There Is Basically No Science Behind Potty Training Experts' Advice

As parents, we're offered a lot of advice on a lot of different topics. Some of these pearls of wisdom are solicited, while others most definitely are not. But one parenting category in which most of us tend to find ourselves seeking answers is potty training. When to do it,  how to do it, what to do when it seems to go awry -- basically, we want our kids out of diapers in the easiest, smoothest way possible.

If you search potty training advice online, you'll find it in spades. Books, blogs, you name it -- it's there. There is advice on what to look for in your child that signals they're ready to potty train. The internet is plenty in advice on how to get your child out of their diapers in a matter of days. Some advice on when you need to hold off and push harder. Doctors give advice on what age you should start encouraging your toddler to give up the diapers. It's everywhere.

But interestingly enough, as Huffington Post writer Catherine Pearson points out, despite varying opinions on potty training, there really isn't any method that is scientifically-backed.

In an age where there are studies on literally everything (like the recent research that found eating more seafood could help couples conceive), why isn't there more science going into potty training?

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If you don't believe it, do an online search as Pearson did. She notes that the most recent potty training studies consist of only a few over the past 10 years. Beyond that, you're looking at research that was done 50 years ago.

child potty training
Credit: iStock / Saklakova

Ultimately potty training boils down to two existing methods -- child led or parent led. And while kids are clearly getting potty trained somehow, wouldn't it be nice to know if we're really on the right track or if there's a fact-based method to make the process a little easier on the entire family?

The good news is that regardless of your approach (and, really, considering how different every kid is and how much one family's lifestyle can differ from the next, it's a case-by-case thing), your child will eventually become a potty training graduate. The American Family Physician review cites research that says in a group of 500 kiddos, more than half were potty trained by the age of three, while 98 percent were taking their business to the toilet by the age of four.

Perhaps the push behind more STEM in schools will raise some science-minded kids who take an interest in studying the complexities of potty training for a future generation of parents. Until then, we'll have to fly by the seat of our potty-training pants and hope for the best.

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