• Anon Writer

Why Potty Training should be renamed Potty Re-learning

Typically potty training won't be on a families radar until a child reaches certain milestones which the family have been led to believe are when a child is ready to learn how to use a toilet or potty.

This widely popularised method 'waiting for a child to be ready' is currently the cultural norm in Western countries. The child, however, has been using a toilet since birth - and associates the diaper/nappy as the toilet so when toilet training is initiated it is a matter of re-learning for the child. A process of change, a habit to break.


A nappy/diaper is used as a toilet in the 'readiness' approach.

The 'Readiness' approach to Potty Training is typically a reactive approach until it is perceived that the child is ready to take the initiative to learn or shows signs they are interested in toileting. A baby is not typically assisted with toileting, but changed after their have used their diaper as a toilet. For a baby, the diaper is the toilet and they have learned to use it for this purpose.

Around a century ago it was normal practice for a baby to be 'held out' to eliminate. This method is still used in most countries around the world. In the West the practise most closely aligned with this method has been given the name elimination communication. If you are interested to learn more about the rise of the readiness method, and the change in potty training over the last century, here is a link to our blog on this topic: https://www.pottyplan.com/post/no-nappy-poverty


A lot of people claim development as a reason they hold off potty training.


Hence, at one month, the infant can control his eyes; by two months, his head and neck; by four months, the upper chest, arms and hands; by six months, the trunk and back so that he can begin to sit. Physically, the child who is able to sit without support can control and coordinate his bladder, urethral sphincter and anal sphincter muscles.  By eight months, the child uses her knees for crawling; and finally, at approximately one year, the legs for standing.  Excert from: https://montessoriguide.org/toilet-training-versus-toilet-learning?fbclid=IwAR1XiEhT8EDSfsWCGUk7-KyAuQjGcDvDFJOnXnePI6tb-2ojEADoY_q4M3U

A nappy/diaper is used as a back-up in the 'elimination communication' approach.

Elimination communication is a gentle assisted method of toilet assistance where a baby is offered the opportunity to use a toilet to eliminate in. A parent is able to 'read' a babies cues or needs to eliminate and/or offer at a time when a baby is naturally ready to eliminate. The method brings the use of the toilet into the daily routine in a normal, safe and hygenic way.

One reason potty training can be a challenge for some families and toddlers is the transition from using a diaper/nappy as a toilet to using a toilet is a big change to get used to. Unfortunately, this delay in training has been linked to higher rates of stool toileting refusal, defined as the refusal to defecate in the toilet or potty for at least one month while voiding urine consistently on the potty, with 50% of children trained between 42 and 48 months being considered stool toileting refusers and rising up to 73% in those being trained after 4 years of age, while only 11% of children exhibited stool toileting refusal before 2 years10. It is noteworthy that stool toileting refusal can lead to stool withholding, severe constipation and, if not resolved, primary encopresis11. Moreover, a review of urinary continence has shown that a later age of training is consistently associated with a higher risk of urinary incontinence, and it has therefore been suggested that the modern trend for late toilet training may have caused an increase in enuresis12, but no controlled studies on early versus late toilet training exist to evaluate this hypothesis. A large anonymous survey with over 4000 respondents evaluated factors associated with voiding problems such as incontinence, urinary tract infections and urgency, and found a strong association between these problems and the age of onset of toilet training13. They concluded that bladder-sphincter coordination is not purely a maturational process and can be influenced by toilet training, and suggested that the best time to start this training should be before 18 months of age. Excerpt from: ELIMINATION COMMUNICATION SURVEY by Núria Estrada-Zambrano The process of re-learning where to eliminate for a toddler can be a challenging and unsettling transition. It's important parents understand the options for this process. The most widely taught option is not always the easiest, fastest, or most respectful option for the child. You can learn about a routine approach to elimination communication at pottyplan.com Follow us at @eliminationcommunicationbabies and join our support group for parents. Elimination Communication Babies offers a platform for sharing EC with others. We accept blogs, posts and research to share this technique and educate families about their options.

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