Diaper-free Time: Are We Teaching Our Babies to Pee on the Floor?

Elimination Communication: Teaching Baby to Pee on the Floor?A new trend has emerged in the field of Elimination Communication:

Babies are learning to pee on the floor, whenever, wherever.

I've been doing a lot of work with my readers on my private support Forum and have been trying to figure out, for a long while now, why this has been happening.

Why Do Lots of ECed Babies Pee All Over the Floor?

The answer is simply that we teach them that.

Just like we teach them to go in diapers. Or to call us Mama or Papa. Or how to sing a certain song (by modeling it over and over again).

More specifically, once a parent chooses to begin ECing their baby or young toddler, they generally tend to go from one extreme to another...from exclusive dependence upon and use of diapers to --> completely naked all the time. (Not that all parents do this...but some do.)

This allows the baby to pee anywhere, anytime, and doesn't actually teach anything new.

It's kind of like allowing a child to urinate in a diaper for 4 years straight. Allowing her to pee on the floor for 4 years straight is no different, is it?

Some parents love the title of "ECer" and would rather clean up a puddle of pee than change a diaper. I totally get that. But, in the end, it's just as extreme as diapering full-time. (My apologies to those who might disagree.)

NOTE: Even babies in tribal villages are "shooed" out of the hut if they pee on the floor after it is certain that they both know where pee goes and are able to get it there.

So How Do You Prevent Your Baby from Peeing Everywhere, Anytime?

The solution would obviously be to go from exclusive dependence upon diapers to --> using the diaper or another back-up (undies, trainers, or commando-just-in-pants) as a tool. Strategically. Responsibly.

We wear clothing in the Western world.

Having them in clothes or some sort of back-up (while doing EC) teaches them how to work with such things, which they'll have to do for the rest of their lives.

Sure, a college kid will get it, but a 2 year old will get mixed messages if he's just allowed to pee anywhere, anytime, while naked. We wear clothes.

There is, indeed, a way to do EC AND to do regular diaper-free time responsibly...we just need to re-examine what being "diaper-free" means to us.

And, to reverse the peeing on the floor habit? Well, you just turn that ship around. "We don't do that anymore. We wear clothes, and we pee in the potty."

Said out loud or not, it's really that simple.

Remembering What "Diaper-free Baby" Really Means

I think that we really need to define what "diaper-free" means once more:

free from exclusive dependence upon diapers

Note that it doesn't say anywhere that this means "naked all the time."

There is a distinct difference between "diaper-free time" and "naked time."

In fact, using underwear or trainers or just pants qualifies as "diaper-free time." Yay! That's what we want, right?

Yes, it's cute to see that bare bum all the time, but when you're cleaning up yet another puddle of pee off the tile floor, doesn't it somehow feel wrong?

NOTE: If it doesn't, and you don't have this particular problem...awesome. Keep her naked! It's really only an issue if there's pee everywhere AND it bothers you personally.

An excerpt from my book

So, I wanted to go ahead and share an excerpt of my (freshly updated) book, Go Diaper Free, that addresses this issue and discusses some of the new perspective I've taken about "diaper-free time" and how to do it more responsibly.

Version 3.0 of the book actually has about 20 new pages addressing this idea, questioning our present beliefs about it, and offering solutions of how to "un-train" your baby from peeing on the floor.

By popular demand...here is the excerpt:

Doing Regular Diaper-free Time, Responsibly

I added this section because recent trends show that overdoing naked diaper-free time can actually hinder the EC process, teaching a child to pee on the floor. Read on....

The Bottom Line

IF your baby signals best while naked and you don't have a peeing-on-the-floor problem, then do naked time as much as you want!

If your baby doesnʼt signal when naked, and there is pee everywhere, then youʼre better off limiting naked time.

The Importance of Diaper-free Time

Although diapers are commonly used as a back-up, after youʼre finished with Part 1, Step 1, and diaper-free observation time has served its purpose, you may choose to continue giving your baby some diaper-free time every day or week.

1/2 hour per day is common, and before bathtime is popular.

The most important thing here is to do any naked diaper-free time *responsibly*.

Hereʼs how....

Deciding Whether to Continue Offering Diaper-free Time

Once naked or modified diaper-free observation time has served its purpose (to inform you of your babyʼs signals and natural timing, and to inform your baby of what her own elimination feels like, which is what the whole “Part 1, Step 1” was all about), you can decide whether you want to keep doing regular diaper-free time or not, naked or not.

The key here is that diaper-free time can mean naked or without diapers (in clothing or undies or whatnot).

