The dangers of early potty training

Just because your child can go to the toilet on their own, doesn’t mean they will.

March 08 2017

It’s a milestone that many parents dread.

Sure, reading how the Vietnamese toilet-train babies by the time they are 9-months-old might leave some parents asking: Why can't that be my child?

But according to one doctor, the earlier your child is potty trained, the more chance they have of developing problems later in life.

"Children under age 3 should not manage their own toileting habits any more than they should manage their college funds," wrote Dr. Steve Hodges, a pediatric urologist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in an article on the parenting website

Babies need to experience uninhibited voiding, or elimination, without the expectation of using the toilet at such an early age.

Just because your child can go to the toilet on their own, doesn’t mean they will.

“Children – and I mean all children – don’t like to interrupt their lives to use the bathroom, he writes.

“Holding on” at a young age can affect how a child’s bladder develops.

“A child's bladder, which continues growing to its standard size until age three, grows stronger and faster when it's filling and emptying uninhibited,” said Hodges.

“Training a child too early can lead to toilet accidents because the bladder may not be strong enough.

“It may also lead to constipation, kidney damage and even urinary tract infections.”


Getty Images

Getty Images

When should I toilet train my child

Richard Curtis, behaviour expert from The Kid Calmer and author of 101 Tips for Parents, 101 More Tips for Parents and 101 Behavior Tips for Parents
, advises parents 
to watch for signs that their child might be ready to try using the bathroom for herself.

“There will come a point where you notice
 a change in your child’s behaviour as she begins to recognise the need to go to the toilet,” says Richard. “This is linked to a child’s cognition levels.”

Acknowledging these signs and discussing using the toilet, purchasing a potty to place in the bathroom and allowing your child to watch while you use the bathroom (they are curious creatures, after all!) can help encourage her understanding of the process behind toilet training, making it seem less intimidating for all involved.

Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind.