Potty Training Help from Dr. Sonna


Click to Order 

Step-by-step directions for babies, toddlers, and older children 

By the author of 

The Everything Potty Training Book & The Potty Training Rescue Guide

Other books by Dr. Sonna at www.DrSonna.org 



Potty Training Telephone Consultation with Dr. Sonna

$65 per 60-minute consultation


After your credit card has been approved, call (214) 556-6311 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Sonna writes full-time, so her schedule is flexible. Evening and weekend appointments are available. 


If you think your child may have a medical emergency, call 911 or go the emergency room. If you think your child may have a  medical problem, contact your child's doctor. This service is not a substitute for medical treatment. Bladder infections can cause a spate of accidents. If your child has blood in the urine, a temperature, pain when urinating, or simply appears unwell, seek immediate medical attention. 



January 26, 2006
The Truth About Potty Training Readiness
Squabble Over Potty Training

Squabble Over Potty Training
By Carol Mell
For the Albuquerque Journal

    THE TAOS HUM: Some of us squabble with the garbage man, and some of us take on the military-industrial complex. In a quiet valley near Taos, author and psychologist Linda Sonna is challenging the great baby guru, physician Barry Brazelton, and his corporate sponsors on the subject of potty training.
    The question is not if but when. In her new book, "Early-Start Potty Training," Sonna, who has written a dozen books for parents with children of every age, maintains that everything the establishment told us about when to potty train is a load of (fill in your favorite expletive) served up to get us to buy disposable diapers for an ever-longer time.
    "The notion that later (training) is better has been pushed by pediatric spokesmen for the industry since the 1960s," Sonna wrote. "Delaying has been a boon for the corporate bottom line. The truth about the ability of young toddlers and babies to learn to use the potty may be one of the best-kept secrets in America."
    Sonna studied the work of Dr. Benjamin Spock who wrote the baby bibles of the 1940s and 1950s and those of Pampers-promoting Brazelton, "a Harvard professor turned infomercial star."
    "Spock used to say younger was better, 14 months was considered late for training," said Sonna. "In 1961 everything changed and Spock began quoting Brazelton. That was the year Brazelton signed up with Procter & Gamble. He came out saying it was cruel to train babies too early."
    She says with the production and marketing of ever-larger diapers, experts claim even 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds can remain untrained if they have not demonstrated that "mysterious state of readiness."
    "The knowledge that it is possible to train early has been completely wiped out," Sonna said. "Babies are born signaling, the way they do when they are hungry. Think about it. Giving a signal that it's time to eliminate is a baby's survival tool. They need to be in a warm dry place with others. If they were always wet that wouldn't happen. It is up to us to learn to read the signals."
    Sonna lays out a plan for training babies from birth. Parents who recognize their baby's cues simply hold them over the pot, making a little noise like "pss, pss" as a signal.
    Diaperless babies are a fad, Sonna said, but she takes a gentler approach. For most babies, 6 to 12 months is perfect. If it sounds crazy, even Sonna had to switch paradigms.
    "When I was writing my first book on potty training I thought it sounded cruel to start a baby so early. I was mystified by diaperless training, but I read it, and it all fell into place. In Mexico, there were women with naked babies in their rebozos that were never wet. I had seen it in China, too."
    In Taos she heard Hispanic parents talking. To them, "right on schedule" meant fully trained at 12 months.
    She wrote an early training chapter for her first book in 2002, but the editors cut it out. No one could get an article in a baby magazine because they were published by the disposables industry, Sonna said. Now, totally diaperless training, though treated in the media as a freak show idea, got the word out that early training is possible. Sonna's complaint was that other books didn't talk about hygiene, the real reason for potty training.
    "If your elderly parent sat in a dirty diaper you'd be horrified," she said, "but Brazelton views parents' willingness to allow youngsters to wet and soil themselves for a couple of extra years as a sign of respect for their bodies." If your children are too old for diapers and you are still too young, why should you care? Because diapers are the third leading component of the nation's landfills, said Sonna. If you add to the tons of untreated sewage the fact that diapers are made of trees and toxic chemicals, the environmental picture is not pretty.
    Sonna has friends in China who tell her that the disposable push is on there with the attendant advice to wait. This is bad news in a country where infant and toddler clothing was simply made with a big opening in the crotch to make things easy.
    "The world will be drowning in untreated waste," said Sonna.
    With eight books in five years, Sonna feels "Early-Start Potty Training" and "Parent's Guide to Raising Siblings," due out in April, are her gifts to the world.
    "For little me to take on a multimillion dollar corporation, the biggest in the world, was scary but I'm getting an amazing response. The book is selling well. "
    Check out www.DrSonna.org to see this and other books.
Carol Mell is a freelance writer who lives in Taos, NM. You can email her at taoshum@msn.com.

