Branson’s 17 month Elimination Communication Update

Branson 17 months

Perhaps you know that my youngest is now 17 months old...and may want to know where we are these days regarding his Elimination Communication progress.

(Even if you're only on this website for potty training, definitely read the below as it can show you what young toddlers are truly capable of...even if yours is older than B!)​

I also have a related, classic blog post that I wrote a while back that I'll share after the story.

Beginnings

So, with Branson, we began at birth, the first moments of his life, and have done EC with a full-time focus (no, we didn't try to get every pee or poo in the toilet, but we have raised him with 100% EC-attentiveness, which I consider a full-time ​focus​ if that makes sense!)...ever since.

pottying newborn branson from above

Out of diapers at 12 months old

At 12 months I decided to take him out of daytime diapers for good (we'd been doing back-up experiments here and there). With Cooper, my 3rd child, hubs and I felt we'd waited too long to take him out of diapers, stunting his growth in this area (we chose 17 months with him), so with B, we decided to go earlier, once walking was mastered!

He now wears Tiny Trainers training pants or TinyUps cloth pullup covers (solo) or Tiny Undies LEARN underwear or other Gerber training pants (leftovers from my eldest) during all wake-time, non-travel, non-preschool times.

So, currently, about 80% of the daytime, he has been sans-diaper...and also doesn't wear pants on top of these, for easy access and awareness.

Here he is in his LEARN undies (my creation - they teach self-dressing):

Branson 17 month old diaper-free

(Want more info on which back-up to use at which age, undies to diapers to nothing? I wrote a post on that here, complete with a baby-by-baby graphic for all of my kiddos so far.)

Now, at 17 months, he is telling us he needs to go, 99% of the time, with his word choice: ​poo-poo.

Woohoo!!!!! (Knock on wood! I know by sharing this I'm going to have a miss today!) ​

Sometimes he whispers it, creepily, as he walks up to us.

Typically, he is also pulling at the back of his training pants and trying to pull them down.

Here is a short video of B telling me "poo-poo" at the breakfast table:

Then, we say, "Ok! Run, run, run to the bathroom!" and he says "wun, wun, wun" and waddles off to the toilet...usually getting distracted mid-way there. I pick him up and put him on the toilet seat reducer and busy myself with something in the bathroom while he goes. Then I set him on the stepstool and pull his training pants up onto his ankles, he stands, and we pull them the rest of the way up together - teaching self-dressing!

Sometimes he tells us AFTER he's already peed his pants. We still do the same exact routine as above, putting the wet ones into a bin.

But lately, it's mostly been BEFORE (he even comes indoors if he feels the need to poop, tells me, and we get it in the toilet!), and if I'm really paying attention (with 3 other kiddos around!), I can spot other signs that he needs to go before he gives me the signal that he needs to go (the word ​poo-poo​).

How did we get here?

Well, we've practiced EC by the book since day 1.

We've also treated the signal word "poo-poo" as the same as any other word-learning and attempt at communication. We present food, we sign "eat" as we say "time to eat" or "want food?" And he will say "eat" or "food," sometimes signing, too. It's basic communication and language learning, two-way. :)

Branson 17 mos with sister

How can you do the same?

How to get your child to let you know and be wrapped up in this way by this age? Well, you can also practice EC from the day you're at today...age 10 months...age 16 months...age 2 days old...whenever. It's never too early to begin some part of EC. My book is the best resource for this, ages 0-18 months.

When you make EC part of your day-to-day life, and treat it the same as caring for your baby's feeding, sleeping, and loving needs, you will have the same success. <3

And the blog post I wrote a while back that I think you'll love?

Diaper-free time: Are we teaching our babies to pee on the floor?

It applies to all ages of children.

(Note in my story above that I did not have Branson naked during this process. I advocate using a "back-up" and the article above will explain why.)

And if you're in the "potty training" mode, not EC?

...then the above article will also show you why your child may be peeing on the floor as well. What more to do in your situation? Get my potty training book and do the whole method, start to finish, to make sure nothing unseen has been missed.

I hope you've enjoyed our update today.

Please leave a comment, below, with what you're going to do TODAY as a result of reading this story (and hopefully becoming inspired by our example!).

And I hope you have the same pottying success as we've had...baby #4! No excuses! Get some resources and enjoy the benefits of making potty time a priority in your home. I promise it's worth it.

xx Andrea

PS - What's next for Branson?

We are working on outings with just training pants or TinyUps...and in September we'll be sending him to preschool with no diaper at all. At home, we are working on having him in underwear only, no pants, so he can learn to manipulate his clothing himself. At night, he has been waking up dry but we plan to stick with a Seventh Generation disposable diaper as a nighttime back-up because, well, it's working and we're re-using! Will update you again in a few months. xoxox

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 4 children (7, 4.5, 2.5, and 1) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day.

