How to potty train your infant

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by Maya

Maya is the founder of Memetales - a mobile reader and publishing platform for children's stories. Get your child reading by downloading the FREE iphone/ipod touch app with 20 Free books included!

Since this post is about potty training, I am forced to use the words poop and pee to differentiate between the kinds of body waste. So consider yourself warned before you continue reading this post….

My youngest turned two last month. She has been completely diaper-free (nights, naps and travel included) for over six months. She was completely potty trained by the time she was a year old. It often surprises people when I say this — or when they watched my one-and-a-half-year-old drop her pants and run towards the potty when she had to go.

Everyone is curious to learn about how I trained my kids, so here it is — my approach to potty training, some simple beliefs, and how I think you can potty train your young child too.

My approach to potty training

Just like with anything else I do in my life, I set out with a goal and I work towards it. I practice consistency and persistence. I forgive myself when I fail. And I will give up if I think something is taking over my life in ways I never imagined.

That was my approach with potty training both of my children. I started training them between nine and twelve weeks of age. I took breaks several times, but I never gave up because I worked on it in stages. But it worked — both my kids went to the potty first thing every morning, and I have rarely changed a poopy diaper beyond 12 to 15 weeks of age.

My beliefs, and some facts to consider

1. If infants can signal hunger, they can understand and signal wanting to go potty.

Kids cry when they are hungry. We watch for the signals of hunger and train them to ask for food as they grow up. I strongly believe it is the same with potty training. When the child is too young to go to the bathroom by himself or herself, we have to watch for the signals and take them to the bathroom. And in this process, patience is an important virtue.

2. Bodies have a rhythm.

We eat at regular intervals and we go to the bathroom at regular intervals. Bodies have and like rhythms. It’s important to watch and maintain these rhythms for little kids as well.

If you help cultivate these rhythms when they are little, they grow up into adults with healthier digestive system and habits.

3. Everything does not work for everybody.

It is important to take baby steps and improvise. As with everything, find what works for you and your family. Raising kids in not an easy job.  If you start early, you will succeed, so long as you give yourself time to fail and learn. So start sooner than later and find what works for you.

4. Set the right expectations.

In my case, my kids rarely soiled their diapers beyond four months of age. They were both walking by the time they were ten months old and started to make trips to the bathroom by themselves. By 15 to 18 months, they were both completely potty trained.

But, as in every situation, there were exceptions and accidents. If you want all these things to happen, you should be okay with rushing your child to the potty when you see that little pressure cringe on his or her face, even if you are at a friend’s place. We still take the kids to the bathroom to empty off their bladder at 11 p.m. every night.

If your life or personality does not allow for these things, you have to give yourself more months to potty train your little ones.


Photo by InCase

How to potty train your infant

1. Understand his or her rhythms and make a start.

The moment you see the first sign of rhythm, it is time to start potty training your child. At around six weeks of age, both my kids would soil their diapers twice a day — that was when I started. I sat on the western-style potty with my child right in front of me and also on the potty. I’d sing some songs, and before I knew it, they would poop.

During the day, every so often I would take them to the sink and open the tap and let the water run. A touch of cold water often helps them pee.

2. Reinforce positively.

The moment the child pooped or peed, I would let out a cheer in excitement. Even at a few months old, when a baby has very little control over the bladder, he or she is actively creating associations between their actions and happy outcomes.

Positive reinforcement and creating a no-stress situation have been key in training my kids. I never, ever force my kids to go or raise my voice when I want my children to pee or poop. And I always make a big deal when they do go – even with my three year old today.

3. Notice the signs.

Poop signs (not urination) are hard to miss in infants. They are still learning to control their muscles and their faces crunch up. Make a dash to the potty as soon as you notice this.

Don’t worry if you miss a few, though. If you’ve established a rhythm of morning and before-bed potty, there really should be very few of these off-schedule potty needs.

Every time you introduce a new food, however, their schedule might change a bit. Be on high alert and respond to the “I think I want to potty” expressions until they are back on schedule.

4. Bare bottoms work.

At around six months, I started actively using cloth diapers at home. Around then, kids start to pee less frequently and more regularly. Also, try to leave your child diaper-free or just with underwear for a few hours every day. Kids need to sense the pee, so let them have a few accidents.

The feeling of wetness (that the kids really dislike) is an important driver for quicker pee training.


Photo by Brian

5. Kiddie potties are a waste (in my opinion).

You might have had resounding success with a kiddie potty, but if you want to train your infant (not toddler) super early, they are useless. We never had a kiddie potty, just a potty ring that goes around our normal toilet. I would hold my child on the adult potty, either by seating them right in front of me, or just staying close while they sat.

Use a kiddie potty, and there is one extra job of transitioning them to the adult potty.

6. Siblings? Train in pairs!

Every time my older daughter would go to use the potty, we would let the younger one go right after her. If you have two kids in diapers, train them together.

In my opinion, it is never too early to start training your child to use the potty. I always say that my second daughter trained herself, because I put so little effort into training her. We even stopped night pull-ups because she refused to wear them.

7. Reinforce positively.

I listed this again because positive reinforcement is THAT important. We have a special song and dance we did when the girls would use the potty. Even to this day, the kids will sometimes have me do a song and dance.

Jokes aside, I explicitly thank my three-and-a-half-year-old every time she pees. That way, she understands I appreciate the effort she makes, especially when I need her to try and go right before we rush off to the airport or on a long drive.

8. Talk to them.

The wonderful thing about potty training is that it is a long process. Like starting a blog or a business, it is something you just have to deal with every day. So talk about it with your kids — your goals and your progress.

I always told my kids when we hadn’t touched the pile of pull up diapers in weeks. It made them so proud.

9. Control the fluids.

Be sure to control the fluids that go in your kids’ bodies for two hours before naps and bedtime. Get them on the potty before it’s too close to their nap time (cranky kids do not cooperate).


Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

10. Take pride, and let them take pride.

Take pride in your efforts. Please do. Even if your child is not completely trained, you are well on your way. If you take pride, the kids take pride.

Talk about their accomplishments with aunts and grandmas. Potty training is hard and long, and you have to create opportunities to celebrate. Potty train under stress and you will fail.

11. Experiment for naps and nights.

My older daughter was a milk baby. She absolutely had to have her milk before she went to bed. That made getting off the night pull-up rather hard. My younger one was extremely easy; I could control her fluids since she was very little.

At one-and-a-half-years, we started putting her on the potty at 11 p.m. every night. She would pee in the potty while still asleep and would have a complete night with no accidents after that. We still take both the girls to pee at 11 p.m. every night.

12. Decide if it is for you.

If you are the kind of person that tends to get stressed with accidents and regression, you might want to wait until your child is older and can talk to start potty training. My older daughter did not talk until she was two years old, and even broke her arm at 20 months.  She regressed on her night potty training for a month and I gave in.

Older kids are harder to train, but if your lifestyle and personality does not allow you to potty train your child, do it later. Do it when YOU are ready.

I have never lost my cool when my kids have had an accident. I have faked a little anger sometimes, but losing my cool would never work.

Follow all of these steps consistently and I am sure things will work out with training your infant. Enjoy the process, and don’t be afraid to take a break if you really need it.

I would love to hear what worked for you if you trained your infant. What would YOU add to the list and approach?

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Comments

  1. avatar
    Peter Chee says:

    Thanks for these tips. Quite useful. Tomorrow is going to be a different day for potty training!

  2. It never occurred to me that infants could be potty trained. Thank you for an interesting post, Maya.

  3. This article has some good tips for general potty training, such as training two children in diapers together, and using wetness to encourage kids to want to be dry. However, if you start training an infant, you will work on it for at least 15-18 months. I think you would be hard pressed to find a child younger than this age who is truly completely potty trained. On the other hand, if you wait until your child is 15-18 months to begin the process, you may only need to work on it for a few months, or maybe six months. As with many things in life (like bike riding, learning times tables, and reading), there is a natural stage of readiness for ownership of bladder and bowel control, before which, parents have to manage the behavior too much. A potty trained baby is more about the parent’s self discipline than the child’s control. Personally, I’d rather have the moderate “inconvenience” of diapers for 15-18 months and enjoy all the delights of babyhood (yes, even changing diapers!), than thinking about potty training a baby, and being so tied into that type of routine. We have our whole lives to use the adult potty. Why rush it?

    • Marsi,

      This did not seem like a rush at all. There are two stages – poop and pee.
      Poop training is incredibly easy. I have never cleaned a poop diaper beyond 12 weeks of age. And it takes less than a week to train babies to poop in the potty.
      Pee training was something I picked up seriously after 6 months of age. By 9 months, my second one was completely trained. Accidents happen, but I hear accidents happen even with 3 year olds.
      .-= Maya´s last blog ..Top 10 Ideas for Father’s Day! =-.

      • I also feel that it just is so much more in tune with the baby. The baby doesn’t want to be in a dirty diaper – it’s uncomfortable! They give us signals so it’s our responsibility to take care of their needs. For me, what did it was the look of delight each time I read my son’s cues correctly and look of pride as he took care of his needs. It isn’t natural to diaper our babies, it’s cultural.

  4. i’ve heard about these methods before, but i just really don’t see the appeal of months and months of potty-training a baby. i spent 4 days total potty-training my 2 year old daughter (i hear girls are much easier than boys). i just don’t see why doing it so early would be better (other than saving so much on diapers). i guess it’s just not in my personality!

