October 8, 2005

The eco-friendly baby.

A 7 month old infant already out of diapers? Yes!
For many parents in the United States, the idea of potty training before a baby is able to walk, or even before age 2, is not just horrifying but reprehensible - a sure nightmare for parents and baby, not to mention a direct route from the crib to the psychiatrist's couch. But a growing number of parents are experimenting with infant potty training, seeing it as more sanitary, ecologically correct and likely to strengthen bonds between parent and child.

You better get your baby in line with the eco-virtues.


Jennifer said...

My mother in law just passed on a similar article to me as well.

Maybe my experience was abnormal, but for the couple of weeks we were potty training by 2 year old - potty training was all consuming. I can't imagine choosing this as the one thing you want to focus on with your infant.

I guess to each his own!

Mom said...

From what I can glean from the article, these babies aren't out of diapers because they've learned to control themselves. They're out of diapers because their parents have taught themselves to focus so intently on the child's elimination habits that they can grab the potty, quick, at the first subtle sign that baby has to go. In other words, it's the parents who are toilet-trained, not the babies.

It's hard enough for a new parent to find the time and energy to meet a baby's needs, without obsessing every minute of the day and night over the state of baby's bowels. Both child and parent, I think, will enjoy life a bit more if all that energy goes into building a block tower together, or singing a song, or reading a board book, or playing patty-cake.

EddieP said...

OT, but we have neighbors that potty trained their cat!

Jennifer said...

MrsWhatsit: I think you're exactly right. Unfortunately, it seems like lots of parenting theory these days is focused on having the "winning" baby. This too smacks of bragging rights to me.

Condoleesa said...

I have 3 sons. The youngest is 7 and the oldest is 23. If I had it to do over, I think I would try this way.

k said...

My Chinese relatives all think we are barbaric because we don't potty train early. On the other hand, they all employ full time nannies who are there all the time to do the training. And mrswhatsit doesn't get it, imho. When you're potty training, whether at 5 mo. or 2 yr., that is all the parent is doing... monitoring its child's elimination habits. And you are deluding yourself if you believe otherwise. The key word? TRAINING. I am not sure it is "natural."

I am sure someone will talk about my credentials. OK. I had four children. One was potty trained for all #2 by 19 mos. Another, never wet at night after about 1 yr. The others.. somewhere in between. So I think it is very individual, but as a full time working mom thru all of this, I do believe strongly that if you had all the time to spend, you could train this early with no problems. I couldn't... but I didn't have the time.

So. Just ask a Chinese amah for help. She knows how. I have heard them and seen them with those little ones. It works.

bearing said...

We've done it. We got lazy and drifted back into diapers, but it worked *great* for about 8 months, when we were doing the cueing and pottying, that is.

Interestingly enough, the child we "trained" at birth, then "got lazy" about, abruptly toilet trained himself at 22 months. The other one, the diapered one, didn't toilet train until 3 years 7 months. Anecdotes, data, yadda yadda.

Jennifer: What's difficult and all-consuming with a 2-year-old is not necessarily difficult and all-consuming with an infant. Not every parent's lifestyle admits this, but it is surprisingly pleasant --- compared to years of diapers.

Jennifer said...

bearing: Potty training wasn't difficult - it was just all consuming. Watching him for every little cue and making sure he wasn't sneaking off to pee or poop takes up a lot of time that we could have been doing other things in.

If anybody's lifestyle would be conducive to this, I guess it would have been mine. My husband was away for the first 5 months and I wasn't working. It was just me and the little man 24 hours a day. I still can't imagine choosing his bathroom habits as the thing I really wanted to focus on with him.

I suppose I haven't done it, so I don't really know what it would be like. But this seems a lot like the whole infant sign language thing. It just seems like something you want your kids to do so you can tell everybody about it.

Who needs their child to learn sign language to figure out when they're hungry, bored, whatever? Kids communicate pretty well through all sorts of means if you bother to pay attention to them. Sign language just seems like a notch in mommy's belt.

By the same token, who cares if a 7 month old is peeing in a toilet or a diaper? Someone who wants to prove their child is ahead of everyone else I guess.

Jennifer said...

Rereading, that last line seems rather catty. I guess every parent has different things that are a priority to them. Better to focus on your child's well being - however you define it - than to not.

Paul said...

Oh, Bother. I was having too much fun with them to think about it until, you know, I had too.

Simon Kenton said...

