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Potty Training: How Young is Too Young?
Laura Jana, MD posted:
For many parents, the stress of potty training involves worrying that you've waited too long. For others, your child may seem to lag behind others in mastering this highly prized skill. Given the pressures to potty train, it makes sense that parents wonder how to get a jump start on achieving this milestone.

I'm all for introducing young children to the potty and the associated potty training paraphernalia and routines sooner rather than later. But when I say sooner, I'm thinking of one-year-olds, not babies. When I see stories about the successes of potty training infants, I have to admit that it leads me to this question: How young is too young?

In the United States, we used to have a very different approach. Until the mid-1950s, potty training commonly took place in the first year of life. Potty seats were a common first (rather than 2nd) birthday present, and a vast majority of kids were successfully using them by no later than age 2.

Today, parents are expected to be more patient, and aim for potty training success sometime between the ages of 2 and 3 years old. Even then, pediatricians will often offer reassurance that not all kids are developmentally ready, willing, or able to use the potty.

So where does this leave us in answering the question of how young is too young? The answer depends on a couple of factors.

First, there's a difference between accomplishing the task and introducing your child to it. I'm all for immersing one-year-olds in a positive approach to potty training that includes giving them a potty seat, emptying dirty diapers into the toilet, letting them flush and reading books and talking about the process. I just don't expect them to master it yet. I think another important factor is to reframe the question and ask if you can potty train infants, or if you should.

It is possible to pay very close attention to a baby's subtle cues and potty train months or years ahead of other youngsters. I personally think it's not worth it, and parents should undertake potty training once children are developmentally ready.

I suggest that the extra time and attention you considered putting into potty training is far better spent bonding with your baby instead -- talking, singing, walking, playing and reading.

What are your thoughts on potty training readiness? How soon is too soon? Share your approach and experiences with potty training here!

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