    • There are advantages such as no: diaper rashes, unlearning going in a diaper as default, changing table struggles, spending hours of cleanup/laundry, and money spent on diapers. Spending time with your child on the potty is fun – you read them books and play games and they go.

    • I have been training my daughter Eva for 5 or 6 months, since she was about 5 months old. We do use the little Baby Bjorn potty. For me, it has been WAY easier to put her on the potty. It turns diaper time from a screaming fest into potty time, which is most often a happy time. Eva never goes diaperless, but she knows what it feels like to hold her pee or poop, and she knows how to release it. I don’t catch poops OR pees all the time, but we have such a fun time on the potty celebrating her successes that it’s worth it. Plus, I won’t complain if I don’t have to pay for diapers until she’s 2 or 3.

  5. I spent the better part of 18 months trying to potty train my daughter, who just decided (after her third birthday) to use the potty consistently. It’s been a frustrating process of my asking and her refusal, until just about two weeks ago.

    I’m really interested in how this worked for you. If using the potty is part of life before that defiance sets in, it might go more smoothly.
    .-= Tara @ Feels Like Home´s last blog ..Muffin Tin Monday =-.

    • Tara – I do think it works better early on or closer to when they are two. Once the kids are running all around, they are so distracted and full of character :)
      I did most of the training before they turned 9 months old. They had accidents – like twice a week or so until 15 months (my older one) and 10 months (my younger one). Like I said my older on regressed at 20 months but that I attribute more to being in surgery and breaking her arm.
      .-= Maya´s last blog ..Top 10 Ideas for Father’s Day! =-.

    • I’d love to hear more about your daughter’s refusals. I’m going through the same thing with my 2.5 yo. She can hold her pee allllll dayyyy looonng. Won’t go in the potty. I just don’t want to push her that hard, so after three hours I put her diaper back on. Any suggestions, Tara??

  6. Tsh & the gang,

    I gave you a Sunshine Award! Thanks so much for sharing snippets of your life with us…

    http://sofiasideas.com/2010/06/21/and-the-sunshine-award-goes-to/

    Sofia
    .-= Sofia’s Ideas´s last blog ..and the Sunshine Award goes to… =-.

  7. I have been told by my kids’ Pediatrician that certain chemicals are released in the brain that indicates to the child first that they have gone poop or pee, and later that they need to go. You, as a parent, are not in control of this. This is an exercise in futility! Who is really getting trained here? It’s the parent, who not only needs to learn a child’s rhythms but also to limit fluids to accomplish this task? I respect other people’s viewpoints, but I find this topic both laughable and irresponsible.
    .-= Michelle ´s last blog ..The Big Yellow Boo-Boo =-.

    • Your comment was very rude. Obviously you have not researched both sides of this issue. Babies are entirely capable of bladder control as those of us who have done it have experienced. If it’s not for you it’s fine. You really show your ignorance of the idea and of other cultures because it’s only in the US where people think these things.

    • Your comment was unnecessarily rude. Laughable AND respectful? Hardly.

      My girls were both trained to some degree by the time they were 1yos. They would sign “potty” to let us know they needed to go. The expression on their faces when they got it was not something I ever expected. I remember very distinctly both of them almost leaped off the toilet seat because they were so happy.

      My mother and mother in law are both from countries where this is commonplace. I am 40 and my mother started potty training me as soon as I was able to sit up.

      (I am a career mom of 3 kids- 6, 4, and almost 2. No nanny either. )

      • i agree the comment was unnecessary, but it’s not only in the US that people think that way. i currently live in a country where children are in diapers much later than age 2/3 in many cases (though i know there are also many countries than train really early as well). none of these ways are wrong, in my opinion, just different :).

    • avatar
      Dezirae says:

      Michelle.
      Up until the mid-1900s in Western culture babies were regularly potty trained by 1.5 years of age. Still to this day in countries like Russia, Africa, and other countries in Europe and Asia infants are potty trained often much before age 2.

      • avatar
        Dezirae says:

        If you really do your research, you would find out the initial study that “concluded” that potty training is healthier after 2 was done by the inventor and CEO of PAMPERS DISPOSABLES. They have been in business for over 60 years. Pretty good marketing stradegy if you ask me.

        And yes I concur that potty learning should begin early with learning about bath and bedtime and carseats. Also trying to train a 2 year old that is determined to be oppositional is very hard. I have done it several time in my childcare career. Just a fact: the second leading cause of child abuse in North America is due to potty training frustrations.

      • africa is not a country.. just fyi.

  8. Thank you SO MUCH for writing this up, Maya!

    My oldest daughter didn’t learn the potty until 3. My next daughter (spurred on by motivation to be just like Big Sister) learned it by 18 months (really, no effort of mine) and it was an AMAZING difference! SO MUCH FREEDOM. I loved it.

    I read more about infant potty learning (elimination communication) in the most recent issue of Mothering and I really think if we have a baby #3, I’m going to give it a try! It’s one of those things I thought “I will never” but all of those (cloth diapers, cloth pads, cloth wipes, etc) have already fallen by the wayside.

    Thank you so much for sharing specifically what it looked like for you. Fantastic article, mama!

  9. Thanks for this post! We’ve done this with two babies now and love it! Less diaper rash, less colic, no need for swim diaper (which are stupid in my opinion), less diapers, less diaper chemicals on the skin, less laundry with cloth diapers, less wipes needed, reduces potty struggles, the babies have a positive view of elimination from the start and it is respectful of the child as a human being. These are just a few of the many reasons we chose to do it. One of our babies we started at 4 days old and one we began at 1.5 weeks.

  10. I have been paying attention to my son’s cues since 6 months of age, and I feel that early potty training (though I don’t think it’s actually ‘training’ anybody) is respectful of my son’s natural awareness of his body. The cues are there, and his awareness is there. If I ignore it, he really will have to be ‘trained’ later on to use the potty. It is a wonderful (and I must say, FUN!) way to connect with my son and ensure that I am paying attention to his cues and body language. He is now almost 8 months old, and ‘tells’ me when he needs to go. Many cultures have not lost this ability to ‘pay attention’ to infants.

    I just saw the DVD “Potty Whispering” –aside from the seemingly faddish title this is a wonderful look at just how respectful early potty ‘training’ can be. As with anything in parenthood, this is a process, but like with learning to eat solids, walk, and talk, approaching it with a relaxed, enjoyable attitude makes the journey a wonderful thing.

    To respond to some of the critics above, this is not about ‘training your child in x number of days’ or by such-and-such an age. It is simply respecting your child’s natural cues. In return, your child realizes that certain sensations mean he needs to pee and poo and that you will respect his cues by letting him eliminate in a potty or toilet. Yes, there is a window of ‘readiness’, and for elimination (peeing and pooing), that readiness begins very early. There is another window of readiness when kids are 2 or 3 but why wait that long?
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..The Baby Whisperer -a book review =-.

  11. I tend to agree with andie.

    I have successfully potty-trained six children and would rather spend a day or two working with a cognizant, excited, eager , proud 2.5 to 3-year-old than a year (or more) of working on the potty concept with a young baby/toddler.

    Potty training isn’t stressful. It’s unmet or unrealistic expectations that create stress. I learned after our second child that I was making the potty issue into Mt. Everest when it could have been a sand dune at the beach—if I had only been more patient.

    When I have a new baby (#8 is due in two months) I go into it knowing I’ll be diapering their little bums for 2.5 -3 years.

    I agree with you regarding kiddie potties. They are a waste of space and annoying to clean. I use potty rings.

    I have nothing against putting young babies on the potty. It’s harmless. It’s just not for me. When you find what works for you and your kids it’s always a gift. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge any mom success with early potty training.
    .-= gretchen from lifenut´s last blog ..This woman’s work =-.

  12. Thanks for the post. My first little one is 10 months, and we’ve already started the potty training process. I haven’t been very consistent, but it has been a very relaxed process so far. In my mind, we are just getting her used to the idea of a “potty” and what “pee-pee” and “poo-poo” mean. We rejoice and throw a mini-party whenever she uses the potty. I don’t feel stressed about this at all, because I know we have time. But I also have wanted more of a consistent routine to be established. So I really appreciated the tips in the article. Being a first time mom, I haven’t really know where to start, so this helps a lot. Thanks Maya!

  13. I do wish i had tried EC when my were infants. I had an interesting talk with a friend once who spent time in China when her oldest was a baby. She said the women who took care of her baby there were horrified that the little guy was in diapers! :)

    I’ve always had mine potty trained by 2, but this third little guy is not as co-operative! :) I however do like the baby potties, simply because two of my 3 were terrified of the big toilets. They didn’t like the sensation of me holding them over the potty, they felt more secure on a baby potty. Plus, it allowed more freedom, because then they could run into the potty and sit right down even if I wasn’t there yet.

  14. I agree that while this is an interesting idea & process, it seems like more extra work than it’s worth. Like others mentioned, my son trained himself in one easy day at 3 1/2. I much prefer spending a few minutes diapering my babies than having to revolve my life during their first year watching for signs and sitting on the toilet with them . I think infants should be held and cuddles and nursed and rocked. Kids grow up SO fast…why try to rush it? Enjoy the first few years of catering to their every need because soon enough, they won’t want you to do anything for them!! But to each their own!!

