It’s difficult not to get excited when your baby reaches his milestones earlier than his peers. If your little one says “mama” before all of the other babies at the nursery, it’ll be hard to resist the temptation to start filling out his application to Harvard then and there. Or, if your baby is crawling around earlier than anyone expected, you’ll want to let even your most distant relatives know right away. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging your baby to develop at a fast pace, but there is one specific milestone you shouldn’t push upon your child. Studies show that potty training your child too early can lead to serious and permanent problems.

Diapers are not just designed to keep your home cleaner as your baby learns to control his or her bladder for the first time. They are also meant to be training wheels for proper potty behavior. By letting your child wear diapers until he is really ready to use the potty, you are teaching him how to relieve himself freely. While it seems like instinct, peeing and pooping is actually something an infant needs to learn how to do. It’s why you might see your baby grunting and groaning after a meal. Relaxing and letting everything flow takes practice. By stunting this practice and taking your baby out of diapers too early, he will develop an abnormal ability to hold it. This will lead to urinary tract infections as the excrement sits in the body for too long and regular bed-wetting as the muscles finally relax at night when your child is unaware. By holding it for a long time your child is also at risk for becoming extremely constipated.

Many parents that choose to potty train their children early say that it’s because their baby seemed so smart and able to learn. That’s probably true. A baby’s brain is wired to learn, so potty training is entirely possible by the time a baby is six months old. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Experts recommend that you don’t start potty training your baby until he turns three years old. At that point, he should be able to successfully hold his urine and feces on command, and you should start only then. By getting your baby on the potty too early, you could actually be setting him up with urinary problems that last a lifetime.

Source: Nore Kaerts et al: Readiness Signs Used to Define the Proper Moment to Start Toilet Training. Neurourology Urodynamics Volume 31 Issue 4 pp. 437-440 April 2012