Confession: Why I Potty Trained My Son at 15-Months-Old
This post was originally posted on May 11, 2016, and has been fully updated on June 29, 2021 to include an audio (Podcast) version, a video (YouTube) version, and to include some basic updates. Enjoy! xx Andrea
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If you want to watch me record today’s podcast episode, you can do that on my youtube version:
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…”
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.
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.
thanks for sharing this is helpful
I potty trained our 15 month old son because he stopped responding to EC. He just didn’t care and was resistant; so I decided I was done with the frustration and took diapers away completely. Clean and clear. They don’t exist anymore. Best decision.
My daughter is now 14 months and she is acting similarly; so today is day one of potty training! She has been SO much easier.
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.
Hi Yvette…I am finding the exact same thing with my 17 month old. How did you end up overcoming this?
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 email@example.com to talk with a coach. xx Andrea
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.
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.
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! 🙌
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!
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. 😊
I just started EC with my 16 month old last week. Haven’t caught anything but I also stopped bc I couldn’t keep up with all the cleaning up and all other events happening. I’m happy to read that patience is needed as well as time. So I’m about to start again and go full force. I do need support, as I noticed he pees frequently and quickly. I wonder if I should take him every 5 minutes after eating or drinking and in between? I either miss the ones after he awakes from naps or goes in his sleep. Also since we are beginning is it easier to leave him diaper free or put him in cotton trainers. He went in his trainers and grabbed himself after going. I took him, but he never went in potty, he went minutes after. I think his cues include coming to me or standing up and staring at me while he’s going, but I’m still trying to figure out cues before he has to go. They are very subtle. I do know when he’s going to poop. I tried catching it by sitting him in toile but he refuse and instead I interrupted his flow. I since stopped to reset and not push him. He still grabs himself and comes to me after peeing so I tell him pee pee and he takes off diaper. He’s getting something, I just have to keep at it.
Yes! Keep at it, and take some time to observe how long after your little one eats and then wets himself. Once you. figure out that time, take him. For instance, say today you observe that your little one goes pee 10 minutes after eating, then after each meal, take him 10 minutes.
It would be ideal if you can airlift him to the potty so that it can start to solidify things for him.
Thanks for the encouragement. It’s so hard to do particularly if I have little sleep. He still wakes up 1/2 times a night. I am persistent so We’re gonna keep at it! Thanks for you again!!
My pleasure. 💕
The Tiny Potty Training Book addresses all of this…Love this book. I used it for a daughter at 16 months (literally took a week), and a son at 17 months (took closer to 3 weeks to be solid). If I were you, I wouldn’t mess with EC at this age, but go straight for potty training. But of course, that is up to you!
Yea, it has been tiring keeping up he’s now taking off his diaper after he goes or after I have changed him. I’ll take a look at the book, I was trying to catch the 18th month mark, but maybe I’m passed it.
No time like the present! 😉
I am really just hoping to find out the name of that book, thanks! So happy I did EC with my little!
Not sure what book in the post you are referring to, but I have my books. I have both the Go Diaper Free: EC simplified version and The Tiny Potty Training book.
This episode really spoke to me! We have been doing EC with our 1 year old since birth but very chillaxed. We were very successful at potty training the older one at 20 months. We are planning to do potty training with the youngest at 15 months (after a big move and older one is in preschool). I think a potty training experience will be the best for all parities involved. We used Oh Crap! for our first. What are the major differences between Tiny Potty and Oh Crap? Can I use Oh Crap for the 15 month old when we do our training in a couple months? Using something we know works will be helpful in boosting our confidence. Thank so much!
You should do what works best for you. If you feel the Oh Crap version worked for you and your little one, then you can certainly stick with that.
My version can be geared more to younger kids and has an option on how to do a bit of EC and potty training. 💕
I really benefited from hearing this episode! My son is almost 13 months and just about walking. We’ve been part time ECing since 6 months. We rely on timing and transitions because he doesn’t signal very strongly. Baby #2 will be arriving in December and Caleb will be 18 months old. I was really hoping to ditch diapers some time around 15 months to hopefully have it down by the time baby comes. I was afraid this might be too early but I also didnt want to wait until after 18 months and try to potty train with a newborn! Very encouraging to hear that if I have a plan and I’m confident in myself and my son’s abilities it can be possible! A few mama’s on the Facebook group warned me of a possible regression and suggested waiting until after baby #2 is born. But I know in my gut that potty training before will be the best choice for our family.
Yay! Way to listen to your gut.
Regression are not uncommon once a sibling arrives, but it is not always the case. Also, if you have a good established routine, having that consistency for your little one to relay on can be really beneficial.
i have a 15 mos old and i started doing the hybrid method and am now wondering if i should have done the potty trainining book instead of the EC one…?
If that is what you feel, it doesn’t hurt to do the potty training. The hybrid plan vs. the potty training can really depend on the kid as to which method will work better at that age. Personality and development plays a huge role as to which method will work best. 💕
My child is now 4 years old. I have potty trained him in 17 months old.
The years sure do speed by don’t they?
17 months Amazing! 🤩