In the past I've talked about the trend toward later and later potty training and the role that the diaper industry has played in persuading parents that waiting is a good idea. After all, the longer children are in diapers, the more money they make! To help reverse this trend, The Baby Sign Program (that I teach) show us that uses signing to enable babies to signal the need to go long before they have words is helpful. In fact, our goal is to help parents get their children trained by age 24 – 30 months.
But are children “ready” that early? The question arises because parents
frequently hear that it’s best to wait until a child is “ready” for
potty training before beginning the process. But what exactly does the
term “ready” mean? For the answer we turn to the American Academy of
Pediatrics’ (AAP) Guide to Toilet Training (2003). According to the AAP,
parents should watch for readiness in three specific developmental
domains: physical, cognitive, and emotional. Over the next few postings,
we’ll take a closer look at what’s required in each case starting with
According to the AAP, in order to actively participate in potty training, children must be physically able to:
• Sense when they need to eliminate
• Delay elimination long enough to get to the potty
• Sit independently on a potty chair
At what age do these skills typically appear? This is an easy question
to answer based on the information about the history of potty training I
described in my posting last week. If you’ve had a chance to read that
entry you may remember the fact that before the invention of the
disposable diaper in the early 1960s, children in the United States were
routinely trained by 18 months! Is there any reason to suspect that
children have changed so radically over the last 50 years that they’ve
completely lost these physical abilities? Obviously not! If that was
the norm up until the 1960s, then clearly children today are physically
ready for potty training well before age 2.
In other words, it’s simply a cop out (as my son would say) to use a
lack of “physical readiness” as an excuse to delay potty training until
children are 3-years-old.
Linda Acredelo Baby Signs Founder and Child Development Expert has many books out and great information on this subject and other parenting tips.
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