About Elimination Communication
Infant Potty Training for babies 0-18 months old
Infant Potty Training for babies 0-18 months old
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Quite simply, Elimination Communication is a gentle way to honor your baby’s inborn instincts about elimination (pee and poo).
Instincts he or she is born with, and born communicating about.
Just like responding to a baby’s request for food or sleep, you can zoom out a tad and also respond to a baby’s request for diaper free potty time.
a gentle, non-coercive way to respond to
a baby’s natural pottying needs, from as early
as birth, which honors her instincts to not
soil herself, her caretaker, or her sleep space.
Babies are born ready (and many stay sensitive to these instincts for a few months, up through 18 months – 18+ months go here).
We just need to learn how to tune in to what they’re asking for, provide it however often we can, and build the trust that builds two-way communication along the way. Eventually, we can teach them the building blocks they’ll need to “graduate” from EC and be totally diaper free. (Kinda like with eating and sleeping.)
Watch the video below, to learn more about how Elimination Communication works. In it, I explain what EC is and why a parent might choose to do it; how to know when a baby needs to pee; how to start practicing; how to get support; and what might get in your way….
And there you have it. What is EC, in a concise nutshell.
Below is a list of Elimination Communication terms you should know.
We’ve got our own little language over here. It helps us put things in context and know how to talk about Elimination Communication with one another. Here’s a list of 4 of the 15 outlined in my EC book that will get you familiar with the EC lingo:
In conventional Western potty training, if a baby doesn’t go in the potty, it’s called an “accident.” In EC vocabulary, this changes to a “miss.” Basically, you both have missed the opportunity to potty. It’s not a mistake…nothing bad has happened (as “accident” infers). You just missed the communication coming to you, or missed the timing or signal, or didn’t respond quickly enough. Your baby missed the opportunity to ask to go.
Another EC term is “catch.” If you “catch” a pee or poo that means that you’ve successfully helped your baby go to the bathroom. You’ve “caught” the pee or poo. This doesn’t imply that EC is about catching…it’s just a term that folks have adopted to explain the opposite of a miss.
A mis-guess happens when you believe your baby has to pee, take her to the potty, position and cue, and she tells you that she didn’t have to go this time. Mis-guesses are valuable in that they hone your awareness of baby’s actual signals and timing…and they can clue you in to when her patterns are changing.
Sometimes your baby lets a little pee out when she’s trying to hold it while you get her to the potty place. This is called a prepee. If you find her diaper or undies to be wet while you’re en route to the potty place, she may still have to go. Offer her the potty despite the wetness, as this may have just been a pre-pee.
Again, if you’d like to learn more vocabulary, be sure to check out our simple Elimination Communication handbook + community.
A few people EC completely diaper-free from the start. Those who use diapers as a back-up may use the same disposable or cloth diaper all day or for hours on end. Overall, ECers use less diapers over the whole first 3-5 years of their children’s lives than those who don’t practice infant potty training.
If you save diapers, you will save money. Simple enough. The average parent spends over $3,000 on diapers. With Elimination Communication, you could spend as little as $0-200, total.
In the US, 27.4 billion diapers a year end up in the landfill. None of these poop and gel stuffed diapers has ever biodegraded…ever…since the first one was buried in 1959.
By practicing Elimination Communication, you produce less diaper waste and resource strain that washing cloth diapers also puts on the environment.
Dr. Sears, Attachment Parenting (AP) guru, teaches parents to believe in the language value of baby’s cries. Each cry is a form of communication. Obviously, then, babies are constantly communicating. When you answer a baby’s signal, you build trust with each other and deepen your connection. Through Elimination Communication, you are able to better understand your baby’s wants and needs.
Most ECers report a much deeper connection with their babies…found through communicating with them on this other plane.
Basically? You won’t just be “popping a potty on her” after teaching her to go in a diaper for 2 or 3 years.
Ultimately, if you maintain your baby’s instinct to not soil themselves and build trust with your baby by showing them you’ll take them to potty when they asks…the inevitable result of a potty-independent child will be more easily & quickly within reach. In the end, the final stages will be smoother and your teamwork will have paid off.
Many people think that Elimination Communication might be more time-consuming than diapering. In the beginning your probably right. It requires a defined starting point (like my book, for instance…nudge, nudge) and thorough observation, but isn’t your child worth it?
Looking at the bigger picture, ECing actually saves time when compared to how long it typically takes to change a diaper and clean a bottom. If you plan ahead and dress your baby for success (quick on’s and off’s), and if you are catching those obvious “poo faces” and avoiding splatter-bottom clean-up, you will obviously save a bunch of time!
In the end, Elimination Communication will help your child become diaper free. When all the other parents are taking time out of their busy day to change dirty diapers, you’ll be relaxing knowing your child is potty ready.
There are more benefits than this (20 more in the member’s area which comes with my Book Package) but I’ll leave you with the above…they are the most reported pluses of doing Elimination Communication with a wee one.
You might be wondering what to expect regarding Elimination Communication maintenance and completion.
I’m here to set your expectations at a reasonable level.
(Btw…in my new EC book, I do share the only information out there on how to complete EC…for those who wish to know. Just sayin’.)
First off: there is no guarantee. Doing EC does not guarantee that your child will be finished and potty independent sooner than a conventionally trained toddler. Reason? All babies are different, and all parents practice EC differently.
Completion is part of every process so you can very well expect to complete at some point, and I totally empower you to guide (not force) your child towards that mastery that every toddler deeply deserves.
Next, I want you to know that, depending on where you learn EC (did you wing it off of Facebook advice or did you get a professional’s trusted guidance), when you start, and the unique temperament and development of your baby, it’s reasonable to expect a certain level of daytime dryness by 6-20 months.
Due to the nature of the learning curve (thing erratic, circular, or spiral), this dryness can come in and out of the picture and then finally settle once the brain has solidified its long-term repetitive memory abilities (around 14-18 months).
Nighttime dryness usually follows daytime dryness naturally, so an ECed child will normally also become dry during sleep at around 20-24 months.
Again, these are averages…but they give you a sense of what lots of other parents experience. Results may (and do) vary. :)
Let me see if this sounds familiar to you:
You’ve been giving Elimination Communication a try with your little one for several weeks. One website said to start by doing lots of naked time. Another site said to just offer the potty every 30 minutes.
Or how bout the three EC Facebook groups you’ve just joined? The questions you posted gave you lots of advice: maybe 15 different responses per post! This may have gifted you with about 40 different pieces of advice as to how to begin….
By the time you’ve tried all of these 40-some-odd things, you and your baby are not having much success and it seems like pottying has taken over your life, 24/7.
…it can get so complicated. I know because when I was starting out with my son, I found my main source (a paperback book) lacking the “how-to” details of how to get started with a newborn and started searching other sources. On the Internet. I quickly became overwhelmed.
Luckily this doesn’t have to be the case.
Clarity. Peace of mind. Confidence.