    • Hi Jane:

      Just to add my perspective, I guess I view this as one of the ways that I cater to his every need –elimination, just like feeding, is a need that I meet in a more evolutionary way akin to breastfeeding instead of formula. It’s not that it is more work or less work –it’s just different work at a different time than more modern toilet training at 2 or 3. I feel like it has let me get to know my son even better because I understand his signs for this, and hunger, and sleep, etc. It is just one facet in my parenting. If he didn’t (or doesn’t) show interest, I wouldn’t do it (just as would happen with introducing solids, or with starting toilet training at 2 or 3). In fact, slowing down (not rushing) and enjoying one on one time is one of the things that makes elimination communication so rewarding. I don’t do it for the goal of earlier independence, since he will need my help for a long time. Regardless, we will both have children who are using the toilet quite independently at age 5. Just a different philosophy and route.

      I definitely hold and cuddle and nurse and rock him lots –it’s just without a diaper on! :) (this would have been a shocking image to me 8 months ago LOL!!)
      .-= Heather´s last blog ..The Baby Whisperer -a book review =-.

      • It’s interesting that people think that it takes so much more time to introduce the potty earlier. We spent waaay more time changing diapers than we spent going on the potty and we could play games and read books while doing it.

  15. avatar
    Tabitha says:

    I don’t know about putting infants on the potty. Both of my girls were pee-pee monsters. However, I think it’s absolutely possible to potty train early. My older daughter was potty trained at 2 years, 2 months and that happened within three days. A couple of months later she was completely out of pullups at night. She only wears big girl panties now and she isn’t yet 3. My younger daughter is 9 months and she is very interested in the potty so we will begin sitting her on there. My approach was to simply encourage interest. We read books and sing songs while sitting there. I started out taking her potty when she got up and right before she went down for nap or bedtime. It was really easy, which I found kind of surprising after hearing horror stories from so many moms. I hope to have my little one potty trained a little sooner, because she will watch her big sister. Thanks for sharing your insight!

  16. I was the mom who would have scoffed at this article first time around. When I heard people talk about ECing it felt like, “Oh brother, one more thing–what am I supposed to be freaking super mom and drop the diapers too?”

    However, we came into the experience due to need. We moved into a new home when my second was 3 months old and although I had full expectations of instantly installing a washer/dryer (for our cloth diapers) a plumber quickly told us our plumbing was too old and we couldn’t pipe them in. I started doing our family laundry at the laundromat and with an infant this is no simple task. The diapers alone were so many and very costly to watch. I did buy some disposables , but those were also costly and I had already built up my cloth diaper stash so it was also disheartening.

    My friend gently mentioned that I should try ECing. She said I could even just do it during one part of the day and at least it would cut down on the diapers used.

    I was desperate so I tried. After the baby’s morning nap (I read that babies pee immediately after waking) I held him over the toilet and went “psssss” and to my serious disbelief he peed! Then I kept him bare bottomed for another hour or so and tried to catch another one. I considered every catch one less diaper. I still put him in diapers and I didn’t stress about missing a catch, but I did change him immediately to encourage him to stay sensitive being wet.

    Pooing was by far the easiest. After he nursed I would hear him pass gas and put him on the potty. I think I have only changed my 2 year old’s poopy diaper a total of a dozen times in two years. It it so much cleaner and easier to have them poo directly on the toilet.

    Again, I never stressed or worried if we didn’t have it together, but we saved so much money and so much effort and the miraculousness of it blew my mind. It really opened my eyes to how much more tuned in and aware babies are than I had given them credit for.

    At about a year he started initiating and asking for the potty. By 15 months he would independently get up and run to the bathroom to pee all by himself or come and ask me to help get him set up to poo. At 18 months he stayed 100% dry through the nights and it’s been not a second thought in our family since them.

    Sorry for the long response, but I can’t tell you how amazing the journey has been and again I stress–I was not on some crazy, must run around and be controlled by my babies every pee.

    (For what it’s worth I don’t like to use the word “training”. For us it was just an awareness/part of our life.)

    Thanks for the stimulating conversation!
    .-= hillary´s last blog ..hillaryboucher: RT @dudeman718: Four Websites You Should Know About… http://is.gd/cX1hv =-.

    • Thank you for your post! I am interested in EC with my 9 month old but I don’t know how to start. I also use cloth diapers but I enjoy using them and have a stash built up so I don’t need to try EC, but your post encouraged me to try and see how easy it is. I also don’t have my daughter on a strict schedule.. it’s summertime and we go to bed at different times and are out at different times… and eat at different times, but I think now I would like to at least give it a try. Although cloth diapers are cheaper and healthier and much better for the environment (than disposables), no diapers are even more so!
      Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Hillary – thanks so much for your experience as a former skeptic to a convert! :) I also thought this all sounded like just too much when I first heard of it, but after hearing so many moms testify to the workability of it, I really can see us trying it in the future (if we have another).

    • Hillary,
      Your initial reactions defiantly mirrored my own. I heard about EM when my daughter was a baby and thought moms that do this must spend their entire day obsessing over their child’s bowel movements.

      But Maya’s article makes it sound rather intuitive. When I think back, I pretty much knew when my daughter was going to changed on a daily basis, why not just put her on the potty first? I love the way you and Maya (and many of the other Mom’s who’ve posted) have this low pressure, flexible attitude about it instead of the super regimented approach I had imagined.

      Although potty training my daughter was laughably easy (she just started going on her own without really telling anyone when she was 2!) I will defiantly try this with our next child. Diapers are so expensive and terrible for the environment. Not to mention diaper rash and the not so fun job of wiping up poo…. These all sound like things I could have less of in my life.

      Thanks for great info.

  17. These thing come in cycles – up to the 60s parent started to train babies from the age of birth practically – in the 70s when I had my kids you didnt start until around age 2.
    Now it is back the other way with quite a few (does it seem like ?) Christian mothers.
    I think anyone who is potty training a child should inform themselves as to early childhood physiology. Training should not be seen as “molding” I think it can be the whole controlling aspect of religious upbringing that come into play.
    I have potty trained 12 children and my only advice is : dont make a huge deal about it and make it as low key as possible and dont start too young.

  18. this really does work – we work as missionaries in w. africa and this is quite similar to what the ladies there do to train their children and most kids are accident free by the age of 12-15 mos. i learned by watching them… it is the way we’ve trained 6 of our 8 kids. our youngest is 18 mos and she is mostly diaper free except for when we are in situations or places where others would be upset or offended by an accident. she is dry at nights, too – although we still have her sleeping in diapers or pull-ups so we don’t have any accidents on someone else’s mattresses – we are living in a church’s missions house.

    i’ve found it much easier to do while in africa or during warmer months than here, during winter months, in the states… people worry about accidents on carpets, in carseats, etc. for me, the key thing to remember is that potty training is like anything else i teach my kids – learning to use a spoon, dress themselves, brush their teeth or hair – their level of independence grows as they do, but they are quite capable of remembering and letting me know their needs/wants. i just have to be willing to, at times, inconvenience myself to help them. one other strategy i’ve found that helps – bare bottoms or panties while baby-wearing… i don’t like that wet feeling either! :-)

    i love potty training in this way – it is low key, no pressure… even fun as we celebrate successes and watch the looks of astonishment on grandparents’ and aunts’ and uncles’ faces… as long as i remember that mistakes and failures are also part of the learning.
    .-= richelle´s last blog ..Happy Father’s Day =-.

  19. It took me a year to potty train my now-almost-four-year-old out of cloth diapers. It wasn’t stressful, but it was long and hard work. Then my sister-in-law waited until her son was ready to potty train a week after his third birthday. He said, “Mommy, I don’t want to use diapers any more.” And that was it, both for day and night. No potty training. Why did I bother, and why would anyone bother, to potty train so young?

  20. Thanks for all the comments. I wrote the article and I can see both perspectives myself. My older one was trained later (15 months) and younger at 9 months! Why would I want to use diapers for 3-4 times longer?
    But I will say the following –
    1. It was a fun process. Seeing that kids are actually capable of controlling their bladder and communicate wanting to go was a JOY of parenthood. I am very laid back – if this process was that stressful, I would not have done it. It was just like teaching my kids to floss and brush teeth.
    2. While it takes a couple of weeks to train (not two days like some commenters said at 2 years of age), it is not a long endless process. So if you want to use far fewer diapers (or none) by the time your child is 1 and NEVER have to clean a poop diaper, this is your way.
    3. Diapers were invented by adults and for convenience. Without disposable diapers, we would have all naturally trained our children earlier – like they have historically done in other countries. I could not imagine my child sitting in his or her own poop – I’d rather sit her on a potty twice a day at six months of age.
    Finally, it is about what works for you. It is like choosing organic/natural foods over processed foods or choosing cloth diapers over disposable diapers. Do what works for you. Parenting is not easy by any standards – so do what works for you.

    • Thanks for your follow-up and clarification, Maya! I think you make a great point about the use of diapers. Different people are going to have different feelings about the amount of waste that goes out of their homes. Some people are not bothered by throwing out disposable diapers and some are. (Just like some people are rather horrified by taking children to McDonald’s and others find it to be a fun treat.)

      Practicing elimination communication (or whatever label you want to put on it) is the only truly sustainable way to manage infant waste. Seeing how many disposable diapers our family was contributing to landfills was a major reason I diapered my babies in cloth. Even cloth diapers require energy usage to clean – so again, no (or very few) diapers have the least environmental impact.

      Also, I am a parent who has taken potty “training” out of my vocabulary and choose to call it potty “learning” instead. Maybe my approach to toileting was different from others, but I didn’t train my daughters. I helped them to learn how to use the potty.

