My mother loves to tell the story of how she started potty training me at 6 months, putting me on the toilet seat when I seemed about ready to do my bowel movement. Yes…well while I personally think that is really too young to start the process, I do consider the period between 9-12 months of age to be a quite a good time to start. I see this as the ‘moldable stage’ and a real window of opportunity. By 8 ½ to 9 months old, babies are usually more established on solids and often a pattern in their pooping begins to emerge (e.g., 1-2 times a day in morning/evening). Baby can now sit up quite well on his or her own with minimal support, and loves imitating, attention and praise. So now is a great time to do many things like getting baby used to different foods and textures, as well as starting potty training. Carpe diem!
What are the benefits of beginning potty training early? Tons! Here are just a few:
- Saves on diapers!
- Less messy clean-up for you (remember those smelly poo smeared baby bottoms and diapers?)
- Reduction in diaper rash potential from baby sitting in a moist dirty diaper for too long before you notice it.
- It may be easier to start the process now to get baby used to it, while baby is relatively compliant and more or less happy to sit on the potty (especially if you give a toy, read a book or otherwise distract baby a little if needed).
Some parents may just decide baby is not ready and want to wait till their child is at least 2 years of age before trying, and that’s fine as well. The benefit is that the older the child is, the process of potty training is often much faster (possibly within a couple of days) especially if there is peer pressure from other children their age!
If you decide you want to start potty training sooner, let me recommend starting with the #2s first (the poos) as this is easier to do than trying to work on #1s (urine). You and baby will feel more of a sense of accomplishment and this will also lessen those poopy diapers faster!
(More tips on potty training to follow – stay tuned!)