You will know when you are done with the diapers. You will know when naked time will benefit. You will know when itʼs time for underwear...or when itʼs time to strike a middle ground.

If you donʼt, visit me on our private support group and weʼll have a little chat. No worries!

In general, lots of folks start doing away with diapers when their babies resist them more than not, or even begin to prefer other things like underwear. This can begin around pre-walking or 9 months.

Usually by around 14 months parents start to look at permanently ditching daytime diapers. We did it at 9 months and it was a lot of pants/undies laundry for a few months...but it felt right for our son.

But letʼs take a look at the main culprit here: whether and how to do NAKED TIME or not. Because thatʼs the real point of this section!

When Naked Time Becomes Counter-Productive

When naked, no one needs to signal, now do they?! Naked time (observation or regular) can become counterproductive when:

  • you already know his signals
  • you already know his current natural timing
  • and *baby* is already aware of what's going on down there.

If you've got all this going for ya, naked observation time may have already served its purpose. Any naked time beyond this and you could essentially be teaching him to pee on the floor (depending on how you handle things).

In EC terms, if you continue to give naked time when itʼs become counter-productive, you are just being lazy.

Sorry.

But itʼs no different than using a diaper all the time, teaching baby “pee in here.” Too much naked time without communication or action or any boundaries will result in teaching “pee wherever.”

It could be time to add in some 'resistance' (think: opposite poles of a magnet): clothing, since soiling his clothing will eventually not feel socially/physically/emotionally cool, clothing can and may become your new “diaper-free time.”

Remember...“Diaper-free” means free from exclusive dependence upon diapers.

It doesnʼt mean having a naked baby or toddler running around peeing all over your floor 24/7.

Once observation is complete, youʼll want to know how to continue diaper-free and/or naked time...responsibly.

First letʼs state the obvious.

How to Continue Diaper-free Time, not Naked

Pick a time of day and a desired location to do some time with underwear or just pants (commando) as your “back-up.”

Training pants (besides being expensive) often feel like a diaper, but see how your baby responds.

Increase this non-diaper time over the weeks and before you know it you will be done with dipes.

Now letʼs cover how to continue naked time....

Some Reasons to Not Keep Doing Naked Time

First of all, your baby could stop signaling as strongly, or at all. Which makes sense.

Why signal if Iʼm already naked?!!

Next, your baby might learn that peeing on the floor, or on the cloth heʼs laying on, is okay. Which itʼs not, really...right? Right.

Lastly, we wear clothing in our society, so your baby will also need to learn how to wear clothing and not soil it.

Reasons to Keep Doing Naked Time

If you are starting with a more mobile baby (5 months+, and especially 12 months+), you may decide to spend some additional time naked to reinforce the cause & effect rule.

If you just like having a naked baby bum around, no matter the babyʼs age, you might want to do more nakey time too.

If you have a baby who doesnʼt pee on the floor when naked, go for it yaʼll! If baby signals better when naked, awesome. Do it.

Also, if you struggle with diaper rash, naked time is one of the only things that helps. So youʼd want to do it then, too.

In any case, just see #3, below, to learn how to modify it with an older baby so you donʼt teach her to pee on the floor (again, a common problem faced by some ECers).

How to Modify Naked Time After Its Purpose Is Served...and When Baby Becomes Mobile

Okay, so youʼve gathered your info (signals/timing/awareness), cleared up the diaper rash, want to continue having a naked feral child, whatever.

Your child is becoming more mobile by the day....and her brain is building permanent pathways on how to do stuff.

Letʼs modify naked time to place some building blocks for eventual potty independence into your EC practice....

I'll just leave you hanging there. :)

If you'd like to read the rest of this section in my book, AND the new Troubleshooting Section called: "How Do I Untrain My Baby from Peeing on the Floor?"

...then get my book right away. It's all in there. Version 3.0, baby. I can also help you personally in our group when you buy the book.

Would love to read your thoughts about this ground-breaking news in the EC world: that diaper-free doesn't necessarily mean naked!! Thoughts? Please add 'em to the comments below....

And please share this with others via the fancy new Like buttons. Thanks a million! And here's to less pee everywhere.  xx Andrea

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 4 children (6, 3, 2, and newborn) 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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17 Comments

  1. Heather on October 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks! I read your thoughts on this in an email a month (or so?!) back, but this just reinforces it for me. Very helpful. If I’ve already bought your book, do I need to buy Version 2.0 to get the whole scoop?

