baby and a potty trainer
Baby

Potty Training for Infants (AKA Elimination Communication)

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!

baby sitting on potty
baby sitting on potty

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

Choosing part-time or full-time
Choosing part-time or 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

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.

reusable diapers
reusable diapers

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.

Part-Time Goals

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.

A reading baby
A reading baby

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.

Advantages

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.

disposable diapers
disposable 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.

EC book benefits
List of EC book benefits: private community support group, video library, download library, troubleshooting database, audio book version, free lifetime updates

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.

And you don’t have to buy fancy supplies to do it. I’ve used a cheap child toilet that could sit in the living room and currently use a seat aid to go on the real toilet.

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?

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Ramos
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Ramos

This is golden and has come very much in handy for me. My sister gave birth some months back and I am not sure she knows about this elimination communication. Besides, I think this would be excellent to try out since babies pick up habits faster and as such, if one could ensure they get to be trained concerning poetry usage, then it would be much more easier while they grow up. Though, I do not know about this before too but she is the one who will need this more. So, I will share this post with her and… Read more »

Henderson
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Henderson

Tbis is a very wonderfully written post. My sister’s baby is getting a hard time learning how to get to the potty himself. Maybe my sister isn’t understanding the signs the baby gives yet.. I feel that the EC is a really good way to help the child and my sister can make use of this. The part time will be a good start up for her. Thank you for the help here. Awesome!

Happier At Home
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Happier At Home

Elimination Communication – I love it!  It’s something I’ve never heard of before, but after having read your article, I understand it.  My kiddos were pretty easy to potty train, and looking back, it seems I did use some of these techniques without even realizing it.  As with everything, consistency is the key.  It’s important to get to know your child and her cues for sure.  This post offers great advice!  Wishing you continued success with Sara!  Carry on!

jessetoikkanen
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jessetoikkanen

Great and informative article! Being a parent and parenting are familiar for me but being a mom isn’t. Jokes aside, it’s great to see people like you helping other mothers to be confident with their parenting decisions and to get even better moms for their children 🙂 btw, when my son was young small kid, this potty aid on the toilet was really helpful. It was my DIY potty aid and if there would be similar products available on the internet for a reasonable price it would definitely to be one of the many things for my son I wouldn’t… Read more »

C
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C

Thanks very much. I never heard of elimination communication four babies but it makes a lot of sense. If you can notice the signs of the baby about needing a bathroom then you can get them to the toilet in time and that can start to show them that they can use a toilet. Also it saves you from having to change the diaper!It sounds like a very attentive form of taking care of the baby. I like it because it put the parent in touch with what’s going on with the child. Then the child will feel even more… Read more »

Aly
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Aly

I had not previously heard the term “elimination communication” but I have heard of infant potty training. I’ve heard that it is fairly common in parts of the world where there is less access to disposable diapers. Thanks for sharing the insight and especially for the extra resources to get started on infant potty training!