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Potty Training Answered

May 15, 1995

The letters have ranged from those who challenge our integrity for making such a bragging claim to those who thank us for the success they have seen in potty training their own infants. We often laughingly joke about the wisdom of adding it to the book. But for those of you who have been successful, it is worth it. To the rest of you struggling, frustrated moms, forgive us, it was just an idea to make life easier, not harder. Potty Training infants is certainly not character building. This article is in answer to all of you who have written, asking for more detail. While on mission trips in Central America, I noticed that the tribal women did not put diapers on their babies. I found this interesting and started asking questions. Occasionally, they would slide their babies out of the back sling and sit them on the tops of the mother's feet. I had read about this being done in the forties by those mothers working to build the nation of Israel. Then, when I saw it being done in C.A., it just caused me to want to try it with my own babies.
When my next child was born, I put a cloth diaper on her and laid her on my tummy. In this position, during those first few days of recovery, when I felt the diaper get warm, I gave the action a name. My newborn came to associate the sound with the action. For the first few months, I put her on the potty in front of me so she would feel secure and relaxed. If I had waited until her bladder was full and spoke the word which she had come to associate with the body function, she would perform the response. In the early stage I dribbled cold water down her tummy to stimulate her to `peepee'. The cold lid against her warm legs, the position of her body, the words I spoke, the dribbled water and her full bladder, all worked together to signal a response.
My two older children helped and sometimes even daddy. It was a ritual about ever two or three hours. When we failed to perceive her need and discovered a bowel movement or peepee in progress, we still rushed her to the pot, saying the appropriate word to reinforce the association. She caught on quickly, and by the time she was 3 months old she would fuss when she needed to go. Until she was about a year old, anytime we were out in the public for any length of time, I put a diaper on her just in case of accident.
I have often wondered if I would have had the same success if I had tried this on my first child. She had many bowel movements each day -¬often while nursing. Since I only trained the two younger girls, I don't know how it would work with boys. In our child training seminars, we have met other mothers who boast of success with their babies. We have the moms stand and take a bow while we all applaud. Having older children to assist you is a great advantage.
It was never, NEVER a discipline matter.
If you wait until the child is three or four months old to attempt training, it may be more difficult because you are working against a learned habit of going in their diaper.
Well, go have another baby and give it a try. Let us know if you have success. We have heard of enough failures. On the other hand, what is a little diaper rash and a pail full of stinky diapers. After all, it's an American tradition.

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7 comments on “Potty Training Answered”

  1. I was about 7 months pregnant with my first boy when I read your article about potty training an infant, and I thought that is wonderful cos stinky diapers was my biggest worry ! I hated smelly diaper buckets. So we tried it as so as we got home from the hospital !! (I was anxious to try) I set my baby on the pot and lo and behold !! He pooped !! I called daddy and we laughed together ! We have been thrilled at how it worked at 1 1/2 he was in tiny briefs, and 2 months later his brother arrived and he enjoys helping mommy take the baby to the potty !! Altho he is 2 1/2 now and has been trained for a long time for the last 2 days he has been going in his shorts, we are giving him hosings outside but is there anything else we could do ? He does know better and always feels guilty when it happens, hoping to hear from you. And thank you for the advice, we won't ever have a baby that is not being potty trained !! Altho people think me WIERD !

  2. Thank you for your explaination. I would try your method in a heartbeat if I were raising children again! However, I was successful in early training that began at 6 - 7 mos. (when they began to sit up) All 4 of our children (2 boys/2 girls) were basically trained by 1 year. My mother did it and my dislike for "diapers" was strong enough to go against the current 80's philosophy of waiting till they were ready! I started immediately sitting them on the pot after they awoke from any sleep. Any success was met w/jubilation! We just kept doing it until their was more success than not. Then I started taking them frequently to catch elimination and eventually they "caught on" to the procedure and I would have a break from diapers until the next little one arrived. Thank you for your ministry. Nancy (a 60 year old mom)

  3. I toilet trained my youngest with the help of my three older girls starting when I brought her home from the hospital. It worked great and we had no problems with potty training. She went on command just like you say. Now my oldest daughter has done the same with her three kids two girls and a boy and saved her and her husband lots of dollars in diapers. The most important thing to remember is just what Deb said. It's not a character issue for either babe or mom. It's just training them to associate the action with a sound from the beginning which enables them to do what comes naturally and actually assists the toddler "I can do it myself" We also noticed that we began to be more attuned to the physical and mental growth of our child and were excited to find out just out smart and capable those little one are. When a person looks at a three year old with a diaper one still sees a baby at some level. God Bless
    Successful Mom