(Three things that are essential to any Elimination Communication practice.)
A dozen starting tips from various sources and various parents (with experiences limited to their own children) can leave you just plain dizzy. Overwhelmed. Confused. Like I was! Not fun.
So, point is that I suggest you get yourself a concise, conclusive, and supportive starting point (ahem, this is so needed…which is why I created my book) and commit yourself to that.
It’s kind of like getting advice from your favorite grandmother and just following that.
Life used to be so simple! And so did pottying our infants.
Don’t worry…we can all get back on track.
Next, let’s look at how to begin.
The first step to starting Elimination Communication with your baby is observation. Obviously, this is most easily done prior to the commencement of crawling and walking.
If you are able to observe for a few hours or days in the first 5 months of your baby’s life, with your baby naked in a warm room, you will start to notice somethings.
Note: Naked time is meant for gathering information. It is not recommended to simply have your baby naked all the time when starting (or continuing) EC…it doesn’t teach much of anything.
Anyway, when observing a newborn you’re going to have her laying on a protected area of your bed, floor, her bed, or on your lap.
You’re going to look for some things in particular:
You’re also going to start doing sound association: every time your baby pees, cue along with her with the “ssss” noise. Every time your baby poops, cue along with her with a grunting noise, “mm, mm,” or another noise or word of your choosing.
This noise will later become the cue you give to your baby once she’s in position and it’s okay to go ahead and pee/poo.
This is an extremely condensed overview. For much more detail (including the best outcomes and least frustration), grab a copy of my EC book to start the right way.
With the more mobile baby, you’ll have to modify observation time.
You can do this by using a sumo-style cloth prefold diaper tucked into a diaper belt. so that your floors stay dry.
But if you can do some amount of naked time, you are much more likely to learn some valuable info (the 4 things above, in particular).
Use an area that you don’t mind cleaning up. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, line those floors with towels, blankets, and yoga mats for about 4 hours. Get creative.
Something to do while observing a mobile baby: You may choose to confidently yet subtly air-lift your baby to the potty each time she pees, or touch her hand to the potty then set her on it. This will model the motion of getting herself to the potty each time she needs to go. It works…try it.
While transporting your baby to the potty (which can be done mid-pee, as is often the case at first!), say the word you eventually want her to say to you when she needs to go. This will become her prompt word or phrase, such as “potty” or “I need to pee.”
(This prompt word replaces the sound association you’d have done with a newborn baby.)
Again, that was very much condensed. See our book for more deets.
Do the same thing during observation as you would have with a mobile baby, above.
You’ll just have a much more mobile child to deal with.
Keep the potty nearby OR have it in the bathroom and close the door behind you when you bring him over to go.
Starting EC at this age is so complicated that no one else has written an effective guide to doing so. But…over the last 2 years of helping folks one-on-one in my private support forum and doing personal EC consultations, I’ve developed a solid working method of how to start EC with a 12-18 month young toddler. It’s right here, the only one of its kind, and very effective.
You’ll want to skip EC altogether and do non-coercive potty training with my other, new book. EC is not developmentally appropriate for 18 months and up, as toddlers deserve swift mastery at this age.
After observing, after getting all the info you needed, please please please don’t do any more naked time unless needed, or unless it works for you and your baby best. More on that later.
Now let’s chat about what to do once you’ve gathered this info.
The majority of my readers can tell their babies need to potty by the following 4 indicators:
When one of these events occurs, it’s time to potty that wee one.
Let’s go through these one by one, briefly. If you need more detail, my Elimination Communication book spends several pages detailing each indicator, including drawings and photos.
The first thing you should know is that not all babies signal, and that there are ways to get your baby to start or resume signaling if he (1) never did in the first place or (2) stopped signaling all of a sudden. We’ll briefly cover that in a later article…and I go over that extensively in my book and on my private forum. In very easy-to-understand terms.
For now, know that most babies give at least subtle signals that indicate they need to pee or poo but need your help in getting them out of that diaper, or out of that carrier, prior to doing so.
The most common signal? Sudden fussiness.
The most common signal while babywearing? Trying to escape the carrier.
The most common nighttime signal? Wriggling or flopping head from side to side in sleep.
During observation time, you learned how long after feeding and how long after waking it was until your baby needed to pee or poo, and the intervals thereafter.
This obviously expands over time and you’ll need to offer less.
Also, in the beginning, you won’t be able to catch them all based on natural timing. Go for every other one and your baby will start consolidating.
I have a conclusive list of common times most babies need to potty in…you guessed it…my book. Just sayin’.
For now, know that the most common times babies need to potty are:
You can potty your baby whenever it makes sense for you and your schedule, but knowing the common times that most babies need to pee can be a good, easy way to start ECing your child.
You have this, whether you believe me or not. And if you can’t access it just yet, practicing Elimination Communication with your little one will help you connect to that buried intuition of yours. I hear it from my readers all the time…connection and intuition are exponentially magnified when you practice pottying your infant!
This could look like:
Okay. So now you know that there are 4 major ways to know your baby needs to pee. If you need some hand-holding or some expert guidance, you can learn more in-depth in my new Elimination Communication book. That’s why I wrote it. :)
When one of the 4 things happens that tell you it’s potty time, it’s time to put your baby into an Elimination Communication position and cue, indicating it’s okay to relax and go potty. There are countless positions you can choose from, some learned from tribal peoples the world over.
Here are 5 very common Elimination Communication pottying positions that you can use when the time comes.
If you need more ideas or you’re curious about the other 65+, our Go Diaper Free Book features over 70 positions, beautifully photographed in full-color, that will give you more ideas if these don’t work for you and your babe in every situation.
Sometimes it takes some experimentation…and a good, visual example to follow.
Elimination Communication is most easily learned hands-on, through seeing, experiencing, and doing. Here are two video demonstrations of Elimination Communication Techniques. These videos will give you a clear idea of what it’s like to potty a baby.
There are over 20 more great videos in the members’ area, including newborn Elimination Communication. Get Access Now by purchasing our Book Package.
First of all, the #1 thing you need to know about going diaper-free is that with Elimination Communication, it all hinges on you, your attitude, commitment, and consistency, as a parent. Even if you do it part-time (most do), you are one very important half of this equation. You guide the ship. Just like with feeding your baby and helping her sleep, you’ll need to learn how to potty your infant and stick with it.
It’s also integral to get support. We don’t live in a tribe. And, for this reason (we have no one to teach us), we also need clear, visual education around it…it doesn’t have to be time-consuming, complex, or difficult to do Elimination Communication with your baby, but it can be if you’re not informed.
Here’s a brief summation of the 9 roadblocks to EC:
Most of my members and readers wish they would have started EC earlier. Babies are born ready. As a new parent, things get wild. You can start in little ways, at birth, if you choose to, so don’t let anyone tell you to put it off til baby is “ready” for potty training. That’s just a myth.
