February 1st, 2013 by University of Gothenburg
Western babies are potty trained at a later age these days and generally need nappies until an average age of three or four. The situation in Vietnam is just the opposite.
Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, followed 47 infants and their mothers in Vietnam for two years to study their potty training procedure, which begins at birth and generally eliminates the need for nappies by nine months of age.
Not only does eliminating the need for nappies save money and remove one practical chore for parents, but the baby’s ability to control its bladder improves efficiency and reduces the risk of urinary tract infection.
The technique is based on learning to be sensitive to when the baby needs to urinate.
“The woman then makes a special whistling sound to remind her baby,” Anna-Lena Hellström said.
“The whistling method starts at birth and serves as an increasingly powerful means of communication as time goes on.”
According to the paper ‘Vietnamese Mothers’ Experiences with Potty Training Procedure for Children from Birth to 2 Years of Age‘ published in the Journal of Pediatric Urology, women notice signs of progress by the time their babies are three months old.
Most babies can use the potty on their own by nine months of age if they are reminded, and they can generally take care of all their toileting needs by the age of two.
“Our studies also found that Vietnamese babies empty their bladders more effectively,” Professor Hellström said.
“Thus, the evidence is that potty training in itself and not age is the factor that causes bladder control to develop.”
Many western societies have grown accustomed to the idea that babies cannot be potty trained, but that parents need to wait until they are mature, usually when they decide that they no longer want nappies.
The evidence from Vietnam demonstrates that more sophisticated communication between parents and their babies would permit potty training to start and be completed much earlier.