What a Bunch of Crap

June 13, 2006

Now I realize why I didn’t renew my subscription to Parents Magazine. Check out this headline: “Potty Train Your Child in One Day.”

I read the story — four pages long — plus a sidebar on Teri Crane, the author who claims you can toilet-train your toddler in one day.

The morning starts with you and your child “training” a baby doll. Using props like dolly diapers, lemonade, and (gulp!) chocolate-covered raisins, you demonstrate how the doll has accidents but then let your child “teach” her to use the potty. When the doll has mastered the skill (with a few tricks on your part), you celebrate the success with a festive lunch.

In the afternoon, you replicate the exercise with your child…Crane hasn’t done any research to back up her claims of success, but she points to the thousands of families who have signed up for her potty-training workshops.

First of all, I want to thank Teri Crane for poo-pooing all over lemonade and raisins for me. Yuck!

But I am not surprised she has no data to back up her claims: I just don’t buy it. Even moms I know in Berkeley who have potty-trained their infants — by the way, this is totally possible — took months and hours of their days — plus the help of daytime caregivers if they worked — to achieve this feat. I have also heard that “accidents,” especially at nighttime, are not uncommon.

I appreciated Parents including a column on how China, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Poland and Sweden, potty-train their babies before the age of one. “When it’s time, a child is held over a pot with his back resting against his parent’s chest, with the adult holding his legs. Split pants, which allow a baby to pee or poop without being undressed, are widely used,” according to info on China.

Again, most women in these countries rely on cloth diapers or clothing and spend every waking moment with their children to receive “cues” as to when they have a bowel movement. I don’t doubt their children use the potty way earlier than kids do in the United States.

But I felt that the magazine put a lot of pressure on U.S. moms, who often work outside the home and have no extended family nearby to help, by waiting too long — not until the very last paragraph of the story — to note that early potty-training is simply the latest media trend to separate the good moms from the bad:

The bottom line: Like the breast-versus-bottle and to-spank-or-not debates, early toilet training promises to be a hot-button issue, with strong opinions on both sides. What everyone does agree on, however, is that toilet training should be as stress-free as possible, no matter when it begins.

I, for one, won’t be staging a tea party with my son anytime soon.