Most people do EC part-time, which does not mean “half-assed.” When you DO do EC, be consistent and committed, as you do when you feed and nap her. Otherwise, she picks up on your ambivalence and you’re both in trouble.
Naked diaper-free time is essential to an EC practice…to an extent. Use it to gather information, no more, no less. Don’t train your baby to pee on your floor for 2 years. That is just as lazy as diapering, in my opinion. “Diaper-free” means free from an exclusive dependence upon using diapers. It doesn’t mean naked babies peeing everywhere.
If you do EC this way, your baby will definitely resist later on. One mother told me once that she got tired of pottying her baby every 30 minutes so she quit. Who wouldn’t! There are better ways to EC. Relying solely on the clock does not work.
Many parents quit EC when they return to work…this doesn’t have to be the case. You can do it successfully part-time. Our Go Diaper Free readers can vouch for that!
You can not just start by holding your baby over a potty and saying “pssss.” It will work, once or twice, but then you’ll be lost. You’ve got to learn about EC and start with the basic steps: observation, learning signals and natural rhythms, etc.
Would you like to be helicoptered over and expected to talk about pee and poop all.the.time? Nope, didn’t think so. This is certain to result in potty resistance with your baby too. We can lump in questioning, praise, overtalking, controlling, and showing off in this category. Steer clear, parents, steer clear. (This could be easier said than done…you’re just learning about EC yourself, right?)
Some of us new parents are yearning for connection…EC Facebook groups and mothering forums fill that void within us. But, you can also get stuck there past an unhealthy age. The support out there is plentiful, and it can also be confusing, misleading, and overwhelming. This is why we have the Go Diaper Free Forum (which comes with the Book Package) – it is private, supportive, and won’t mislead you.
You can wing it and start EC off of whatever you read on a random blog or website. But, most of my members and readers who’ve done this are cleaning up huge messes. Any tiny baby will pee on cue, at first. Is it beginner’s luck…or is it EC? Most parents are much more successful with infant potty training when they have a single, sole source of education and support, surrounding themselves with those who are all on the same page. Find this, and you’ll be successful no matter the challenges that may arise.
Something new is happening in the Elimination Communication community:
Babies are peeing on the floor, wherever and whenever, and parents don’t know what to do about it.
My readers and I have been working on a solution to this problem for a very long time, and we figured it out. But, the questions remains: does diaper-free time actually teach our babies to pee on the floor?
Let’s first look at why babies are doing this.
The answer: you taught her that.
Just like our culture teaches babies to go in diapers. Or how to sing Old McDonald. Or to call a tree “tree” and a ball “ball.” Through repetition. Modeling. And education.
When a new parent learns about EC, it often goes from one extreme, 100% diapers, to the other, naked all the time.
This is no different from diapering full-time…if the parent is just allowing it as a simpler alternative to the hassles of diapering day in and day out. You either let your child pee in that diaper for 3 years solid, or you allow her to pee anywhere she likes, on the floor in particular, for 3 years straight. It’s no different.
In order to earn the title of “diaper-free parent,” some folks just do a version of very lax EC where they can clean up a puddle instead of change a diaper. I understand that. I mean, it is easier, in ways. But, when all’s said and done, it’s just as thoughtless as full-time diapering.
Now, if you’re in a village deep in the Amazon, you would likely “shoo” your baby out of the hut if she pees on the floor after you both know she’s knowledgeable and capable of peeing in the proper place.
You use the diaper, or another form of back-up (trainers, underwear, or just pants), as a TOOL when you begin EC. You think about it. You use what works best.
We are not all nudists. Most of us wear clothes. So, you can do that versus having baby naked all the time.
A 1 or 2 year old will get confused if he’s given permission to pee anywhere he likes, at any time, while he’s naked. Use clothing.
I am now going to quickly share with you how and when to use naked time, and how and when to use “diaper-free” time.
For now, know that in order to reverse this habit of peeing wherever, you just decide that it’s not okay anymore. You start using clothing. You start pottying your baby in the bathroom. Or, you use a diaper or training pants back-up until your baby becomes more reliable. You use what works best for YOUR baby. It’s really that simple.
The press and news stations tend to think that having a diaper-free baby means naked all the waking hours. It doesn’t. It means not exclusively depending upon diapers. That’s it.
“Diaper-free” time can include time in underwear or just pants (commando) or training pants. They all count. We aren’t depending upon a diaper when we dress our kiddos this way.
Likewise, when we use the diaper as a tool, we are not dependent upon it. We are still communicating about elimination. Got it? Great!
So, if you’re mopping up pee all the time and it somehow feels WRONG…you might want to just make different choices. Your baby will follow right along!
PS – if you don’t have this exact problem..if naked time results in your child taking himself to the potty each and every time (or most times!), then disregard this. It’s not an issue for you. It’s only a problem if it bothers you and it’s happening.
The summary version: IF you’ve gathered the appropriate information during naked time (signals, natural timing, your intuitive thoughts), then you stop doing naked time.
If you need more information, you do some more naked time and really pay attention.
If you find there’s nothing new to learn, stop doing naked time…unless it results in pee in the potty!
Then, do “diaper-free” time regularly…at certain times of the day, on certain days of the week, only on outings, only at home…you decide. Use clothing, undies, trainers, or a sumo-style cloth diaper in a diaper belt even, to demonstrate that we wear clothing AND we communicate about pottying.
If you wish to do naked time and it works for you, then integrate this: Each and every time your mobile baby signals or you notice it’s time for her to pee, you transport her to the potty and say “wait” or “pee in the potty.” This teaches something. You tell her to hang on while you get her there, or travel with her there somehow. Then it happens. Then you’re back to your normal daily duties.
If you don’t have the patience or awareness to do this, then use the clothing option. Either way, you’re doing Elimination Communication…you are taking steps to become diaper-free…diaper-independent…and that’s great!
There’s more of this in my Elimination Communication book and private support group…if you have this problem and need help.
This happens to the best of us.
You’ve been practicing EC for a while, long or short, and things were going very smoothly.
All of a sudden, you are shocked that baby is resisting to sit on the potty or be held in pottying position. The cooperative factor has flown out the window.
But you’ve been paying attention! Honest, you have. In fact, you’ve been on it. Catching, catching, catching, with rarely a miss.
Unfortunately, parents, that might be part of the problem.
When we become potty-centered, we unknowingly cause potty resistance.
I can explain this better by summarizing a part of my EC book that explains the interconnections of Jean Liedloff’s Continuum Concept and the intricacies of infant potty training or raising a diaper-free baby (a baby free from exclusive dependence upon diapers).
(Btw…this concept also explains tantrums and why child-centeredness [hovering/helicoptering] is a not good for any age baby or toddler.)
