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Do you think it’s feasible to potty train children from birth?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on August 28, 2007

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Photo of Lorrie Coffman

“Not from my experience. I don’t think they can understand what you’re asking of them.”

Photo of Tom Gurss

“No. I don’t know how you would ever do it. I just can’t imagine.”

Photo of Zach Flurry

“I think if the parents were willing to stay at home with the children all the time, then it might be possible. But if they are going to take the child to day care or something, then there would be some problems.”

Photo of Laura Swick

“I think it could be feasible. Babies make certain noises when they’re feeling certain things, so it might work out.”

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Comments

manyblessings 6 years, 7 months ago

I have heard of "elimination communication" starting nearly from birth and some claim it works well. I haven't tried it with any of mine, they all potty trained on their own timetable. In 3rd world countries, where they can't afford diapers, babies are often potty trained much earlier than they are here in the U.S. and they think we Americans are strange for keeping our babies in diapers for so long. If you HAD to potty train your child at that age you could do it.

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kugrad 6 years, 7 months ago

I would not have thought this was feasible, but then a couple that is friends of ours stopped by our house and their 13 month old son used the toilet (we have a kiddie potty in there). This surprised me and so I asked and found out they were using the methods described in the article. They also said that this method is commonly used in China (I don't know if that is true, but they are university folks who had researched this before trying it, so it is probably true).

Anyway, it is outside of my expereience, but it could work. I know our child could signal when she needed a diaper change before her first birthday.

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Sean Livingstone 6 years, 7 months ago

Pywacket,

The training normally starts when baby's 2-3 months old. When I say 17 months, I was saying that they're able to go to toilet themselves without any assistance. They are able to control their bowel at about 8-9 months old.... surprisingly, even before they can walk. But it's a lot of effort....

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

Livingstone~ 17 months does seem quite feasible. They should have physical control by then, certainly. But from birth? Loco...

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

matahari~ what were you smoking all night and first thing this morning? You haven't a clue what I'm talking about re the cap/lc issue, and I don't care enough to explain it for you. Not that important.

Enfamil? WTF? I'm a strong advocate for breastfeeding up to weaning. I don't care whether someone ELSE wants a 4-year-old hanging off her waist-dangling teat--bully for her! As I believe I already mentioned (can you read?) I've had friends who nursed their kids well beyond those kids' 2nd birthdays--I just said that's not for ME. Is that okay with you? Too bad if it isn't--mine have been happily weaned for a long time now.

It should be obvious to anyone of reasonable intelligence (wait--there's the problem) that I was speaking of typical US working- or middle-class people who have the luxury of choice in whether to nurse their kids for many years or not. Since I do NOT live in unthinkable poverty and my kids would NOT starve if I weaned them at 1 year or so, there was no reason not to. Most kids will show a natural and growing interest in other foods by that time anyway. Again--if others want to nurse their kids through 3rd grade, I'm not saying they shouldn't--just that I didn't want to.

You're flat wrong about people not having any other place to crap than in the same river from which they obtain their household water. Once people are made aware of water-borne pathogens and the connection between polluting the water with them and becoming ill later, they eagerly adopt more sanitary practices, such as burying fecal matter (so it won't breed flies) in designated areas well away from water sources. One of the main tasks of international physician/healthcare organizations in the bush is to educate people in improving such practices. It's hard to combat rampant cholera and dysentery without stemming the sources.

And (to get back to the original point) since the people in the potty training article are fellow US citizens who should know better, they have no valid excuse for directing infants and toddlers to let fly wherever they happen to be. I stand by that opinion. Now why don't you get rid of that corn cob--you'll feel much better. Oh--and you lose at the "guess the profession" game.

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Sean Livingstone 6 years, 7 months ago

Honestly, I've seen some kids potty-trained at 17 months! It's possible, but again, it really depends on how much effort and time you want to put into this.

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 7 months ago

Yeah and wait until some of these "potty trained" little'uns try to get to the sink or toilet by themselves and end up head first in the pooper.

As the comedian says, "You can't fix stupid!"

