Customer Review

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A counter argument to the 'readiness' theory, June 4, 2008
This review is from: Diaper-Free Before 3: The Healthier Way to Toilet Train and Help Your Child Out of Diapers Sooner (Paperback)
I first became interested in early potty training when I was researching cloth diapers. My interest in cloth was primarily economically motivated, but I was intrigued by the other benefits as well. One article I read cited early training as a perk, since when children feel wet, they are more motivated to learn to use the toilet. According to a New York Times article, 92% of children in the 1950's were trained by eighteen months.

I was surprised, however, when I met modern cloth-using families. Many children trained slightly earlier than their disposable diapered counterparts, but none nearly as early as eighteen months. I began to wonder how those 1950's mothers managed to do it. The reason? Mothers initiated training when the children were small, rather than waiting for the child to get the ball rolling.

'Diaper Free Before 3' addresses the problems with the readiness theory, which is now resulting in a much older average age of potty training. Dr. Lekovic provides a brief but thorough cultural and historical portrait of toilet training and outlines compelling reasons why parental initiation early on in the child's life is far superior to continuing to reinforce the habit of using diapers.

The author's own family and professional perspective gives the reader insight into how this actually works in a real family. Dr. Lekovic's plan is very sane. She suggests beginning to sit your baby on the potty whenever he or she is able to sit unsupported. Initiating training at this age is pretty do-able. Spending a few minutes on the potty becomes a part of the child's daily routine, and parents are less likely to encounter power struggles at the more compliant younger age than those trying to train toddlers. A Hungarian friend of mine is training her son this way (as is the custom in Hungary), though she is having difficulty finding a potty to fit her seven month old. American children now train so late that it is a challenge to find small enough potties and training pants.

Perhaps my favourite part of the book is the epilogue, in which Dr. Lekovic comments on the increasing trend of parents hesitant to levy any expectation or challenge on their children, for fear of pressuring them or damaging their self-esteem. Dr. Lekovic offers insightful critique of this new dynamic in which parents seem to fear being parents. While some aspects of child-centeredness inform good parenting, the concept taken too far deprives children of the guidance and direction they so desperately need.

We began using the potty with our son when he was seven months old, as soon as he was old enough to sit unsupported. We sat him down after each meal. Sometime he went, sometimes he didn't, but he didn't seem to mind it at all, and by sitting him down after meals, he began to consistently poop in the potty. I changed precious few poopy diapers, which was a blessing indeed!

Keeping him dry, however, was another matter. We tried Dr. Lekovic's method of dressing him in underwear/waterproof pants for increasing periods of time, but this did not work for us. We needed a more 'drastic' intervention. We finally went 'cold turkey', putting my son in regular underwear and taking him to the potty when he began to wet. It took a week--and it was a hard week--but he is now pretty reliably dry and is very proud of himself. He still needs reminding, but it is such a relief to have diapers behind us.

I would urge parents not to buy into the readiness argument. Just because your child isn't motivated to use the toilet doesn't mean he/she isn't capable. Most children are capable of training far earlier than we give them credit for. It requires diligence and commitment on the part of parents, but it is well worth the effort.

I was, however, disappointed by Dr. Lekovic's perspective on cloth diapers, which she seems to dismiss as too great an inconvenience for modern families. In fact, cloth diapering is far less of a hassle than I thought it would be. She also stated that cloth-diapered babies have a higher incidence of diaper rash, which I did not find to be a problem at all. Actually, the rate of diaper rash has increased since the widespread use of disposable diapers. Rashes are fairly easy to avoid with frequent diaper changes, and my friends who use disposables on their babies struggle with it much more than I have. It seems parents are more likely to leave their babies in dirty disposables because of their high absorbency and as an effort to use fewer disposables to save money.

Of course, these problems would be easily avoided if society moved more in the direction of earlier training. Hopefully Dr. Lekovic's book will convince more parents to question the readiness theory that we are all being sold.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 1, 2009 1:01:08 AM PST
S. Cheek says:
I totally agree about the cloth diapers. They are not as big a hassle as I thought they would be if you have a washer and dryer at home, and diaper rashes are hardly a problem. When my son has had a diaper rash I have rarely, rarely had to use ointment. I would just dry him really well and put another cloth diaper on him and change it sooner than later. By the end of the next day, if not sooner, the rash would be gone. The diaper rashes were always caused by something I was doing; if I ate a particular kind of spicy food (because I breastfeed) or if the diapers had a build-up of soap in them then I just needed to wash them a certain way to get it out. I encourage anyone reading this to give it a try. A great website for info is

Posted on Jun 8, 2009 8:59:00 AM PDT
LKT says:
Baby Björn makes an infant potty for early training. We love it.
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