  4. To all you moms that felt overwhelmed and feel that you let it pass too long i have a story. i had a C-Section with my and so was so overwhelmed with a colicky baby and recovery i just did not even try. my second was a difficult delivery as well, recovery went faster but i now had a 2 year old and a newborn and so was very overwhelmed in the first several months. When Grace was about 10 months old i started to put her on the potty and make the sound, i would hold the container between my legs while sitting on the floor so she would feel secure. I also noticed that she screwed up her face when she would pee so started to make the sound when i saw her make that face. We took a layed back approach to the whole thing. she would sometimes go in the potty if her diaper was dry when i put her on. Right before she turned 2 she all of a sudden wanted to go all the time on the toilet and basically potty trained herself in one day, while we were camping! She would wake me up and say potty in the middle on the night and beg me to take her! Even though i did not have the results that someone that would have started earlier i still think it was worth it...if you are overwhelmed just take it at the pace you and your child can or want to; it really is not an all or nothing concept.

  5. Thank you for the article. I listened to an earlier podcast online about the potty training after hearing about early training from some friends. Since our first boy has hard to train (we started at about 22 months and we were in an out of countries as missionaries and had many setbacks), I wanted to try something different with our second son. So with our second son, I researched it when he was already around 10 months. But I went ahead and started noticing when I could tell he was going to stool and would rush him into the potty. I also set him on the toilet a lot to get him used to it. I would leave the diaper off when his brother got a bath and notice if he would start to urinate and set him up on the toilet. When we got back to the mission field I tried continuing to get him to use the regular toilet but didn't have much success, until I started using the homemade little potty chair. I leave his diaper off around the house (we live on the equator at sea level so don't have to worry about him getting cold and don't have carpet) and he is doing well going to the potty. Sometimes he has some accidents urinating, but he hardly ever stools off of the potty now. We have also been putting underwear on him, and now even if he is wearing underwear or a diaper he tells us when he has to stool and many times when he has to urinate. Our new baby is due next month and we will be going to another country for the c-section, so I hope he doesn't revert back too much. He is almost 22 months now and I just want to thank you for your desire to help others because we are much happier with the way he has learned and thankful for it. With our newborn I am going to start even earlier, as you recommend. I've shared your info. with my sister-in-law, who has had a hard time training her 3 yr. old girl and she is interested in trying this method with the baby boy that is due next year. Thanks!

  6. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Pearl and family. Thanks again for the Godly ministry. Such wisdom. It is a treasure and we are so glad we found it.
    I read of this before we had our daughter last year. However I never started training until about 5 months of age. It was successful. She is now 1 and goes to the potty without trouble.
    During this training the Lord taught me something very interesting which I would like to share with you.CHILDREN DO NOT GO TO POTTY DURING THEIR SLEEP AND WHEN FEEDING. It was a step of faith the first time I did it. I heard the Lord say, let her sleep without a diaper. She was about 5 months then. I obeyed. It was so amazing. She would only do almost as soon as she wakes. I discovered if I heard her call when she awoke and delayed to remove her, I would find she has wet her bed but if I picked her soon after /immediately her bed was dry. During breastfeeding, never and so while in the high chair. I got a few during these meal times only because I was trying to get her to take more when she had already shown me she is done.
    so another point in our training was; we go to potty once we are out of bed as first thing and after feeding. for the past 6 months, we sleep without diapers in the night except on a few days recently when I knew her sleep would be interrrupted.(On these nights I put the diaper with intention and some of them in spite of the interruption,she was dry). She would stay dry all night till she woke up in the morning. if her sleep was interrupted to where she cried, she would wet herself then.
    She stayed dry even if she would wake to breast feed in the night. Once in a while in the night at about 4 am,this is about 7 times during the past six months I noticed she was uncomfortable in the night, having woken up but not eager to breast feed, I discovered she wanted to go to the potty. I would put her on the potty then.
    She never has a long call in the night too and this was also another interesting discovery. So training was even easier.
    My friend with a 1 and 4 months old testifies to this in her son too since he was still much smaller.
    I encourage parents to check this out and see if it is true for them too.