An excerpt from my book:
The book The Continuum Concept, by Jean Liedloff, eloquently illustrates how the Yequana people, Stone Age Indians residing deep in the forests of South America, raise their children, emphasizing that what we expect of our little ones determines much of what they do and how they behave. If we expect them to fall, they do as we expected. If we expect them to potty outside, they do. For the Yequana, it’s not an emotional battle against children for anything…it’s a totally non-adversarial lifestyle.
Furthermore, you’ll recall that Jean recommends strongly against a child-centered rearing in her book. She goes to much length to prove that child-centeredness leads to rebellion, to a baby who is constantly (& loudly) signaling the caregiver to “give the me the correct experience…show me how to be an adult!” Child-centeredness produces a super-grumpy child.
She recommends going on with your life as you did before having your baby, doing grown-up stuff while wearing your baby so he can witness and begin learning what it will take to be a grown-up and contribute to the society he was born into.
While doing all this grown-up stuff (shopping, laundry, cooking, walking, socializing, using the toilet, gardening, etc.), you remain receptive to the signals that your baby (in his little baby carrier, held close to your body) is constantly giving off. This builds your intuition, connection, and awareness, but not at the expense of irritating your child.
Jean mentioned that if you sit around and stare at your baby all day, asking him what he wants to do (instead of showing him what “we” do), he will become agitated and start signaling for correction. He is not signaling for more playtime with you, or because he’s a “terrible two” or toddler, or because he’s a willful, deviant troublemaker…it’s because he wants you to show him something interesting by doing something interesting.
Within this type of setting, babies are softer, calmer, and happier. When parents EC their babies in countries where the continuum (nature’s plan) is honored, they do so matter-of-factly: “This is where we pee. I believe you need to go, so if you do, go here.”
The book also mentions that babies crave information. So, we can apply this to EC by providing our children with information about where we expect them to potty. We don’t plead, we don’t persuade or coerce, we don’t force…these are all what Jean calls adversarial styles of parenting. We align ourselves with the fact that our babies wish to keep themselves, us, and their dens dry, and we assist them in going when they tell us they need to go (or when it’s “time,” or when we have an intuition around it).
Jean recommends not being permissive, so when baby pees on the floor we express our dismay but do not direct it at the child. We matter-of-factly tell them that this is not the place to go…that over there is. We clean it up without anger towards them. We continue to love the child, but we do not pretend to love the displeasing act. We teach them about right and wrong by reacting to things that displease us in an authentic manner.
Jean believed our babies are innately social and that we should expect them to do the right thing, to want to participate and cooperate with us. We don’t have to convince them…we just believe. They are born social, and the book states that we mold them into becoming antisocial by our expectations that they will be bad, terrible twos, and other examples of “trouble.”
By giving babies information about living (and pottying) instead of trying to force, please, or question them about what they want to do today…we give them opportunity to happily contribute to the society they were born into. We pee in the potty. That’s just what we do.
A Summary of How this Philosophy Applies to EC:
•Don’t hover over your baby all day long waiting for her to signal….
•Go forth with your life, showing her what it is to be a grown-up from her “right” seat in the carrier, close to your heart….
•Be diffusely aware of her pottying signals and needs without hyper-focusing on her as the center of attention….
•Teach her about life, and pottying, by modeling it in your day-to-day activities and giving her matter-of-fact information….
•Do not coerce, plead, or punish; instead, help her do what humans are expected to do: pee/poo in the appropriate place….
•Let the mobile baby go along with his whims and explore, keeping an ear out for the signal, intuition, or time to go without imposing upon his deep exploration of his surroundings….
•Have an “open-door” policy in your family bathroom so your baby can get hands-on, eyes-on experience of what is expected of her in the grown-up landscape.”
If this makes sense, then keep on learning with our comprehensive resource so you can transform that terrible trajectory into a more positive one.
Okay, so far in this series we have learned a lot about what EC is…so let’s reverse that and take a gander at what it is not.
1. Elimination Communication should not start from “winging it.” You could very well start ECing your baby based on free stuff from the internet, Facebook (a popular one right now for this topic!), and mommie blogs, but be forewarned. I’ve helped lots of readers clean up messes caused by months upon months of winging it off of advice that wasn’t exactly right for them. Once we get them re-started, it’s usually fine, but it really shakes a parent’s confidence to have to go through that.
2. EC is all about you, the parent…not so much about your baby. She’s just born wanting this. You are learning it. And you’ve never probably done it before. So, whether you do it part-time or all the time, your commitment, potty attitude, and consistency during the times you do do it are key to your team’s success. We don’t get the knowledge of EC handed to us by our grandparents…we need to learn it and put effort into beginning it.
3. Given that 1/2 the world’s population is doing some form of EC right now, you can gather that EC is not impossible. If it were, how would so many have been doing it for 100’s of thousands of years, eh?
4. Going diaper-free, or reducing our dependence upon diapers, is a journey in and of itself. It does not happen overnight. If you follow the guidance here at Go Diaper Free, in most cases you will be finished with daytime diapers somewhere between 6-20 months. Compared to the 36-38 month current average US potty training completion, that’s pretty darn good.
5. Infant Potty Training is not punitive. It’s not coercive. It should be void of shame, pressure, showing off, competition, or hurrying the process. EC is absolutely in alignment with babies’ natural needs, interests, capabilities, general well-being, and preferred hygiene.
6. Going diaper-free does not involve staring at your baby all day long, hoping he’ll pee so you can take him and be successful. It is absolutely not asking him to pee every 30 minutes, by the clock. However, it is about becoming aware of baby’s natural timing, identifying and responding to his signals, and assisting him in going when the time’s nigh.
7. EC is a way that parents can learn to respond to a baby’s basic need; it’s not “parent training.” Newborns need immediate assistance with those basic needs. They express their needs by crying, flailing, grunting. We simply help them do it because responsive parenting is something we believe in.
8. Likewise, EC isn’t about “training” your infant. Pottying your baby is achieved by listening to your baby’s existing signals and supporting her in meeting her primal needs for dryness and cleanliness.
9. Diaper-free is a lifestyle. It’s not some new-fangled thing that will be out by the end of this season. It’s not a chore. It’s a completely shifted perspective on the topic of baby waste, established for 100’s of thousands of years, the whole world over.
10. EC is not a band-aid (diapers are). It does, however, revolve around the idea that if we don’t disturb the natural process in the first place, no fixing will be needed later on (conventional toilet training).
That’s it – the top 10 things that EC is not…and why.
This just in from one of our Go Diaper Free community members:
“So the problem with the internet and FB are that for a lil ol mom like me I always have elements of skepticism when I use online resources. There’s also the element that FB users have the power to only appear 100% successful 100% of the time. For me, that doesn’t translate to my reality or my EC journey. To hear you talk about periodical misses and that Kaiva wasn’t diaper free at the age of 6mths with you reading his cues 100% of the time and co-sleeping without any wet beds, etc, etc (these are all my impressions of what EC SHOULD look like, nothing at all what you’ve ever professed!) is extremely rewarding. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have not looked at the FB EC groups in months….”