      As an above commenter noted, we teach our infants to drink from cups, to eat with spoons, and to use sign language to communicate their needs. I am one who originally thought that only the parents were “being trained” in this process, but after reflection and learning more about the process, I can now see it as just another aspect of teaching our little ones as they grow.

      Again, Maya, thank you so much for this article. It is so helpful and so enlightening!

  21. As I read through this post, all I kept thinking about is: “What’s the hurry?” Aside from saving some dollars on diapers (if your children use them), I think we should just let children be. I have never met anyone who is 5, 6, 8 or 10 who is not toilet trained. So, they’ll get there…trust me.
    .-= angelica @ Modern Familia´s last blog ..Learning About Self-Confidence From a 4-Year Old Girl =-.

    • You may not have run into many school-age children who aren’t potty trained, but it is actually a huge problem in the US and UK. Many, many children are entering public school at age 5 without being potty trained, and school officials are having a hard time figuring out what to do about it.

      • I have never, ever heard of any child that is 5 and is not potty trained in this country, and I’ve been in the school system for quite some time, both as a parent of 4 children and as a clinical psychologist. And, even “if” there was a real problem with children being 5 years old and not toilet trained, it does NOT mean that toilet training needs to start just a few weeks after birth. I cannot possibly imagine the psychological ramifications of a mother being persistently attending to every grimace and movement of a newborn or infant, checking to see if they need to move their bowels. Such controlling behaviors, at such an early age, can continue to manifest itself later on, both on the parent and the child.

        • Seriously, do a little research and check out the new average ages for most of the population (27-36 months) vs. the old average (18 months), and then check out what’s still happening internationally (no diapers for most of the world).

          Here’s just one article (certainly not scholarly lit, but all I have time to pull up at the moment) about the issue in the UK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1203803/Children-wearing-nappies-school-parents-busy-potty-train.html

          Also, when you talk about attending to childrens signs of need, it’s no different than responding to a hunger or comfort cue. Basically you’re saying that the rest of the entire world is messed up (not an unfamiliar attitude for people in the US to take, that’s for sure!) and we’re the superior ones with our plastic products. Good job, us!

          It is in no way natural to allow children to shit their pants. Diapers are a new invention for convenience, and I’m not sure they’ve been around long enough for us to see what their true psychological manifestations might be. It is the way things are done most of the time in the US, and that’s fine–but we shouldn’t come off like we’re better than everyone else (especially psychologically–I mean, REALLY? That’s just a laugh). We should just own it. We’re a different kind of busy and we’re fine with letting our kids poop in their pants because we don’t have time to notice their needs until the smell hits us.

          • You sound so angry…did you notice…?

          • Angry? No. I’m just passionate! But you’re snarky, and that’s an unfortunate way to attend to a dialogue.

            Cheers.

          • If you are passionate about something, there is no need to judge others, as you did in your previous comments, suggesting that US people are clueless and ego-centric on this topic. Snarky? You were the one that stated “psychologically…that’s just a laugh…”. So, I’m confused about your statement your thoughts that I’m the one not holding a good dialogue.

            If you are passionate about something, put it out there, but don’t impose it with judgment and anger. That’s all I have to say — I’m not wasting any more time with this invaluable conversation.

  22. Wow! This has been quite controversial, huh?

    We didn’t do EC, but did encourage our daughter to go into the bathroom when she was eliminating, and left her diaper free as often as possible at home.

    We gave her a great deal of praise when she did go, but we didn’t really do much teaching or even asking her to go, at least at first. For a long time, though, we would put her in diapers to go out, for naps, and at night.

    By 15 months, she was using the potty a few times a day. By 18 months, she was at-home potty trained except when sleeping. By 2, she was daytime potty trained, even going out. Now, she still does wear one nighttime diaper (she nurses a lot at night… a whole different story). All battle free!

    We always felt, though, that she could have easily done it earlier. We were just too sleep deprived to try! Next time, I think we will, though :)
    .-= Kendra@www.thebutterflynest.blogspot.com´s last blog ..Discovering Waldorf: 1 =-.

  23. Wow – What is it about this issue that stirs up such contempt among those who don’t want to do it?! Parenting is WORK – but its really up to us what kind of work we want to do! Some want to diaper and potty train quickly after 2.5 to 3 years. Some would rather have a longer process of potty training and then be done with diapers earlier. It’s just a different kind of work, people!

    I hadn’t really given early potty training a thought until my little guy was around 8 months old, and then I jumped in with both feet! I was truly amazed how quickly he figured out what the potty was for – we did use a little potty, and now I’m wondering how to make that transition to the big one! Next time around I’ll start with a regular toilet!

    I love that you included positive reinforcement twice – it really is that important! When some people heard what I was doing they thought I was some sort of potty dictator or something – but that couldn’t have been less true! We celebrate successes, we minimize accidents, and prepare for the next time.

    At 23 months, my little boy is 100% around the house trained, and mostly out-of-the-house trained, but we do have to keep that darn potty in the car since I can’t get him anywhere near a toilet :)

    Given the choice between the work of diapering and the work of pottying – I chose (and will choose for my other children ) the potty – hands down!

  24. I potty trained all 3 of my kids using some of the tricks in the book: How to Potty Train Your Child in A Day. It took about 2 weeks for each kid- not 24 hours, as the book suggests. But each of my kids were trained by their second birthday, or at least on their way. I heard about potty training infants but I didn’t have the energy or patience when they were that age. For some reason cleaning up diapers seemed easier at that point.

  25. I wanted to add something since I diapered and potty learned my oldest in our regular American way and then EC’d my second.

    Like all of life, learning is a continuum–a process. When I look back at my first I can very clearly see that we taught him to ignore his body signals. We didn’t know when he was peeing and we never knew when to expect a poo. When we initiated potty learning with him it was completely introducing him to the idea that he went to the bathroom. He picked up the peeing part pretty quickly at almost 3, but took a while to get the whole pooing thing and a really long time to stay dry overnight. With my second we never taught him to turn off his awareness and just tuned in.

    I look at my two year old now and I just can’t imagine him wanting to poo in his pants. It’s a non-reality. There was no “rush”. It was just a normal continuum of learning. It is also by far the most economic and green choice available to us as parents.

    (Funny story–my family/mom thought along the same lines of many of the people commenting here. She had him on her lap at about 9 months at a family barbeque and she was telling my aunts, “Yeah, she holds him over the toilet and says “psssss” and he pees!” As soon as she finished the sentence she jumped up in surprise and exclaimed, “he peed on me!” All of the sudden her eyes grew wide and she exclaimed, “Wait, did he pee because I said the cue word!!!!” She became a little more of a believer that day ;)
    .-= hillary´s last blog ..hillaryboucher: RT @dudeman718: Four Websites You Should Know About… http://is.gd/cX1hv =-.

    • That’s a great story, Hillary!

      I love how you said that we teach them to be unaware of their bodies and then have to reintroduce the concept. They are so much more capable than we (American society) give them credit for!

  26. avatar
    erin rae says:

    We’ve very part-time EC’d since my daughter was a month or so old and it’s been great. Even when very little she would get cranky, and it was such a relief just to be able to put her over the toilet with her knees up and have her go. She would calm immediately, it was one less diaper to clean, and she wasn’t fussing trying to go for ages, with us wondering what was wrong…

    She is now 20 months and our biggest issue is getting clothes on and off. Thankfully it’s summer, so we just do dresses with nothing underneath around the house. She has trouble getting undies or training pants off herself, but if she is pant-free, she’ll happily take herself to the potty, then tell me when she’s gone. Any suggestions?

    For us, the little potties have been great, though we do use a ring as well. She happily transitions between both. The main benefit for us with the little potties was to be able to keep one right next to her when playing. For a while, it definitely seemed like an out-of-sight, out-of-mind phenomenon – so these helped.

  27. Children only learn to control the muscles needed to wee and poo when they are about 12-18 month of age. Anything before that is just the mum acting on the signs she has come to know (in my personal opinion, no disrespect to the author). Which is not to say that there surely are exceptions to the rule!

    Personally I do not agree with carrying children to the toilet at 11 or so at night. You are training them to go to the toilet in the middle of the night when half asleep which in my opinion sets you up for bedwetting.

    I trained my oldest son at 3 years and he was nappy-free within a week. He never had accidents.

    My middle son got trained at 2 and it took him 3 weeks. We had the odd accident for about half a year.

    My daughter is now 18 months and we started to take off the nappy for a couple of hours at night. We also have a potty lying around though she does not seem interested in it and with the boys we skipped the potty phase completely which will happen again I suppose. I guess the potty is more of a reminder for us parents to get us into potty training gear once again!

    I always go cold turkey and leave nappies both off day and night.

    There are a lot of theories and ideas out there, you just have to find the one that is right for YOU.

    • You commented that taking a child to the toilet at 11 pm will set them up for bed wetting, but I wanted to say that isn’t true in our case. After our daughter was potty trained in 3 days at 2 yrs old, she would almost nightly wake up to go potty at 2 or 3 am. So we started taking her at 11 when we would go to bed – she always stayed asleep & stopped waking at 2 or 3 am. Plus, she has never wet the bed and is now 7 yrs old. Just wanted to encourage others to consider the 11 pm potty trip to help ensure everyone can sleep through the night! :)

  28. Hi! This was an interesting article and by no means a new concept for me since I am from India. However, I do want to clarify one thing. You said that you started their training at six weeks of age when they soiled their diapers twice a day…did you mean six months, as an infant at 6 weeks generally soils his diapers several times?
    .-= Roshni´s last blog ..Class Act =-.