Parents Mislead about Potty Training,

Psychologist Says

06 30 2006

While U.S. parents wonder if their 3-year old is ready to start learning to use the potty, most children around the globe are fully trained by age two, according to the author of Early-Start Potty Training, a recently released parenting book by McGraw Hill. 

In Eastern Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa, most children finish training soon after they learn to walk. The gentle methods still used to teach babies in other parts of the world were popular in the U.S. until the 1940s. When washing machines simplified laundry chores, the age for starting training was pushed forward. Still, 90 percent of U.S. children finished potty training by age 2. 

That changed after disposable diapers hit the market in the early 1960s. The ensuing advertising blitz featured paid pediatric spokesmen, such as T. Berry Brazelton. The Harvard professor turned infomercial star claimed that disposable diapering products keep children "clean and dry" and said, "Don't rush your toddler into toilet training or let anyone else tell you it's time - it's got to be his choice.'' In actuality, the products keep children filthy. Depriving children of the sensation of wetness slows learning.

Brazelton’s recommendations were incorporated into the American Academy of Pediatrics Toilet Training Guidelines. They state, “Children younger than 12 months have no control over bladder or bowel movements and little control for 6 months or so after that. Between 18 and 24 months, children often start to show signs of being ready, but some children may not be ready until 30 months or older.”  Yet toilet training research indicates that children meet the physical criteria for readiness during the first year of life. 

Today, 1/3 of U.S. three-year olds are still in diapers, along with increasing numbers of 4- and 5-year olds. The multibillion dollar disposable diaper industry now makes products in sizes large, jumbo, and mega sizes to accommodate children up to 125 pounds.

In just two generations, knowledge about how to teach babies and young toddlers to use the potty has been all but lost in the U.S. Popular wisdom says that early training is impossible or cruel, but in Early-Start Potty Training,  author Dr. Linda Sonna, a professor of multicultural psychology at Yorkville University, states that babies are much easier to work with than older children. Toddlers have a hard time sitting still long enough to learn, are attached to their diapers, and many resist putting aside their toys for potty trips. 

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting and letting children lead the way," Sonna says. "But the research reported in the Academy's own journals suggests otherwise.” Sonna cites numerous scientific studies recommending early learning and a structured teaching approach. There are compelling reasons to begin sooner rather than later:

·        Delaying training until after age 2 ˝ has been associated with unstable bladder, a condition which involves chronic accidents and bedwetting.

·        Hundreds of thousands of trees are used to manufacture the sixteen billion disposable diapers children use each year.

·        Discarded disposable diapers are the third largest component of landfills by volume (behind newspapers and fast-food containers).

·        Dumping raw sewage into landfills threatens ground waters.

·        Greenpeace has demanded a worldwide ban of a chemical used in super-absorbent gel, which harms the immune system and causes toxic shock syndrome.

·        A carcinogenic by-product of the manufacturing process, dioxin, causes cancer and nerve damage.

·        The cost to keep children in disposable diapers for 2 ˝ years ranges from $2,000 for economy brands to $6,000 for premium brands. Premium cloth diapers sell for under $36 a dozen.

·        Holding urine close to the body for prolonged periods in a material that doesn’t breathe increases scrotal temperatures, which has been associated with undescended testicles and infertility.

In her book, Sonna presents natural methods for babies and young toddlers, as well as solutions for older children who are having difficulties. "Pediatricians are correct when they warn that harsh methods slow learning," Sonna adds. "Simply putting your child on the potty and issuing multiple suggestions to 'try' increases anxiety. To succeed, the timing must be right, and youngsters must be relaxed. And too much pushing can damage the muscles."

So how many prompts should parents give?  "Just one," Sonna says.



Bakker, Wilhelmina. Research into the Influence of Potty-Training on Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction. Antwerp, Belgium: University of Antwerp, 2002.

Boucke, Laurie. Infant Potty Basics: With or Without Diapers, the Natural Way. Lafayette, CO: White-Boucke Publishing, Inc., 2003.

Maizels, Max, Kevin Gandhy, Barbara Keating, and Diane Rosenbaum. "Diagnosis and Treatment for Children Who Cannot Control Urination." Current Problems in Pediatrics 10 (1993): 402{-}50.

Mash, Eric J., and Russell A. Barkley. Child Psychopathology. New York City: Guilford Press, 1996.   

Schum, Timothy R., T. L. McAuliffe, M. D. Simms, J. A. Walter, M. Lewis, and R. Pupp. "Factors Associated with Toilet Training in the 1990s." Ambulatory Pediatrics 1 (2001): 79{-}86.

Sonna, Linda. Early-Start Potty Training. New York: McGraw Hill, July, 2006.

Sonna, Linda. The Everything Potty Training Book. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2003.

Back to Dr. Sonna's Homepage