This post was originally posted on August 12, 2015, and has been fully updated on January 19, 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 right here:
A new trend has emerged in the field of Elimination Communication:
Babies are learning to pee on the floor, whenever, wherever.
I've been doing a lot of work with my readers on my private support Forum and have been trying to figure out, for a long while now, why this has been happening.
Why Do Lots of ECed Babies Pee All Over the Floor?
The answer is simply that we teach them that.
Just like we teach them to go in diapers. Or to call us Mama or Papa. Or how to sing a certain song (by modeling it over and over again).
More specifically, once a parent chooses to begin ECing their baby or young toddler, they generally tend to go from one extreme to another...from exclusive dependence upon and use of diapers to --> completely naked all the time. (Not that all parents do this...but some do.)
This allows the baby to pee anywhere, anytime, and doesn't actually teach anything new.
It's kind of like allowing a child to urinate in a diaper for 4 years straight. Allowing her to pee on the floor for 4 years straight is no different, is it?
Some parents love the title of "ECer" and would rather clean up a puddle of pee than change a diaper. I totally get that. But, in the end, it's just as extreme as diapering full-time. (My apologies to those who might disagree.)
NOTE: Even babies in tribal villages are "shooed" out of the hut if they pee on the floor after it is certain that they both know where pee goes and are able to get it there.
So How Do You Prevent Your Baby from Peeing Everywhere, Anytime?
The solution would obviously be to go from exclusive dependence upon diapers to --> using the diaper or another back-up (undies, trainers, or commando-just-in-pants) as a tool. Strategically. Responsibly.
We wear clothing in the Western world.
Having them in clothes or some sort of back-up (while doing EC) teaches them how to work with such things, which they'll have to do for the rest of their lives.
Sure, a college kid will get it, but a 2 year old will get mixed messages if he's just allowed to pee anywhere, anytime, while naked. We wear clothes.
There is, indeed, a way to do EC AND to do regular diaper-free time responsibly...we just need to re-examine what being "diaper-free" means to us.
And, to reverse the peeing on the floor habit? Well, you just turn that ship around. "We don't do that anymore. We wear clothes, and we pee in the potty."
Said out loud or not, it's really that simple.
Remembering What "Diaper-free Baby" Really Means
I think that we really need to define what "diaper-free" means once more:
free from exclusive dependence upon diapers
Note that it doesn't say anywhere that this means "naked all the time."
There is a distinct difference between "diaper-free time" and "naked time."
In fact, using underwear or trainers or just pants qualifies as "diaper-free time." Yay! That's what we want, right?
Yes, it's cute to see that bare bum all the time, but when you're cleaning up yet another puddle of pee off the tile floor, doesn't it somehow feel wrong?
NOTE: If it doesn't, and you don't have this particular problem...awesome. Keep her naked! It's really only an issue if there's pee everywhere AND it bothers you personally.
An excerpt from my book
So, I wanted to go ahead and share an excerpt of my (freshly updated for 2021!) book, Go Diaper Free, that addresses this issue and discusses some of the new perspectives I've taken about "diaper-free time" and how to do it more responsibly.
Version 6.0 of the book has 20 revised pages addressing this idea, questioning our present beliefs about it, and offering solutions of how to "un-train" your baby from peeing on the floor.
By popular demand...here is the excerpt:
Doing Regular Diaper-free Time, Responsibly
I added this section because recent trends show that overdoing naked diaper-free time can actually hinder the EC process, teaching a child to pee on the floor. Read on.
The bottom line
IF your baby signals best while naked, including taking herself to the potty on her own, and you have no peeing-on-the-floor problem, then do naked time as much as you want!
If your baby doesn’t signal while naked, and there is pee everywhere, then you’re better off limiting naked time.
The importance of diaper-free time
Diapers are commonly used as a back-up during the pre-walking months of EC, but it’s also good to incorporate regular diaper-free time into your baby’s routine at this time. We’ll cover why below. A half-hour per day is common, and before bathtime or after a miss or catch is popular. The most important thing here is to do any naked diaper-free time *responsibly*. Here’s how.
