Can a child under 1 year be potty trained?

Q: Can a child under 1 year learn how to use a potty?

A: Amazingly, a baby in the first year of life can learn to use the potty regularly, and many children elsewhere, including parts of Africa and China, first use the toilet at about 12 months. Now a growing number of parents here are showing an interest in training infants using a method called "elimination communication." They say it's cleaner and less costly than diapers and fosters a closer bond with the baby. And, yes, it's possible. To potty train an infant, you must constantly watch for tiny signs that the baby is about to go, like turning red in the face. Then you make a signal (like a “psssss” noise) to help reinforce the connection. This requires an availability that many parents would like to have but don't. For parents with the wherewithal, the close attention is sure to give them a better knowledge of their child, but in all honestly it's probably a rather rare soul who has the time and desire to attend to a baby in this way.

Updated 2009. Originally published in Child magazine, April 2007.

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