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matahari 6 years, 7 months ago

let me guess...... pie whacked wants to be an elementary school teacher! The rest of us KNOW when we use caps or spell a word incorrectly~

You get the message breat=brat derfinately =I am pretty sure envirement=I live here pywaket means absolutely nothing at wikipedia OR urban dictionary~

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matahari 6 years, 7 months ago

some people just suck...in an envirement where the ONLY nutreints may come from breat milk it may be the difference between life and death, but you...pywacked are not open minded or wise enough to consider anything but a can of enfamil, no? I think you underestimate the intelligence (OR granting you a bit of leeway) the education to know such (most any race with common sense defecates in a river, not but ignorance, but by necessity, think about that!~

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matahari 6 years, 7 months ago

in contrast with most question posted on Journal World opinion, this is one of the more thought provoking and intelligent of inquiries~

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matahari 6 years, 7 months ago

yes, derfinately, if you've ever studied cultures where infants and adults roam naked (or near nude) they never defecate in the area they eat or live........

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

Crispian~ Re breastfeeding... I agree with you, although I've had friends who had kids hanging off them forever, it seemed. In my book, if they're old enough to ask for it with a full, grammatically correct sentence, they're too old!

The potty-training-from-birth people are crazy, especially if they're encouraging their kids to crap wherever they happen to be. They are pointing righteously to undeveloped nations where people "train from birth," as if that makes it noble or something. One thing they're overlooking about those shining examples is the rate of fecal contamination in rivers and streams and the rates of such persistent diseases as cholera, dysentery (shigellosa), giardia, hepatitis, typhoid, and other delightful afflictions in those areas.

There are good reasons why the morbidity and mortality of such areas is so high. If people don't know any better than to squat next to the river or allow their kids to poop in it, the resulting high illness and mortality rates are tragic. If people (in the US) do (or should) know better than to adopt such careless practices as teaching infants to squat and poop in the yard, it's idiotic. In the sink??? Puh-leeze...

Can't wait to see the nervous, twitching, obsessive-compulsive results of this early "training." In twenty years, this will be looked at as just another in a long line of stupid fads people embrace.

As experts in physiology are trying to tell these nutcases, babies do not even have physical control until later, so whatever is happening is NOT training.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Potty train infants from birth...how much time would anyone want to spend in the bathroom not ever knowing when.

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Bone777 6 years, 7 months ago

Crispian- Haven't heard ding-a-ling in a while? What a square...

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

When I saw the photo this morning of the first respondent, she reminded me of someone, but I couldn't place who. It finally dawned on me--I think she really resembles Melora Hardin, who plays Jan (Michael's boss & love interest) on The Office. Any Office fans out there get the same impression?

http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/contributor/1800086580

And, by the way, WTF is up with the capped letters being knocked down to lc on speakout? Someone made a passing ref to this the other day.. It's very annoying.

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Crispian Paul 6 years, 7 months ago

Bone777, I haven't heard the word ding-a-ling since I last heard a guy call a girl "keen" and "neato". Thanks for the laugh.

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concernedparent 6 years, 7 months ago

I started potty training my daughter as soon as she turned 3. It took her 4 days, but only because she was ready to be potty trained.

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Bone777 6 years, 7 months ago

Crispian - that is what this Blog is all about...Passing judgement on others. You are a ding-a-ling.

There is a big difference between potty training and potty trained. Start training when the kid knows what you are talking about.
The breast feeding reference was because I know a few 'milk mommas' that I didn't think would ever quit breast-feeding and didn't want to be too harsh in my 'judgement'. I said two, but I should have said 18 months tops.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 7 months ago

I must now revise my answer, based on the information from the related article: "Diaper-free movement grows in popularity" Mr. Ngowi explains that the "diaper-free" movement is founded on the belief that babies are born with an instinctive ability to signal when they have to answer nature's call." All three of my devil spawn were born with that "instinctive" ability. A cute grimace, darling facial contortion, or sometimes just a grin... This would of course signal me to spring into action....

"Honey, here's the baby"

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bugmenot 6 years, 7 months ago

I love the comment that potty training is like being pregnant - you either are or you aren't and there is no in between. This is so true, and the article I read about this whole newborn potty training nonense on CNN quoted every parent involved as saying the whole thing was pretty hit and miss. YOUR KID ISN'T POTTY TRAINED THEN. If your kid is relieving themself and it's not in a toilet it'd better be in a diaper. If you're not sure the toilet thing will happen, put a diaper on.

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luckysgirl 6 years, 7 months ago

Well alright then...train a baby from birth. I would bet the person that came up with this question doesn't have children. What a silly question. My response would have been a good, long belly laugh.

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Crispian Paul 6 years, 7 months ago

Bone777 (Anonymous) says:

Potty training should go hand in hand with verbal communication. "Here is the potty. Go in the potty. Good job, you went in the potty." This isn't rocket science. I have three children and this is how it went for each one of them. Two, unless the child is developmentally disabled, is a little late to start working on potty training. It is very comparable to breast feeding a child after the age of three. I would say two, but I don't want to tick off any 'Nature mommas'. Teeth and breast feeding don't seem to be compatible.

How is it OK to breast feed until three, but two is late to start potty training? Most doctors (I work with kids and have to attend a lot of doctors appts) will tell you a child is not ready to potty train until they can stay dry overnight. That is the indicator that their bodies are PHYSICALLY ready to potty train. Not being physically ready to potty train before two has nothing to do with developmental delays. The same goes for kids who wet when they are in elementary school. Most of these kids' bladders are simply not growing as quickly as they are.
You are entitled to your opinion, but it seems like you are passing judgement on parents of kids who are not beginning potty training before two because that is what you were able to do.

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H_Lecter 6 years, 7 months ago

This should be popular in France where it is not uncommon to see acts of urination and defecation by adults and children in public.

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Bone777 6 years, 7 months ago

Potty training should go hand in hand with verbal communication.
"Here is the potty. Go in the potty. Good job, you went in the potty." This isn't rocket science. I have three children and this is how it went for each one of them. Two, unless the child is developmentally disabled, is a little late to start working on potty training. It is very comparable to breast feeding a child after the age of three. I would say two, but I don't want to tick off any 'Nature mommas'. Teeth and breast feeding don't seem to be compatible.

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Sean Livingstone 6 years, 7 months ago

Training your kid to walk is already a hussle, let alone training her to control her bowel....

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Crispian Paul 6 years, 7 months ago

Strange enough, a lot of research now says that if you try and "force" potty training before a child is ready (the "standard" is usually "can they make it through the night dry?"), it can actually delay potty training. It used to be socially that by two, a kid should be potty trained, no question. However, as doctors and other learn more about kids, there are just as many, if not more, parents who wait until their child is AT LEAST two before even trying to potty train than there are people who attempt to potty train from birth.

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pace 6 years, 7 months ago

Many people unintentually abuse their babies, not from spite but from ignorance. Some examples are not holding the little new born heads right, not understanding what the soft spot was, throwing a baby up in the air,( the brains shift in the skull and brain damage can occur, etc. etc. , , . Knowing what to expect a child to understand is information a parent needs. The hospital and midwifes should hand out child development charts so parents can better evaluate their kids and have an idea about at least average expectations. Knowing child development averages can also help a parent spot problems that might be helped early rather than too late.

I find this question bizarre.

http://www.ask-nanny.com/child-development.html

http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content4/growth.chart/page1.html

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Bone777 6 years, 7 months ago

I think I was trained to potty from birth. According to my mother, I pooped and peed from the get go.....

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The_Original_Bob 6 years, 7 months ago

In case anyone was confused about what Ms.Teen SC said the other day... here is a handy map...

http://www.morningtoast.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads//missmap.gif

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Ceallach 6 years, 7 months ago

sue, that is certainly one of my favorite phrases . . I totally agree w/ Ceal

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Eybea Opiner 6 years, 7 months ago

More likely, the parents will train themselves to anticipate the baby's schedule.

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EasyTiger 6 years, 7 months ago

Sounds to me like just another ridiculous attempt at controlling one's children that's absolutely bound to fail. The kids I went to school with whose parents were the most controlling of every aspect of their lives were the ones who were the most messed up, the ones that ended up trying to get away with anything they could, and ended up being hated by their parents who they ended up hating in turn. Let babies be babies, let kids be kids for God's sake! I'm a man, I've changed many diapers, and I didn't mind a single one, someone's gonna have to change mine again someday, I hope the favor is repaid. . .

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coolmom 6 years, 7 months ago

i think this is loony. my first child wasnt fully trained until age 5 but he does have downs and it took a year of consistant behavior on my part. our second a girl did it in 1 weekend because she was ready. our third child would pull down his pants to pee on a tree but refused to use the bathroom consistantly until he was 4 and for the life of me i couldnt figure out what the difference was lol. our 4th child another girl came to us at age 13 and is potty trained lol but i am assuming not at birth or anywhere close. weird people out there.