  29. Many questions. Theoretically this sounds wonderful. But I am completely clueless how it is possible. Do most children really have a natural schedule? Neither of my children have BM or pee on any type of schedule as far as I can tell. And while my youngest (14 months) does occasionally make faces etc…when she need to have a BM, my oldest never did. So I really don’t understand “how” to do this..
    Although it is too late for my oldest, she is almost 3 and we are trying to potty train has been sooo difficult.
    Is it possible to do this type of thing w/ a 14 month old though. Or have I missed the magic window? It would be really nice to not have to go through the same thing with her when she is 2.

    • Hi Debbie,

      I speak from my own experience – so I know this is possible since I have done it.
      I have not trained a lot of kids, but a number of friends have had success with what I have said after I said.

      To answer your questions –
      1. YES! children do have a natural schedule. Their bodies love a schedule too. They eat at regular times – so unless there is a change in diet, they do mostly poop around the same time. And little babies are so much more predictable since they are not eating a bunch of snacks at various intervals.
      2. Training a 14 month old will depend a lot on the child’s temperament I think. Because they just won’t stay put in one spot, they have a mind of their own BUT they don’t yet talk. That is a difficult age.

      Here is what I would do –
      – Have a massage routine if at all possible. Get her to lay down and have her cycle her legs . A lot of times, that stimulates the bowel muscles.
      – make it fun for her to sit on the potty. Sing songs and give her a lot of positive reinforcement.

      With that, within the next week or so, you might get her to poop in the potty once. Make a big deal of it and she will catch on a bit. Don’t stress yourself. Most kids LOVE to make parents happy – so if you show true appreciation, she will start working towards it :)

      Once poop is out of the way, you can try to train her to pee, but that will be harder – as I discovered with my first one.
      .-= Maya´s last blog ..Top 10 Ideas for Father’s Day! =-.

  30. Kaye, awesome! What countries are your families from? I started my babies at 4 days and 1.5 weeks and they both went the first time I put them on. I agree they are so happy when they “go”! It’s so nice to hear from an adult who was ec’ed! Thanks for posting ~ I’ve been following this thread all day because it’s a topic I’m passionate about!

  31. >>In my case, my kids rarely soiled their diapers
    >>beyond four months of age. They were both
    >>walking by the time they were ten months old
    >>and started to make trips to the bathroom by
    >>themselves. By 15 to 18 months, they were both
    >>completely potty trained.

    No offense, but after reading your post, I am convinced that your children will also suffer from anxiety induced ticks and low self esteem. Only a mom who is more interested in the sport of competitive blogging than being a nurturing and respectful parent would force their child to be potty trained at 4 months old. Did you also feed your baby solid food at 2 weeks to help him sleep through the night in record time? Infant flash cards to help her demonstrate (i.e. memorize) addition and subtraction by the age of two?

    Let’s all check back in 15 years to see the damage that this blogger has caused her child from a lifetime of unrealistic expectations.

    • Oh my goodness! Maybe you haven’t been reading through. There is no forcing. This is not a new concept, but has been done since the beginning of time and is the way other cultures who live closer to nature do it. Anxiety induced ticks? Your trying to make us laugh right? You know that there are thousands and thousands of diaper free families out there and anxiety induced ticks is not one of the side effects of ECing.

      What do you think people did before Pampers? Or even before cloth diapers? Do you really think parents were hand washing a dozen or more dirty diapers a day? Were all the kids anxious and anxiety ridden? eh.
      .-= hillary´s last blog ..hillaryboucher: RT @dudeman718: Four Websites You Should Know About… http://is.gd/cX1hv =-.

    • Reality check! Certainly an offensive and angry post, but let us ask why? Perhaps you have some unresolved issues of your own regarding different methods than the ones that you used.

  32. Little in this wold is more offensive than the snide use of “no offense”. For many families EC seems to work and is actually convenient. For others, not so much. The best path for potty training will be based on some combination of biological development of the tot, temperament of the tot, and temperament of the parents. We just trained our 3 year old, who made it clear for many months that he had no interest and didn’t see the need. We provided the environment — real underwear, a stepstool and a potty ring, and he took care of the rest in a matter of days. Have no idea how to go about nighttime training yet.

    Oh, my one helpful thing to add — kids don’t like to interrupt a fun activity. When I saw my guy wriggling while watching a program, I asked if he needed to pee and he said no. I reflected for a second and said, “well, if you decide you need to go let me know and I’ll pause the TV so you don’t miss anything.”. Moments later he took me up on the offer.
    .-= Daisy´s last blog ..Just Another Birthing Tale =-.

  33. It’s so funny to me that people are so passionate (and sometimes angrily so) about issues like this. This was an excellent post, a “what I did” sort of thing, explaining that this is possible, and what’s involved if you want to try it. For me, my lifestyle and personality simply wouldn’t make this feasible. But it’s awesome for everyone who finds a solution that makes their life easier in one way or another!

    I read a lot of parenting blogs, and I wish we could all just do what works for us—instead of saying “this way is better” or “why would you want to do it any other way?” or “I can’t believe so-and-so does such-and-such.” Mommy-ing would be so much easier without all the judgment—or fear of judgment. I got interesting comments from people about how long I breastfed my son–14 months—as well as my choice NOT to use cloth diapers (no washer/dryer!), and my limited attempt at homemade baby food….seriously, just do what works for you!

  34. Here is a wonderful article from Mothering magazine that might shed some light on some of the less-understood (or perhaps judged) aspects of infant pottying:
    http://www.mothering.com/green-living/mothering-mindfulness-and-babys-bottom

    Here is a wonderful article from Mothering magazine that might shed some light on some of the less-understood (or perhaps judged) aspects of infant pottying:
    http://www.mothering.com/green-living/mothering-mindfulness-and-babys-bottom

    It was the above Mothering article that turned the tables on THIS skeptical mom, who would have flatly dismissed infant pottying if asked during my pregnancy or the first few months of my son’s life. It’s a reminder to me that when I am skeptical about something, I want to work at asking “how do you do that?”, instead of saying “it can’t (or shouldn’t) be done”.
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..The Baby Whisperer -a book review =-.

  35. EC is truly an amazing thing! I congratulate you on your successes… I hope I can do the same!

  36. More than anything, I’m just glad Maya had the courage to write such a fantastically clear post about a controversial topic. Good for you, Maya!

  37. I’m in one of those countries where no one uses diapers but I still can’t figure out how to do it. I would like to try but it all seems so strange and hard to me and I don’t want to get stressed out. But if someone could give me clear instructions as to how to do it, I would like to try. My oldest is almost a year and a half and I guess not in one of those windows but the youngest is just going to be three months very soon. What can I do? I would like to train her as I think the oldest may be able to be trained by watching the youngest. I can’t poop train her as she only goes poop every few days–all day long practically. Should I just put her on the toilet after she wakes in the morning and after her naps or what? If someone could answer this question, I’d appreciate it. I’m using disposables since I have no place to buy cloth.

  38. This is a very interesting perspective that I wish I had read about years ago. My boys didn’t potty train until 3 and it was definitely a struggle at times. What a great post!
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..Pedal Go Karts – Safe Enough For Parents And Cool Enough For Kids =-.

  39. Wow, I’m so enjoying this thread of conversation as a mother of three children under the age of 5. Potty training always stimulates such great conversation. And as a cloth diaperer of #1, and part-time EC’er of my 2nd and 3rd children (beginning at 2 days old), I’m always so amazed at people’s surprise and lack of trust in the human body. Yes, our bodies work. And when you think about it, a baby is completely wired to feel at birth. Life for a baby is all about eating, eliminating and being soothed.
    I did want to add though that I’ve never heard the term potty “training” used to describe this method, as historically in the US early potty training used to be done rather abusively (spankings when wetting, forcing child to sit until they’ve gone, etc.). I’ve only heard of this method as Elimination Communication (EC), diaper-free, Natural Infant Hygiene (NIH), and of course, all of the terms the rest of the world uses and has used for centuries pre-plastic-diaper-invention.
    Cheers to learning, sharing and being open to one another’s unique circumstances and choices in life!
    .-= Rosie Girl´s last blog ..Tuesday Thoughts | Bedtime: The Road Traveled Together =-.

  40. avatar
    Jessica says:

    I can appreciate the author’s comments and her choice to make this a focus with her own children. I think what gets people upset, is the opinion that her way is the “right ” way. I know after having 4 children that what works for one child, doesn’t work for others, even if the environment is controlled the same way. Great, its possible to train your child by 4 months! That doesn’t mean that every child could be trained by 4 months? Absolutely not. I had 2 children that wet the bed through 7 years of age, and 2 that never ever wet the bed a single day.
    Maya, I saw that you responded to someone that at 2 years-old, it take 2 weeks to train, not 2 days to train. Just so you know, I had all four of my children potty trained between 22-23 months, and it only took 2 days with each of them. Just 2 days and no accidents! So for me, it is possible to train in 2 days, but that doesn’t mean that every child will respond like mine did.

    • I have found that to be true also – wait til they are ready and it takes 2 days! I thought this article was interesting, but was a little concerned about with-holding liquids for an infant.

  41. Great article, but infant potty training is not for me. I haven’t even thought about potty training yet, as my little one is only six months old. I’m good doing it when she is 2 or so.

