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Elimination Communication + Potty Training with Twins: The secrets I’ve learned from twin moms in our group

Twins + EC

Today I’m going to help those of you with twin babies learn how to start elimination communication or potty training with your twins. I’ll also share some advice from two moms of twins who’ve successfully done elimination communication with their babies, one of whom has wrapped up EC by potty training her twins, to boot.

First: wow. These moms are awesome. We all agree on that, right?

Second: What did they do to make ECing twins work?

Well, I spoke to them a few weeks ago and will integrate what I learned with what I already know after helping 100,000s of parents start EC with their single babies.

Even if you don’t have twins, I think you’ll find today’s episode inspiring...and maybe even get an idea or two for your own home! Because, if you have twins, you have to be organized. We can all learn from these mamas.

How they started EC with their newborn babies

First, let’s hear the stories of why two of the moms I spoke with began elimination communication with their twin babies:

Erin, an actor and voiceover talent who lives in Los Angeles, started with her twin girls, who are now 14 months old, at 9 months old...sort of organically and by accident. She noticed Baby B would hold it and didn’t like pooping in her diaper, so she finally put her between her legs on the toilet and she went. Being that baby was sooo heavy, mom googled “small potty options” and found out about EC.

Lindsay did EC with her first baby boy from 5 months old and wrapped him up at 17 months, saying (and I quote) “it was ‘so angelic.’” The bar was high, and when she had her twin boys, she wasn’t able to start until 8 months (she did do 1 month of EC with one while the other was in the NICU). But, she wants you all to know that despite her feeling “late” to the task this time around, “everything works out.” She wrapped up EC with a potty training experience at 15 months old, and is doing great today with all 3 of her boys.

Now let’s talk about you and your twins….

How to Start Elimination Communication with Twins

Starting Elimination Communication with twin babies (or multiples) is pretty similar to starting EC with a single baby: you get informed (like, read a book!), learn your baby in a few different ways, and begin offering the potty at times that make sense.

When (and with whom) to start

With twins, I recommend starting as soon as you feel comfortable in the rhythm of the day with your new babies. Of course, that day may never come, so I would recommend at least starting in a small way from the beginning, after birth and birth recovery.

You can start with just one of them and then include both, or you can start with both at the same time.

Even if you don’t start until 9 or 10 months old, all is not lost! Everything works out.

Starting with newborn twins

When they are newborns, I would either do observation one at a time or skip it altogether and just go off the 4 Easy Catches (again, those are wake-ups, poops, diaper changes, and getting in or out of something like a carseat). Starting a newborn with wake-ups is the easiest, in my experience, so grab a top hat potty and keep it nearby at all times.

Starting with mobile baby twins

To start with mobile twin babies or young toddlers, choose one day to observe one of the twins in cotton training pants and log their rhythms and any signals in my Observation Log here, and then do the other twin the next day while the other is not participating.

Then, use the information you learned in observation time (if anything) and combine it with the 4 Easy Catches (which we’ll cover in a sec) to potty your babies, day by day.

Part-time or full-time?

Also, know up-front that you can do part-time EC with a diaper back-up until your twins are comfortably walking, at which time you are welcome to wrap it up with a potty training experience...more on that in a sec.

How to Do Elimination Communication with Twins, Day to Day

Now that we’ve looked at how to start, what do we do to continue ECing twin babies, day to day? Let’s cover a few things that might help.

The double potty station

Once they are able to sit on their own without assistance, I recommend setting up two potty stations either in the same bathroom or in a room that you often hang out in. Have a basket of books or potty-only toys nearby to make it more comfortable and keep those hands occupied and bottoms seated.

Potty Signals from Twins

Often one twin will signal well and the other won’t. Sometimes (and this is also typical) one twin signals well at home and the other doesn’t, while the latter signals well on outings and the former does not. The solution here is to rely on the signal from the one who does signal (at home or on an outing) to signal for the both of them, and give them a simultaneous pottytunity (two potty stations next to each other).

Also, if one of the twins signals well and the other signals and then immediately pees, experiment with changing the quick-pee’r’s backup from whatever it is to something that will feel wet faster (like disposable diaper to Tiny Trainers, or adding a cloth insert or rag to a disposable diaper).

Matching pee and poop timing

One twin will often pee in their diaper back-up when they see the other one on the potty. The solution here is to have two potty stations in the same room and to set both babies on them every time one of them needs to pee - I think giving the first seat to the one who can’t hold it as long is wise!

These twins mamas also brought it to my attention that often, when one baby poops, the other is usually not far behind! This is because they are eating the same foods on the same schedule, typically. Makes sense.

The easiest times to potty twin babies

Lindsay started part time, focusing on pottying her twins at every wake up and whenever she took them out of carseat, plus she definitely focused on catching the poops.

Erin focused on the poops at first, since that’s how she discovered EC, and also responded to one of her twins’ very strong signals when they occured.

I would say the easiest times to potty your twins would be the times that work for you!