There is a book called "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day." Works. Each son, 8 hours; daughter 6. I just sent my wife out for the day, and when she came back it was finished. It is assuredly not to be practiced on infants; kids in the 18 - 22 month range: mobile, talking some and comprehending much, obedient. When you are done, you are done - no more diapers, no more thinking about it. The kid decides when ready, goes in to the bathroom, undresses, pees or shits, cleans herself up, dresses, empties the potty in the toilet, flushes it, puts the potty back in shape, and comes back to whatever you were doing.

If we get grandkids, I may just take care of it for the parents.

Joe-Bob says check it out.

Henry said...



I'd be willing to try the infant approach. Too late, though.

somross said...

We did the "Toilet Training in Less than a Day" 26 years ago for my oldest child. (I was in grad school and the 2 year old was accepted at a university day care center with the prerequisite that he be toilet-trained.) It worked well enough but our only bathroom was upstairs, a long walk for little legs. As I recall it involved lots of orange soda, M & M's for rewards, and an anatomically correct doll for demonstration. I think he tossed the doll down the stairs after about the sixth trip. We went the more conventional route with the next two kids.

amba said...

Eddie, OT, one of my cats -- this nutcase -- potty trained himself. He just watched, listened, and imitated. He gets it right down the middle, tinkling sound and all.

Mom said...

I'm not sure what there is to "get" about this. Toilet-training a two- or three-year-old can be all-consuming, but it doesn't have to be. It depends on the parent's approach, and even more on the individual child. My first child left diapers behind completely at the age of two-and-a-few-months, pretty much all by himself. All it took was a casual suggestion that he might like to try it. We tried that approach with his two younger sibs, but it didn't work. Instead, they learned as a slow, natural progression over a period of months, each at around the age of three. During that time, we weren't any more consumed by toileting than we were by any of the dozens of other language, social, and self-care skills that the kids were picking up at the same time.

I guess if a parent is profoundly repelled by diapers, this train-the-parent approach might make sense. But I'm with Jennifer -- that first year is so short. If I were in the midst of that brief time with a baby right now, bowels just aren't what I'd choose to spend it on.

bearing said...

If I were in the midst of that brief time with a baby right now, bowels just aren't what I'd choose to spend it on.

OK, think of it this way:

"If I were in the midst of that brief time with a baby right now, diapers just aren't what I'd choose to spend it on." Works both ways.

Some kids, not all kids of course, hate --- really hate --- being diapered. You know the kind --- squirm and scream and fight during the whole diaper change. That kind of child, it's easier to go diaper free with.

And some kids hate --- really hate --- being wet and soiled. They don't want to sit in their own feces and urine for even a minute. (Can't say I blame them.) For those kids, it's a kindness to go diaper free.

Some children are easy going and they don't really care what you do to them, hygiene-wise. Both of mine were like that. So we sort of drifted in and out of diaper-free, doing whatever made the most sense at the time. That worked for us.

Jennifer --- it had absolutely nothing to do with bragging rights. I find it pretty silly to moralize about what people do with their baby's poop. Of all the supposedly "natural" options there are out there for baby care, this one is maybe the most about just picking what's easier or most appealing for the parents.

I mean, nobody likes diapers; isn't picking a diaper method mostly about minimizing trouble? Some think disposables are easier 'cause you don't have to wash 'em, some like cloth 'cause they don't go in the landfill, some pick whichever costs less or minimizes diaper rash; getting rid of diapers altogether, as soon as possible, solves all these problems. Thassall.

knox said...

All these comments, with a wide range of opinions, and not one parent made the decision on how and when to potty train their child based on the environmental impact of diapers. The article's suggestion that anyone should or would is absurd.

As a new mom, I can't imagine trying to anticipate every time my son is ready to pee, especially since his diaper is almost always wet, no matter how often I change him! Just the thought is overwhelming.

Bruce Hayden said...

I find the idea of perfect parenting interesting, esp. after finishing Freakonomics. There, the author pretty well debunks that parents can really help their kids that much trough parenting (but, obviously can hurt them). See my comments on that chapter.

buginthesnow said...

to Jennifer who wrote:
By the same token, who cares if a 7 month old is peeing in a toilet or a diaper? Someone who wants to prove their child is ahead of everyone else I guess.
Everyone should care, because by the age of 3 this child would spare the Earth a ton of diapers. Early training works. I've done it twice.