Potty training is sort of connected with anatomy and pain relief. I have a thing against diapers. They are bad for a baby’s hips (the nod to anatomy), hard on the pocketbook and a capitalist conspiracy all rolled into one.
When my daughter was six months old my wife read a book called Diaper Free Before Three. In the introduction to the book (and I am paraphrasing big time as it was eight years ago and I might even be making it up) the author Jill Lekovic refers to the child centered approach advocated by a doctor, T. Berry Brazelton in 1962. Brazelton suggested that children would let parents know when they are ready to be potty trained.
I’m not sure if there was a connection but Pampers just happened to come on the market the year before and there was obviously a lot of money to be made parents avoid a potty and babies stayed in diapers for a good long time.
Anyway, my wife mentioned this to me the same day we happened to be in a Target store in Brooklyn and I noticed a potty on the shelf. When I picked it up to look at it the first thing that caught my eye was the warning, Not For Children Under Three. I found that to be so annoying because there was obviously no possible danger for a baby to be around a potty so there was absolutely no reason for the warning to be there. It wasn’t likely that my daughter Ida could swallow the thing, or cut herself. Maybe the manufacturers worried that she would use it as a hat and be ridiculed for the fashion statement.
So we bought it. And the next day after Ida woke from a nap we placed her on the potty and lo and behold, out came a stream of pee. And then poop. I’ve had a number of dogs in my lifetime and housebreaking puppies, unlike what most people think, is a ridiculously easy task. Just like children, dogs eat and need to go to the bathroom almost immediately. And when puppies wake up from sleeping—they need to go to the bathroom immediately.
My wife and I don’t do anything too religiously so the potty sat in the bathroom and we used it a number of times a week but weren’t nuts about it. Ida was out of diapers just before she turned two. When her brother Reggie was born he was on the potty after a day or two. It is some simple stuff. Again, babies are like puppies. They need to go to the bathroom right after eating and waking up. If you use that as your mantra, your baby won’t have any resistance to the potty, they won’t even know they were using it.
Reggie was out of diapers at around the same time as his sister and conventional wisdom says that boys are much harder to train that girls. Not only that but there was no cajoling or bribery involved. We didn’t need to offer one M&M for peeing and 2 for pooping as so many people do. We have never been big on bribery as a parenting method to begin with, but this technique always struck me as inane.
So if you have young children, or are expecting, do yourself a favor and make sure you have a potty on hand as soon as you can. It will make your life and your child’s life so much easier, and cheaper.