The Unexpected Benefits of Early Potty Training

tracy-gillett-raised-good
This is a guest post from Go Diaper Free Certified Coach Tracy Gillett, who blogs at Raised Good and teaches parents EC (and many other things) in the Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada. Thanks for the great article, Tracy! xx Andrea

I discovered attachment parenting when I was pregnant. Techniques like co-sleeping, breastfeeding and babywearing promised an obvious way to form a stronger bond with my baby.

And then I read about Elimination Communication (EC). It blew my mind. I remember my husband’s raised eyebrows when I told him about it. Was this a step too far? Could a helpless little baby seriously pee in a potty?

But it made sense. And it felt natural. After all we’re the only species in the animal kingdom using diapers. It didn’t take much to convince us. We were intrigued and had to try it.

So, I learned about cues, natural timing and parent’s intuition. I ordered cloth diapers and a baby potty. I had everything I needed to practice EC with my baby.

But something I read didn't make sense. The suggestion was that the most important element of EC isn't actually potty training but, communication.

What were they talking about?, I wondered.

In our fast paced, have-everything-now world, isn’t the purpose of EC to reach potty independence quickly? To reach the finish line, avoid misses, and get out of diapers as soon as humanly possible? 

That’s what I assumed. But I was wrong.

it's the journey

It’s The Journey, Not the Destination

When our little man was only two weeks old we started EC. I planned to wait longer but he instigated it. Our baby was actively communicating. Grimacing. Grunting. And preferring to pee in an open diaper. I couldn’t ignore it given I knew he was asking for my help. 

And so our journey began. 

We’ve had our fair share of misses along the way - babies do pee a lot. And in the early days I sometimes felt like a failure when we had a few consecutive misses. But as time went on I began to appreciate what EC is really about.

Like all attachment parenting approaches, EC is about strengthening and deepening our connection with our children. It’s about letting them know they’re understood. That we’re listening. And their needs matter. It’s another way we can show our unconditional love. The books were right; the most important component of EC is communication.

early potty training no hurry

We’re In No Hurry 

I thought I’d like to be able to brag my son was diaper free at 12 months. Or that he’d take himself to the potty by the time he was 2 years old. But like all plans, life has other, better ideas.

Taking the slow and scenic route has been far more rewarding than a quick three-day-get-it-over-with potty training mission. Our son is reaching milestones with his potty habits at his own pace. Using public toilets is the last hurdle we need to tackle and I have faith we'll get there when he's ready. 

EC has taken something we were dreading (years of poopy diapers) and transformed it into a unexpected opportunity to bond with our son. All three of us have loved every minute of it.

And while it sounds like an odd thing to say, I have no doubt our baby peeing and pooping in a tiny potty has brought us closer as a family.  

This experience will have long-lasting positive effects on my son's attitude towards elimination and on his general health. He takes his sweet time on the potty, reading books and playing with his dinosaurs. It's not a quick on and off process in our bathroom. He enjoys it, often proudly announcing his poops. There's no embarrassment or stigma attached to it. 

I'm grateful for what EC has given our family. I'd encourage all parents to try EC whatever age or stage your baby is at. It can seem a little strange at first, but that's only because our perspectives have been heavily skewed by our diapering culture.

Just like breastfeeding isn't only about nutrition and babywearing isn't only about transport, so, too, EC isn't only about elimination.

By showing your baby all communication is valid and acknowledged, you'll strengthen your connection with your child...which is the greatest gift you can give your family.

I look forward to reading your thoughts about your EC goals in the comments below...thank you!

Loved this post? Here are a few more:

Tracy Gillett

About Tracy Gillett

Tracy Gillett is a passionate writer, mother and founder of the blog Raised Good, a heart-driven platform providing parents with knowledge and empowerment. Free yourself from the “rules” of modern parenthood, subscribe, and get Tracy’s free eBook, Parenting By Nature. Raised Good helps rouse your natural instincts so you can parent your way. Tracy is a Go Diaper Free Certified Coach and she lives in Vancouver, BC, with her husband and young son.

7 Comments

  1. Tracy on March 9, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Thanks so much for posting my piece Andrea. EC is such a wonderful gift for babies and parents. Thank you for being such an amazing ambassador for growing our connections with our little ones.

  2. Karen on March 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    This is great! Thanks for posting this Tracy. It’s so true that it’s about the journey. Our daughter learned the day she was born that we would pay attention to her needs, including elimination. And she’s now two and as happy as can be! I encourage everyone I know to consider EC. I love the connection it encourages.

    • Tracy on March 9, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks Karen and my pleasure. Thrilled you enjoyed it and great to hear you have a happy little two year old too – aren’t they the best?! :)

  3. Brenna on March 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you! I couldn’t have said it better myself. You seemed to have taken the words out of my head. My little one is only 11 months but I am feeling very similar in our journey as you.

    • Tracy on March 9, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Brenna and so happy to hear the post resonated with you. 11 months is so much fun…will be walking soon hey! :)

  4. Kirsty on March 14, 2016 at 3:17 am

    Hi, I’m happy to have found your blog. I’ve been pottying my now 7 month old son since he was a week old (5weeks preemie). I live in Vancouver and was hoping you might be able to point me in the direction of a meet up group. I’ve been unsuccessful so far at finding one. I’d love to get to know some parents with like minded attachment parenting styles. Thanks for a good read.

  5. Heidi on March 16, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Thanks for this reminder that the most important part of EC is communication. I too thought my son would be out of diapers sooner than he was, but I’m so glad we did EC and were able to tune into his needs.

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