Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast, where we're all about helping you stop depending on diapers as early as birth with elimination communication. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five EC’d babies. This is episode 56, a day in the life ECing a young toddler, what it looks like in our home.
Well, hello, again, and welcome to this week's show. The last two weeks we've gone a day in the life of ECing a newborn and ECing a mobile baby. I do have a child, Branson, who is now 27 months at the time of this recording. Recently, he was a young toddler. So today, I'm going to give you a little snippet about out of a day in the life of his experience, my experience with him when he was a young toddler. By young toddler, I mean like 12-18 months, like just started walking up to 18 months.
The show notes for this episode are found at godiaperfree.com/56, and we'll include any links mentioned, to stuff that I mentioned, if anything, and also, please do comment at the end if you have any questions or would like to add something to the conversation.
Let's begin with waking up. With a young toddler, and this is just an example from our experience. Your experience might be totally different, and we do EC full-time with our minds, at least, but we don't try to get everything until the point at which we wrap up. With Branson, we stopped using diapers at 12 months, and we totally wrapped up the whole process, and he was telling us every time. At around 20 months of age I think that he was telling us all the time. So yeah, there's different markers as to when things are wrapped up, wrapped up, but for him, this was a typical day, say, around 14 months of age when he had started preschool.
He'd wake up. We'd give him a pottytunity, potty him on the big toilet on the toilet seat reducer or on a mini potty, remind him to wake and use the potty next time if he's wet by the time we get to him. He would be in a diaper backup at this point. If your child's walking already, this would apply to you as well, but since Branson was already walking at 12 months, and we decided to no longer use daytime diapers, at the wake-up, this is when we would take the diaper off and save it for later if it's still dry. We would use it again at nap time and at night time.
We would dress him in trainers, Tiny Trainers, which I already had out, thank goodness, by the time he was using them, put him in trainers with a TinyUps pull-up cloth cover. Also, I sell both of those at tinyundies.com. I created them because my kids had nothing to wear when they got out of diapers, so hopefully my experience can help you with that too. We would dress them in that, or we would dress them in pants only to start with. Sometimes, he'd do a lot better in commando, and to this day, he does a lot better in commando because he really likes to do things himself, and he's kind of a big sort of stocky boy.
Anyway, he'd wake up, give him a pottytunity, give him a reminder if he was wet, and then dress him in his daytime backup. We would offer a pottytunity before he sat down for breakfast in his high chair. If he'd bear down in his high chair, like he was starting to poop, which he would always wait to be in the breakfast high chair to do, you guys, we would say, "Wait," and we would have the cloth or the napkin nearby and wipe his hands off and wipe his face off, and then run him to the bathroom as calmly as we can, but quickly because he didn't wait very long. We'd say, "Wait," transport him to the potty, and have him finish up on the toilet seat reducer on the big toilet because we didn't want poop to go in the Mini Potty because that's a bear to clean up. We'd have him do that.
Now, at this point, I want to mention privacy. Anytime with a young toddler they start to poop or pee or resist sitting on the toilet seat, I would always close the door with you and them if they have attachment issues, which is age-appropriate, separation anxiety. I would close the door, and then I would pick at the grout between the tiles, straighten the towels, do something where my back was turned away from him to give him privacy.
With Cooper, my third baby, I actually had to go all the way out into the hall with the door open and sit on the steps to the stairs and wait for him because he really wanted privacy, and he would react by resisting and ask for privacy in that way. Also, when pooping at very young ages, babies, human beings, all mammals, they really want privacy to be able to do this in private because the sphincters work better in privacy.
Then we would return him to breakfast table. He'd finish his breakfast. After breakfast, we would potty him. These are called transition times. Transition times are huge with a young toddler. Very good way to do EC if your child's not signaling at this point. We also want to know the natural timing, how often are they going. We want to prompt them whenever we see a pee-pee dance, like if we know that there's a signal, like they start to grab their crotch or pull at the back of their pants, those are some examples. I have way more examples on our Book Owners' Website if you have that, a copy of my book.
But anyway, when you see any of those, you offer, without asking if they need to go because they might be in the "no" phase already, and you offer the pottytunity. Then we would dress for preschool, do a final pee at home. For preschool, we would put Tiny Trainers with TinyUps on top of them with pants on top of that. I would pack three sets of those backups and extra socks in a wet dry bag. I do have a post on going to preschool and daycare diaper-free if you want to see that.
We would do the final pee at home, and then when we arrived at preschool, we'd do a foundational pee when we arrive there. Check in with the teachers. Refresh them on any current timing, any suggestions today, anything we want to fix from yesterday. Then after daycare, we would pick them up, do a pee there at the daycare, at the preschool. Take them home. Do a pee again when we arrive at home. Now, my husband really didn't want to do this because we just pottied him, but it was always good to do a foundational pee when we got home.
Nap time, we'd put him in a diaper backup. When he woke up, do a wakeup pee, and so on throughout the day. You get the idea. Always potty before and after a meal, always potty before and after a nap. Use a diaper at nap and nighttime, and at daytime, use a cloth backup.
Outings. Whenever we arrive in a store or arrive in the parking lot, we would offer a pottytunity before going in a store or offer a pottytunity when we got in the store when he was a young toddler, just walking and stuff. We usually have him in a stroller in the little cart at the store. Anytime he'd signal during that time by getting fussy or antsy or grabbing his crotch or tooting or even saying, "Potty," or doing the sign, whatever would happen, we would pause our shopping, and go do that.
Now, this is when I really started doing online shopping. I'd pick up my groceries, and I'd pick up my sundries as well. But if we were to go anywhere, we would do that. Anytime we would arrive somewhere, we'd go to the bathroom, go in the store if needed, and do a final pee before getting in the car seat.
