Potty-training pitfalls and how to avoid them

June 21, 2013
Potty-training pitfalls and how to avoid them
Starting too early is a common mistake, expert says.

(HealthDay)—Incorrectly toilet training children can lead to problems ranging from bed-wetting and daytime accidents to urinary tract infections, so it's important to get it right, an expert says.

There are a number of common mistakes that make when their , said Dr. Steve Hodges, a pediatric urology specialist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Training too early is one mistake. Children younger than 3 don't have the mental maturity to make good toileting decisions. "They don't understand how essential it is to get themselves to a bathroom when nature calls," Hodges said in a Wake Forest news release. "Instead, they hold their urine and feces, which can lead to numerous problems, including bed-wetting."

Holding urine also leads to smaller bladder capacity, Hodges said.

Some parents potty-train their children but don't follow up with their toileting habits. Parents should have children urinate on a schedule, about every two hours, he suggested. To help make the bathroom trips successful, have the child count to 10 while on the potty and have some favorite books and puzzles nearby. Hodges also said that a high-fiber diet can make defecation less painful, so children are less likely to try to avoid it.

Up to 30 percent of children aged 2 to 10 have , but some parents miss the signs of constipation in their children. "Many parents mistakenly believe that if their child has daily bowel movements, they are not constipated," Hodges said. "But in kids, there's a different definition of constipation known as 'poop burden.' It refers to poop backed up in their rectum that can press on the bladder and cause bed-wetting and other problems."

Symptoms of constipation in children include having extra-large bowel movements or that are very firm, rather than mushy; poop accidents; poop-stained underwear; and mild belly pain with no obvious cause, Hodges said.

He also said parents should never ignore signs of bladder trouble, which include painful and frequent urination and blood in the urine. These symptoms could be due to an infection or other problems that should be evaluated by a doctor.

Accidents of urine or stool should not be considered normal and ignored.

"Often, parents have the impression that wetting, like throwing temper tantrums, is just something kids do," Hodges said. "But accidents aren't normal and potty-trained kids shouldn't have accidents any more often than adults do."

Explore further: Bedwetting can be due to undiagnosed constipation, research shows

More information: The Nemours Foundation has more about toilet training.

Related Stories

Bedwetting can be due to undiagnosed constipation, research shows

January 27, 2012
Bedwetting isn't always due to problems with the bladder, according to new research by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Constipation is often the culprit; and if it isn't diagnosed, children and their parents must endure ...

Potty-training method won't affect tot's health, study finds

October 29, 2012
(HealthDay)—One less thing for toddlers' parents to stress over: A new study finds that toilet-training methods aren't the cause of urinary problems in children.

When and how to toilet train children

August 8, 2011
Parents often ask their doctors for advice on toilet training young children, and a new article in CMAJ summarizes current approaches and evidence to help physicians respond to these queries.

Research study: Whistle away the need for diapers

January 30, 2013
Western babies are potty trained later these days and need diapers until an average of three years of age. But even infants can be potty trained. A study by researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, ...

Fiber the best bet to help kids with constipation

September 29, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Chronic constipation, or fewer than three bowel movements a week for two or more weeks, occurs in some 3% of children in Western countries and a new study published in Pediatrics shows that most common ...

Spotting sleep problems in special-needs children

March 5, 2013
(HealthDay)—About 30 percent of children have a sleep disorder, but the rate is even higher in children with special needs, an expert says.

Recommended for you

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.