Are there early potty training dangers?
It is not uncommon to be accosted by Facebook and Twitter posts about other peoples’ children (and if you have kids, admit it: you’re guilty of it too).
We all know way too much about these virtualized children, like when they said their first word and when they took their first step.
But one “type” of post which can lead to an all out war are…
Potty Training posts.
Apparently, gone are the days when most kids potty trained at around the age of three.
Now there is a race to see who can potty train their toddler or infant first and then earn the rights to brag about it on social media.
Potty training before the age of three has been around since the earliest of days, but it has not been so mainstream in western countries.
In fact, it was only after Mayim Bialik (aka “Blossom” from the 90s hit show “Blossom” and “Amy” from the 21st century hit show “The Big Bang Theory”) stated in an interview that she was able to potty train her son before the age of one, that parents began considering the idea.
“Both my sons were wearing underwear by 15 or 16 months,” Bialik shared with Hollywood Life.
To which the rest of us think, “How pleasant!”.
A life without diapers, a life without explosive “all the way up the back” poops, a life without having to add to that gargantuan waste pile that is drifting around somewhere in the ocean today.
But how much do these benefits really benefit our kids?
Are we potty training our kids too early and for our own selfish interests?
A Personal Experience
It was about two years ago when a friend of mine proudly proclaimed that her six month old baby girl had mastered the potty.
“She tells me when she has to go, I put her on the potty, and she goes!” she told me.
When I asked her how a six month old, at that time unable to do little more than drool, babble and cry, could communicate this to her, she said it was all about body language.
“I can just tell, you know? Then she goes, and I praise her like crazy!”
Awesome, I thought while giving my two year old an accusatory side eye.
She showed absolutely no sign of wanting to potty train.
In fact, when I broached the topic at the time, she had clung to her bag of diapers so hard I could only wrangle them free with the promise of sitting through yet another episode of Sophia The First.
At the time, I was jealous.
I was tired of my manicurist finding remnants of poop under my nails and needing to trudge out to the garbage can in the dead of winter (why I didn’t just buy a Diaper Genie, I’ll never know).
But the positive results she had were not lost forever – and apparently, that is incredibly common.
The Experts Agree: Early Potty Training Can Be Dangerous
The mother of six-month-old old diaper-less “wonder baby” got to keep her bragging rights for a little while, but the as baby grew older her “toileting” became problematic.
She would often go for days or weeks refusing to use the potty and would pee in the middle of the floor.
Wetting the bed at night was a constant problem, especially for those parents since they chose to co-sleep and got to bask in urine as a result.
According to urinologists and other individuals who are experts in child development, these are common symptoms of trying to potty train too early.
[Source: Dangers of Early Potty Training]
In fact, a lot of these individuals state that kids under the age of three should not be allowed to “manage their own toileting habits”.
When it comes down to it, infants and toddlers are too irresponsible to handle potty training.
Rather than learn to poop and pee when they need to, what they end up doing is learn how to train themselves to put it off so that they can keep playing for those extra five minutes.
Five minutes turn into ten, ten turn into twenty, and so on.
At the end of the day, you have a child who can put off peeing and pooping for hours – until they can’t hold it any more.
What’s The Problem With That?
Think of the last time you sneezed when you had a full bladder.
It was probably the most frightening moment you had that month, right?
Kids who hold it in for so long risk facing socially embarrassing situations themselves because something like laughing, sneezing or being spooked can cause them to wet themselves.
But here is what is even more scary: when children habitually delay peeing for months or even years, the bladder wall will become more muscular.
While the idea of having a bladder with six pack abs may seem like a good idea, it’s not.
[Source: Canadian studies published in the 1980s]
The stronger it gets, the more irritable it gets and it may eventually just empty without any input from the child.
Kids who train early are also more prone to UTIs, especially our daughters.
In fact, as many as 8% of girls will have a urinary tract infection by the age of 7, and UTIs account for 14% of all ER physician encounters between young girls and ER doctors.
[Source: 2012 study published: Urology]
Finally, there’s the psychological component, being trained to do things simply to please another person even when you may be uncomfortable or feel unable.
Exploring that bag of worms warrants a whole new article, but here’s the short of it: the results ain’t good.
Changing diapers sucks and we all want to find different ways to brag about our kids and tell people why they’re the best.
That’s just what parents do.
But in the toilet training race, it is only the parents’ pride which is winning.
Those who are losing are our confused kids.
If you have the chance, quit the race while you’re ahead. You’ll come out winning in the long run.