The smile says it all 🙂

We bought a Baby Bjorn Potty Chair for Oliver a couple of months ago. They were on sale for half price at Babies ‘R Us, and I’d been contemplating the idea of introducing him to the potty early, hoping for an easier transition out of diapers later on.

I had read a lot about Elimination Communication (EC — also known as infant potty training) before Oliver’s birth, and while I truly admire families who choose this route, I decided it was not for us. I didn’t want to spend every waking moment that I wasn’t feeding Oliver, trying to stop him from crying, trying to settle him to sleep, doing laundry, or cleaning, holding him over a potty in the hopes of catching his every elimination. The prospect of adding yet another complication to my daily routine in those early months was simply too overwhelming.

I’m also not sure that EC is totally compatible with urban living — unless you want to tote a potty or other receptacle everywhere you go (as if we moms don’t already have enough stuff to carry!). The alternative, letting a baby pee and poop anywhere and everywhere — parking lots, boulevards, sides of buildings, sinks in public washrooms — just doesn’t sit right with me. Besides being a health hazard in an urban or suburban environment, I think it’s every bit as disrespectful to leave baby poop in a public space as it is to leave dog poop. I also think it’s important to teach and reinforce appropriate social behaviours, including elimination habits, from an early age. I cringe whenever I see a parent encouraging their little one to pee on a structure in the park, when washrooms are available mere feet away.

All that aside, after talking to some of the moms at my weekly drop-in group, I became convinced of the merits of introducing Oliver to the potty in a casual way, with no expectations or pressures. I started putting Oliver on his potty at times that he would be likely to have to go, such as after naps and before baths. I used the “pssss” sound as a cue, and within two weeks, he was reliably peeing in the potty several times each day.

I now give Oliver the opportunity to use the potty every time I remove his diaper (at home), and he will always go — even just a tiny bit — if he is able. When he’s finished, I say, “All finished,” while giving him the corresponding ASL sign. In return he gives me a big, bright smile. If he doesn’t have to go, he makes it fairly obvious to me by squirming and trying to stand up. I try to keep the experience as positive as possible, and never force him to remain on the potty if he doesn’t go within about 30 seconds.

In effect, I suppose we are doing a form of part-time EC, though it’s completely parent-directed, so I don’t know if that counts as “communication.” Oliver is still in diapers and I have no plan to change that anytime soon. I don’t have any specific goals in mind with this endeavour, other than to introduce Oliver to the fact that he can eliminate somewhere other than his diapers, and to provide opportunities to do so when feasible and appropriate. So far, I think it’s working rather well!

Have you considered doing (or had experience with) part-time or full-time EC with your baby? Why or why not? 

24 responses to “OLIVER’S POTTY

  1. Had never even thought about it! Why? I guess because she’s never really taken an interest in her mom or dad going to the bathroom, so I figured I’d wait until she was obviously interested and, (I’m interpreting), ready to get potty trained….I guess… ??

    But after reading this, I might give it a whirl! Sounds like another fun adventure for her 😉

    • I don’t know why in all of my earlier reading on EC it had never occurred to me that we could simply offer the potty as an alternative, with no expectations or “training” goals in mind, and with no bare-assed baby running around the house.

      I don’t know whether this will actually have any impact on how early Oliver toilet trains or how easy the process will be, but I figure there’s no harm in allowing him to become familiar with the alternative. At this point, I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s just another fun thing that gets an enthusiastic response from mom… and that’s okay.

  2. How interesting! I hear so many stories about children being potty trained who absolutely despise the toilet…they’re scared of it, they are resistant to going anywhere but in their diapers (or behind the couch when no one’s watching, ha), etc.

    This seems a great way to bypass this fearful stage.

    • Kids can be pretty irrational, so I’m definitely not ruling out the possibility that Oliver will at some point decide he doesn’t want to use the toilet. 🙂 But I’m hopeful that if we keep things casual and don’t put any pressure on him, the potty training process will happen naturally and will mostly be Oliver’s initiative.