Do we really tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on Facebook?
I constantly find myself softening, editing, removing what I really want to say in lieu of what is socially acceptable to say.
When we look to Facebook groups about Elimination Communication, we are generally looking for the following:
Do any of these questions sound familiar to you? If so, you are not alone. (Btw…I answer them all in the GoDiaperFree Readers’ Resources.)
The problem with posting them on un-mentored, large Facebook groups is multifaceted.
First, you are posting to a group of 1,000s of moms who have experience ECing ONE or TWO babies (4 if you’re lucky). They are going to answer with what worked for THEM, not what might work for YOU or the average ECer.
Secondly, you are putting yourself out there in the semi-public eye. The problem with this is what the member, whom I quoted at the start of this article, so eloquently stated – you might not be sharing the whole truth, or if you are, you’re going to get half-truths back from people. It’s really hard, especially with EC, for folks to share their REAL story and give you REAL support. And that makes sense. We are being observed by other parents…it’s a really vulnerable position to put ourselves in, when you think about it.
Which leads to the third element to this predicament: parents are uber-competitive. So, advice-giving can become somewhat of a sport. Who can give the best advice? Who is the most pure ECer? Who has had the most success? Who can complain the most and win the martyrdom award?
Fourth, when you post a question/problem about EC on Facebook you will get anywhere from 5-40 responses within a day or two. The problem with this is – what will you do with all those suggestions? Well, there’s a high likelihood you will:
In my 11th podcast episode (the one our community member referred to in the quote at the top of this article), I share the truth of my EC journey with my first child. It is not always pretty, and it is full of interesting twists and turns. Folks have been sharing that listening to my story has helped “normalize” their own journey with their babies. Which is pretty cool.
I encourage you to listen to it next, and then to return to this page and keep learning in this series.
What you will find is that I practiced EC, in full, with ZERO help from Facebook groups. I only posted my status with EC on my personal FB page about ½ a dozen times. I really kept it a private thing and I had a mentor whom I consulted with regularly (actually, I had 3). I didn’t let a public community decide for me how to start and how to troubleshoot.
When I started my EC Forum a few years back it was because I knew that people needed support in a private atmosphere where they could feel safety, trust, and consistency in the quality and type of advice they were given.
Now, ironically, I’ve archived the Forum (it’s still searchable, and a very valuable thing in and of itself) and make myself available in the Go Diaper Free Private Facebook Group to offer my support.
Yes, I just told you not to get advice on Facebook. But this is slightly different.
Everyone in our Private FB Group owns my book package (either EC Simplified [retired] or Go Diaper Free [available]). And I post and moderate as well. We are all on the same page. And it’s small enough to feel intimate, yet full of helpful advice from the same general vein of thinking (after filtering it through our own experiences with our unique babies, of course).
If you need that sort of advice and encouragement (the kind that will get you where you want to be, and feeling how you want to feel), then please get my book package, which comes with our private FB group…not by posting a very complex, deeply-rooted, time-intensive question to a Facebook group that might not be quite right for you.
1. Resisting the potty and peeing on the floor 5 minutes later.
Quick fix: Do the deed in the bathroom with the door *closed*. Pretend to do something else while she gets the opp to do it herself. Alternatively, carry naked-bottomed baby around the house for a few minutes til you’re both calm, then try again.
2. Will no longer let me hold her to pee / set her on the potty.
Quick fix: Teach something. Spend a day or two teaching her how to sit on the potty herself. You can speed this along by inviting over a slightly older child who can demonstrate how to sit on the potty for your baby.
3. My baby stopped signaling / never signaled.
Quick fix: Note that most babies don’t signal very loudly. Signals are sometimes so subtle that we don’t perceive them at all (especially in our super-busy lives). Simply say the prompt word you’d like him to start saying, and say it one time every single time you bring your baby to the potty. Eventually he’ll start saying it, too (but, ironically, don’t expect it…it just puts pressure on an already expectation-ridden event).
4. Transitioning from in-arms to the potty.
Quick fix: Make a family-wide decision to exclusively use the potty, and stick with it. If everyone’s on board, the baby will sense that this is what we’re now doing. Show no fear or hesitation. Get partner on board…100%.
5. More misses with crawling and/or walking.
Quick fix: Utilize a diaper or clothing back-up during this time of transition so that you, the parent, don’t freak out with stress. For new crawlers, wear your baby for a week to reconnect with signals. For new walkers, use this opp to teach him how to walk to that potty.
6. Trouble with poo.
Quick fix: Do a 1-2 day naked teaching time extravaganza. Every single time baby starts to pee or poo, gently and quietly transport her to that potty (in the living room with ya). If baby stops pooping, simply place a small stack of books under his feet or walk around for a sec with him, just sort of walking, and try again. Get that poop in the potty before the nap and he’ll start to get it.
7. Trouble with pee.
Quick fix: Use a back-up! If baby is peeing everywhere, it’s because you’re teaching her to do that by not using some sort of underwear or cloth diaper back-up.
8. Diapers, no diapers, and pee everywhere.
Quick fix: Decide what makes Elimination Communication the least stressful for you (the parent) and use that back-up. “Diaper-free” means free from depending upon diapers. Don’t do it out of pride and labeling yourself…ditch the diapers only when you feel it’s the right time for everyone.
9. Crying while pottying.
Quick fix: Note that many small babies (especially pre-crawlers, but notably, newborns in their “fourth trimester”) cry while being pottied. Some say it’s the newness of it all. Simply find a position for your baby that is as comfortable as possible and RELAX – know that you are not harming your baby. Your confidence will lessen the crying.
10. When EC disturbs sleep.
Quick fix: Pick sleep over Elimination Communication. Trust me. Soothe baby back to sleep if nighttime EC is losing anyone in the family any amount of sleep. Eventually nighttime dryness follows daytime. Don’t sweat it!
There are really only about 30 things that can go wrong with EC, and we’ve got all the answers in our book.
For more information beyond these quick fixes, please grab a copy of our Book Package which comes with our Members’ Website. There you’ll enjoy the complete “EC answer book” in our Troubleshooting section, which is chock-full of the most common Elimination Communication challenges and solutions that work (and are regularly updated as we learn new things). You’ll also have access to our Forum in case your question isn’t answered there, or if you have multiple overlapping concerns!
(All for less than what two weeks of diapers cost.)
After months and months of progress, happy pottying, and a generally good Elimination Communication experience, your baby starts raising hell every time you take her to potty.
What’s worse, she pees on the floor 5 minutes later.
This might be the #1 challenge that commonly comes up for parents who potty their babies. Why?
The number one reason for potty resistance in infants is over-offering (usually combined with hovering and potty-centeredness). “Number one” as in 95% of all potty resistance.
So, knowing that the issue babies resisting the potty is so very common, how do we address EC resistance?
