(NaturalNews) Babies can be trained out of diapers by nine months of age, according to a study conducted by researchers from University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Pediatric Urology.
In Western countries, parents typically keep their children in diapers until approximately three or four years of age. Yet, such late potty training is not the norm worldwide. In the new study, researchers observed and analyzed the potty-training practices of mothers in Vietnam, where toilet training typically begins at birth.
The researchers followed 47 mothers and their infants over the course of two years. None of the babies had any history of bladder trouble or urinary tract infections. The women were interviewed when the babies were three, six, nine, 12, 18 and 24 months of age, and the children's potty skills were also observed at these times.
The researchers found that by the time the babies were three months old, all the mothers had begun potty training them. The technique involved holding the baby over a toilet or a spot in the garden and making a whistling sound. This was combined with regularly checking the child for signs of distress that might signify a need to use the potty, such as facial expressions, red face, crying, or touching or holding the genitals. If a mother detected such a sign, she would hold the child over the potty.
"The woman ... makes a special whistling sound to remind her baby," researcher Anna-Lena Hellstrom said. "The whistling method starts at birth and serves as an increasingly powerful means of communication as time goes on."
Better bladder control
By nine months of age, all the children had learned how to use the potty when prompted by the whistling noise. By 18 months of age, all children were able to control their bladders nearly all of the time. By the age of two years, all the children were using the toilet independently and no further potty training was necessary.
"Our studies also found that Vietnamese babies empty their bladders more effectively," Professor Hellstrom said. "Thus, the evidence is that potty training in itself and not age is the factor that causes bladder control to develop."
Significantly, prior research by Hellstrom has found that children who are less effective at emptying their bladders are at higher risk for urinary infections. Therefore, earlier potty training may actually be better for a child's health.
Nevertheless, Western medical authorities continue to recommend that potty training begin no earlier than 18 months of age.
This attitude was on display in an article about the new study published by the British National Health Service. While not disputing any of the study's findings, the article still dismissed the study as "far-fetched," then went on to list a number of reasons that British parents might not want to toilet train their children any earlier, including the fact that diapers are "cheap and readily available."
In Vietnam, in contrast, toilet training a child early is considered a badge of pride.