    • Andrea Olson on October 30, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Hey Heather…glad this is helpful in reinforcing things for ya. You can visit http://ecsimplified.com/update2.0 to get your free update to Version 2.0. Definitely check it out! There’s a page at the beginning that shows exactly what’s new in the updated version. Big hugs! Andrea

  2. Lacey Sutton on October 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Many thanks for discussing this – it is precisely what I needed! Because my son is 20 months old I was sort of doing a combination of EC and the potty-training method used by Jamie Glowacki, and for both we’ve been doing the diaper-free time… and the only signal my son seems to give that he needs to pee is the “pee-pee-wee-wee” and the increased tendency to play in corners/out of the way places. And so I’ve cleaned up a lot of pee and poop off the carpets and only had 2 catches, one of which meant I just literally caught the stream in the insert to his toilet. I think we’re taking a break for now while I try to figure out how best to get the whole idea of pottying in the toilet/potty chair through to him.
    The strange part is I have a daycare that is SERIOUSLY into potty training, and they give him regular potty opportunities, but he’s still been hit-or-miss (mostly miss) with that method as well… he just is NOT making the connection….

    • Andrea Olson on October 30, 2012 at 9:08 am

      Hey Lacey! Thanks so much for sharing. My honest opinion about working with a 20 month old is to completely stop doing EC (I know, sacrilege), and to commit to ONLY doing Jamie’s 3-days and then a brief 4 day follow up. In her 3 days she only has ONE naked day. It’s very step-by-step and I think that at your son’s age it’s much more appropriate. Commit to that fully and I think you’ll just be done. And WOW – your daycare’s into it!!!!! That is priceless. :) Good luck! xo Andrea

  3. Emmy on October 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you Andrea, Libby has been dry most nights…If I am quick to put her on the potty in the morning she will go but lately I been so tired (pregnant again) and she has not been given the opportunity quick enough.

    • Andrea Olson on October 30, 2012 at 9:06 am

      You’re welcome. Yes, it’s so hard to be pregnant and have that completely sleepy feeling with a child to take care of…..feeling for you! Do what you can…and that’s good enough. :) Andrea

  4. Annaliese on October 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Could not have said it better, wonderful job Andrea! I fell into that trap with my first child who is now 2 1/2. I made sure this time I wouldn’t let it happen, and now my daughter who is now 10 months only ever had naked time to teach cuing in the hospital after she was born. I have not had to do naked time since the 2 days I was in the hospital :-)

    • Andrea Olson on October 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Oh, Annaliese, thank you so much for sharing your story!! It totally confirms what we’re discovering in the ECS Forum…I’m happy to hear that your 2nd child is doing EC without over-doing naked time. Hope to hear how it all ends up, and how the two differed. Keep me in the loop? xx Andrea

  5. Bonnie on November 1, 2012 at 4:47 am

    I have a very mobile 10 month old boy. I would love to start ECing principles, but I’m scared to begin because I’m afraid when I do naked time that the pee is gonna go everywhere!! He likes to stand , crawl, etc. and .. well.. since he’s a boy, pee could literally hit the ceiling.. haha! Any tips???

    • Andrea Olson on November 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm

      Hey Bonnie! Thanks for writing in….and guess what? I literally JUST yesterday wrote one of my November Q+A blog posts on this topic and it’ll be posting at 6am EST tomorrow, Saturday November 3, 2012! Look for it here at that time (when it turns “live”) – NOV3: Clean-up: How do I clean up the poo and pee while observing a diaper-free mobile baby?: http://ecsimplified.com/clean-up-how-do-i-clean-up-the-poo-and-pee-while-observing-a-diaper-free-mobile-baby – and I think you’ll get a load of great info on how to do naked time without too much mess (with preparation, planning, and some active stuff *during* the observation time period). I LOVE synchronicities like this! :) xx Andrea

  6. jessie on February 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    andrea, i appreciate your bringing this up. i think it has been difficult for me to figure out what was appropriate with naked time, since my son for a while did seem to pee more frequently on the floor. now he’s 20 months and he does do better with a cloth diaper back up and i ask him if he needs to pee every couple of hours. whereas if i leave him naked, and i forget to ask him to pee, 50% of the time he will go himself and 50% of the time he’ll pee on the floor.

    however, those difficult months of beginning mobility, crawling and beginning walking, i did find that having him naked for most of the day (and yes, cleaning up a fair amount of pee) probably did keep him aware of his peeing and did aid EC.

    but back to current: i am a bit conflicted about naked time vs not. because although he pees more frequently on the floor while naked, he also is much more inclined to go pee by himself in the bathroom. and if he is wearing cloth and i forget to ask, he’ll pee in his clothing or diaper.

    basically, i do a combination of both, since there are pros and cons to both, depending on where we are at.

