#23: Potty pauses: A refreshing new perspective


A potty pause in Elimination Communication is similar to a potty strike in potty training. Neither are fun. But in EC, potty pauses can have a deeper purpose.

You see, in potty training with an older toddler, potty strikes indicate there is something behavioral going on that can be very difficult for a parent to endure, and leave her very discouraged.

With infant potty training, potty pauses occur when there have been several consecutive weeks and/or months where the baby outright refuses to use the potty, and even in some cases prefers the diaper (or floor, or underwear, or you).

In our private readers' support group, we've found that potty pauses often indicate the baby needs more ownership over the process, and to be trusted, and perhaps that something else (developmental) is going on that needs our attention. They are very important, yes?

While in an upcoming episode I will address how to get through an EC potty pause, in this session, I share with you long-time DiaperFreeBaby Mentor Kerste Conner's refreshing perspective on potty pauses as part of the process.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

Potty pauses may be part of the process for some babies, if not most.

So, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode of the Go Diaper Free Podcast about potty pauses. The main story was used with personal permission from Kerste and is also excerpted from my book, Go Diaper Free: A Simplified Handbook for Elimination Communication.

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Til next time....big hugs and hang in there. xx Andrea

Resource Recommendation

Potty Pause Resolution is my minicourse that will help you get thru that wretched potty pause, and on to more harmonious days.

Go Diaper Free: my popular EC book that simplifies EC, beginning to end.

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my husband and 5 children (newborn to 8 years old) 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. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)


  1. Avatar gina on June 20, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Perfect timing. We are going through a potty pause (I think) during nap time w/ our 22 month old. He has been diaper free for a few months, only diapering at night. He usually naps for 2, sometimes 3 hours during nap time in underwear staying completely dry. Recently he has been wetting the bed during his naps which is frustrating for both of us. His sleep is interrupted because he’s waking too soon because he is wet. I take him to the potty, change the bedding then put him back to bed but he doesn’t go back to sleep. I reverted to putting him in a pull up during naps now but feel as if I’m going backwards. Is it considered a potty pause when sleep is involved? What do you suggest for getting back to staying dry during naps/ling naps?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on June 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Hey Gina! Thanks for asking. I think it’s something other than a potty pause here. Pauses mean that there is a *refusal* to go, not necessarily a consistent miss at a certain time. I would watch his fluids prior to putting him down to bed, *always* have him do what I call a “final peepee” before going to nap, and continue using underwear. If you need a touch of added protection, use a wool soaker on top of the undies, but I do not think pullups are going to help. They are diapers, and you are done with those except for at nighttime. Continue using them at night until you are ready to night train, but in the naps, remind him beforehand to hold his pee the whole nap, and use something to protect his bedding that you can more easily change, like a wool puddle pad with a sheet tucked over it, which can be quickly changed. I’m sorry this is happening but you can get thru it! xx Andrea

  2. Avatar Jenny on July 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I think we are going through a potty pause. My daughter just turned 1. I went back to work and she’s at a home daycare during the day.
    The first couple of days at daycare, she continued going on the potty like at home. After that, she’s been peeing and pooing only in her diapers. She wakes up every morning at 5am. I nurse her, and she falls back asleep until 7 am. Somewhere in between, she poos in her diaper. She used to be very uncomfortable like that, doesn’t seem to bother her any more.
    It was going so well! Sigh

  3. Avatar Sarah on September 28, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    OK. *Whew.* I have seriously been considering stopping EC altogether. Just like you said, barely any misses before the 6 month point, and now… yikes. We’re doing good to catch one a day. I am very grateful for you, Andrea Olson. I think we’ll continue.

  4. Avatar Priyanka Yadav on August 31, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Andrea’s,
    I really feel like a failure. Please help. I had started ecing partially (pooping) my baby boy at 3 months. I could catch all the pops then. Then when he turned one I started full time ec including pees. He was fully trained, didn’t need any diaper at 15 months. But we shifted from east africa to India when he turned 19 month. First he stopped telling me when he wanted to pee. And now when he is nearing 20 months since last week he has stopped informing even when he wants to poop. I can catch his pee only when he wakes up from a nap or in the morning. Rest of the time he will signal me to pee but if I take him to the toilet he resists to sit on the potty, arches his back that it’s difficult for me to make him sit on the potty. Please help

  5. Avatar Amanda on May 7, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for the information. It all makes lots of sense to me. I can totally see my baby going through this as we continue our EC journey. It is good to know that letting go of the control can help if a “potty pause” is ever to occur. I also like your advice to state to the child that it is time to go to the potty instead of asking them if they need to go, since it gives less chance of them refusing.

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