According to urologist Des Moines Dr. Fawad Zafar, children whose parents start toilet training before the age of two have a three times higher risk of developing daytime wetting problems later. Parents who toilet train their children early to meet preschool deadlines, save the environment (diapers in landfills) or because they think toddlers are easier to train should know there can be serious consequences. A recent study involved over 110 children between the ages of three and ten, in which half were seen in the urology department for daytime wetting or urinary urgency/frequency. The children in this group were then compared to a group seen in a general pediatric clinic and pediatric emergency room with no history of dysfunctional voiding. A questionnaire was used to gather information regarding the age that toilet training was started and the incidence of daytime voiding dysfunction. Patients were grouped into three categories of potty training:

  • Early (before the age of 2) which consisted of 38 children;
  • Normal (between the ages of 2 and 3) which consisted of 64 children;
  • Late (after reaching the age of 3) which consisted of 10 children.

Sixty percent of the early trainers experienced daytime wetting, which was over three times increased risk of daytime wetness as compared to the normal group. The researchers believe early trainers are more prone to subsequent voiding dysfunction because they are more apt to “hold” their stool or urine, which typically results in it backing up in the rectum. Children who are toilet trained at an early age are also more apt to delay urinating, a behavior that can lead to bladder contractions and reduced bladder capacity.  On the other hand, uninhibited voiding in diapers is likely beneficial to bladder development. The study also revealed that among the ten children who trained in the late stage, seven experienced daytime wetting problems and constipation. Consequently, the three late trainers who did not have wetting problems were not constipated. The age of two is not a magical number, but if parents opt to train early or late and are meticulous about making sure children void on a regular schedule and monitor them for signs of constipation, the incidence of voiding dysfunction would decrease. If you have any questions regarding your child’s potty training, call the office of urologist Des Moines Dr. Fawad Zafar today to schedule a confidential consultation.