Here are some of the ideas I’ve gathered from various resources, personal experience, experience coaching other parents in EC, and mostly, our tremendous work together with the GoDiaperFree community in our private forum:
That should get you started for now. If you need more solutions, I offer that in our private, safe, and super-sweet Support Group (which comes with our Book Package) where I answer questions personally every week, and where a whole slew of our like-minded international members offer advice, too.
For extended periods of resistance (ie: more than 7 days in a row, sometimes a few months at a time), please read on….
A potty pause is any extended period of time when your baby is extremely resistant to going pee and/or poo in the potty. We’re talking more than 7 days in a row, sometimes a few months in a row.
Without guidance, potty pauses can last an absurd amount of time.
The number 1 cause for potty pauses is over-offering (often coupled with hovering and potty-centeredness). I covered this in the EC Resistance article which you might have just read.
The difference between a potty pause and general EC resistance is the length of time. Elimination Communication resistance might just happen at certain times of day, or perhaps has only happened for a day or two.
A potty pause is, comparatively, pretty epic.
However, you can follow some of the guidance in the EC Resistance article for remedying a potty pause.
In addition to that information, I wanted to share this article from DiaperFreeBaby Mentor Kerste Conner, out of Seattle, Washington, to shed light on a different way to look at a potty pause. This was quoted (with her permission) in my book and has helped many parents understand what might be behind some of the pauses we experience while practicing EC (it’s not what you might guess!).
Hers is a refreshingly alternative view of potty pauses….
by Kerste Conner, long time DiaperFreeBaby Mentor in Seattle, WA
I’ve noticed that there seem to be two times in a child’s life with EC when problems arise. And I think that during both of these times, it is frustrating for the adults involved (and also for the child involved, but they can’t tell you clearly) and with life being busy, it is easy to decide to put the diapers back on and wait until things improve. However, it would be better to continue doing what you are doing – this time of discord is very important to the process and even though there may be more misses, this is a time of great strides for a child.
When your child begins to walk or talk, they stumble and stutter and make mistakes. You wouldn’t see your child struggling to walk and then think – she’s not ready to walk yet (cuz she isn’t perfect at it yet), so I am going to confine her to a safe environment where she cannot walk and I will keep her there until she is ready to walk. Instead you do what you can to keep her safe while she stumbles and falls and learns to teeter and totter and finally eventually walk. She fails while she is learning and as parents we tolerate these failures because we know it is part of the learning process.
However, when it comes to the EC process and we’ve been having success, somehow as our child begins to learn that they are a part of the process and they can control both when and where they potty, parents become confused – why is there now failure when before there was so much success? I think what we fail to realize is that our measure of success needs to change at this point.
Children learn how long they can hold the contents of their bladder by holding it so long, they can’t hold it any longer. They are in touch with the elimination process, they know what it feels like when their bladder is full, but what they don’t know is – how long can I wait before it is too late? They get involved with other activities and they don’t want to stop, even if they have that full bladder feeling. They may be involved in this experimentation process when, based on timing or intuition, an adult decides to potty the child – who protests vehemently. Then as soon as you take the child off the potty, they realize that they have exceeded their potty-holding limit and they pee on the floor. The adult reaction is frustration – why is this happening? But in fact, the learning process is happening. And this is a great time to continue your communication with your child – “Oh, you are peeing. Next time, if you let me know, I can help you put it in the potty.” Very low key.
So my theory is that this part of the learning process happens sometime between 7 and 12 months. What we did during this time was try a few different locations (mini potty, then sink with mirror, regular toilet with insert, then outdoors). We were trying to distract her from her bladder holding experiment long enough for her to pee. If she peed, great, if not, we used either diaper back up, or we put her on some sort of impervious surface, or lived dangerously, knowing that we’d be cleaning up a miss in the near future. Sometimes she surprised us and held it much longer than we suspected that she could – and we both learned. Sometimes she peed almost as soon as we let her go back to her chosen activity – and we both learned. The process smoothed back out again for a time, but our success rate was probably never as high as it had been before our daughter learned that she could delay the inevitable, if it suited her.
Then between 12 and 16 months, the misses begin to increase again and for us this was the real key to our daughter graduating. She became very resistant to us ECing based on timing (which we had done from birth with her). Although we had been signing with her and talking with her about elimination throughout our journey, at this stage she was really acting out that she wanted control over this part of her life. It resulted in quite a few misses, but instead of diapering her back up and waiting until later when we thought she was ready, we gave her MORE control, instead of less. We would ask her if she had to potty (when we thought she should have to go, or if we were heading out for a trip) and if she gave us a negative response, we would believe her (even if we were skeptical) – we allowed her the ability to have confidence in knowing her body. Even if, sometimes, it turned out that she was wrong, the amount of time that it took her to realize that this was her thing and we were no longer the ones in control of where and when she pottied…she was completely diaper free within one month, and about two and half months later, she is completely miss free.
I’m not saying that this time table will apply to everyone. My point is just this: When a child who is on the EC journey has a series of misses, instead of considering it a “potty pause” maybe consider it as part of the process and that the child is really expressing that they realize they are part of this process and support that, instead of backing off and diapering them up and waiting – sending them mixed signals that they aren’t trusted to learn this skill because it is simply too messy.”
Awesome article – thanks again, Kerste, for your experience.
Now…there are also some things that we can help you do if you’re stuck in an Elimination Communication potty pause with no end in sight…and you don’t quite have the patience to wait it out.
First, you can try a re-set. This means diapering up and doing zero EC for 2 weeks while everyone gets a renewed focus on parent-to-child connection, without the stress and pressure EC has been party to.
The re-set is followed by a 1-2 day naked teaching time where you transport baby to the potty every single solitary time she begins to pee or poo. I mean EVERY single time.
The naked teaching time is followed by maintenance where you potty your baby based on her natural timing, some common/generic times most babies need to go, and any signals you may have learned during the teaching time. At this point, you’ll choose how often you’d like to do EC and stick with it…be consistent.
For more about this process, and some great folks to hold your hand while you work through a pause, re-set, teaching time, and maintenance, get my Book Package, which comes with tons of details about potty pause prevention and resolution, access to our members-only troubleshooting section online, and lifetime access to our wonderful private support forum.
If you’re enduring a potty pause, do not do it alone. Been there, done that, and you shouldn’t have to do it for long!
It is possible to do Elimination Communication effectively on a part-time basis…and retain your sense of having a life!
In fact, most people do EC part-time, whether in the evenings, weekends, or once a day at a time that works for their family’s lifestyle. Many think they can’t start EC without being a stay-at-home-parent or without being hypervigilant…on all the time.
This simply isn’t true. EC has many benefits if you are able to maintain a consistent part-time practice (as opposed to doing it randomly with no real sense of awareness or rhythm).
For more in-depth support on starting and maintaining a part-time Elimination Communication practice with your baby, flip over to my comprehensive guide to EC and check out the special sections devoted solely to this very popular topic.
Traveling with a baby can be quite a feat.
