This book is a compendium of materials about natural potty training from infancy. It is an expansion of the author's ideas that were originally presented in a small (self-published?) volume called "Trickle Treat." The book is divided into 4 parts. The first section is entitled "The concept and the method", and it includes detailed descriptions of how to establish communication bonds between infants and parents concerning elimination needs, a history of toilet training methods, a comparison between infant toilet training and toddler toilet training, and myths about infant toilet training. The second section is entitled "Testimonials USA". It contains brief descriptions from mothers across the US telling how they put the concept into practice, the degree of success they met, and how they and their babies related to the method. The third section is called "Testimonials around the World". It is quite similar in content to the second section. The fourth section is called cross-cultural studies, and it provides a survey of toilet training information about cultures spanning the entire globe. The book includes a section of endnotes, 12 pages of references, and an index.
The author stumbled on this method of infant toilet training shortly after giving birth to her third child. Her first two children had been trained conventionally as toddlers. But Boucke was quite fortunate in having a friend from India when she had her third child who told her about how infants and mothers learned how to take care of elimination needs without diapers back in India. Boucke asked her friend for more information about how infant elimination was taken care of in India, and the friend helped her train her baby.
This infant training method involves establishing signals between mother and infant for elimination. At first, the mother simply predicts or observes when the infant is eliminating, and holds the child in a specific position while making a specific sound. Within hours or days even a newborn infant becomes aware of the position and sound and begins to eliminate on cue. Soon it begins to signal to the mother when it is about to eliminate so that she can hold it in position over the pot. As the infant gets old enough to move around on its own, it will crawl to the pot of its own accord when it needs to go, and by the time the child is walking, the child is already trained, without tears, arguments or battles. Of course, this is the ideal case, and no child is ever trained without accidents.
One of the most important predictors of success with the infant training method is the age when the method is begun, the idea being that it's much easier not to teach children to mess in their diapers in the first place than to try to get them to unlearn this habit once it has become ingrained. For best success, Boucke recommends starting from day 1 and certainly before 6 months, although some patient parents have been able to use the method even from 1 year. Boucke also points out that it's not necessary to use the method all day long, so that children can still be in diapers in daycare if necessary, as long as it is used regularly at some point in the day. Many parents have even reported success after taking a long pause in the method because of extenuating circumstances- -as long as they had done some infant elimination training early, they found they could return to the method even after a few months of reverting to diapers.
In the testimonials section, parents report that the habits Boucke teaches are much more than simple toilet training- -the habits build a line of communication between infant and care-givers that is otherwise never experienced. In the end, it's not really the early toilet training successes that lasted in the memory of the parents, but the joy in understanding what their infants were trying to say to them. Parents whose infants are in diapers all the time are deaf on these points, hence their infants soon learn that communicating their elimination needs is futile, since the parents seem to want the child to go in the diaper. Parents using the infant training method also report that their children never experience diaper rash, and never have to sit around in poopy diapers. Indeed, after using the method, they find themselves utterly disgusted at the very thought of letting their infant wallow in a messy diaper. The environmental benefits of the method are obvious- -parents using this method simply take an end-run around the entire cloth versus disposable debate.
The range of information contained in the book is overwhelming, to the point that Boucke could have turned the volume into a graduate thesis. Some of the material in the last section, though interesting, isn't entirely relevant for parents trying to train their infants. This is particularly the case when Boucke discusses cultures where toilet training doesn't begin until late toddlerhood. In general, the book has some rough edges both editorially and with the type-setting, hence my giving it 4 stars instead of 5. However, the quality and importance of the information is so high that it should be read universally by all parents-to-be. (These latter problems have been addressed in the revised 2002 edition.)