by Fudia Muhammad
I remember listening to a lecture by Student Minister Dr. Ava Muhammad, National Spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, where she said emphatically that the Original, natural inhabitants of the planet earth, the Black man and woman, were capable of being potty-trained by six-months of age; yes, that’s right, during infancy. I have to admit, when I first heard this, I was extremely skeptical and thought that she must have been referring to a time trillions of years ago when our supernatural abilities were at an apex and we were immersed in the opulence and grandeur of life on Atlantis. Nope. She was referring to our present-day little gods that we are giving birth to right now!
But, before I lose you, I should mention that potty-training, just like most of our childhood milestone timetables have been set by others; usually White pediatricians, scientists and doctors who base these achievements on, what else…the abilities of their own kind. The Caucasian is a new man on this planet. He has only been here for 6,000 years; so of course, his natural abilities are limited. This is not racism, just a fact – they are different.
Parents have been conditioned for so long to begin potty-training at two or even three years of age. This is because the Caucasian child took this long before he was capable of being toilet-trained and therefore this was where the standard was set for all children. But there was a time when Original children were clearly indicating the need to relieve themselves by six months of age and sooner. Potty-training, however, is a learned behavior so while it may take a little more effort for others, most babies regardless of race can be potty-trained by six-months of age. Why wait until our child is two or three years old if perhaps this can be accomplished at 18-months, 12-months, 9-months or even 6-months. Societal common practices tell us to wait even though our child is capable – he’s just waiting for us to train him.
So, let’s be clear on what is meant by an infant being potty-trained or toilet-trained. Obviously, we are not saying that an infant can get up independently, walk to the toilet, use the bathroom, clean himself, adjust his clothing, flush and wash his hands. Of course, not! Being fully potty-trained definitely cannot take place until toddlerhood. But infants are able to accomplish the first two critical steps of potty training. The first step is to be able to recognize the urge to go and communicate it; the second step is to then wait until you’re at the designated location for relief. To draw the distinction, the process just described is often referred to as, “communication elimination.”
So how does this work? How is an infant able to communicate their need to eliminate waste? There are many books available if you want lengthy specifics, but here’s the short version: Some parents start immediately introducing their newborn to the toilet, but others wait until the baby is two or three months old because at this age urination is more routine and bowel movements are less frequent. Parents are able to determine when their babies need to go by paying very close attention to the baby’s subtle cues or body signals that comes with each urge to go. Babies may get squirmy or shake, change their breathing patterns, or begin to make faces as a sign. Whatever the cue, it can only be identified if the baby remains close to his mother for long periods of time throughout the day. And it is also helpful if the baby’s bottom is partially or completely uncovered for long periods of time throughout the day. Once the cue is identified, the baby is held over the toilet or receptacle to relieve himself. Like most learned behavior, potty training is mastered through the art of repetition. So, there must be a commitment to remain disciplined. Some parents will then make up a special sound or say a special word while the baby is going; so that sooner rather than later – after bladder control is established – the infant will be able to go when prompted.
Non-Western countries have a much easier time at infant potty training because babies are carried around all day, sometimes swaddled to their mothers; disposable diapers are considered too much of a hassle and even gross. In that sense, the United States is behind the curve when compared to other parts of the world. Toilet training infants is considered a very normal aspect of parenting in parts of Africa, Latin American, Southeast Asia, India, China, the arctic and Eastern Europe; basically, mostly non-Western countries. Only recently is it growing in popularity in the United States and other Western countries.
Choosing to infant potty train is extremely time consuming and can get quite messy; but truth be told, it does not matter if we choose to toilet train at three months or three years, it will be time consuming, messy and will require patience and consistency. As with many parenting choices, there are advantages and disadvantages. But believe it or not, many find infant potty training very advantageous.
There are others, however, who are faithful subscribers to the philosophies of T. Berry Brazelton and Benjamin Spock, who both had remnants of Sigmund Freud’s school of thought weaved into their logic. By the way, Freud was a man who clearly had sick impulses and tried to excuse and normalize them by trying to convince the world that everyone else had these same sick impulses. I digress. Brazelton and Spock were renown pediatricians who believed in a child-directed approach, where parents waited for “readiness cues.” They believed that potty training too early led to low self-esteem. Huh? What? Well, they were convincing because many parents ran with this philosophy and so today there are three, four and five-year-old’s who have not yet mastered toilet training – something that could have been achieved during infancy.
There is no magical perfect age to potty train; but the sooner the better. Children will submit to the training at any age, including infancy. There is ample evidence and studies that prove this can be accomplished.However, we have been so conditioned to certain practices and habits which require dedicated weaning. So, do not fret if it takes a bit longer, it just may take a generation or two before we can easily achieve our original standard again. Early potty-training is just another ability of ours, which has laid dormant and needs to be resurrected.
“And Allah’s is the unseen of the heavens and the earth. And the matter of the Hour is but as a twinkling of the eye or it is nigher still. Surely Allah is Possessor of power over all things”(Holy Qur’an 16:77).
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)