For over a decade, child development experts Drs. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn have shared the benefits of infant signing with parents and grandparents. Signing can reduce frustration, bond parent and child, and help a child achieve developmental milestones.
Now, they’ve applied their research to helping families achieve one of the most dreaded milestones – potty training.
And just in time. Research shows delaying potty training may result in serious health effects ranging from urinary tract infections and constipation to stool toileting refusal and hiding issues.
If delaying potty training isn’t healthy, why do we do it?
The disposable diaper industry has played a large part in telling families it’s OK to delay. Disposable diapers are available in up to size 6, and disposable pull-ups are available for larger children. In fact, since the advent of the disposable diaper, the average age of potty training in the U.S. is 37 months – an all-time historical high. This age is more than double the average age of toilet training in almost 50 countries worldwide.
But parents and grandparents must accept blame, too. We often cite a child’s inability to effectively communicate his potty training needs as a reason to wait. However, potty training after age 2 is often more difficult because it can become a battle of wills, especially when eliminating in a diaper has become habit. Looming preschool deadlines add more stress to the process.
“Even when babies younger than 2 can’t talk, they still understand they need to potty,” said Acredolo. “Give them a simple sign to use and children as young as 12 months can become active and excited participants in the potty training process.”
To families afraid they lack the time and energy to embark on a baby signing potty training method, there’s good news: It’s as easy as five simple signs, less frustrating for parents and child, and gets families off disposable diapers.
“It’s easy, something everyone can do,” said Goodwyn. “Signing works for time-crunched families – which is all of us.”