  3. Ah the potty.

    I am trying EC with our second baby since I have more confidence this time around. Nursing was easy for us, and she’s been sleeping, so what’s a mama to do? Find something else…Admittedly, I am a lazy-EC person. I hold her over the potty whenever she wakes up from any sleep and she goes. She has a major poo each day between 5-6 pm and we always catch that. She wears cloth diapers full time, but mostly they are dry–which is pretty exciting. Without diapers, it’s kind of hard to hold her since the diaper bum gives me something to wrap my arm under–those naked bums are tricky. I’ve been impressed at how easy it was to tune in to her potty needs. With my first, I likely would have nursed her any time she squirmed or fussed, and perhaps she only had to pee? I do sometimes take her to pee outside, however if there’s a toilet nearby, I just hold her in pee position over the potty and she goes in the potty. At home, I use the bathroom sink since it’s easier on my thighs, but hey, what are all those squats for if we can’t squat to hold a baby over the potty :-). I don’t know what we’ll do when she becomes mobile.

    My first daughter was terrified of public restrooms (automatic flush toilets are the bane of potty training), so she was one of those kids who peed in the bushes when we were out. More likely, she held it until we got home since she wasn’t keen on peeing in the bushes either.

    One time, before I had children, I was visiting a train museum (a place of high family traffic), and a mom was in the restroom with a baby in a carrier and her son who was likely between 3 and 3.5 (not in diapers). He was absolutely freaking out every time a toilet in another stall auto-flushed while he was trying to go. He had his pants down around his ankles (mom was trying to help with baby in tow) and was trying to crawl away under the stall howling (much, I am sure to the mom’s disgust about her child even being near the bathroom floor). After all of this, and knowing her son needed to pee, she held him up to pee in the sink. Another woman walked in and made a chirp of disgust at such a thing and I thought, “Wow lady, if you had even seen what that mom had just been through, I think you might have let your kid pee in the sink too.” He was just so scared. Really, some kids just come with their own quirks.

    It’s a rare kid who goes to college (let alone kindergarten) in diapers. Have fun with potty time. They mostly all figure it out whether or not we stress about it.

    • I should have some empathy, eh, considering I was utterly terrified of public toilets until the age of… I don’t know, 12? 🙂 Especially the auto-flushing kind (I still don’t like them!). Although I wasn’t too fussed on the idea of using bushes or other non-toilet spaces either, so I used to hold it. All. Day. Long.

      • D. still holds it during the entire time she’s at preschool, but she hasn’t had an accident of any sort since she decided she was done with diapers around her second birthday. It was still a lot of cloth diapers! I’ll be happy to save a few diapers this time around even though we have no goals of potty training by a certain age. I am not ready to go diaper free with wee one though. Catching poops and the occasional pee in the potty is fine for us for now!

  4. My little guy is 5 weeks and I gave up on ECing this early with him. He would reliably go when I held him over the sink or toilet but he HATED it. He’s so small and it’s hard to hold him securely and I think it was just really uncomfortable for him. He’s my first and I was struggling so much with breast feeding, etc. that, like you, it just felt like too much for me to handle.

    However, I hate diapers and didn’t start with cloth since I was hoping to EC at least part-time, so right now we’re stuck with crappy pampers (I tried gdiapers with bio-degradable inserts but had problems with them) and a crappy thrush diaper rash for the moment 😦

    I plan to start EC up part-time once he’s a little bigger and not pooping in every single diaper. Not sure exactly when that will be, but hopefully in the next month or two.

    I really like your approach with Oliver and bet it will mean he’s out of diapers much earlier than most babies.

    • Yes, EC definitely seems like it would be a lot to handle in the early weeks (or months :)) when you’re still trying to master the most basic stuff like feeding, and maybe even getting yourself showered before 4:00 P.M.

      We haven’t been able to work on pooping in the potty because Oliver goes so infrequently that I wouldn’t have sufficient opportunities to reinforce the behaviour, even if I could actually manage to get him to go on the potty once. He also almost always goes when he’s in his car seat, so I don’t even have the chance to try to associate the action with an ASL sign or other cue. But I think that bowel training is easier accomplished than bladder training when they hit potty training age, so hopefully with the latter already underway, the former will be relatively easy.

      Have you thought about trying any of the “environmental” one-piece disposables (Broody Chick, Earth’s Best, etc.)? Maybe that will help your little guy’s rash?

  5. I’ve heard of this and am very interested in doing it. However I’ve had a hard time finding good reading on the subject. Any suggestions?

    • I haven’t read any books on the topic myself (mostly just searched for info via Google), but I’ve repeatedly heard recommendations for the book “Diaper Free” by Ingrid Bauer. There is also a great website, http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/ that has a ton of free information, and books available for purchase.

