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!
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:
- Baby signals
- It’s baby’s natural time and rhythm to go (natural timing)
- It’s a transition time or a time when most babies need to go (the 4 easy catches), or
- 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
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!
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)