En kvinna hukar och håller i en bebis som ska kissa.
A mother helps her "diaper-free" baby pee. Photo: Lisa Poole/AP Photo.

Early potty training helps babies avoid infections

New advice for parents states that toddlers who use nappies up to the age of three or four run an increased risk of suffering from urinary tract infection.

Swedish parents are to receive the new advice about nappies and toilet training at their babies’ 10-month check-up, newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports.

Today, it is common for children in Sweden to wear nappies up until the age of three or four, but Helena Bergqvist, a psychologist at the Uppsala University Children's Hospital, said that is "way too late" because it can be embarrassing for the child and it can cause health problems.

“Delayed toiled training can be linked to increased occurrence of bladder and bowel control issues,” said Bergqvist, who wrote the new guidelines. She added that up until just a few years ago most Swedish children were potty trained by 18 months.

Kerstin Carlsson, a paediatric nurse in Stockholm, said she has not seen a growing number of cases of urinary tract infection among young children, but she added that there is a slightly bigger risk to contract it when wearing nappies and described parents’ tendency to delay potty training as a “social syndrome”.

Bergqvist’s advice for parents include:

  • Start the potty training when you feel motivated and preferably before the child learns to walk.
  • Always be attentive to your child’s potty needs – for instance just after waking up and after meals.
  • Let the child sit on the potty when he or she shows signs of needing to go – and turn it into a pleasant moment.
  • Let the child go without a nappy from time to time.
  • Have a positive and permissive attitude.
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