The History of Toilet Training

Before Avery was born I was trying to decide on whether or not to use cloth diapers and I started thinking about what people did BEFORE diapers. I mean, babies still peed and pooped during the cave man era, so what did they do?

Well, I didn't find all the way back to cavemen, but here's what I did learn. Here in the US between 1800 and the really 1900's babies wore cloth diapers. Cloth was hard to come by and water was seldom wasted on washing diapers (unless it was poopy they would just hang wet ones by the fire to dry) so parents started 'toilet' training (there weren't actually toilets) as early as possible. Most babies were trained to relieve themselves on cue in a particular area by age one.

In the 1950's Dr. Spock suggested training gradually start around 6 months old. This was in response to people forcing their babies to poo and pee by using methods like enemas and supposetories. This caused serious psychological and physical damage. His main point was that toilet training needed to be done by learning your baby's cues, not forcing. In 1957 77% of children began training before 14 months, more than 50% trained by 19 months.

In 1962 the AAP took Dr. Spock's recommendation a few steps further. They said a child needs to be able to walk, talk, and express interest in using the potty. Rather then interpreting a baby's cues parent's should wait for a toddler to spell it out loud and clear, just in case :)

By 1984 82% of people waited until a child was 24 months old to start potty training. In 2002 a study showed that children were usually started by age 26-29 months and fully trained by 33-36 months.

I think it's interesting how quickly things change! I mean, my parents were all completely trained by about 18 months to 2 years. Now most people don't even start until then! Part of me wonders if we confused what Doctor Spock was saying about forcing potty training. It's like people heard that FORCEING potty training could cause psychological damage and decided that ALL potty training was bad, LOL.

    Yeah, the average age of potty training has gotten much much later. We potty trained Mason at 26 months, Audrey at 22 months. I will probably do a similar age with Hayden.
      8Theresa Gould
      I agree. As I mentioned before, my mom had my sisters and I trained by a year. Three of us were born in the 70's and my youngest sister in '84. And mom was right in there helping train my nephews too and I believe they were all trained by a year as well.
      About Taylor
      Current: Chanhassen, Minnesota
      Birth: July 26
      On since: Dec 18, 2013
      I'm the proud mama of my daughter Avery, born on June 6, 2013. I'm 26 years old, I work from home as a graphic designer, I will be testing for my 5th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do in 2015. My husband, Derek, and I have been happily married for 3 years.