Could whistling replace diapers? In many countries, it already does.

Researchers from Sweden recently followed 47 Vietnamese moms and babies for two years to study their toilet training techniques.
 From birth, mothers tune in to when their babies urinate, developing awareness and sensitivity to their infants’ physical needs. When the baby pees, the mother whistles.

“The woman then makes a special whistling sound to remind her baby,” researcher Anna-Lena Hellström said in a press release. “The whistling method starts at birth and serves as an increasingly powerful means of communication as time goes on.”

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The babies in the study made progress by the age of 3 months; by 9 months, most could use the toilet when reminded. By 2 years old, most of the toddlers used the potty completely independently.

Besides the obvious benefits, the researchers noted that the method promotes efficiency and reduces the risk of urinary tract infection.

“Our studies also found that Vietnamese babies empty their bladders more effectively,” Hellström said. “Thus, the evidence is that potty training in itself and not age is the factor that causes bladder control to develop.”

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Of course, those who live in cultures where the method is common are generally more tolerant of children relieving themselves in public. In China, young children wear special pants without seams in the back so they don’t have to undress to go.

The bottom line? If you can’t wait to toss that last diaper, practice your whistle.

Photo: Richard Schultz/Corbis