Month 20: When Is Potty Graduation?

That is a really good question and one that can’t really be answered easily.  It is like asking when a toddler has reached Walking Graduation or Talking Graduation.     When do we consider babies to be graduated walkers?    When they take their first steps?  Stop crawling as their preferred method of locomotion?  Need no assistance?   Rarely fall?  Get up without holding on?   Take strides rather than shuffles and a series of almost falls?    Likewise, if we hold their hands or assist with stairs are they non-walkers?

What does it mean to be potty graduated?   How is that measured?  What about my baby’s progress?

the least amount of diapers used per day?   (6-7 months)
no diapers at all?  (9 months)
use of the potty word or baby sign consistently?  (10-11 months)
desire to use the big toilet? (13 months)
awareness to use the potty independently and preferentially without help  (17-18 months)

Does that include nighttime with…
night awareness?  (3 months)
peeing once a night only (15 months)
night continent (19 months)

Can a baby be potty learned without being potty independent?    Why not?
Can a baby be considered a walker and yet hold your hand as they walk beside you?  YES, of course!

Potty Learning has a set of its own milestones.  It’s a gradual process that evolves as babies grow.   For some reason the USA has this current popular idea that using the toilet is this “one shot deal” that children must take a crash course in with no prior experience.  Those who don’t do EC but want to use conventional potty training methods (or at least their own methods) for babies between one and two are discouraged and advised not to.  There is advice which insists that you must wait until a child has expert verbal skills and the fine motor control for buttons, zippers, and clothing manipulation.  That they must be tall enough and coordinated enough to get on and off the toilet and not need you.  But on top of that, with modern potty training practices (and the average age to start at 2.5 and 3 years old) they must also learn how to not use diapers, how to release their sphincters, strengthen their sphincters, learn their personal limits, and become more aware of not going in their pants.    

Too often, they are expected to learn this quickly because they are older, when really their age means they’ve been in diapers a long time and need much more patience and understanding during the time it takes to relearn their needs.           It takes a good six months to a year for toddlers to really get the walking thing down — there’s balance, getting up, getting down, recovering from a fall, with shoes, without shoes, carrying items, changing direction, walking sideways, going backwards, and navigating all kinds of unstable and uneven substrates.   So many things to learn on top of just going forward with one foot in front of the other.   And even then they are not done with Locomotion School — there are advanced levels to master.      There isn’t much you can do to help them, your role is very limited.  It is something they learn on their own by practice, trial, and error. 

Potty learning is no different.


I’d consider my baby potty learned at 9 months when the diapers were put away for good.   Babies are primitive creatures and they are not adapted to modern standing toilets, modern clothing, or other conveniences of life in the 21st century.     Babies are adapted to the natural word and holes in the ground, it is unfair to base toileting prowess on learning to navigate a modern toilet!



About Laissez Faire

I am 41...42...43...44, married with two children, two cats, and a dog. Writing is my hobby, and learning and teaching my passions. Books! It used to be that I could devour several books a week when I had the time. I am usually too tired to stray awake these days with two kids. Currently my brain and energy levels have steered me to casual games, writing contests, and some inconsistent blogging.

Posted on June 18, 2011, in Parenting, Potty Training, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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