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OnlyTheOne 6 years, 7 months ago

Actually the baby is training the parent to watch for certain behaviors and respond accordingly.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 7 months ago

So.... Compared to "pop lock and drop it", "pop a squat" is a different kind of dance?

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blue73harley 6 years, 7 months ago

Yep. I can see it now. Kind of like our leash-free park for dogs...the new City of Lawrence Diaper-Free Park. Too bad about those chiggers though since the same folks that use it will most likely insist it be pesticide free.

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sunflower_sue 6 years, 7 months ago

I totally agree w/ Ceal...it's not the kiddies that are potty trained...it's the parents!

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Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

In days of old, When knights were bold And toilets not invented The'd drop their load By the side of the road And go away contented.

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Ceallach 6 years, 7 months ago

Also, in parks and public restroom sinks??? Ewwwwwwwww. Long live pampers and pull-ups!

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snazzo 6 years, 7 months ago

Do you realize the size of a 14 mo old? Its not exactly tiny, and I agree that I would have a few words for that mother at the sink in a public restroom. There is a toilet right around the corner! I would also wonder about the laws for "cleaning" up after your baby like blueharley mentioned, or laws like public urination. Adults definately can't do it, and we have to clean up after dogs. why? because we DON'T live in the African bush. I wonder if they'll start making "diaper-free" communes where babies are free of the laws of society. ha.

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Ceallach 6 years, 7 months ago

Sounds more like the parent is potty trained. I also catch a hint of "MY" child is potty trained. Check back in 8 or 10 years and see what is produced by this constant monitoring. Our tots may start showing signs of performance anxiety :)

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Stew 6 years, 7 months ago

The ambiguity in the question makes it sound stupid. Perhaps the question should read, "Can one begin potty training at birth?" If one considers taking the child with you when you use the bathroom as part of potty training and not the expectation that the child will go on their own at two months of age, then yes, it is feasible.

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acg 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm sorry but this has to be one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of.

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Peaty 6 years, 7 months ago

I'd be happy if they just didn't have blow-outs ever! What a silly question.

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guesswho 6 years, 7 months ago

This is not the same as potty training. You can be aware of your baby's need to relieve himself/herself - but it needs to be taken care of in a matter of seconds - which is not time to go/find a bathroom, remove clothes, etc. It is just holding the baby away from you or squatting in the grass near the trail. Works in countries where you don't have a lot of clothes to wear or societal norms against public urination.

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trinity 6 years, 7 months ago

used cloth, alm. and yes there is a corresponding article. dunno about anybody else, but if i happened into a public restroom&saw a momma holding her tiny 14 week old infant over a SINK(as the last paragraph in the article talks about) in efforts to have the babe do its business in said sink? holy smoly, i'd definitely have words for that mom! that just ain't cricket!

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alm77 6 years, 7 months ago

Is there a related article? I forget what this method is called, but I know parents who have attempted this tedious form of training. Its derived from native and African (I think) tribes who tuned into their child's signals from day one. My friends philosophy was that diapers teach them to go in a diaper and then you later have to teach them to go in the potty, but the method they used depended on an infant's ability to control his bodily functions. The idea is that this ability is there, but current modern cultures have dismissed it. There was a time when people didn't have Huggies, you know. What do you think they did?

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ralphralph 6 years, 7 months ago

Why is this being asked? It's stupid and shouldn't be attempted. Focus on nurturing them ... sing to them, read to them, play with them, and change them frequently. Potty trained from birth? Good Grief!

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Termcd4 6 years, 7 months ago

Children will be potty trained when THEY decide they want to be potty trained...

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H_Lecter 6 years, 7 months ago

Sure, but you sure go through a lot of duct tape

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The_Original_Bob 6 years, 7 months ago

Feasible? No. Possible? No. I knew a gal who got her son sort of pottie trained* at about 8 months. I don't understand how it would be possible at birth.

Honestly. I can change a diaper in less than 30 seconds. It is really really easy. I've run into some of these "My Kids are Potty Trained." Nice people. Some are my friends. Their houses usually have a faint urine smell to it.

*Sort of pottie trained is like saying kind of pregnant. They either are or aren't.

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blue73harley 6 years, 7 months ago

No but I am pretty sure there will be quite a few Lawrencians who will embrace this loony idea. I envision a bunch of nekkid babies roaming South Park. Question - how are you supposed to pooper scoop baby poop? EWWWww!

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