China's Potty Training Secret?

Christina writes:

Dear Dr. Sears,

I recently visited China and saw that many of the kids were potty trained by the time they were 1! I was wondering if you could shed some light on this phenomenon. I’d love to not change diapers any longer than I have to!

“There is nothing out of the ordinary about those babies you saw in China,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. “In fact, about half of the world’s children, mostly in Africa and Asia, never wear diapers and are fully potty-trained by the time they’re a year old.”

Dr. Sears explains the method known as elimination communication, or infant potty training, whereby parents pay close attention to their baby’s body language starting from birth to learn signs, such as a grunt or a squirm, that signal when the baby needs to relieve him or herself.

When the parent sees a signal, he or she will hold the baby over the toilet.

If you’re willing to put in the time to read your baby’s body language 24/7, then this method may work for you. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics says babies cannot fully control their bladders or bowel movements until they’re roughly 18 months old, so the ideal age to begin toilet training is around that time. Your child must be able to verbalize his or her needs, understand what a toilet is and know how to get him or herself to the toilet.