  42. avatar
    allison says:

    Without having read the rest of the comments (which I probably will do, given my interest), I’ll weigh in to say that I’ve just begun the journey of elimination communication with my 3 month old. While “elimination communication” is cumbersome to say (try EC instead), it more accurately reflects what I’m going for in this process than “infant potty training.” I don’t know about anyone else, but as a new first time mom, I’ve been desperate for communication with my baby. I didn’t have a lot of experience with babies before, and the thought of waiting until words and full sentences to know what was going on with him was agonizing. That was what made EC too good not to try. I do like the idea of changing fewer diapers, (I won’t lie!) but at its core, for me this is about communicating with my baby.

    I do appreciate your emphasis on being relaxed about it, Maya. It certainly didn’t work at all when I was stressed out about it, because the baby picked up on my stress right away.

  43. Has this worked for anyone who wasn’t a stay at home mom? I would love to try this but I doubt that our daycare provider will be very willing. Has anyone had any success with doing EC just on nights and weekends?

    • I would guess that it would be tricky. I’ve been a WOHM and a SAHM, and honestly in either setting I am not certain we could have done EC. For those of us who do not parent alone, the whole team needs to be on board for something like this. For you, that would include your day care provider and your partner if you are not a single mom. That’s a lot of opinions and temperaments to manage. There are a few parenting strategies that I chose not to pursue simply because I wanted to honor my husband’s patience and attention span threshold. Sometimes our style and temperament differences don’t matter so much, and the child adapts to and maybe benefits from different people. But a few things need a lot of consistency and I would put sleep and potty in that bucket for sure.
      .-= Daisy´s last blog ..Just Another Birthing Tale =-.

    • A few of the resources I have read have emphasized that ‘part time’ ECing works. It may not be as ‘successful’ (however you define that) as full time, but it is what I’m doing even though I AM home for one year. I figure part time is much more practical for most of us than full time…Perhaps if my son goes to a home day care it may work there as well. However, I still have a diaper on him when we go out, and about half of the time we’re home. An infant will still be more aware of their signals and, from what I’ve read, will learn that they get to use the potty or toilet at home, but that they use a diaper at the daycare.

      The DVD “Potty Whispering” that I borrowed from our public library, discusses part time EC’ing, to name but one. I think diaperfree.org has some discussion on part time EC’ing.
      .-= Heather´s last blog ..The Baby Whisperer -a book review =-.

    • avatar
      allison says:

      I am at home right now, and even so, I can really recommend you check out The Diaper-Free Baby, by Christine Gross-Loh. She discusses three “tracks” of EC — full time, part time, and occasional. Briefly, full time is aiming to get all of the pee and poo in the potty, part time can be as little as once a day, or just catching the poops, etc, and occasional can be as infrequently as weekly. Read the book, though, she’ll address your questions.

      And what questions you don’t get answered, go to diaperfreebaby.org and find a support group in your area. That was invaluable for me. I got to see real people who do this, instead of just reading about it. Or, join the online chats. The next one is actually this Thursday July 1!

      What I’m doing is part time, since my son stays in a diapers over night, and when we’re out and about. I like that even part time or occasional EC can help the baby retain awareness of the muscles needed to pee and poo, and give me another window into his world.

  44. avatar
    natalie says:

    Maya, I want to add my heart felt thank you for your experience and your beautiful articulation.

    Exactly one week ago, I read this article and felt inspired, later in the evening, to mention your idea of bringing your girls to the toilet in the middle of the night to help them make it through the night. My daughter has a bladder of steel and refused a night diaper whereas my son, who’s older, has needed one only at night. By the way, they learned together at 3 and 5 years old.

    I was very careful talking to my son about this because he’s very sensitive and I didn’t want to worry him and potentially lose the ground we had with using the toilet during the day. So I asked him if he wanted to try it and would he mind being woken up in the middle of the night. He didn’t answer directly but I could see he was processing it. My daughter asked a lot of questions so I had the chance of talking more about your idea without pressuring him to talk to me about it. Once he said yes to trying, I asked him if he’d like to try in one week but he piped up immediately and said ‘no June 30th’. This is a boy that loves the calendar! Well last night, Daddy brought his usual night diaper and asked if he wanted it tonight. ‘No’ he said. So at midnight, I whisked him to the toilet, held him and cradled him. He peed more or less still asleep:)

    I am so grateful for your inspiration. Your gentle way really helped me find my own way (of going with the flow, intentionally and respectfully) and circumvent my own hang ups around this issue.
    Cheers.

  45. avatar
    Jessica T. says:

    I’m kind of late coming into this discussion, but hopefully there are still people reading the comments who might be able to offer some advice. I’ve considered doing ECing for awhile and reading this article and having to change my son’s first “solid food” diaper this morning tipped the scale. :P My little guy is just over six months old, and I know that’s later than people normally start ECing…any tips for starting this late? One of the main things that kept me from implementing this was that my son doesn’t seem to have a consistent “rhythm”…sometimes he’ll poo a couple times a day, sometimes he’ll not poo at all for a couple days and then do a big one (my midwife said this is normal for some babies). Lately, when he does go, it’s in the morning, but not every morning… So should I just put him on the toilet every morning anyway? Thanks in advance for any help!
    ~Jessica

  46. Hi Jessica:

    I started this relatively late too –when my son was 6 months old. I may not be as ‘in sync’ as I would be had we started earlier, but it is certainly working well for us. For my son, poops were daily, but not always; mostly in the morning, but sometimes not. Much like your son –consistent, sort of. Although consistency helps (and I’m not referring to how solid the poo is :) ) it certainly for me has been more to do with realizing there are cues that my son gives that I was completely unaware of. By leaving the diaper off as much as possible I picked up on some signs that I was able to respond to. I did use timing a lot (and still do) especially, as you say, first thing in the morning as well as after naps and after feeding. I’m slowly gaining confidence (and a sense of adventure!) by waiting a bit until he gives me a cue. It has led to a few more clothes changes today, but another new level of awareness on my part. I’m having fun taking ‘one step back’ in order to take more steps forward. (Thankfully I am doing this before he is crawling –I imagine that adds a whole new dimension to it, though undoubtedly still doable).

    My son is now 8 months old, and although we are still using as many (or more) cloth diapers than we used to (largely because I am way more aware when there is a wet diaper), the expression on his face when he goes in the potty is a look of serene relaxation, a look of ‘letting go’. It tells me we are doing what is natural for him, and we are all enjoying the process.

    I say go for it! I am reading “Diaper Free” by Bauer, and there is a chapter in Laurie Boucke’s “Infant Potty Basics” on late starters (6 months or older). I also joined a couple of Yahoo groups (EC and DiaperFree.org) that are great sources of support and ideas. Keep us posted!

    Heather
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..The Baby Whisperer -a book review =-.

    • avatar
      Jessica T. says:

      Thank you so much for the help, Heather…it was really encouraging to hear from another mom who started ECing later and have it still working for you! Ever since deciding to finally start this yesterday, I’ve been watching my son to learn his cues and thus far we’ve caught a couple pees. :) I’m not sure my husband would like the whole diaper-less idea, so would going cover-less in diapers (I use cloth…prefolds with covers) accomplish pretty much the same thing?

      As for books, I found a bunch of different ones on Amazon…if you had to choose the most helpful one (especially for a late starter), which one would it be?

      And some other stuff I’ve read discourages using a potty seat instead of just sitting your child on the big toilet seat because the child can supposedly get attached to the potty seat and refuse to go without it (i.e. when you’re out and about)…has that ever been an issue for any of you? I can’t imagine not using a potty seat since my six-month-old is already twenty pounds and it can get tiring holding that weight over the toilet all the time!

      • I am loving all this –thanks Maya for lighting the fire on this topic with your blog!

        My 6 month old was also over 20 lbs (at 8 months –who knows –22lbs??) so I hear you! I do use a potty with my son and have wondered about ‘potty addiction’. However, I have decided that if I approach it in the same laid back manner as I strive to do everything else, and if he sees us using the toilet all the time, the transition will happen naturally. We haven’t taken the potty ‘on the road’ yet, but I think we will be next weekend. Aside from that, I plan to buy a Baby Bjorn toilet seat reducer to widen the options at home. For now it sure seems easier to use the potty, especially since I’m still learning his cues. I keep the potty close and when he pulls at his penis I tap the potty and ask him if he needs to go.

        One book recommendation? I am still reading Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer and am loving it. That is the only book I’ve read, but I also have Laurie Boucke’s “Infant Potty Basics” –both authors seem to be the American gurus on the subject. Ingrid’s writing is very reassuring and lovely.

  47. I have not had to time to read through all of the comments, but I would like to know if anyone has had success doing this early training with boys. The author sounds like she had two girls, and I know from my own experience with boy #1 that boys usually take longer to train, and train at a later age than girls. Now I have boy #2, and I honestly can never tell when he is about to poop. I will start seeing if I can notice the signs, because I use cloth diapers, and it sure would be nice not clean poopy ones!
    .-= Violette Crumble´s last blog ..Wedding pillow =-.

  48. Thank you for that link Heather! I found a local EC group through it, so hopefully I can talk with others who have boys, and get some advice there too.
    .-= Violette Crumble´s last blog ..Wedding pillow =-.

  49. Thanks so much for answering questions for each other. I really appreciate that :)
    I am still watching comments – if there is anything I can directly address, I certainly will. But it does seem that a lot of you have a lot of the answers and I am grateful you are adding to the discussion !
    .-= Maya´s last blog ..How to Potty Train your infant – Instructions and book recommendations- =-.