I usually would have a TinyUps backup and Tiny Trainers and pants on him at all times on outings, sometimes even a diaper if it were going to be like a long Christmas shop or something like that. I did what we could. Then during the day, I would also take time, with a young toddler, to teach them how to sit, how to mount the potty, how to push and pull pants up and down, how to change their own wet clothes during a miss, how to do parts of it themselves, the words and the signs that we wanted them to prompt us with. It would just be repetition, just like we'd do with when we're feeding food and teaching, "This is an avocado, this is a spoon, this is... Are you hungry? Would you like some more?" Throughout the day, just a lot of support and a lot of teaching as it naturally organically came, just like any communication with your child.
In the next episode of this podcast, we're actually going to talk about passing the baton and the things you can do to start wrapping up during this 12-18 month phase, which is really my favorite. I love this part because you really get to teach them and give them the keys to their castle. This is great. It's such a gift. It's such a gift. I don't know why people say early potty training is damaging. Oh, yeah, they say that to sell more diapers. Well, it's BS. It's actually a gift. These children are so absorbent at this time.
All right, so that's basically a day, outings, waking up, food, how we handle daycare, stuff like that. At night time, we use a backup, which is usually a diaper, at this age. Final pee right before bed. We don't give a lot of water before bed. We use a tiny little cup and fill it like halfway up, and that's all the water they get before bed at this age. Remind them to wake to pee. Let us know. Stay dry at night with a book. My Night Potty board book is really helpful for that. It teaches the routine at night, so it could helpful to read to your child before night.
If they wake up before the night, so Branson would wake up during the night, we'd offer a pottytunity to him and send him right back to bed, no talking, no lights on, no nothing. Just have a little nightlight. I'll cradle his head in my lap as he sat on the mini potty, and just “pssss,” pee-pee, and really whisper that. At times during 12-18 months, day in the life, just to be honest, he would resist sometimes at night, so we'd change diaper or not, and put him back to bed and without a big toddler party in the middle of the night.
That's basically how it went at night as well. That's a day in the life of ECing a young toddler for you, hopefully it gives you some ideas. I would love to hear from you in the show notes. Go to godiaperfree.com/56. In the comments, write to me if you have any questions about this, about what we've done, anything I've left out about what it looks like in our home, and let me know what suggestions you have also to share with other people. It's great conversation over there, and I would love to hear from you.
Next week, we're going to continue this idea with how do you pass the baton during this 12-18 months, how do you start to build independence in your child so that eventually they wrap up EC naturally, which is really what we want, it's easiest. Join me then. Meanwhile, have a great week, and enjoy pottying your baby. I'm Andrea Olson with Go Diaper Free, and I'll see you next week. Bye-bye.
You always have such excellent and helpful advice! Thank you! We recently took a potty pause because my boy (14 months) was resisting and we were both getting frustrated. I was planning to start back this week, but on Friday he grabbed his mini potty and started to sit on it himself! Friday went well, but then he was back to resisting the potty and hiding afterwards to do his business. I forgot about the privacy, so I’ll have to work on that. I look forward to next weeks episode!
I’m so glad it helped Siobhan! It sounds like you’re doing a great job with EC. Resistance at his age is often a sign that it is time to wrap up. Working on teaching him more skills towards independence will help so much. xx Andrea
Thanks for the information. My 17 month old will stop going on her own if I offer too often – she pees about every 75 minutes. Should I still offer at all transitions? We end up having more offers with nothing than pees in a day and I feel like it doesn’t give her an opportunity to check in with herself and go on her own.
Great question! You don’t have to offer at every transition. It sounds like you have a good sense for when she actually needs to go, that is what you should go by. xx Andrea
I especially enjoyed this podcast because this is right where my baby is. Looking forward to the tips next week too!
I’m so glad it was great timing for you Bethany! xx Andrea
Great info! Thanks for sharing! I am wondering where your toddler sleeps in relation to you and how he wakes you up to help him go potty. Thanks.
Hi Emily! My kids sleep in their own space. To start with nights I will go in and offer the potty at certain times. Eventually kids will either alert you (call out) or can take themselves once they have independence. Setting up a tiny potty in their room works great for that. xx Andrea
My daughter (12 months) started moaning when sat on the potty and stopped going on there. I read this, started leaving the room and hey presto! We are back in the EC game! Thank you! How you fond time to do this and raise all those babies is beyond me, you are amazing x
That’s awesome Aysha! And thank you for your kind words!! xx Andrea
Great to hear about how you do young toddlers. We are 15 months and have been in undies but no cover since 12 months. It’s going well for pee but still no signalling. What we would love is to see a video of how you do poops please. We are terrible at catching poop. There is no signal before, but he will often go still and quiet. I found it so helpful to see the video of cooper at 5 months on the bed happily playing then fussing for a signal.
Really want to be better at poop.
Hi Kitty! Him going still and quiet is his signal! You can work on teaching him a non verbal sign like sign language or a chest slap. He’s a great age to pick that up. xx Andrea
I have a mobile 11 month old. I’ve recently started EC after morning waking and after nap times. I’m having a hard time getting a catch because he will only sit for so long and giving him space for privacy for safety reasons has been tricky. Any tips? Also, do you recommend we try wearing pull ups or go diaperless as we start EC?
Hi Keri! Increasing diaper free time will help your baby get used to using the potty. It may help to wait a few minutes before offering the potty after waking. Sometimes they don’t need to go immediately. You can run water or give him something to drink to encourage him to go. Fun distractions will help him sit longer. If things still aren’t clicking after 12 months old, the hybrid plan that comes with the Go Diaper Free book would be a great idea. xx Andrea