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They Say: Just Potty Train Already

potty-trainingThe booming potty training pants industry was just dealt a big blow by researchers. It turns out dragging your feet on potty training can have long-term negative impacts on your kids.

The research out of Rutgers University in New Jersey points to waiting until after the thirty-two-month mark leads to incontinence issues that can last into the tweens.

Published in the new issue of the Journal of Pediatric Urology, the study surmises the best time to potty train is between twenty-seven months (shortly after the second birthday) and thirty-two months (before they reach age three). Waiting too long, they found, was linked to “urge incontinence,” a problem defined by the National Institutes of Health as “leakage of urine due to bladder muscles that contract inappropriately.”

Often associated with older men with an enlarged prostate, bladder infections, stones or nervous system issues, in children it manifests itself through a mix of bed wetting and daytime wetting of their pants.

Traditionally, that urge to go to the bathroom is something kids can learn to control as they’re potty training. Their brain is able to develop the means to prevent bladder contractions, and they make it to the bathroom in time to urinate. But in the study, researchers found waiting too long meant the children did not sufficiently develop that ability to prevent the contractions. The kids continued to have urge incontinence issues up through age twelve.

This is bad news for the parents who tout their child-led potty training methods that still have the child in disposable pants at age four – and if you hadn’t noticed, there are plenty of them out there. We know it’s not convenient to take a week off and sit in the house with a naked toddler, but it could save you a lot of laundry – and your kid a lot of embarrassment – in the long run. And should we even start calculating the environmental impact of a little speed up on your part?

Oh, and before you start bragging about your six-month-old who pees on the potty like a pro, the report notes the extra, extra early crowd isn’t helping their kids either. Instead, the researchers point to that specific window – between twenty-seven and thirty-two months – as a pretty solid window for training.

Even better news for those of you who are still worried about getting this whole process started (and hence putting it off as long as possible): the method didn’t matter so much as the timing. So whether you’re the loosey goosey type up for child-led training (and lots of naked time) or you’re more regimented, you can make it happen.

Just put down the pull ups, and no one will get hurt.

Image: jencu, flickr

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