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Fear of the autoflush toilet

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How to help your child overcome her fear of being autoflushed away!

Today we're going to talk about how to help your child overcome a fear of autoflush toilets.

Autoflush toilets are seriously the bane of my public toileting experience. Who invented them and why didn’t they take into account child-sized users?

If you've ever taken your child to a public restroom, there's a 100% chance you've encountered one of these toilets that flushes all by itself...and that it’s scared the bejeesus out of your little one!

I think it must feel like they’re gonna get sucked in, having a ginormous toilet flush underneath their bottom, being that small - it has to be terrifying for babies when it accidentally goes off while they’re sitting on it. A fear of the autoflush toilet can be challenging for a child to get over.

If your baby is scared of these toilets, I’m with ‘em. Autoflush toilets can make elimination communication and potty training on-the-go a bit tricky, so let’s solve this problem with today’s episode - read, watch, or listen, whatever your pleasure.

Today I’ll share:

  • Why my 6 year old is no longer being homeschooled (!) and what happened to her on her first day of Kindergarten
  • Tricks for deactivating the autoflush sensor on a public toilet
  • What you can do at home to assuage the fear of flushers
  • How to teach your child to flush without fear
  • A tip from one of our listeners.

Links and other resources mentioned today:

The Demonstration Video: Overcoming child's fear of the autoflush toilet + pottying 3 kids at a public toilet

Download the Transcript

If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:

Transcript download: Fear of the autoflush toilet

Watch the Video Version

If you want to watch me record today’s podcast episode, you can do that on my youtube version right here:

Thanks for Listening!

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  • Share your thoughts by leaving a note in the comments section below!

Do you have any tips for helping a child overcome the fear of an autoflush toilet? Please leave a comment below!

I look forward to chatting with you in the comments.

xx Andrea

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.)

14 Comments

  1. Avatar Sarah on October 22, 2019 at 6:24 am

    I take some toilet paper and tie it around to cover the sensor when my daughters use the toilet. Then just remove it when they are done.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 25, 2019 at 8:06 pm

      That totally works Sarah! xx Andrea

  2. Avatar Bethany on October 22, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Wow! What a helpful discussion of this problem! I haven’t thought about it much, but I’m so glad to be more prepared for these auto flush situations with my daughter. Post it notes! So smart.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 25, 2019 at 8:06 pm

      Hi Bethany! You don’t really think about it until it happens unfortunately. I’m glad I could spare you the experience! xx Andrea

  3. Avatar Mary on October 22, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Post it notes!!! Totally putting those in the baby bag right now– my 5 year old also has intense auto-flush fear. You’re right: why?? and why not consider little people??! Thanks for this post!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 25, 2019 at 8:07 pm

      Hi Mary! I’m so glad this helped you and your son. I don’t blame him, those autoflush toilets are loud and it’s so unexpected for kids. xx Andrea

  4. Avatar Valeria on October 23, 2019 at 4:35 am

    I kneel in front of my little and hold her whole she goes, since most of the time the seat is too big for her. As soon as she’s done I wipe quickly and pull her off and away so I’m between her and the toilet. This way it will flush once she’s off. I do this because I have a thing about airborne particles the toilet might spray. She always says it scared her when it flushes but she uses it on the context of startled.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 25, 2019 at 8:09 pm

      Hi Valeria! It sounds like you have a great system figured out! xx Andrea

  5. Avatar Rose on October 26, 2019 at 2:50 am

    I have a 7 month old who’s been doing great with EC so far, both at home and in public restrooms. But about a month or two ago she started developing fear of flushing, then fear of the hand drier, then fear of the water tap starting and sometimes even the soap dispenser! She’s also fearful of being placed on the changing table but luckily I have a sturdy stroller that reclines to almost flat so I now always change her on that. I have been using the post it note trick, but she would also start crying when other people flush/wash/dry their hands…now she starts screaming as soon as she walks through the main restroom door, even before we get to a stall so I’m not quite sure what to do!! I have tried potty reducer and also using her home potty on the floor facing a wall instead of the toilet but she’s always in such hysteria already by the time I undress her that she can’t relax enough to pee anymore…I also usually have my toddler with me so we have to do at least one toilet visits on most outings … I’ve tried baby first, toddler first or mommy first, no difference, it’s tears beginning to end every time. One thing that calms her is if I have her in a carrier when we walk into the restroom but as soon as I take her out to pee she’ll start crying, and it’s not always easy to wear baby when I have to take my toddler up and down the toilet either! I’ve tried reducing toilet visits, just letting her pee into diaper sometimes during outings, but then she cries to be changed and cries more when I do change her… what can I do other than to stay home all day?! :(

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 26, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      Hi Rose! Oh, that sounds so difficult. I’m sorry she’s having such anxiety. If you feel it is sound related, you might try noise reducing headphones. Try to get a family bathroom when you can. Offer the potty in the car before going in somewhere and again before putting her in the car seat. If she continues to be upset, take a break for a few weeks from out and about potty trips for her (toddler of course needs them still). Then start back in with the headphones, car potty, etc. xx Andrea

      • Avatar Rose on October 30, 2019 at 2:53 am

        The headphone is a good idea! Thanks Andrea! I think I will give her a break and only potty in the car and familiar restrooms where I know the flush won’t scare her, until she rebuilds some confidence.

        Your article also reminds me to “desensitize” her fear by presenting similar situations at home, maybe I can start putting her on the big toilet more so she gradually gets used to being near flushing sounds too, and bringing her in there when toddler/I go at home.. (So far I potty her on a small potty on our laundry countertop 99% of the time because the height’s so much easier for my back!)

        And I’m sure singing will help too. Thanks Viv! I can’t wait to try it next time I’m out! .

        • Avatar Andrea Olson on November 11, 2019 at 12:25 am

          I think working on using the toilet at home is a great idea. You can sit on a stool in front of the toilet or sit way back with her in front to create a smaller seat for her and save your back. xx Andrea

  6. Avatar Viv on October 27, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    We have a song that I start singing before we enter a public restroom and continue singing it the whole time we’re in there. My two year-old is still too scared to use the toilet but she will at least tolerate being in there so that I can use it. Everywhere we go, I’ve been carrying Andrea’s portable “chimmy”, as we call it, since my daughter was 17 months old when we ditched daytime diapers. While I’m eager for her to use public toilets (ummm, that sounds odd), I don’t want to pressure her and I trust that she’ll get there eventually.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 28, 2019 at 10:25 pm

      Singing is a great idea Viv! Thank you for sharing. I totally get it, it is so much easier once they’ll use a public toilet. And you’re right, she will get there! xx Andrea

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