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Diaper-Free Before 3: The Healthier Way to Toilet Train and Help Your Child Out of Diapers Sooner

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  452 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Conventional wisdom tells parents that they should delay potty training to toddler age, and only after seeing signs of readiness. But is that really the best way?

In Diaper-Free Before 3, Dr. Jill Lekovic presents the new case that early training--beginning as early as nine months olds--is natural, healthy, and beneficial for your child, based on medical evidence. By incopo
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Harmony (first published 2006)
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Feb 01, 2011 added it
I recently toured the Montessori school that my son will be attending when he turns 2, and one of the things that surprised me is that the school is entirely diaper free ... even for the youngest children, who are 18 months old. The little ones still have accidents and need to be changed constantly, but being diaper free makes them much more aware of their bodily functions than wearing a diaper. I haven't thought much about toilet training, as my only frame of reference is my nephew, who wasn't ...more
I would give this book five stars for its ability to normalize infant potty training and to empower the parent or caregiver to put it into practice. However because of the author's tendency at times to use the book as her personal parenting soapbox and her failure to address an audience with diverse parenting styles, I lowered my rating to three stars.

Written by a pediatrician and grounded in research, this book had me convinced within a few chapters that infant toilet training was the most nor
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here's my conclusion after reading several potty-training books. I think that no matter what you do, there is a very good chance that potty-training is going to be a long time commitment and huge hassle. You can do the work in the beginning (EC, from birth to possibly only up to a year), the middle (early potty-training, from 6mo to 2 years), or the end (after 2 years). With my twins, I waited until the end, because people told me to "wait until they're ready" and basically they would train them ...more
Kyla Belvedere
Feb 01, 2013 rated it liked it
A strategy for potty training that sounds foolproof. Great. But why does this book use 88% of the written words to justify why you need to potty train earlier. Give me the strategy, and maybe a bit of history, but if I am reading it, I have already bought into the idea so shut up about that already.
May 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I got this out from the library because a few months ago my precocious 1 1/2 year old started telling us when she was pooping. We've always been able to tell when she poops, but the fact that she was able to verbalize that she was pooping signified to me that maybe we need to start introducing her to the potty. We started sitting her on the potty, still fully-clothed and in her diaper, when she told us she was pooping, just to start associating the related actions of having to poop and going to ...more
B Zimp
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I think the technique explained in this book is probably good and I will certainly attempt to implement it. Unfortunately it seemed like the actual procedure was hidden amongst the rest of the book. I loved that the author put in tons of research and shared the history of toilet training and why to try her method, it was very convincing and interesting to me. Perhaps she could put a giant arrow pointing to a single chapter where all her recommendations are contained, so readers who don't want th ...more
Dec 15, 2010 rated it liked it
I would give this book five stars for its ability to normalize infant potty training and to empower the parent or caregiver to put it into practice. However because of the author's tendency at times to use the book as her personal parenting soapbox and her failure to address an audience with diverse parenting styles, I lowered my rating to three stars.

Written by a pediatrician and grounded in research, this book had me convinced within a few chapters that infant toilet training was the most nor
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
UPDATE: Just as Dr. Lekovic predicts in her book, we have found our son becoming more and more reliably dry as he approaches his 2nd birthday. I appreciate this book more than ever. It's breezy and memorable enough that when I need reminders or inspiration, I know exactly what section to flip to.

Now that I'm somewhat removed from our potty training heydays, I see that I agree with many critiques from my fellow GoodRead-ers. I still think this book is the bomb. Without it, we had no support or in
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good overview of introducing potty learning early. As a Montessori teacher, I appreciate the information based on that philosophy. I also enjoyed reading about the history of toileting and how it is approached in other cultures as well as the science behind it. I love that there is a bibliography, however I wish they were footnoted (not sure if that is the right word) so that you know what research goes with what information. I also wish there was a little more detail on how to handle differen ...more
Feb 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011, babies
Very quick and easy reference book. It's less hardcore than I initially believed and really appreciated the history and background included about toilet training in general. *shakes fist at diaper companies* Very helpful! ...more
Jessica Moore wilson
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
While I think the research and science discussed in this method is solid, and I came away with several tips that I will incorporate into potty training my daughter, I don't understand why almost every book on parenting advice and methods has to be so damn condescending. Dr. Lekovic we KNOW that all humans need stability and that fruits and vegetables are good for us. You don't need to make us feel BAD about the fact that we can't be 100% consistent with our potty training efforts and dietary cho ...more
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book, and have already recommended it to two people.

Evidence base! Literature review! Some cross cultural research! Part I is so interesting!

But, I will admit I skipped that part at first and went straight to the “how to” section. It really isn’t a very complicated plan, but I really like her pieces of advice on how to practically apply early toilet awareness and training. I am clearly convinced; we started putting our twins on the potty immediately and they are doing great
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I appreciated learning some of the medical consequences of starting toilet training as late as today's standard is. I felt like the plan wasn't descriptive enough for me to really decide when during the daily schedule to put my child on the toilet, how to deal with resistance to sitting on the toilet and at what age to transition out of diapers at night. Most of this information I already learned from The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems: Sleeping, Feeding, and Behavior--Beyond the Basics ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: aborted-read
This is a good book, but "toilet training" doesn't mean your kid is going to be out of diapers at 18 months. It means starting to normalize the toilet as part of their daily routine, with the goal of building up slowly to full independence. It takes longer and is a hassle for longer, but it bypasses the power struggle of introducing your 2-year-old to a brand new requirement.