Deciding whether to continue offering diaper-free time
Once naked or modified diaper-free observation time has served its purpose – to inform you of your baby’s signals and natural timing, and to inform your baby of what her own elimination feels like, which is what the whole “Part 1, Step 1” was all about – you can decide whether you want to keep doing regular diaper-free time or not, naked or not.
To be clear, “diaper-free time” can be done naked-bottomed or it can simply be time spent without diapers, including regular clothing, undies, cloth trainers. So let’s first decide whether we want to do diaper-free time naked or not.
When naked time becomes counter-productive
When naked, no one needs to signal, now do they?! Naked diaper-free time can become counter-productive if:
- you already know baby’s signals
- you already know baby’s current natural timing
- your baby is already aware of what’s going on down there
- and your baby is peeing freely on whatever surface she’s on, while naked.
If you’ve got all this going for ya, naked observation time may have already served its purpose and begins to be counterproductive. Overdo naked time beyond this, and you could essentially teach him to pee on the floor (depending on how you handle things). When you think about it, letting baby pee wherever, whenever, when naked is not much different than letting baby pee wherever, whenever, in a diaper all the time. Too much naked time without communication or action or boundaries will result in teaching “pee wherever.”
If this is you, it could be time to add in some ‘resistance’ (think: opposite poles of a magnet): clothing. Since soiling his clothing will eventually not feel socially/physically/emotionally cool, wearing clothing can become your new “diaper-free time.” Remember, “diaper-free” means free from exclusive dependence upon diapers. It doesn’t mean having a naked baby or toddler running around peeing all over your floor 24/7.
Once naked observation time becomes unnecessary (and you’ve become more knowledgeable), you’ll want to know how to continue regular diaper-free and/or naked time responsibly. First let’s state the obvious.
How to continue diaper-free time, with Clothing
Pick a time of day and a desired location to do some time with underwear or just pants (commando) as your “back-up.” Cotton training pants (like Tiny Trainers) are also a fine option if your baby doesn’t treat them like a diaper. Increase this non-diaper time over the weeks, and before you know it you will be done with dipes. Now, let’s continue speaking about whether and how to keep doing naked diaper-free time.
Why we should not overdo naked time
First, too much naked time could cause your baby to stop signaling as strongly, or at all, which makes sense. Why signal if I’m already naked?
Next, your baby might learn that peeing on the floor, or on the cloth pad he’s laying on, is okay. Which it’s not, really, right? Right.
Last, we wear clothing in our society, so your baby must also learn how to wear clothing and keep it dry.
Reasons to do more naked time
If you are starting EC with a more mobile baby (5 months+, and especially 12 months+), you may decide to spend some additional time naked to reinforce cause & effect (they experience that pee comes out when they release their bladder). If you just like having a naked baby bum around, no matter the baby’s age, you might want to do more nakey time too.
If you have a baby who doesn’t pee on the floor when naked, go for it, ya’ll! If baby signals better when naked, awesome. Do it. If your older baby takes herself to the potty independently at home only (or mostly) when naked, do it! Also, if you struggle with diaper rash, naked time is one of the only things that helps. So you’d want to do it then, too.
In any case, just see #3, below, to learn how to modify it with an older baby, so you don’t teach her to pee on the floor (again, a common problem faced by some ECers).
How to modify diaper-free time when baby becomes mobile
Okay, so you’ve gathered your info (signals/timing/awareness), cleared up the diaper rash, want to continue having a nudist child, whatever (no judgment!). Your child is becoming more mobile by the day, and her brain is building permanent pathways on how to do stuff.
Letʼs modify naked time to place some building blocks for eventual potty independence into your EC practice....
I'll just leave you hanging there. :)
If you'd like to read the rest of this section in my book, AND the new Troubleshooting Section called: "How Do I Untrain My Baby from Peeing on the Floor?"
...then get my book right away. It's all in there. Version 6.0, baby. I can also help you personally in our group when you buy the book.
Would love to read your thoughts about this ground-breaking news in the EC world: that diaper-free doesn't necessarily mean naked!! Thoughts? Please add 'em to the comments below....
And please share this with others via the fancy new Like buttons. Thanks a million! And here's to less pee everywhere. xx Andrea