Potty Training Math
27: There is little benefit to starting toilet training before age 27 months, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Start training children any earlier and the entire process simply ends up taking longer. (You may be ready for your child to be out of diapers, but that doesn't necessarily mean your child is developmentally ready to master the skills involved in learning how to use the toilet.) The takeaway message? Toilet training will be less stressful for all concerned if you wait until your child is both physically and emotionally ready.
8 to 10: You can expect the entire toilet training process to take about 8 to 10 months, according to researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Don't expect overnight results and do plan for plenty of stops and starts. That's how the potty training process tends to play out.
32.5 to 35. Girls tend to be toilet-trained at an earlier age than boys, but there's huge variation from child to child when it comes to acquiring individual skills. Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee found that the median age for "staying dry during the day" was 32.5 months for girls and 35 months for boys, but there was variation of up to a year in the attainment of individual skills (e.g., showing an interest in using the potty, staying dry for two hours, indicating a need to go to the bathroom). Here's something else you'll want to know:Keeping your child in diapers during the toilet-training process can be counter-productive. Researchers at the University of Nevada discovered that wearing diapers increased the rate of accidents (e.g., wetting the diaper) and decreased the number of successful trips to the potty.
1 in 4: Approximately one in four young children develop a toilet training problem known as stool training refusal (a.k.a the refusal to poop on the potty). According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the problem typically begins with hard bowel movements and pain during defecation. If parents can head off or detect these earlier problems, problems with stool training refusal (an understandable desire to avoid future bowel movements because bowel movements are now associated with pain or discomfort) can often be avoided.
POSTSCRIPT: The secret formula -- for success in potty training, parenthood, and life: "Being a doctor has made me a better mother, and being a mother has made me a better doctor....Both jobs require flexibility. No two children and no two patients are the same. For example...one child may be able to proceed through toilet training easily, while another may take months. Recognizing each person's needs and adapting my approach is crucial." - Sarina Schrager, MD, mom of two, writing in the February 2006 edition of Family Practice Management