a strategy
Infant potty training is common in many parts of the world. If you’re interested in early training, check out this article on
infant potty training tips.
The article discusses the benefits of infant training, the science of infant bladders, and resources to help you learn more.
You might also be interested in this article about a
safe, scientifically-tested potty training method for infants and toddlers.
If you want to begin training later, I have four more articles for you. First, see these tips for
preparing your child to use the potty.
Dr. Barton Schmidt has written that one of the most common mistakes American parents make is a failure to prepare their child for training. This article offers potty training tips for making toilet training go easier and-—just possibly-—faster.
In addition, see these important
health and safety guidelines for training your child.
These guidelines include potty training tips for making your child more cooperative.
In addition, you might want to check out this
guide to popular potty training methods.
There you’ll find reviews of five major potty training methods. I outline these methods step-by-step, and, where the information is available, tell you what kind of track record each method has.
I also offer a detailed discussion of
"fast-track" toilet training techniques,
i.e., programs designed to potty train kids in a single day.
And you might have heard of diaper alarms. Are they worthwhile?
This article reviews the latest research.
For help fine-tuning your plan, see this
potty training checklist.
And don't forget to visit the library. There are several good books available on potty training. Two of my favorites for kids are:
Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi (Kane/Miller publishing, 1993)
Where's the Poop? by Julie Marks and Susan Kathleen Hartung (Harper Festival, 2004)
Both of these take a "natural history" approach, preparing kids for potty training by discussing where and how other creatures eliminate their waste. Everyone Poops is decidedly more graphic (illustrations show the, er, actual emergence of poop from the body). But the disgusting aspects of the book are probably one reason for its popularity with toddlers and preschoolers.
Content last modified 4/10