Most parents start potty training when their kids are between 22-30 months old, according to WebMD, but you can actually start them even earlier. Infant potty training—also known as “elimination communication”, “natural infant hygiene”, and “baby-led potty training”—introduces your baby to the toilet at a very early age. According to BabyCenter, infant potty training usually starts between birth and 4 months.
Infant potty training isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s the norm in much of the non-Western world, according to Parenting Science. In these countries, diapers are considered unnecessary, and parents leave their baby’s bottoms uncovered. When their babies have to eliminate, parents usually hold them over a toilet, an outdoor latrine, or the open ground until they’re finished.
Today, more parents—especially those who practice attachment parenting—are showing interest in infant potty training for several reasons. Here are some of the pros and cons of infant toilet training.
Infant potty training: Pros
- You save money on diapers and diaper-related products
- It’s more comfortable for your baby because it spares them from diaper rashes and the discomfort of wearing a diaper
- It brings you closer to your baby because you become more attuned to their needs
- It helps your baby become more independent. When your baby starts crawling, he can go to the potty on his own.
- You don’t produce as much diaper waste.
Infant potty training: Cons
- It doesn’t work for all babies. According to some medical experts, babies don’t know how a full bladder or rectum feels until 12 months, and can only control their bladder or bowels slightly at 18 months.
- It’s very time-consuming and frustrating
- It’s messy. Even if your baby learns to go to the potty by himself, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll never have an accident again.
How does infant potty training work?
While some parents start infant potty training right after birth, others choose to wait until their baby is 3-6 months. Here’s are some tips from Parenting Science and BabyCenter to help you get started:
1. Pay close attention to your baby’s signals before he eliminates. You can choose to use diapers while you’re still learning to read your baby’s cues. Babies usually squirm, make faces, breathe heavily, or shudder before they need to void.
2. When you understand that your baby is about to eliminate, hold your baby over a receptacle. Some parents use bowls or sinks for young babies, and potty chairs for babies who can sit up by themselves.
3. While your baby is in the process of elimination, make a noise that your baby will associate with going to the toilet. Some parents use a hissing sound, while others use a phrase like “go potty”.
4. At night, keep a potty by your bed. Babies don’t usually eliminate during deep sleep, and will become restless when they need to go potty. When they become restless, you can put your baby on the potty.
5. You could also use diapers at night, and spare yourself from the exhaustion. Don’t pressure yourself to never use diapers—using them occasionally (e.g. at night or when you’re out) is perfectly alright.
6. When your baby has an accident—and it will happen, stay calm and relaxed. Don’t make a huge fuss out of it so your baby doesn’t stress out about the process. Stay positive and help your child feel good about going potty.