Is there really such a thing as potty training for infants? Yup! Although, it’s not called potty training. It’s called elimination communication (EC).
The idea of sitting a baby who can barely sit up on their own on a potty is strange. Even more so if you’re trying to put a newborn on a potty! Most of us grew up understanding that babies wear diapers until they are at least running around.
But babies can use the potty from a young age and even like it. Your house can be diaper free!
What is EC?
The reason EC has its own name instead of being called potty training is because the focus is different.
In potty training, a child is being taught to use the bathroom independently. It’s up to them to learn when they need to go and make it to the bathroom on time.
In EC, the responsibility lies on the parent. Parents need to learn their child’s cues to help them get to the potty on time. Infants are too little to communicate they’re needs. Although some parents may have success with sign language to teach a little one to say potty.
Since babies can’t communicate in a way parents can readily understand, it’s up to the parents to learn their babies’ cues.
A common one for peeing is grabbing at the front of the diaper. Babies often have a favorite pooping position and grunt when trying to go. These are simple signs parents can recognize and work with.
Those are just a couple of examples. There are more.
Part-Time Vs. Full-Time
EC can be approached on a spectrum with part-time on one end and full-time on the other. Part-time EC means you focus on the easy catches. Baby gets put on the potty at times they are likely to go but still wears a diaper.
Full-time EC means parents are trying to get their baby to learn to use the potty for every potty occurrence.
Usually, this is done without putting a diaper on the baby. Baby runs, crawls, or rolls around with a bare bottom. Cloth might be put on them to teach them the feeling of being wet and so the floor doesn’t get all peed and pooped on.
Those are the two opposing ends of the spectrum. But EC is not limited to how it can be done. Parents can do it in whatever way it works for them.
Perhaps while at daycare baby wears a diaper but doesn’t while at home.
Another option would be to go diaper free on the weekend but wear one through the week when schedules are crazy.
Parents can choose to do EC in whatever way works best for their home.
Easy catches are those times when it’s a safe bet baby needs to go. The easiest for my household has been when waking up in the morning or from a nap.
My baby, Sara, is almost guaranteed to go potty right after waking up. The times she doesn’t go in the potty is because she already went in her diaper.
Another easy catch is during transitions like when Baby comes out of the high chair or car seat.
For easy catches, you aren’t looking for a sign from your baby that they need to go potty. It’s just a safe bet that they need to go and you provide them the opportunity.
If you’re consistent, they learn to anticipate it. Sara (13 months) recently waited for me to put her on the potty right after waking up before going poop.
I know she waited because she had been up walking around for a couple of minutes already and pushed as hard as she could as soon as I set her on the potty. She was waiting for it.
I do part-time EC with Sara. I tried doing full-time with her for a bit but it backfired. She started going less often when I put her on the potty and started to dislike it.
Disliking the potty is the last thing I want for her.
Accepting the Potty
One reason I like part-time EC is because it allows Sara to be comfortable with the potty.
She doesn’t fight being put on it unless she knows she doesn’t need to go. She lets me know real quick in those instances.
Otherwise, she sits there until she goes.
One way I’ve gotten her to be comfortable to sit on the potty for longer periods is by reading books. There are a couple of books I keep in the bathroom especially for potty time.
It keeps her entertained and distracted. The plus side is she’s exposed to reading several times a day.
But any favorite toy can be used to help keep a Baby distracted.
It’s important to me that she feels comfortable sitting on the potty. When she’s ready to start potty training, I won’t have the battle of getting her to accept the potty itself.
She’ll already know what it’s for and not see it as a threat.
Controlling Body Functions
Another advantage of part-time EC is Baby gets to learn control of body functions.
This requires consistency with times when Baby is placed on the potty so they can anticipate it.
Sara knows she gets a potty opportunity every morning right after waking up. She’s learned to hold her poo and pee until she’s sitting on the toilet.
The rest of the day not so much. But it is a place to start. If I was more consistent with putting her on the potty at other times during the day, she would learn to anticipate those opportunities as well.
A good one to start doing would be after every meal.
Full-time EC can get a baby fully used to the potty and not needing a diaper at a very early age. But that’s not easy for everyone to do.
For the rest of us, doing EC part-time can provide great benefits while not giving up diapers.
Learning about EC
I’ve given you a brief overview of what EC is and it’s benefits. But there is a site out there much more suited to helping you achieve your diaper free goals. It’s called GoDiaperFree.
The woman behind GoDiaperFree, Andrea Olsen, has years of experience helping parents potty train their kids and more than just through her website. She’s worked with people in real life and trained over 300 coaches around the world.
She’s an expert which is why I’m recommending you turn to her if you are interested in trying EC out in your own home.
Olsen offers many resources through her site. She has a blog that’s free for anyone to read and listen to her podcasts.
She has written a couple of books to help parents along the journey. I’ve bought one of them. Buying a book grants you access to a community of people working through their own EC journeys.
So if you get stuck, there are people to encourage you and help you achieve your goals.
Another great benefit to purchasing the book digitally is you get free lifetime updates. You never have to buy a second edition.
If you click on Resources in the menu at the top of Olsen’s site, you’ll find a few extra free resources like an easy start guide to ECing.
She’s dedicated to helping parents be free of diapers and the best resource on the internet.
I highly recommend checking her site out if you want to know more about ECing or want to get started with it.
If your child is at potty training age already, Olsen has a book to help you out. She deals with potty training age kids as well as babies doing EC.
Give It a Try
I love part-time EC. It can be done in whatever fashion works best for your household and provide an opportunity for Baby to get used to the toilet.
You don’t have to give up diapers if you don’t want to. Sara certainly still wears her diapers.
Have you ever tried EC? I’d love to hear about your successes or struggles. And if you haven’t heard of it before, what’s your initial reaction to the concept? Does diaper free sound too good to be true?