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16 Comments

  1. Rebekah G on August 7, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Thank you for the great update. My boy 16 months (in a few days) has been EC from birth also. I would only claim part time though. He has been having great success. Starting to get on the floor potty on his own. He only started walking yesterday, so I am going to go to full-time EC now. From your post I am taking away that I want to get him some trainers so we can work on self dressing.. Thanks again

    Shalom

    • Andrea Olson on August 7, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Rebekah! Yay! You’ve crossed the hurdle of “starting to walk,” and from here you will be able to just reinforce the “do it yourself” aspect of handing off the baton to your little one. I am so excited for you. Yes the training pants would be good, the LEARN line that I have at http://tinyundies.com/learntrainers would be particularly helpful with self-dressing, or the undies version linked in the post above. I wish you joy in this transition. What a wonderful gift you’re giving :) xx Andrea

  2. Emma on August 7, 2018 at 8:13 am

    This is great! We’re just behind you at 14 months. DS is totally adjusted to sitting on the potty (with some toy or toilet paper play) since we’ve been doing EC since birth. Been so great to celebrate the catches and learn from the misses. He’s often signaling now by tugging his shirt up (but sometimes it’s just to marvel at his belly button 😂).

    I was wondering your thoughts and intentions on using trainers without a cover? If we miss a pee then I’m cleaning up the floor or changing his pants so what’s the incentive? Just knowing sooner that here’s a miss?

    Thanks for your work and support as ever !

    • Andrea Olson on August 7, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Emma,
      We have the same pulling up the shirt signal sometimes! :) With my line of trainers (http://tinyundies.com/trainers) you typically won’t have pee on the floor with a miss, but it would get on the pants. I also produce TinyUps which can be used solo or over training pants (we use them solo) and these typically keep pee off the floor and the pants, depending on the size of the miss. Anywho! There are options! The benefit of training pants, in my opinion, is that it is not a diaper and without a cover on the child will be much more aware of having a miss, and subsequently, will begin to signal sooner with his need to go. It heightens awareness, for sure, while keeping the floor and pants relatively dry. :) See my other post on the back-ups which would help clear up a few more details of your question! Congrats on your progress!! xx Andrea

      • Emma on August 7, 2018 at 11:20 pm

        Yes I love using our TinyTrainers under a thin plastic cover. They don’t prevent floor leakage alone for us, and he still likes to be held a lot during cooking etc, so mommy shirts are a prime target :) Will see if I can get brave enough to give it a go at home. We do have an abundance of bottoms this season :P

  3. NJ on August 7, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. My son is 10 months old and is pretty good at signalling often but also wakes up at night because he needs to go. We don’t co-sleep or feed at night. He wakes at 10pm needing to go potty but around 3am he wakes up to go too but depending on how tired we are we either take him or don’t. We usually use cheap disposable nappy where he can feel it when it’s wet. What can I do to help him sleep through? He gets almost 100% attention for EC at home except this 1 time in the middle of the night.

    My husband thinks EC is just too hard because of how draining it is. He said… Seems like he needs to go every 15 minutes…which is not the case. He goes every 15 minutes closer to his nap time when he’s more tired.

    Anyway, I was feeling so discouraged and it is stressful mostly when I take the kids out because bub would need to go so often and he’d cry if I can’t take him. :(

    • Andrea Olson on August 7, 2018 at 6:19 pm

      Hey NJ! Thanks for sharing – I’m so sorry you were in a frustrated period. My hubs says to your hubs – “Don’t think about how hard it is for you right now, but how doing it now will be investing in earlier completion, being done earlier – would you rather change shitty diapers for 3 years, or occasionally for 12-18 months? Why change a kid’s full-grown turds when they’re 2? You won’t have to.” :o) Hehehe. Read that to him!! Then add “#mantalk” – hehe.

      And yes!! It is more intensive, esp since your LO depends on this and requires it of you (which is AWESOME), but when we think about it: would you withhold cuddling him on outings if he needed a snuggle every 15 minutes – because it’s inconvenient? You’re clearly saying you wouldn’t…and I admire you for that!!! You’re doing GREAT! Glad this post helped you :) 10 months old is hard on many levels…you’re nearing the bend. Hang in there <3 Andrea

  4. Katie Lepine on August 7, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    The thing we’re working on is communication! My 11 month old has been in trainers for a while now (for outings too, if I don’t anticipate a miss, or with a cloth diaper cover sans insert if I think we might have one). She wears a cloth diaper backup at night (like Isadora, she pees right through trainers, but will keep a diaper dry every night). We’re dealing with resistance by going outside and I gently insist on her trying if I know it’s time, but otherwise respect what her body language is telling me.

