What are we doing wrong?
I recently read that 80 percent of babies worldwide are potty trained by 12 months after having read time and time again that potty training for most babies starts between 18 and 24 months. Why is there such a discrepancy in the information on this topic? It turns out that North America is one of the few places where it has been made it acceptable for babies to be in diapers up to age, 2, 3, and 4. In fact, it is so much the norm that everybody I know was flabbergasted when I told them about what I had read and even more surprised when I went out and bought a potty for my 11 month old as an experiment.
My test subject is 11 months old, female and primarily cloth diapered. She is generally unaware when she is wet or dirty and unless soaked does not fuss about it.
Infant potty training relies on the parent to pick up on cues from the infant as to when he or she must eliminate his or her bowels. (You might later ask: who is training who here?) Babies generally have a pretty regular pattern and if you can figure out your baby's pattern this will be very easy.
The basic method is placing your child onto the potty at regular intervals and signaling them to eliminate with a "psssst" sound. If baby starts eliminating on his or her own you must make the sound. Baby will associate the sound with elimination and the rest of the world claims within a few days it is as easy as sound followed by a pee or poop in the potty. (Basically use of the potty on command.)
One potty that can support a small infant (as early as 6 weeks according to some material I have read)
One infant (in my opinion contrary to what I have read he or she should be old enough to sit up with little support)
Clothing that is easy to remove from the waist down (avoid the onesies)
Excited to test this theory, I placed my daughter on her potty right after her lunch with a book, I sat with her and made the sound and behold - she peed. I thought, "what a fluke!?!" but I will take it.
We continued on throughout the day still with diapers on but after supper we placed her on her potty with a toy and again I made the sound - nothing, a few moments pass (note: baby thinks this is fun and is smiling and giggling and grabbing and knocking her toys into the side of the potty), and she pees on her own, I make the sound as per what I have read.
We wake up tired and do not place baby on the potty. Daddy feeds baby breakfast to be followed by potty time - Daddy is not interested and evidently baby takes care of business at the table in her diaper. This is why baby's do not get potty trained by age one in North America, it is time consuming and requires a very attentive parent (not me before 9 am).
After lunch baby is placed on potty, noise is made, no performance (even after reading her two books and intermittently making "psssst" sounds). We go out for the afternoon, no potty opportunities but her diapers are well used.
After supper, Daddy feels baby is up to something and Mama_em suggests potty time. Daddy does noise, baby immediately poops in potty and smiles and claps her hands. Success or coincidence?
Today we set out with good intentions and plan to follow the pattern that baby is in. 20 - 30 minutes after a meal or bottle there will be potty time. In addition we will place her on pre and post nap.
Well, baby woke up early for a diaper change and bottle. Did not place her on potty because she seemed too tired and went back to sleep. Woke with a very soiled diaper.
After breakfast, baby was placed on potty and with a "psssst" she peed - hooray! We actually stuck with this all day and she had four soiled diapers including her morning and nap but was placed on the potty eight times and performed seven times including an evening poop as she did yesterday. I suppose it was no coincidence, baby is "trainable."
I have to admit in three busy days that baby seems to grasp what the potty is for and definitely responds to Mom or Dad's cues. She really shows no preference between using the potty or her diaper and both options are equally as much work for Mom in terms of cleanup. I suppose through exposure to the potty she becomes familiar and comfortable with the concept and when she is old enough to understand it, she will be that much easier to truly train.
I use the term "truly train" because this process reminds me of classical conditioning as Pavlov did with the dog, the bell and its food. My baby is now conditioned to eliminate her bowels to the "psssst" sound (better not share any secrets with her) - not true potty training but it sets a foundation to be out of diapers at an earlier age.