  50. As soon as my son was 6 months old, I started putting him on a potty in the morning and most of the time we succeeded. However when he was 1.5 years old he refused to sit on his potty and started to scream. I didn’t want to make him regress, so I stopped putting him on the potty and he refuses to sit on it till today.

    Since he will be 2 years old soon, I just started potty training again. I leave him diaper free all day long (cloth diapers just for naps) and I try to put him on his potty according to his schedule. BUT he doesn’t mind peeing on his legs, he doesn’t mind the wetness, he doesn’t call me or show me when he poops, he makes his business and goes on as if nothing happened.
    I tried to make him clean after himself and choose new underwear, but he couldn’t be interested less.
    On top of everything he refuses to sit on his potty or the big toilet and screams.

    How do I make it a positive experience for him? I read that I need to find things that motivate him, but I am running out of ideas. I tried to motivate him with chocolate rewards after that, didn’t work. The only time I make him sit on the potty is when he wants his favorite cartoon and he still doesn’t go.

    I know that potty training is a long process and I can’t give up, but I would appreciate any tips for motivating a toddler to sit on a potty.

    thanks a lot

  51. I love this article and the photos! So cute! The content is very useful for everyone!

  52. avatar
    Christina says:

    Hello,

    I am curious about this, first time I have ever heard of EC, but don’t understand practically how it would work…my son is just over 4 months old and poops approx 6 times a day! We breastfeed whenever he is hungry which is quite often at the moment (approx every 2.5 to 3 hours). I often know when he will poop because he keeps on sucking until he gets it out, or when not nursing at the time he might make facial grimaces. Poop usually comes at the same time as passing gas, thus there is no time for me to whip off his diaper and clothes to try to get him over the toilet. It is winter and our apartment is quite cool so he he has to wear some clothes! I am just a little confused on the details, some people say how their child goes bare bum all day ? What do you do when you are out in public with an infant? What if he poops and or pees on the furniture/clothes etc?
    Thanks

  53. avatar
    Sally Jo Barta says:

    I starting potty training my little girl at 2 weeks old and we go ritually when she wakes up from a nap and then after she eats. Recently every time we go to the toilet and start to take the diaper off she begins to cry. I stay cool and try to talk her threw it and sometimes she stops but most of the time we just got to stop and finish up till next time. I’m not sure what to do. I know that this is possible but really I can’t tell by any actions that she needs to go but by just knowing when she went last. She is doing super good though about night time until just a few days ago…she will hold her pee all night and then when she woke up I would take her and she will go. There are just a few glitches that makes me a little frustrated so I am on the search to find out what I am doing wrong.

  54. avatar
    Andrea Scalf says:

    My 8 month old daughter is potty trained. Everytime I go to the bathroom, I sit her on the baby potty and she urinates within a minute. I believe that she understands enough that she now associates the potty w/elimination.It’s only been a week, and Leah has 6-10 urines and 2 poops a day. She still wears diapers in between, but often I leave her diaper off while we are in the bathroom. She will crawl to the potty and lift the lid. I respond quickly and put her on the potty and have another successful potty on the toilet. I think she is too small to sit up on the large toilet and am glad I recently pulled out the baby potty. I have been reading about EC and knew nothing of it before today. I have simply been trying to understand what the toilet is for and praise her for her efforts and success.

  55. avatar
    Denise Cinnamond says:

    Just curious–what do you do when you need to leave your child in someone else’s care? I don’t think I could expect a babysitter or nursery provider to understand my child’s signals if they are not speaking yet. Won’t it be very distressing for my child to have accidents once they understand the concept of making it to the bathroom?

  56. I really enjoyed reading this article! It’s so encouraging! I started potty training my daughter when she was 10 weeks old. We have had great success… until recently when she started eating solid foods. She is now 7 months and will go pee on the potty several times a day but we’ve been missing almost all her poops! Since starting solids, she seems to have lost her poop schedule. It used to be every morning after her first feeding but now it surprises us at any time of day and sometimes skips a day! Any advice? I’m feeling a little discouraged.

  57. There are mothers who DESIRE to keep their children as babies for as long as possible. My sister-in-law’s children had binky’s, diapers and BOTTLES until nearly 5 years old! Only looming kindergarten changed that. My daughter was FULLY potty trained by 14 months, no bottles after 12 months and the binky was done by 16 months. Maybe I didn’t love the baby phase. Oh well….I felt very freed and wonderful to have a little girl and not a draining, needy baby.

  58. avatar
    Erik Knear says:

    My daughter is going through potty training, but will only potty when I (her Dad) is in the bathroom. Whenever Mom is in the bathroom, my daughter tells her to go and pushes her away.
    I’m sure you can imagine, this is a bit emotional for my wife.
    Any idea why my daughter is doing this?

  59. These comments don’t have dates, so I’m not sure how long ago you left this comment, Erik. But… my daughter will do this sometimes with me (Mom). Are you the primary caregiver? It might be she just feels more comfortable with you. Might be a personality thing… are you more laid-back than your wife? Sometimes kids can sense stress esp. when they are supposed to be “performing.”

  60. It’s very encouraging to hear that more and more people are becoming open to giving EC a try. And it’s not a complete trade-off wherein if you go with EC, you have to forsake diapers altogether. Being completely diaper-free is the result of weeks or even months of making this a lifestyle. With EC, I believe that the most important thing is the communication: baby signalling a need to go poo/pee (sometimes with a subtle signal like a grimace, sometime with a more obvious one like fussiness) and the parent/caregiver practicing how to recognize and respond to these signals. It is not the parent “training” the baby – no forcing at all. In fact, it’s the other way around. The signals, the rhythm, and our intuition as parents are all there. In the end, it’s still every parent’s choice what works and doesn’t work for them and their baby and I respect that. I’m just glad that it’s been put out there that there is another way.

    :) Andrea

  61. Hi,

    Most of the comments here seem to be from the western world.I am East African and EC is a way of life here.Diapers are just catching on and some women especially in rural areas can’t even afford the cheapest brand. Most of us in our 30’s and 20’s were EC’d and no,am not messed up and neither do I have a tick. With over half the population living on a dollar a day,they have to keep their babies clean.Its not forced or some sort of training. And discrimination or not, no baby class or kindergarten will take in a kid who can’t control their bladder or bowel. And if the child does soil himself,the parents are called to clean him up. Teachers will not accept to clean up that mess….

    • Hi Liz, That is so great…I wish that in the USA and Australia and other countries that rely so heavily on diapers would wake up and realize that these are such a profiteering money making scheme by companies and so very bad for our environment!

  62. This has been very interesting. My 7 month old daughter has been fighting me whenever it is time for her to be changed. She even figured out how to undo the velcro tabs on her diapers which is very clever of her but not so great when she has to go pee. She would be happy without anything on at all but I do not want her to learn to pee where ever she likes. I want her to learn to go on the potty or toilet. I am thinking of just buying som toweling training pants for her to wear.

  63. My daughter is almost 17 months old, and I have been planning to potty train her this year – although I may be naively thinking I can do it in a short period of time??? My biggest concern right now is the fact that she isn’t yet able to remove her own pants… does it work anyway, even if she can’t unbutton her jeans by herself?

  64. my son started using his baby bijorn potty as soon as he could seat at 5 and half months. A month later he is actively using it and even starting to indicate when he need to poop. It has been amazingly easy and the look of pride on his face immediately after is priceless. When we can’t use his potty I will hold him over the normal toilet seat and it still works perfectly. I don’t know if it would work for every baby, but I am loving it, having to deal with a lot less dirty diapers.

  65. My daughter is 3 1/2 years and still not potty trained. I have read books, tried treats, pretty panties, encouragement, etc… You name it, I have tried it, she just will not stop wetting herself. She is now to the point where she does “poo” in the potty but having pee in her pullup or all over her underwear does not bother her in the least. I keep trying to get her to use the potty more often but she is super stubborn and it seems like the more I ask her if she needs to go, the more she does not want to. I am desperate for suggestions! How do you potty train a child that does not get uncomfortable in a wet pull-up?

  66. I love your list! They are wonderful tips to get there. We were not the types to try the E.C. method, but did start earlier that we had with my older ones. And we were shocked with the success. My not-very-talkative not yet two year old is fully potty trained, and I am still shocked. I wrote about the steps we took here: http://www.squidoo.com/early-potty-training-guatemalan-style

  67. Interesting conversation. I’ll chime in with my own experience.
    I’m from a different culture, and EC is practiced from BIRTH. I was EC’ed myself, my husband too, and everyone else in my culture that is about our age. And we are quite young. Disposables are a new invention where I come from, and the older generation hates them. As I mentioned, we were all EC’ed and no, we have no maladjustments as some comments have claimed – that EC kids end up maladjusted. Completely laughable theory. That means an entire nation would be maladjusted.

    I’m currently in the West and have a 14 month old, who unfortunately, had been in disposables from birth. I read about EC and it resonated with me, so I called my mother on the phone to ask her how she had implemented it. She said she would give us cues to pee and poop, and that we would squirm or give subtle signs (even when we were not talking yet) to indicate we wanted to go. And that we rarely wet our pants, we would wait for her to take it off before peeing or pooping. I was shocked. So I was that clever as a baby! But she did the same thing with all her 5 kids, so it wasn’t just my intelligence.

