Exclusive Interview: Mayim Bialik Had Her Son Potty Trained Before He Was 1! She Explains How She Did It

  The former Blossom star and mom of two used elimination communication with her sons and practices holistic parenting. Former child star Mayim Bialik plays a brainiac love interest for Sheldon (Emmy winner Jim Parsons) on The Big Bang Theory. But offscreen the equally intelligent (she’s a neuroscientist in real life!) mother of two takes an unconventional approach to parenting her sons, Miles, 5, and Fred, 2, which includes sharing a bed with them, and making them go diaper free!

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You played the school guidance counselor on The Secret Life of the American Teenager last season. Did you and former teen queen Molly Ringwald compare any parenting notes?
We were sitting in the hair and makeup trailer and she was talking about how she started working with a trainer six weeks after having her twins, and at six weeks [after I had my son Fred] I was still on the couch crying. So I knew right away that we had very different lifestyles.

Speaking of which, what can you tell us about the parenting book you’re in the process of writing?
The idea is I’m not a pediatrician — I’m not an expert on children. I’m an expert on two children: mine. I practice holistic parenting and so I believe in extended breast feeding (letting the child wean himself off naturally), sharing a bed with my kids, eating a vegan diet, giving them gentle discipline (that doesn’t include hitting), and baby wearing [like strapping them to you with a Baby Björn rather than using a stroller]. These are things that as a neuroscientist I’ve found make sense evolutionarily.

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen made headlines in August for saying she thought there should be an international law stating mother’s need to breastfeed children for the first six months of their lives. What did you think when you heard about that?
I thought it was incredible. But I also think she’s a very, very brave woman for saying it — even though she is absolutely in line with what the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. She’s not giving you a wacky personal opinion. Although, I think that’s how people are seeing it. Breastfeeding is recommended worldwide because it’s good for women’s and children’s health. I think we need to make a really aggressive attempt to reestablish breastfeeding as the norm and that should be encouraged and supported.

Is it true your older son no longer used a diaper by the time he was 1? That seems amazing!
Yes, thanks to elimination communication on Miles’ first birthday he used the potty. Both my sons were wearing underwear by 15 or 16 months.

Elimination communication teaches parents to pick up on signals kids give off when they have to use the bathroom. So what signs did your sons give you so you could take them to the toilet instead of them going in their diaper?
Our little guy comes up to us and either tugs on our shirt or pants leg. At one point, he’d sit down and flap his wings like a small bird. That was his sign and if you keep reinforcing it, kids will keep giving it. We read Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer, sort of a crunchy classic, that gives you all kinds of tips on how to pick up the signs. My husband thought I was crazy for wanting to try it, but now he’s a believer because he’s seen the proof in our kids.

Not everyone is going to be willing to try everything that goes along with a holistic parenting lifestyle. So if moms only take away one message from you, what would you like it to be?
Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong. My parents, who are very loving people, never thought they could admit they were wrong — whether it was about a disciplinarian issue or something they told me that turned out not to be correct. They thought they weren’t allowed to be wrong and I think that hurt my relationship with them. I’m honest with my kids. I say to my older son all the time, “I’m learning too.”

—Patty Adams Martinez