Posted by: Charndra at Tribal Baby | November 30, 2009

Who Decides When to Potty Train: You, Baby or Big Diapers?

Kirsten Dirksen wrote this great piece at the Huffington Post:

Who Decides When to Potty Train: You, Baby or Big Diapers?

At my moms’ group a few months ago, another mother noticed my then 2-year-old & 1 month daughter wasn’t wearing a diaper and said, “She’s young to be without a diaper“. Used to hearing this since we’d started her on the pot at 16 months, I just said “oh”. She continued, “Yeah, you potty train at 2 and a half“.

I wanted to laugh at her certainty. My sister had just spent the past year agonizing over whether she’d started too early. A neighbor worries she started too late. A dose of uncertainty seems to be part of the protocol for potty training these days. Part of the problem is moms are mostly given advice like don’t “start it before your child is ready”, “don’t push your toddler to potty train” and “there’s no ‘should’ about it”.

So if you choose not to wait until your 7-year-old asks you to let him wear underwear, you’re left with trying to guess when your child might be expressing a “dawning awareness of when pee pee and poo poo are happening” or quizzes asking you to evaluate: “Your child has been sitting around in a wet or dirty nappy. What’s his mood like?”

Removing the diaper at 16 months

Given all this pressure to let your child find his own way out of diapers, I was a bit hesitant when my mom suggested she begin potty training my 16-month-old during our 2 month visit last summer. But I was buoyed by the knowledge that she had done the same to all 6 of us kids and none of us seemed to be suffering any long-term incontinence or “feelings of failure, inadequacy or general stress” around bathroom visits.

Plus, I knew that it wasn’t just my mother who thought it normal to remove the diaper by 18 months, but most of her generation and those before her. In the 1950s when nearly all kids used cloth diapers, 95% were potty trained by 18 months, but now that nearly 95% of kids are in disposables, only about 10% train by 18 months, and the average age for completion of training has advanced from around eighteen months to thirty-six months and beyond. Given that kids kids go through about 2,000 to 3,000 diapers per year, this extra time hanging out in their excretions adds a lot to our landfills

Continue reading this story…




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