Traveling with a baby AND practicing Elimination Communication while traveling can be…well, wonderful, exquisite, excruciating, and mind-bending!
I traveled Thailand for 3 months straight with my son during his 14th-17th months and have literally seen it all…planes, trains, tuk-tuks, ferries, cabs, buses…you name it, I’ve ECed in it. From that experience, combined with the experience of other GoDiaperFree community members, I’ve come up with a list of tips for those of you traveling whilst ECing your babies.
Following this list is a gallery of travel photos from my Thai excursion. Hope you enjoy both the practical how-to’s and the photographic journey….
1. Always locate the potty first. When entering the airport, a restaurant, or a shop, find the potty and offer a pottytunity first, then enjoy what you’re there to do.
2. Use a back-up when you anticipate stress (or lack of potties). This can even be a disposable diaper…it won’t ruin your progress with EC if you normally use cloth or underwear. Everyone will be happier if you use something at a time when you’re likely to need it.
3. Wear your baby. You will be more in-touch with his signals and he will be more likely to hold it while you find the proper receptacle/potty place.
4. Bring a small mini potty with you. Instead of filling your carry-ons with diapers, you can fit a small mini potty into the bag. Most airlines allow for a diaper bag as a bonus carry-on. Use it at your seat when that seatbelt sign prevents you from using the lavatory on the plane. Otherwise, hold your baby in-arms over the lavatory toilet or sink when it’s time to go.
5. Be discreet and clean up after yourselves. Don’t just pee your baby anywhere because you’re in a 3rd world country (and especially not if you’re in a Westernized one). Most people prefer that you use the proper facilities. If you have to potty in nature, be sure to clean up so the remains don’t attract wild animals.
6. Pack only what you need. You’d be surprised…EC on the road can sometimes be a lot more efficient than it is at home. No one is bored, everyone is in the present moment and connected to immediate needs, things move more smoothly. Bring the minimum of things and know that you can grab extra gear in most places along the way. Just remember that you’ll probably be more attuned to your baby while traveling, and that misses are normally going to be only pees if you’re paying attention and baby is simply adjusting. Most babies don’t like to soil pants in places where they aren’t familiar with people or things.
7. At every new place of lodging, set up that potty station FIRST. Show your baby to it, offer the potty, and generally get settled in. Whether at a hotel or in a tiny bungalow, having a little potty station is quite key.
8. On airplanes, request the bulkhead/bassinet seats when available. Especially on a long international flight, you’ll appreciate both the bassinet and the legroom! It’s priceless to have the room to set your potty on the carpet and potty your kiddo there while the (sometimes eternally-on) stay in your seat light is bright. You can usually request these seats when you book your flights. Even airlines that no longer assign seats ahead of time will make an exception for those with lap babies.
9. For those who practice nighttime EC, set up your array of tools in your sleep space like you would at home. Try to emulate the home night pottying environment as much as possible. Again, pack light, but also try to make things easy and familiar during those wee hours of potty time.
10. Always potty your baby when YOU need to go to the bathroom. Whether you’re at the in-laws or in a restaurant, it’s good practice to always bring baby with you and offer (if you can hold her and do your business at the same time, then switch!). It will help you remember to stay attuned to her needs, and often we need to go at the same time.
11. For the baby-pass-around at family or friends’ homes, use a back-up on your baby OR pay attention to how much time has passed and take your baby to pee at the usual intervals (based on your baby’s natural, usual potty rhythms, if you know them by now). If it’s too much to socialize and pay attention, or you don’t want to draw “odd” attention to yourself, simply use a back-up. It won’t ruin your practice to occasionally do this.
12. Stay consistent, catch the easy ones, and stay in tune with your own intuition. Don’t just drop EC because you’re on vacay. That is what screws things up when traveling, not the traveling itself! Keep doing your wake up and pees, your diaper change pottytunities, and your potty-upon-arrival “easy catches.” Pay attention to when that little voice in your head says “it’s time.” And also pay attention to when potty paranoia is mistaken for potty intuition…if you’re nervous about having a miss in public, use a back-up diaper or underwear. Plain and simple.
13. If you have a bunch of wet ones in a row…remember that you’re traveling! Baby is adjusting to new environments on a more acute level than you are. Don’t get frustrated and don’t give up. Gather new information from any possible spree of misses and adjust your game. Your EC practice will definitely get back on track when you return home, given you stay consistent and seek support if/when necessary (like on our Community Forums). Usually misses while traveling indicate that baby is adjusting to the new environment…no need to freak out about it. Just find ways to make it “home” and press on.
14. While driving or doing an extended road trip, always potty before getting in the car and at every stop. If you simply can not stop to potty your baby (and you expect this ahead of time), just say “go ahead and go in your diaper and I’ll change you at the next stop.” Some babies won’t have it and will make you pull over. Have a potty ready in the car. Other babies will understand and oblige. It just depends on temperament.
15. If you pack a cloth back-up, you can easily hand-wash pee diapers in the sink and hang to dry, without soap (unless super-ammonia-y). Pack about 20 cloth prefolds (newborn size) and 2 covers and use my Quick EC Diapering Method (featured in my community tools) for an easy way to use a back-up while on the go with a baby less than 9-14 months (ie: still using diapers as a back-up) if you want to avoid using disposables on your trip. But, again, if you do choose disposables, don’t sweat it. Get back to cloth when you return (if you do cloth). No worries. Nothing will “un-teach” what they’ve already learned.
As mentioned in the Travel and EC article, practicing elimination communication while out and about can be quite successful given that you are likely wearing your baby in a carrier, you are more attuned to everything (including baby and everyone’s needs), and baby is more attuned to her hygiene while you are on the go.
Some simple tips for doing Elimination Communication while shopping, running errands, or being out on the town:
That should help you shop or visit with ease…and be diaper-free while out on the town!
Something that many (including lactation consultants) do not know is that many babies pop off the breast during a feeding so that they can pee or poo or both.
It is not a breastfeeding issue you’re dealing with, but a natural inability to both eat and potty at the same time (which we all have).
If you are in touch with your baby’s pottying needs from an early age (such as by practicing Elimination Communication either part- or full-time), you will be more able to differentiate between issues that are potty-related and issues that are feeding, sleeping, or health-related.
Here’s a little sampling from my newest Elimination Communication book that will help you position your baby while breastfeeding, if indeed you’ve discovered that your little one generally pops off to pee or poo:
If you’d like more information about breastfeeding while practicing elimination communication, check out our book.
The biggest thing I’ve ever taught about nighttime Elimination Communication is that you ONLY should do it IF doing it provides the whole family with a better night’s sleep.
Again, that means everyone.
Nighttime dryness does eventually follow daytime dryness, and babies will naturally begin to hold it if they are doing well with EC during the day.
So, essentially, you can go through all of infancy without nighttime EC and still come out AOK.
If you find that doing nighttime Elimination Communication gives everyone better sleep, either periodically or permanently, then go for it.
