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Bye-Bye Diapers?

New potty training method suggests that some infants can be toilet trained before their first birthday.

Not so Fast... continued...

While "it is fine to expose the child to toileting and establish a routine, be neutral with regard to expectation," she advises. "In other words, no pressure to perform, no stress around it, and it's OK to give up and try again when the child is older."

Even Davidson agrees with this. "I think it's an approach that is not right for every family," she says. "I don't think it's good to do it in a goal-oriented way and expect by X date that your child will be fully potty trained. But I think for a family who wants to learn a child's cues and help a child learn to respond to cues, it's neat and really amazing to see a young infant let you know they have to use the bathroom."

What Would Freud Say?

Father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, may very well turn over in his grave if he heard of diaper-free babies. According to Freud, a child can have problems later in life if the toilet training doesn't go well, or is too strict. For example, an adult might strive for perfection or excessive cleanliness because they were too harshly toilet trained.

"The clear issue is before the kid turns 1 [going to the bathroom] is a purely reflex action," explains New York City psychoanalyst Leon Hoffman, MD, director of the Pacella Parent Child Center. Sure, "the child will be cleaner, but he or she doesn't have mastery or control that they would after they turn 2. After age 2, their whole muscular system is developed."

"When toilet training occurs later on when a child is older and able to have control over their musculature, he or she can own the activity," he says. "The diaper-free method is not teaching them autonomy and that they can do things on their own."

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