    • Andrea Olson on March 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm

      Hey Jessie! At 20 months I’d go ahead and ditch the diapers altogether and use just clothing, no more naked time either. If you need help wrapping up EC go ahead and get my friend Jamie’s book at http://jamieglowacki.com where she has written a chapter on how to potty train (non-coercively) if you’ve done some EC in the past. Good luck! xx Andrea

  7. Shona on October 5, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Hi Andrea, reading this seriously couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I have had my 13 month old girl with a naked bottom at home for a few months because we were missing soooo much. I thought it was an EC pause due to learning how to walk but I can’t identify her cues any more, she just pees on the floor. And even if I offer the potty she won’t use it, she’ll just pee on the floor minutes later. Then if I put a diaper cover on her (I use a grovia hybrid shell to contain pee but for her to feel wet) – she will pee in it almost immediately after me putting it on her. She will also pee in her car seat and stroller, even if I offer before bucking her in. I am in such a rut and don’t know what I am doing wrong! Should I just put clothes on her and see if that helps?

  8. Cassandra Barker on March 23, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Hi, Andrea!

    Thanks for this! About a week ago we switched to training pants for many reasons – 1. My girl doesn’t want to put diapers on 2. I needed help identifying her pee signals 3. We were only have 1-2 pee misses in diapers a day! Since starting EC when she was about 10 months old (almost 15 months now) she communicates the need to poop always with no misses and pees when offered during her natural timing (upon waking) and will communicate the need to pee when wearing or holding her. But when in a diaper playing there is no signaling. If she pees more than once while I’m busy doing things she’ll go into the bathroom and pat the toilet lid, asking to be changed! So, I thought to myself “maybe switching to training underwear will help bridge these ‘gaps’ left between 1-2 diapers a day and potty independence?” The first time she peed she stopped, looked down and said “uh oh” as her training underwear and legs became wet! I said “you’re going pee, to the potty” and she happily went in to change into dry ones and sit on the toilet, never going more. Long story short, I realized after a few days and lots of misses there was too much naked time, she was peeing everywhere, and was bored. Hah! I’ve learned a lot from your podcast this week, just purchased your book, and have started implementing some things from the podcast. We’re using a diaper backup again to give us both a break, but she’s been signaling and back to 1.5-3 hours between pees!

    I look forward to reading your book and being a part of the private forum!
    Thank you!

  9. Lillias on April 24, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Hi, I came to this post because I am on lesson 3 of your ‘mid streamers’ and it definitely applies to me!.
    I have a 1 year old son. We have been doing part time EC from birth. He wore nappies but we would hold him over the potty first thing in the morning and after naps / food and we would catch 99% of the poos. This worked great for us but then at around 9 or 10 months he started planking his body and resisting being held over the potty. After a week or two thinking this might just pass we started him sitting himself on a potty and reading books to him. He got some pees in the potty and the occasional poo but he would often get off the potty and poo or pee next to it! I have been giving him lots of naked time when at home to try and tune into his signals but although he knows how to sign with his hands this isn’t always reliable. Sometimes he just signs if I say the words poo or potty and he doesn’t often give many body signals before peeing. He can sign poo and potty and will point to his poo and sign poo and sometimes will come over to me and point to the potty. I will sit him on the potty but he will then get off and stand up next to it and poo! He claps his hands when he gets a pee or poo in the potty so he knows it is a good thing – or at least pleases his parents :-) If he pees on the floor I will pick him up and put him straight on the potty – the same if he poos on the floor. Do you think I am giving him mixed messages?

  10. Wendy on May 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Around 8-9 months my son started showing us that he wanted to pee and pop independently. We were allowing him to go on the floor, although it was getting a little crazy cleaning up after him like an untrained puppy. I started bringing him to the bathroom when I knew he had to go and hanging out in there so he could do his business, independently. ( meaning he resisted being held, to squat.). We had a little potty, but he just wanted to play with it and it did not seem time to train him for the potty. He was also in a phase of not giving us as many cues. After reading lesson 3 I can reflect back to this time… and apply the knowledge now at 11 months he seems ready for potty training. It’s good for me to keep in mind that allowing him to go on the floor is just another habit we’ll have to in-train. Thank you!

  11. Jamie on May 26, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks for the post! My son has been using the potty since 6 months. He’s now 13 months and has learned that if he pees on the floor he can play with it… now he refuses to sit on the potty or only does a half pee then runs off to do it somewhere else. Has anyone faced this before and what did you do?

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