    I’m pretty happy with where we are, but I had hoped she’d be able to sign at this point, lol. She does sign “all done” and “more,” but—like Branson—seems to prefer vocalizing over signing—the potty sign does seem harder. She’s waved her hand a few times. She’ll say “bababa” as a signal occasionally, because we always say “bye bye poo” when we flush number twos. She came up with that one all on her own. :)

    Right now I’m trying to stay consistent with signing/saying the prompt and letting her initiate as much as possible. We’ve gone through phases of more misses here and there, but we’re faithfully sticking with it and I know we’re probably just a few more months away from wrapping up.

    • Andrea Olson on August 7, 2018 at 6:22 pm

      Yes Katie!! You are SO close!!!! Hang in there, stay consistent and you will soon see what you’ve been anticipating. And then it will pass and you will be sad. :) Sounds like you gals are in a GREAT rhythm! Yay! xo Andrea

  5. Arielle on August 7, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    Hello! That’s awesome for you and Branson! We full time EC my four month old daughter, Luna. We rarely miss poops and catch about 50-75% of the pees. Usually at night her diaper stays dry until the morning!
    She just popped her first tooth yesterday, and we have been in our first potty pause for the past two days. We still catch poops, but she won’t pee for anything! After reading this post I think I will commit to some diaper free time to relearn her cues and get a better idea of her timing. Wish me luck!

  6. Zia on August 7, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks for this post, very helpful! Your post has inspired and reminded me to be patient and matter-of-fact.

    My daughter is 9 mo and doesn’t want to EC at all anymore! I have been doing since birth on and off and it was going fine until she got crawling. Now EC works (as in she responds to the cue sound and hold) only when she is really tired or sleepy because she doesn’t want to crawl off at this time.
    Also, she still prefers the hold position and not sitting on potty at all. It was easy when she was little but is getting hard for me now!

    Please advise!

  7. Courtney on August 7, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Although your post seems encouraging, I’m in the same boat as Zia, above. I was pretty full-time EC between 4-11 months (corrected age… my little guy was 11 weeks early) and changed maybe 5 poopy diapers in those 7 months. We focused on poos, but he would also almost always pee when I put him on the potty. Recently, we were away for 2 months and he was as great as ever… until we got home. Something happened or shifted… He started to walk. I think his increased mobility is part of it. Anyway, over the last month he has become COMPLETELY resistant to the potty. I can’t get him near it and he rarely signals before (happily) pooping in his diaper now. It just seems like such torment to him that I have put the potty away and stopped trying.

  8. Amanda on August 7, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    We are where you were with Branson the last time you wrote an update post: my son is a year old and has been more focused on his growing mobility than pottying. Consistently catching morning and post nap pees, but lots of misses. He has been walking for two weeks now and since we have reached that milestone we’ve had more potty success—no longer missing pops! I would like to get some trainers and move him out of diapers during the day.

  9. Chelsea on August 8, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    My son is 15 months and we tried to do the hybrids plan over an extended weekend without much success. The biggest problem we’re having is getting him to tell us he needs to go. I say potty and sign but he hasn’t done this yet. I’m still trying to figure out his timing and signals. He’s also resisting when I take him to the potty. Wondering if I should do a reset? He’s either in trainers/tinyups with me during the day. But with Dad and the sitter (only twice a week) he is in diapers. I know he’s capable and wants more control, just trying to figure this all out since he’s my first kid.

  10. Patricia R on August 10, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! We practiced EC from birth (even though I didn’t plan on it, I was thinking to start around a month old) she’s now almost 21 months old, I noticed and I know she was ready to stop using diapers at around 14-15 months old but she was a late walker almost at 18 months, so I decided to continue with EC until she mastered walking. Best of all, I think I’ve only changed 10 poopy diapers since she was born, yay! We also did night training and she’s been dry about 90% of the time since she was born. Right now I had her naked for a while because she loved taking herself to the little potty but I think I should put undies on her to teach her to really tell me (or me watching her signals) when she needs to pee so I can help her pull undies down. Thankfully, she tells me all the time about poo no matter where we are. Thank you so much for everything you do, we love both of your books, and our little ones love your potty book, both of our girls did EC part time and even though both were late walkers, was very nice to have them out of diapers at around 21 months. I hope the rest of our potty training goes smoothly! Thank again!

  11. Destiney on August 12, 2018 at 1:11 am

    I love hearing others EC successes. I have 14 month old who has stopped wanting to use the potty sense he started walking at 9 Months. I can sometimes get him to go right when he wakes up but that’s all. And he won’t fully empty his bladder even if he was dry all night. He even waits till I take him off the potty to poo now. I’m at a complete loss to this now. He was amazing at it when he was 3 Months and now he thinks he’s to busy to go to the bathroom.

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