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Medical Expert Warns That Potty Training Too Early Can Be Harmful, Lead to Hiding Behind Shower Curtains

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Medical Expert Warns That Potty Training Too Early Can Be Harmful, Lead to Hiding Behind Shower Curtains

With Miss Skye turning three this weekend and still in Pull-ups, potty training is just becoming top-of-mind in our household.  As you may remember, I’ve shared the tell-tale signs that potty training may not be going so well, and documented the ineffectiveness of my own Jedi mind potty-training tricks, but the thing is — Mr. Candy and I haven’t been pushing Skye to use the toilet.   We have gently encouraged it, yes, and may have even rewarded her with her beloved M&Ms (if somebody offered me chocolate, I’d never get off the pot), but I haven’t been terribly concerned.  In part, because I’m confident she’ll be potty-trained by the time she goes to college and also…?  Because a pediatrician once told me that children’s bladders and sphincter muscles aren’t properly developed until they’re three, which is why younger kids often have accidents.  So, she didn’t recommend potty training until then.

Underdeveloped sphincter muscles!   Yet another phrase that never passed my lips until I became a mom.

“I potty trained all of you by the time you were two and it didn’t hurt you any,” my mom (who is not-so-secretly aghast that her granddaughter isn’t potty trained) informed me when I mentioned all of this to her.  And I’m sure that’s true, although she did subsequently admit that my brother once hid behind the shower curtain after having an accident — a tragic tale of a shamed, embarrassed toddler.  Naturally, we had a good laugh at his expense.

Hey, if you feel inclined to potty train your kids earlier, or if your kids are showing signs that they want to chuck the Elmo diapers (and who could blame them for not wanting that guy splashed across their butt?), that is fabulous.  But for those of you who, like me, are more comfortable waiting, you’ll be happy to know a top pediatric urologist agrees with your instinct, as you’ll see in the below news report.  Which you may want to mention the next time your mother-in-law pointedly notes how she trained your husband to walk to the bathroom and go on the toilet when he was just three freakin’ months old.

From ABCNews.com:

According to Dr. Steve Hodges, a pediatric urologist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, the hard and fast recommendation by many experts and preschools to get children out of before age three is a myth, and can even be dangerous for some children.

“Children under age 3 should not manage their own toileting habits any more than they should manage their college funds,” Dr. Hodges tells Babble.com.

This is because 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.

“When you train early, you’re interrupting that process,” he told ABCNews.com.

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, said Hodges, mainly because children are holding in their bowel movements longer than they should.

These conditions may also be signs of forced training, and often by parents who think they’re behind the potty training eight ball, according to some experts.

To prevent medical complications, children should be allowed uninhibited elimination until they are ready, he said.

Age doesn’t matter when it comes to potty training, according to many experts. Some children are ready earlier than others.

Another important benefit of waiting to potty train?  MORE M&MS FOR YOU!

Because sharing is caring, as I tell my kids. (Except my wine. Never my wine.)
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Candy Kirby is the founder of The Laughing Stork and a professional fun-maker who will never stop chasing her lifelong dream: to find the Pomeranian or porn star after whom her parents must have named her. A humor columnist for Disney, Nickelodeon, Scary Mommy, Reductress and Redbook, she also used to be a staff writer for the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, where she penned many scripts featuring prolonged heated stares and countless “Who’s the Daddy?” story lines. Candy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young kids and three rescue Persian cats, the latter of whom are the real brains behind this operation (so send all complaints to them).

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