Five Reasons to Put off Potty Training

Five reasons to put off potty trainingThe diaper-free utopia I was promised when my children potty trained has not come to pass. Instead, I have traded expected, contained messes for ambush, freestyle messes. I am no longer friends with the Earth, as all my natural cleaning products have been traded for stuff that will cover the smell of children’s urine. So it’s probably no surprise that I advocate putting off potty training as long as possible to any mom who asks.

Often by 18 months, just about every toddler has given their parents a false glimmer of potty-training hope by crawling up on the potty and pretending to go. But there is so much more to the potty training puzzle than a potty photo op.

  1. There’s only so much you can do. There are many factors that contribute to successful potty training, and the parent has little to do with most of them. To make it to the potty successfully, a child has to be able to recognize the sensation, remove themselves from an activity they enjoy, reach the bathroom light, remove their clothes, and do all of that in time to make it to the potty. Those weekend potty training boot camps won’t do anything for your child if they can’t do every single one of those things first. You know how kids are when they don’t want something. When they are ready to be done with diapers, you’ll know.
  2. Waiting means your kid has time to grow. A bigger child means larger bladder, stronger muscles, more nimble fingers and better judgement. That means fewer accidents and faster success. If you don’t have any arbitrary deadlines like a preschool or daycare that is saying your child must be potty trained by a certain time, give them time to grow. In addition, there is actually evidence that potty training before age two can lead to more potty-related problems later.
  3. There is such a thing as regression. Are you moving soon? Going back to work? Having a baby? Any stress could spark a regression in potty training. It doesn’t happen all at once, either. Slowly, all the skills go away, and it’s incredibly frustrating because they were just there. It really feels like your child can go potty but just won’t, and that is not the case. Regression is not a choice for them, even though it feels like one to you.
  4. Potty training mess is worse than cloth diaper mess. Just trust me. I don’t want to scare you by going into details. It’s just so much worse. SO. MUCH.
  5. No one cares but you. No one except your mom and your mother-in-law is going to ask about potty training. If you want to take it to the next level and avoid the conversation altogether, trade those noisy, crinkly pull ups for some cloth potty learning pants. Your child will feel the wetness when they go, but won’t leave you a mess to deal with, and if they peek out of the back of their pants, they look just like big girl/boy undies.

It’s so easy to get stressed out by milestone charts, Facebragging, nosey peers and potty training prodigy stories, but don’t. This is never going to be on an application for anything. No one gives out awards for potty training a 2 year old. There is absolutely no reason to rush potty training.

When you are tempted to stress, just remind yourself that absolutely no one will care when your child potty trained five years from now. Then go reward yourself for your laid-back approach to parenting with a glass of wine.

Erin Hayes Burt is a freelance writer and cloth diaper-loving mother of three girls who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

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