  6. I did this with my son starting around 9 months. I wanted to avoid the potty training drama all my friends had with their sons, and it worked well until he was about 18-20 months. At that point, my son discovered his free will, and decided he’d pick when he’d use the potty versus diaper. We’re coming up on 3 years in June, and he’s still not completely potty trained, despite his good start at a young age. I don’t regret doing the part time EC/routine potty time, and I’d probably do it with another baby, but I wouldn’t let myself get so invested in the outcome the 2nd time around.

    I do recommend the potette portable potty with liners for on the road pottying. It makes EC much easier when you are out and about and bathrooms might be scarce.

    • Interesting… I have wondered whether that could happen. Like you, I will try not to be too invested in the outcome, and just allow Oliver to enjoy the process right now, with no expectations.

      Thanks for the recommendation on the portable potty!

  7. My son is 16 months now and since he was 2 months old we have put him on the toilet with every (cloth)diaper change. I’m just to lazy to clean the poo of the diapers… It’s nicer when it goes directly in the toilet. Sometimes a week with all poo in toilet goes by. Pee is harder to catch.
    I’m glad I’m doing this, it feels easy and nice right now.
    We have an unused potty, the toilet works for us.

    • That’s great to hear! Are you using a special seat on the toilet, or just holding him over it?

      Now that I have the hang of it, we will definitely start earlier with our next kid. I am also finding that diapers are a lot less pleasant now that Oliver is eating solid foods. I would be much happier to see more of the poop go into the toilet!

  8. I’m happy to have come across this topic about a month ago. We ordered Pourtys, since we wanted four pottys with one piece, and started infant potty training with our 4.5 month old twin girls two weeks ago. I am so impressed! They fit the potties really well and don’t seem to mind. Our girls each went on the potty the first day with the suggested signals to watch for and after feedings. One will yell and cry when she has to go, and she may use up to 3 diapers a day, while the other doens’t like to tell us when she needs to go, we catch at least half.

    I think I sound like a crazy mom, or others think I am by training them so early, but they know when they need to go, and hopefully they’ll be out of diapers much sooner. Currently, we do have them in diapers througout the day. With two, it happens more often that they may need to go at the same time and we could have a mess on the floor, especially with the secret poo-er. They will be able to crawl and sit soon, so we’ll re-evaluate then. I love it! Thanks for the post Carli!

    • Training infant twins is quite the ambitious undertaking! That’s got to be a lot of work upfront, but I’m sure you will be well rewarded when you’re not *still* doing double diaper changes two or three years down the road :). I waited several months to start Oliver on the potty, but now that I know how it works, I’d definitely start earlier with the next kid — especially since I’ve watched my friends have amazing successes with their younger babies.

      I just Googled the “Pourty” because I’d never heard of it before. What a fantastic idea! They’ve essentially fixed all the shortcomings of the Baby Bjorn potty, and are selling it for half the price. Where did you find it? It appears they’re only available in the UK right now — is that where you are? I need to figure out a way to get hold of one of these!! 🙂

  9. Oh wow! It really sounds like we have a lot in common, in terms of our approach to potty training AND the sign language. I know this post is rather old now, and I don’t know Oliver’s age. How old is he now, and how is the potty training coming along?

    • Oliver is 16 months old now and the pottying is going GREAT!

      At around 10 months, he was showing signs of resistance — he would arch his back and fuss every time we put him on the potty — so we decided it was best to take a break, rather than to reinforce *not* peeing/pooping on the potty (since he wasn’t ever sitting long enough to actually do anything).

      At 13 months, he started to show interest again, on his own accord. One day he simply walked into the bathroom and sat down on his potty (fully clothed, of course :)). At that point, we started once again offering him the opportunity to use it upon waking, at every diaper change, before and after naps, and before going to bed.

      Soon after, he would say the word “potty” at every diaper change, and he would walk over to it by himself and sit down. Sometimes he would go, and sometimes he wouldn’t, but he was happy to sit on it.

      Now, he goes the majority of the time, and he often asks for “pee pee potty” or just “potty,” even when it’s not a usual time that we put him on it. We try to honour these requests as much as possible, because it seems that he actually does have to go!

      At some point in the next few months, we will ditch the diapers and do his formal potty training, but I’d like to wait until the point where I know that he can remove his own pants and put them back on. I feel it is important for him to have this level of autonomy before we insist on potty only. But for now, I am happy that he is comfortable with the idea of using the potty, and that he seems to sometimes recognize the feeling that he has to go.

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