    Anyway, she asked me about my 14 month old, and said very seriously ‘I hope you are putting him on the potty regularly. Put him on the potty, OKAY’. And she asked ‘Does he still wet his bed’? I was absolutely shocked! How can she expect a 14 month old not to wet the bed at night? I went completely silent, very embarrassed to tell my mum I used nappies with him at night and he woke up with a full diaper. I asked my husband after the call ‘have I messed our son up by not practicing EC with him from birth?’ At 14 months, my mum expected he would have become completely dry by day and night. I have since stepped up my EC efforts. God forbid I go home and my son is still in diapers, pooping and peeing here and there, and giving no clues that he wants to go. No one would like to take care of him, and I would be seen as a lazy Western-type mum who refused to take the effort to potty train her baby.

    So there we go, different strokes for different folks. In some cultures, people wait for Brazelton’s `readiness’, which means a child can be in nappies until 4! In other cultures, kids are pottied from birth, and by 14 months, it is expected that bed-wetting would have ceased. Make your choice. I’ll go for the EC option – more hygienic, more convenient, more time-saving, and above all, less expensive.

  68. My daughter is almost 16 mos and I planned on training her sometime in the next six mos however she surprised me last week by going on command while on her changIng table… I ask her to go and if she needs to she goes! So naturally I sat her on the potty (big potty with a seat) but she was not happy at all, seemed a bit scared… How would you recommend getting her used to it? I was going to use a little potty (never did with my son, but if she doesn’t like the big one now prob won’t later either?)

  69. hello i started pt my daughter at 11 months now she is 15 months and still does accidents on the floor but when she does she cries she know’s it’s wrong and when she goes in the potty she claps her hands with joy. but from 9am-1pm she goes to the nursery and they don’t pt or put her on the potty and on week ends we go out with friends so i keep her on the diaper at those times and she still wets at night. what should i do?

  70. avatar
    Amit Mishra says:

    Hi Maya,
    I liked this article much. My daughter is 2 years old now. I feel she knows, where to do pee. Even though, if she finds nobody around, she releases where ever she is. We take her regularly to toilet. But problem still persists. Please suggest me some solution.

    Thanks
    Amit

  71. According to me, potty training should be taught to one’s baby as soon as he can sit up on his own. A couple of days back I came across this blog which explained a bit more regarding this issue. Do go through it http://goo.gl/4zOtk

  72. avatar
    DeMi's MommY14 says:

    Hiiiiiiii Maya!!
    I love this post it makes sense on so many levels… to me any way… Everyone is going to have their opions. I certainly believe in never rushing your baby. But every baby isn’t the same. My baby girl had been bright from the moment she came out..lol. Seriously though, shes one of a kind. What I’m saying is demi started saying hi at 4 months if I’m not mistaking. And she says it so sweet and still. Walking into a room of people, she makes sure she says hi to everyone. Makes me blush. Walking 2mo b4 her bday, and singing songs (patty cake) at 6mo. Round the time she stated sayn daddy too. Demi was born on valentines day and 4 days b4 her 1st bday she went to the potty for the first time. You have my mon that wants to say, oh don’t rush her slow down. But I feel if shes following mw to the bathroom trying to look in btw my legs to see wats going on, shes ready. And she was… Shes going to the potty regularly mow. And I’m trying to make this a habit for my baby. my baby is filed with so much personality and independence, it’s crazy. But I think it’s all about the babies progress.. Mine is progressing beautifully. Thanks maya..

  73. My daughter just turned a year old. I can tell her its time for a diaper change and she’ll go get a diaper, bring it to me, then take off running. She is a very smart baby and I think she can be potty trained. She loves flushing the toilet. She has a potty chair and we have been trying to go potty when I see signs but I feel like shes not catching on. I ask her multiple times a day does she need to potty. When I take her to the potty she dont do anything. I do have a mother in law that doesnt listen to a thing I have to say when it comes to my daughter. She does what she wants. Im scared that when she goes to her house she wont continue my training and my daughter will get confused on what is going on. How can I potty train her with my mother in law not confusing her?
    My daughter also can’t go to sleep without her cup. Any advice on that?
    If anyone has anymore advice or tips feel free to email me.. hellgurl_10642@yahoo.com
    I really appreciate your tips and Im really hoping they work on my daughter! Thanks! :)

  74. My son was pooping in the toilet regularly sense he was nine months but now that he’s about fifteen months he refuses to poop in the toilet, I take notice that he needs to go and put him on the toilet but when he’s sitting there he won’t go he’ll fuss a bit and wait to poop in his diaper. I’m not sure why?

    • hey Jzay,
      this happened to me too….my son refused to use the toilet…so wait for a couple of days- dont make a big deal abt anything…let him poop or pee in his diaper. He has formed a negative reaction for using the toilet. You need to change it before it becomes permanent.
      Aftr a couple of days. i invited(as in he crawled his way ) my son to sit with me in the toilet n watched a video abt his fav monkey.
      aftr tht i wd make a big deal everytime he sat on the toilet and more big deal if he pee or poop. i started singing a song n now he is more excited abt the song as well. sometimes i wd make other people take him as well.
      This really helped me transition him back to the toilet seat.
      just be patient. its more about WHEN U ARE READY FOR THE TASK RAHTER THAN WHEN THE BABY IS READY.

  75. This artical has made me really excited to start potty training my 11 month old. I know it will take patience but im very confident in her abilities to be able to understand what is going on. Cant wait to get some stickers and give her rewards for a job well done.

  76. Thanks for sharing above information! I really appreciate this post, Puppies are so delightful and just not possible to resist. But we expect them not to peeing and pooing all over the dwelling. So here are some of tips you can use to set up to potty train your puppy:-

    • Understand that puppies needs to go to the bathroom a lot as a young puppy has a very small bladder, and they haven’t yet cultured the talent to control it. So keep it in mind this when it comes to potty training your puppy.

    • Establish yourself as the leader; this will help in earning your puppy’s respect, trust and admiration. And your puppy will star following all your potty training instructions.

    • Uphold a stringent schedule when you take your puppy out to go potty. Travel through the same door and use the same direction. With your awareness of your puppy’s peeing preferences, foresee when she’ll want to urine and bring her to the puppy bathroom.

    • Never forget to encourage your puppy every time she pees in the right spot. Thrash out your cheery, joyful voice and lavish her with adulation and praise. Your puppy now has an emotional ingenious to do her job in the right place.

    http://www.pet-buy.com/pet-trainers

  77. Hi Mayu

    Thanks! This was very useful. I am just starting to look into toilet training for my one year old.

    Harinee

  78. Thanks for sharing your experience. For someone preparing to start potty training their child this was very helpful.

  79. Hi Maya,

    Im in the process of training my lil crawler who is gonna be 1 shortly. He now poops in the potty and pees sometimes in the toilet. Thr are stil times when i m unable to read his signals, or sometimes he just gets comfortable in his wet underwear.
    i m using your training technique currently- i sing everytime i take him to the bathroom n make a VERY BIG DEAL everytime he poops or pees.
    i need suggestions about how i can safely plan it when i take him out. Could u give me tips on that?
    what abt nights?
    He sleeps at 8pm so i dont knw when and how .Shd i take him in sleep??
    any help is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks a lot
    Seem

  80. hi maya,
    Great blog.. Cant see my previous comment…
    I m currently using ur technique and would like to knw how i can be prepared when i risk taking him outside without a diaper
    and also abt nights??
    i would appreciate some tips and suggestions.
    Thanks

    • More and more, I am meeting parents that, when mentioning Elimination Communication to, have already heard about it. Thanks to the media’s bad press? or all the success stories? It seems to be more known. I have witnessed EC first hand with an older toddler and now my 4 month old daughter. She will whine and squirm until I taker her diaper off and hold her over the sink. Right when she is over the sink and can see her self – she pees. It seems to amuse her.

  81. More and more, I am meeting parents that, when mentioning Elimination Communication to, have already heard about it. Thanks to the media’s bad press? or all the success stories? It seems to be more known. I have witnessed EC first hand with an older toddler and now my 4 month old daughter. She will whine and squirm until I taker her diaper off and hold her over the sink. Right when she is over the sink and can see her self – she pees. It seems to amuse her.

  82. Thanks for the helpful tips! I need to get started on this as my tot is already 18 months:) For those looking for more info on the Russian method of early potty training, here’s a how-to: http://hintmama.com/2014/02/11/todays-hint-the-russian-secret-to-early-potty-training/

  83. teach child potty
    One of the stages of development of children that parents often wait anxiously ‘s time to remove the diaper.
    After changing diapers about two thousand a year ( estimated about 6 a day) , you’re probably wishing your child starts to go to the bathroom alone .
    But few parents are prepared for the time it actually takes that process.
    Some children learn in a few days , but many others take several months. In general, the smaller the child to start training, the longer it takes to learn.
    More info: http://teachyourchildgotothebathroom.blogspot.com/

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  89. For night-time I use diapers until they start waking -up dry. When they reliably wake-up dry (or wake-up to ask to go potty), I let them go diaper free but I use plastic covers for the mattress until they are in high school… Mmm not quite… But you get the idea. My SIL wakes-up her kids when she goes to bed to let them empty their bladder. My kids sleep like rocks and this never worked for us. Most of my kids naturally became dry overnight within the same month they potty trained.

    I should have added: pee and poop may not happen in lock-step. It’s normal for children to figure out one before the other. Just stay the course.

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