After trying a weekend of "Oh Crap Potty Training" with our 20-month-old, I'm thinking this is probably a gentler, better
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
i’ve read a silly amount on EC considering how simple the idea is (*Give your kid the opportunity to go in a toilet instead of making them pee and shit themselves for years.* Even though that’s Way more convenient.) This book was interesting in coverage of history of potty training and medical aspect (UTIs, constipation, bed-wetting) which I hadn’t thought about much. I like the EC slant better (she doesn’t use that term) and some incidental things I thought were off (re: food and cloth diapers) ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Pros (for me):
- Includes history of and research on potty training
- Lays out an approach that may seem more manageable for 21st century American moms than learning to read babe's signals and starting with babe's very first meconium poop
- Advocates for working potty time into your child's daily routine
- Advocates for parents taking the time to take a hard look at their priorities and really invest time and energy in their young children

Con (for me):
- Dismissive of cloth diapering
- Uses absolutes
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baby
I admit that I did not actually read this book in its entirety, but I think it would work really well for someone who was starting the potty training process sooner than I did (think 12 months). The idea behind this book is that you start familiarizing your baby with the potty when they are very little and it eventually just becomes natural and they use it when they are ready. We didn't start potty training until our daughter was over 2 years old and found books like "Potty Training in 3 Days" a ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Such a great resource for parents!!! It's a refreshing read on why waiting until your child is "ready" isn't necessarily the best, and only way to go, and that people have been potty training different for centuries before the advent of the disposable diaper. Definitely recommend this book for anyone having a baby, or who is looking to start potty training, even at nine months old. ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Good, basic information on where to start... and possibly helpful information (too early to tell yet, as my grandbaby is just 17mos old) if there are challenges in training later on.

I won't say I learned anything really new, or enlightening, but I think the book provides good solid tips on when and how to start potty training children.

Took less than one day to read the entire book!
Chris Salzman
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
When you are a parent you get to read fun books.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book had a lot of interesting information on the history of potty training and diapers but the book was repetitive and longer than needed to be.
Thought this was an EC book, so wasn't as useful to me now. ...more
Ashley Parish
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lot of great information, I think all parents should read to get this perspective. There is also some very repetitive things that I think could be taken out. Overall great info.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can't recommend this book more to anyone with a child who is between 9 to 18 months of age. It has changed my life. Potty training has been a nightmare with my oldest son and when my youngest son was 15 or 16 months old, I happened upon this book in my local library. I started to read it and was intrigued by the idea that waiting till your child shows "signs of readiness" is actually a very new concept and not one that is really backed up by research or even a healthy approach for your child. ...more
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in four days. That is something for me. I actually read this book when I would normally be doing other things, like answering email or sleeping. It was so fascinating! The author did an amazing amount of research on the history of potty training, not just in the twentieth century but over all recorded history. Low and behold, before the invention of disposable diapers, children began potty training between 6 and 12 months. I just loved the thoroughness of her research, from the ...more
Carlie Hamilton
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting, 2016
This was OK. I was really interested in the history of toilet training and toilet training practises around the world - but the information in this book wasn't as engaging as I hoped. There was more of a focus on statistics rather than, I guess, a more generalised social history. (i.e. - I'm just making these numbers up, but the focus was more like "In the study by Dr Smith in 1920, 30% of kids were toilet trained by 12 months, 45% by 18 months. Conversely, in a study by Dr Jones, ...." Where as ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Of the things I've read on this topic this one seems to most closely mesh with both the ubiquitous advice from my old-world parents/aunts/etc and my own common sense. Unfortunately, as with most books of this ilk it spends a lot of time trying to convince the reader of what apparently is a radical idea in this day and age (though obvious elsewhen): that babies can get used to pottying on a schedule and can be out of diapers much sooner than the American average. It consequently spends almost no ...more
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childcare
"Elimination Communication" is not for everyone. This may be the least hippie- tacular EC book out there; a doctor's approach if you will. If you're open to the idea that infants (who can sit) can and may be interested in a potty, this is the book for you. Dr. Lekovic's philosophy is "this is how they've been doing it for centuries" (true), "disposables don't help train your child" (I've seen too many 4 year olds in diapers), "infant pottying is more hygienic" (hmm... maybe..)
When my baby was o
Jun 24, 2009 rated it liked it
This book does a good job of explaining why you should start potty-training earlier than most Americans currently do, so if you're undecided about when to start, I think it would be a good book to read.

I was already planning to start potty-training early, so this book basically just confirmed that decision for me. I did not find it that helpful, however, in terms of how to go about potty-training at an early age. It seems to me the author doesn't spend an adequate amount of time on this and only
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a thorough review of potty training. I enjoyed the history of potty training included, as well as the author's suggestions on how to implement potty training currently. My daughter is only 2 months now, so I cannot comment on the effectiveness of this method as of yet. I do plan on starting around 9-12 months. I thought the methodology was logical and practical.

I did knock it a star because I thought the author went into too many areas that were not really related. The urinary tract and
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