For an in-depth look at how to start, troubleshoot, and maintain a solid nighttime Elimination Communication practice, get the full tutorial in my book.
Some folks who practice Elimination Communication will tell you that completion is not the goal of practicing EC with an infant. And they are 100% correct.
But to say that completion is not part of practicing EC is just plain not correct.
Every process has a point of origination and a point of completion.
Learning letters…reading independently.
Holding a fork…eating solo.
Pulling oneself up…walking and running and toddling.
Starting preschool…graduating high school.
Planting a seed…harvesting the crop.
Toddlers and young children thrive on this and, in fact, it’s a psychological fact that this stage of development demands completion of various learning processes. One hurdle is reached and another one pops up to take its place.
Eventually, that little kid is ready to be out in the big, big world, equipped with tons of tiny successes.
It’s no different with Elimination Communication. Completion is part of the process…and should be if it hasn’t been for you. Learn more with my new book.
You might be wondering what it looks like to be completely done with infant potty training…this is sometimes called Elimination Communication Graduation.
As I mentioned in my last article, some ECers have lessened their use of this term because “communication” is the goal of EC, not “completion,” but you still may hear the term. Graduation means that your baby has completed EC and is now potty independent.
The exact definition for graduation can range from “always tells me she needs to pee and rarely has a miss” to “can take himself to the potty, pull down his pants, and wipe himself when he’s finished.”
You can guess that “graduation” can be a confusing concept.
I’ll leave out all the phases and stages of gradhood that I used to toss around. Although the terms may help you gather an identity within this process, they sometimes can leave you feeling defeated, like you’re never going to be done, instead of appreciating exactly where you are.
My take is this: even with conventional toilet training, accidents happen after the child is pretty much “done.” These usually occur during growth spurts, teething, illness, or major family or developmental transitions. These accidents are a form of communication about the overall wellness of a child, believe it or not.
You will know your baby has “graduated” Elimination Communication when you won’t have thought about pottying for 4 hours straight and then your child will ask to go, or you’ll prompt him when you see his peepee dance and he’ll go willingly, owning the process.
That’s when you know you’re done. You’ll still be needed for the occasional prompt, and to wipe, and maybe to assist with pants, but otherwise it’ll be pretty clear when this all “clicks” and both you and your child’s hard work has payed off.
If you, like many ECing parents, need help wrapping up the EC process at 14-18 months, please see The Building Blocks of Potty Independence in our Elimination Communication book for succinct and simplified guidance.
If your baby is over 18 months and you’d like help graduating EC, go straight to my non-coercive potty training book and follow it to the “t” – it is the only non-coercive potty training resource that works in wrapping up EC…in anywhere from 7 days to a month, tops.
In any case, graduation is a wonderful feeling whether you’ve done Elimination Communication part-time, full-time, or you’ve missed that 18 month and less window and did non-coercive toilet training as mentioned above.
(And it’s a wonderful feeling for us parents, too.)
Next we’ll talk about what to expect from EC, age- and completion-wise.
In case you were wondering, starting on day one does not guarantee early potty independence…however, most people find that their babies “graduate” EC sooner than they would have completed conventional potty training.
Every baby has her own unique developmental rhythm and temperament. Keep in mind that we’re not doing EC in a tribal community where infant potty training and early potty independence is the expected norm, and everyone helps out. We are doing it within the context of modern society…and usually on our own.
If you’re wondering when ECers generally graduate…it can range between 6 and 24 months depending on your definition of graduation (ranging from the ability to potty on cue to total potty independence), while some say you can expect reasonable independence between 10-20 months.
In any case, the average completion age by conventional toilet training methods is 36-38 months, so even the later end of EC graduation (20-24 months) is considered “early!”
Note that accidents (misses) DO happen even with a potty trained child! A miss does not mean you’re not graduated. The need to prompt your child when she’s distractable will continue much into the early childhood years…it continues to be your job to take the slack when things are busy, and remind her (as with eating and sleeping).
All said, it’s safe to shoot for 20 months as a loose target. Between months 14-18 babies’ brains are finishing the development to retain all this stuff anyway! So, there’s time. Take your time.
And remember, completion is not the goal…communication is. But even with learning to read, we do expect our children to someday gain mastery, and so we gently give them the tools to get there, confidently guiding and encouraging them when necessary.
I want you to have the resources you need for ultimate success. If your Elimination Communication journey is not going the way you’d hoped it would, or if things are going well and you’d like to further equip yourself for success…my Go Diaper Free Book for babies features both learning tools and community tools to help you reach your infant potty training goals for ages 0-18 months. And my new non-coercive potty training book for toddlers is key for those over 18 months.
If you are “over” depending on diapers and ready to start infant potty training…tools abound. And we think this is a good thing.
Here at Go Diaper Free we are working vigilantly to bridge the gap between Elimination Communication and conventional toilet training.
There used to be a rather large rift between those two camps, and now we’re seeing more and more parents start with EC and wrap up with potty training…effectively.
You see, ECers tended to come off a snooty and entitled, and conventional potty training parents were viewed as utter failures and push-overs.
Now we realize that ECers do better at EC when humble and respectful, and those who are potty training toddlers at later and later ages simply lack the toilet training tools that actually work.
No harm, no foul.
The best way to prepare for going diaper-free with any age baby is through the following combination of resources:
And that, my friends, is how Elimination Communication and non-coercive potty training have come to play nicely together. :)
(I’m really proud of them, aren’t you?)
If you’ve come this far and are eager to complete your Elimination Communication practice with wee little toddler now, here’s what to do.
If your child is less than 18 months and you’ve been doing EC for some time or are just starting, learn more in the GoDiaperFree Book - in a specific subsection called The Building Blocks to Potty Independence – to discover what you can teach, and when, to prep for earlier graduation.
If your child is already over 18 months and you’ve done some EC already (or if you’ve been full-on since birth, or stopped and started a few times), you can do what 100’s of our readers have done with great success: get my new potty training book and complete in an average of 7 days.
The first option is what you’d call “pure EC” and the second option is a lovely hybrid of tools that work, and are age-appropriate.
Isn’t it great to have options?
You, the parent, are the primary person who determines when to be done with diapers, done with EC, done with potty training, done with anything you also happened to make the conscious decision to start. This can happen when your baby has the capability to do so, not when your baby is ready.
Enjoy going diaper-free with your baby, at any age, and kudos to you for taking the reigns back from the big diaper companies. Congrats for taking the steps to do what feels right for you and your baby…no matter what that ends up looking like.
If you like what you’ve read in the articles above, and you are ready to start and want simple, visual instructions, you might enjoy my acclaimed EC book (0-18 months) and my EC podcast…both definitive guides for Elimination Communication…or if you’re past or near the 18 months and up mark, enjoy my new potty training book (18 months and up). Either way, happy pottying!
Author, Mother, and Go Diaper Free Certified Coach Program Director