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Confession: Why I Potty Trained My Son at 15-Months-Old

Robin Kinney, Go Diaper Free Coach
This week's guest post is from Robin Kinney, our EC Coach in Madison, Wisconsin. I love how Robin has learned how to weave EC with potty training and I hope you are inspired by her story! xx Andrea

How bending the rules, believing in your child, and finding the right kind of support can make all the difference in your potty training experience.

When my son was 9-months-old, a friend invited me to join a playgroup that met every Wednesday morning. Finally, at 13-months-old, my son dropped his morning nap (OK, I may have encouraged the transition a bit) and I was able to join the playgroup. I was new to the community, I didn’t know many people, and it was winter in a small town, so I desperately needed a reason to leave the house to socialize.

A little back-story before I tell you what happened at the playgroup...

I first witnessed Elimination Communication (EC) when I was 8 months pregnant and I was hanging out with a friend and her 6-month-old daughter. She was part-time EC-ing her daughter based on natural timing and transitions.

At every diaper change, my friend would hold her daughter over a tiny potty and make a “psss” sound. And to my surprise, the baby would pee! I decided then that I wanted to do EC with my baby. I purchased Andrea’s book “EC Simplified” (now titled "Go Diaper Free") and studied up.

My son’s first year of life proved to be way more challenging than I expected. It started with a tongue-tie, which led to round the clock pumping and exhaustion. Then we moved, twice, leaving Oakland, CA, and ending up with my in-laws in northern Michigan.

Over the course of my son’s first year, we flowed in and out of EC as I felt that I could handle it while trying to make sense of my new life circumstances and not getting pee on my in-laws’ carpet.

So back to the playgroup.

When my son was 13-months-old, at the playgroup, I noticed that there was another boy there about 18-months-old. Every now and then, his mother would take him to the bathroom and return a few minutes later.

Eventually the subject of potty training came up in conversation and she explained her method to me, which was really a combination of ideas from various websites. This was her second child and she did a similar potty training method with both kids.

I asked her, “How did you decide to start potty training so young?” which is the more polite version of the more common: “Isn’t he young for potty training?” She replied that she read somewhere that the golden age for potty training was between 20-30 months. Curious about her answer, I decided to do a little research for myself on the topic.

So, as my son was 13 months old and I was witnessing an 18-month-old during his first few weeks of potty training, I realized that I had never connected the dots between Elimination Communication and potty training. But now I was ready to figure out how to get from one to the other.

Oh Crap! Confession, Part 1

When I went back to my copy of Andrea’s EC Simplified I followed the link to “Oh Crap! Potty Training.” by Jamie Glowacki. It just so happened that Oh Crap! was not available for download at that time and was not available in print yet either.

I was disappointed, so I visited Andrea’s website to see if there were any other recommendations. I had no idea that Andrea had written a potty training book OR that she had a new edition of her EC book, Go Diaper Free!

If it wasn’t for that publishing company black out, I might not have ever found out about The Tiny Potty Training Book. So I downloaded the book, read it, and pulled out my calendar.

I start thinking to myself:

“My son is 13 months old now. We’re moving (again?! I know! Right?) when he will be 17 months old. Andrea says you can start at 18 months old. But we’ll be in a brand new city and I have no idea what our lives will be like.

So, I could wait a few more months to get settled and start around 20-22 months old. Or I could potty train before we move while I still have the extra support of my in-laws…”

Ethanael on Potty with Book

Confession, Part 2: Bending the Rules

Rather than have my son spend 7-9 more months in diapers, I decided that I would break the rules and potty train at 15.5 months old.

We chose Sunday May 3, 2015 to be the big day to say goodbye to diapers. This was the day after I would celebrate my wedding anniversary with a night away from kiddo and hopefully be rested enough to give all my energy and attention to potty training.

This gave us about 2 months to master potty training before moving.

And...it worked!

Potty training was not easy - I don’t think it is ever easy for any family. Changing habits is hard work for both the toddler and the parents! But it worked.

We followed the steps outlined in The Tiny Potty Training Book, used the troubleshooting section of the book and the Facebook support group as needed, and my son was free of daytime awake diapers.  

What it took for me to be "ready" to potty train

I believe I was able to successfully potty train my son at 15 months old because I had confidence in his capabilities, I had a clear plan of action, and I had support from my family and friends. 

  • Confidence. My son knew that I believed in his abilities because he felt my confidence and experienced my gentle, but firm, consistent message about putting his pee and poop in the potty.
  • A Clear Plan of Action. Having The Tiny Potty Training Book gave me a clear road map of what to do while giving space for us to put the plan into action in a way that worked for our family (i.e. starting at 15 months instead of waiting until 18 months or older).
  • Support. Finding other parents with similar beliefs about early potty training (either in person or through the Facebook support group) was super helpful when I felt challenged by the process. My friend from the playgroup simply said, “Accidents will happen.” She was right and it was comforting to hear.

    Just like how my son occasionally falls while walking and running even though he has been walking for over a year, there are still occasional potty accidents. We don’t sweat them. We just clean up, learn what we can, and move on.

    At first my in-laws may have been skeptical, but lucky for me they kept their concerns to themselves. I believe they sensed my confidence as well, as I prepared their dining room for potty training. They were willing to provide meals so that I could have my full attention on my son during that first week.

    Once they started witnessing my son’s success, they were excited to learn the 4 Roads to Potty Time and now my son feels comfortable with any of us helping him in the bathroom.

As I share my potty training stories with others, I usually tell them, “Kids are capable, are you ready?”

For me, potty training readiness was having a clear plan of action, support, and confidence in my son and myself.

What do you need to feel ready? Please share in the comments below.