The 4 Easy Catches are a great starting point - get my free Easy Start Guide to see these all in one place, and check them out on my podcast episodes 28, 29, 30, and 32.

Integrate the small habit of taking your twins when they wake up, or when they come out of the carseat or highchair, and you will find a place for EC in your twin babies’ daily rhythm.

The FIVE Roads to Potty Time?

After speaking with both of these moms about their experiences, I would have to say that, with twins, there are actually FIVE roads to potty time, not four.

With a single baby, you will take your baby when:

  1. Baby signals
  2. It’s baby’s natural time and rhythm to go (natural timing)
  3. It’s a transition time or a time when most babies need to go (the 4 easy catches), or
  4. Your intuition tells you to take them.

With twins, we’d add:

     5. When the other baby has just gone or just signaled to go!

So, with twins, it’s safe to say that you get bonus points in the signaling department that we parents without twins miss out on!

Now let’s talk about wrapping up twins with a potty training experience.

The Trick to Potty Training Twins: The Staggering Technique

Lindsay wrapped up EC with potty training at 15 months with her twins (with my Wrapping Up EC course, but you could also use my Tiny Potty Training Book).

Why 15 months? Because with her first baby she wrapped it up at 17 months and found it to be “angelic,” and with her twins she was simply tired of changing diapers!

And, quite frankly, any parent of any baby can potty train their young toddler at any age they choose...and choose, Lindsay did.

I usually recommend you find help to potty train your toddler if you have other children, or if you have twins! But, Lindsay is an amazing mom who had no choice but to do it alone.

She could not handle the stress of having both babies out of diapers at the same time, so she stagger-started them.

She began with the more difficult one and experienced lots of accidents the first 3 days. She kept the other baby in a diaper during this time.

One week later, after things had clicked with the first one enough to have him out of diapers, she started the other baby. She went through the process step-by-step (my Wrap-up EC course features my EC-potty training hybrid plan, while my Tiny Potty Training Book features a phase-based plan).

In one month total, she finished getting over the potty training hump with both twins! (Cue sounds of enthusiastic clapping).

Now, not to say things are perfect. When potty training a very young child, you should expect some level of learning curve, but this mama had her twins out of diapers, which was her aim.

She is currently on the path of building potty independence and filling in the gaps through repetition and teaching, and troubleshooting when necessary. One of her twins still has trouble at home, one has trouble while on outings...so Lindsay typically relies on one of the boys’ signals when they are at home, and the other while on outings, and it works out reasonably well.

Lindsay also has the help of big brother...who you’ll remember had an “angelic” potty training experience, himself. He will tell mama when the boys need to pee, or when they are wet, and is quite the helper!

So that’s how Lindsay stagger-potty trained her twin boys. Kudos, mama, kudos.

And that’s all about doing elimination communication with twin babies. We will cover potty training triplets in several episodes...how Betsy potty trained her triplets in 8 days, total. (Seriously.)

Do you have any tips or questions about doing elimination communication with twins? Do you want to pat these mamas on the back? Please comment below!

 xx Andrea

 

PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)

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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.)

16 Comments

  1. Avatar Sara on February 18, 2020 at 10:41 am

    I didn’t know about EC when I had my twins but I did follow your method for potty training them by myself at 20 mos.

    Thank you for writing a twin specific post. Almost bit hung is written about twins for parenting. So this helps a lot!

    I had to modify a lot to teach my boy girl twins. My son was much better at not having any pee accidents but had trouble figuring out pooping in the toilet. My daughter had more pee accidents for a long time. But poop was fine.

    But they were so in tune, each of them told me when they were ready to be dry overnight my son was about 26 months old and my daughter was 29 months old. They hadn’t even been dry before that overnight but I listen to what they said and dropped the night diapers and they were right.

    I could have used some of this advice!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on February 18, 2020 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Sara! Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like you did a phenomenal job with potty training! Every kid has a different journey, even if they are a multiple. That is so great that they told you they were ready to ditch night diapers! xx Andrea

  2. Avatar Samantha on February 18, 2020 at 11:56 am

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. We are day 5 in tiny trainers with 14months old boy/girl twins.
    We started EC at 5weeks and loved it. We were very successful up until 11-12motnths when both babies got sick.
    Now that both babies are walking we are trying to wrap things up. But it is not going as well as I hoped. I feel like all I do is change wet trainers all day, even occasionally dirty trainers. I am determined to stick with it. But I could use some encouragement and advised for how to get through the tough days.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on February 18, 2020 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Samantha! I’m so glad this was timely for you!! Don’t worry, those first days are so hard. It will get easier. Just try to think of each miss as a learning opportunity, that will help. If it feels like there’s no progress after a few weeks or so, consider doing the hybrid plan that comes with the Go Diaper Free book. xx Andrea

    • Avatar LIndsay on February 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm

      Hey Samantha, the changing wet trainers all day with twins is rough. When there are two it just seems like going back and forth from one to the other to the other again–“I just changed you!” I think some of the added frustration and discouragement comes from the general twin-parenting challenge of how many times you have to say something (instructions, scolding, warnings). With one child, parents have to repeat themselves multiple times and redirect a child to go in the right direction, but that doesn’t work with twins–you can’t easily redirect two, say, when the second child sneaks in to get into the cupboard as your carrying the first child away to be redirected, and then the first child sneaks back… You have to give instructions multiple times to multiple children, and it’s discouraging. So you’ve just given all the instructions for where pee goes and how it goes there and changed somebody’s clothes and in a few minutes you’re doing it all over again….and then again at the next accident. It seems like you should only have to do this half as many times because both children were right there when you said the same thing 5 minutes ago, but their little brains don’t work that way. Perhaps it will feel less discouraging if you factor in that along with so many other things for twins the instruction IS twice the work for YOU right now because both need to–and will–hear your routine instructions in different ways and will respond differently. But eventually it will click for both of them…you won’t be changing their underwear when they are in high school. ;)

  3. Avatar Melissa Schroeder on February 18, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    I’m so glad to report that my 18 month old twins just wrapped up EC with a potty training experience! We started at 5 weeks, and we had many ups and downs. I’m glad we stuck it out because it was empowering for my girls and inspiring for mommy and daddy. Thank you for the support!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on February 21, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      Congratulations!! I’m so happy for you all! xx Andrea

  4. Avatar Kelly on February 20, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    We are a month into it with my 19month boys. The one I thought was going to resist and be a headache since he is so strong willed got everything in 4 days….pee, poop, nap, night, and manipulating clothing. I was flabbergasted. Of course, that is offset by the other which is showing progress, but at a much slower pace that seems to match what my 3 year old did when we went though the process. We’ve done EC with all of them from 1 month on.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on February 21, 2020 at 2:42 pm

      You just never know how it’s going to go until you start, every kiddo is so different.. It sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job! xx Andrea

  5. Avatar Megan on February 20, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    How do you recommend offering the potty to both babies after getting them out of the car? I don’t want to just leave one in the car while I’m inside with the other or miss an opportunity with the first one I bring in and leave him until I can get the second baby out of the car and offer the potty to both babies. Or do I just pick a baby and only offer the potty to one?

    • Avatar Melissa Schroeder on February 21, 2020 at 6:28 am

      How old are the twins? I found the most success when bringing the one who could hold it better in first. I would always tell them “it’s potty time when we go inside,” to set them up for success. Then I would cue pee or poo with the corresponding sounds we used (psss or mmmmm). This way “potty time” was a different cue than the actual movements. Hope this helps!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on February 21, 2020 at 2:45 pm

      I think Melissa’s advice is great! If your babies are older, you could try waiting until they are both inside and sit them both on the potty. Try a few things, see what works best for them. xx Andrea

    • Avatar lindsay on February 23, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      You didn’t mention what your house/car situation was, so I don’t know how far your trip to and from is, but I always figure that as long as the weather is not extreme and the car is not running that a buckled in baby is safe there while I go back and forth with the other. Also, my van is in the garage and the bathroom is just inside the entrance so I am not that far away from the baby in the car while I’m inside. I take in the one who is most likely to have an accident–went fewer times on our outing, peed less volume while out, has told me he has to go, etc.–or if I know what one already had an accident I take the other. I tell them both we are going pee when we get in and to please wait. My boys are old enough that I can set them on the big toilet and leave them there safely (they can’t get down either). So one is there while I get the other out of the car and then they trade places on the toilet. With practice it’s a pretty speedy process. When they were smaller, we just used the travel potty right there in the van before going in the house if I didn’t think they could get that far without an accident.

      • Avatar Andrea Olson on February 25, 2020 at 2:34 pm

        Thank you for sharing Lindsay! It sounds like you have a great system. xx Andrea

  6. Avatar Mattie on May 9, 2020 at 11:07 am

    My twins are 15 months old and I was planning to potty train them in January, the month before their 2nd birthday. But now I’m expecting a baby at the beginning of January and that just won’t work. I thought about putting it off until later in the summer but I really don’t like that idea either so I thought why not train them now?! I haven’t done any EC with them, except once or twice when they were younger (I don’t remember how old) they were having a hard time passing a poo, so I took them (at separate times) to the pot and had them go in there. They did it. But now when I sit them on either the potty or the pot, they cry like they think is there end of the world. They hate it! So how can I get them to not be scared of the potty?? And do you recommend first doing some EC or just going directly to potty training?? Thank you in advance!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on May 9, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      Hi Mattie! Crying doesn’t necessarily mean fear, often at this age they resist. It’s a sign they want more independence and it is time to wrap up/potty train. If you think it is fear, do some potty play with them. Have their toys go “potty”, cheer and clap for them. It will help. At this age you can do either ditch diapers and do full time EC, or you can potty train. I recommend downloading the free excerpts of Go Diaper Free and Tiny Potty Training, see what feels like the best fit for your family. xx Andrea

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