Resource Recommendation

Tiny Potty Training Book: Completely stop changing diapers at 18-30+ months in 7 days*…gently but firmly, without rewards, gimmicks, or M&Ms.

Robin Kinney

About Robin Kinney

Hello! I’m Robin. As a Go Diaper Free Certified Coach, I want to spread the knowledge of Elimination Communication and Early Potty Training to my new community. I’m looking forward to working with families in Madison, WI and surrounding communities through classes, free support groups, and private consultations.

9 Comments

  1. Avatar suzan on March 14, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    thanks for sharing this is helpful

  2. Avatar Yvette Duran on May 24, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Hello I am yvette and I have a 14 month old boy. I decide to start potty training him 3 weeks ago because he started taking his diapers off. I even bought pull ups and he will take those off too he didn’t like wearing them.
    So I decided to start potty trained him. The first week he was actually getting it. But now this past 2 weeks I’ve notice that he holds his pee and poop till he gets his diaper. I still put diaper on him when he naps and for bedtime. But now that I have notice that he holds it. I don’t know what to do. During the day I take off his diaper and he has Cotten undies that he wears. I take him to his potty when he wakes up or when I notice he has been drinking to much fluids or after his naps or after he eats. He doesn’t use his potty. He just holds it till he gets his diaper or justs pees on the floor. I tell him no you have to pee pee in your potty in your potty. It’s come to the point I am getting very frustrated. I don’t want to give up on my baby. But it’s getting really hard. I need help.

    • Avatar Amber on July 6, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      Hi Yvette…I am finding the exact same thing with my 17 month old. How did you end up overcoming this?

      • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 14, 2019 at 8:49 pm

        If kiddos hold to wait for a nap or nighttime diaper, you have to ditch diapers fully. Resistance can crop up, how you want to deal with it varies by age and whether you are doing EC or potty training. If you’re having questions Amber, you can always email us at mamas@godiaperfree.com to talk with a coach. xx Andrea

  3. Avatar Liz on August 3, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    I’m sooo thrilled. Today I bought my oldest his school supplies plus uniforms, and decided to get a potty trainer for my 15month old baby girl . Because I know she is so smart, and understands everything with no doubt I wanted to at least give it a try, I wouldn’t be pushy nor laid back. So we came home I cleaned it and took her diaper off for a few minute made pssss sound and would say pipí caca in spanish. We tried again later on for another few minutes I knew it wouldn’t be today..or so I thought. She took a nap and I decided to put the potty trainer in the bathroom, I went to pee and she was looking at me like always (reason why I bought it, her curiosity look) while I sit her down on hers to my suprise she GOT IT!!!! In just one day!! I was over the moon. She started walking at 9.5 months and running fully at 13 months. She learned to clean/pick up at 10 months but like I said I try at least, just like you said because I know her capabilities and it’s awesome to see them grow and bloom so well. Thank you for your post.

  4. Avatar Shana L. on January 27, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    I recently bought a potty chair for my 13mo old. Our church daycare will take her as early as two if potty trained. So we decided well why not try and just talk it up and set her on the potty a few times a day. We have been doing this for 2 weeks now. Does she go everytime? No, but this week she went into the bathroom 3 times, twice in one day and pointed to her potty and so we took her diaper off and she went potty in her potty. It is amazing what kids can learn to do if you just have patience, and willing to teach them without getting frustrated. We are not taking it too seriously yet, as she is only 13 months, but she is about 50/50 for going in the big girl potty. When I go the to the bathroom while at home I bring her with me and ask if she would like to try, and typically she will sit for a few minutes, if she goes she gets a lot of praise, and if not, we just tell her we will try again in a little bit and “lets go get dressed again.” Monday my MIL was watching her and babe had been upset going from room to room and my MIL thought she was just looking for me. But she said she went into the bathroom and sat on her potty and then to her bedroom and was reaching up to her changing table. So she checked her diaper and she had gone pee. If MIL had realized thats what she was trying to do I am confident she would have pottied in the potty. After she goes we get a dry diaper and redress her on her changing table.

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on February 1, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      Kids are quite amazing in their ability to learn and pick things up! So happy to see all the success you are having so far. It seems like your little one knows exactly what is going on. 😊.

      Keep up the great work! 🙌

  5. Avatar Ann on February 12, 2021 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for sharing this story, Robin. Just what I needed since I’m looking for a source of hope! My son is also 15 months and I have the time to potty train him and have been at it for a week now after reading the Tiny Potty Training Book and Oh Crap!. Do you remember how long it took till he got 90% of his pees in the toilet? My son mostly gets it but signals to go frequently and then either doesn’t go or more often after 5 minutes or so he’ll go a little bit (and it seems like he strains to do so) and then nothing more even after another 5 minutes or so of relaxing, story reading, laughing and everything else people suggest. Then 10 minutes later he’ll pee a large amount on the floor… HELP! I keep wondering if he’s too young or too old but the fact that he can hold it and release it is promising, he just doesn’t empty his bladder on the toilet. I do worry withholding it could lead to a UTI also. He also has 90% of his accidents standing up so my husband wonders if him sitting down is the issue but I can’t find anything online supporting that. Okay, sorry for the long rant, just a struggling mom trying to help my little guy pee! Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on February 12, 2021 at 5:46 pm

      I would certainly try to catch the pee while your little one is standing up.

      Next time if your little one is naked bottom and starts peeing, just stick a cup under to catch it. Usually a couple of times of this and then you can teach him to go in the potty. It might also be helpful if hubs is around and willing to show your little one what it looks like to pee in the potty.

      I will say that peeing standing up can sometimes resolve resistances that little ones are having around the potty. 😊

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