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How do I balance bare-bum time and diaper-free time (And why does it matter?)

How do I balance bare-bum time and diaper-free time (And why does it matter)

When doing elimination communication with your baby, how much bare bum, naked time do you allow, and how much “diaper-free” time (with some type of a back-up) do you do...and does any of this even matter?

Yes, it does.

Today I answer this question from multiple mamas in our audience who wonder how to balance these two very important parts of infant potty training: bare-bum and diaper-free time!

(And, psst...I’ll continue this conversation by addressing how to get your baby to stop peeing on the floor in next week’s post!)

Q: How do I strike a balance between bare bum time and diaper free time (and why does it matter)? ~ Heather B., Ontario, Canada

A: What a succinct and important question, Heather! I’m so thrilled that you asked.

You see, most parents who’ve done Elimination Communication based on past publications, advice, and winging it off of information from the internet have ended up with a problem:

baby feels free to pee on the floor, whenever and wherever, and makes that into a hard-to-break habit.

Jessi, in Kenya, asked a similar question that falls into this category:

“YES! I do have a question about diaper free time. I guess it helps them learn faster to feel the effect of it when they go. But does it not kind of train them that it is okay to go on the floor when you miss getting them to the potty in time? I’ve been doing more diaper free time with my baby lately, but this question is always in the back of my mind. Love, Jessi”

First off, I address it in my book that it only teaches them “cause and effect” for the first few minutes or hours…depending upon how long your baby/toddler has been diapered. After that, it teaches them to pee on the floor (which is exactly what Jessi intuited in her question).

Many of the EC resources out there suggest that diaper-free time equals naked time…and encourages you to do it all the time. I thought similarly until I saw all the complaints and calls for help in my private EC support forum…there is a BIG problem doing this.

It does matter and you can strike a balance between the two.

So how do you strike a balance (and why does it matter)?

Super-duper-basically? You only use naked time to gather information (like natural timing or signals), and then you use a back-up or clothing…always…until you might need more information. That’s called “diaper-free time” - or time without an actual diaper, but not naked.

Hope that makes sense!

To further expound about why it matters (and how to balance it), I want you to know that I actually recently updated and recorded a podcast version of a blog post on this and, instead of further answering your question here and repeating this advice, I’m going to post the detailed answer next week and air it on the podcast as well….

In next week’s post, you’ll find out how to further balance naked time and diaper-free (free from dependence upon diapers, ie: in underwear or clothing) time…and you’ll read a whole bunch of easy-to-understand info on why it matters:

Diaper-free Time: Are We Teaching Our Babies to Pee on the Floor?

In next week’s post, I’ll add in excerpts of my book which has the first and only explanation of why naked time vs. diaper-free time matters, how to prevent your baby from learning to pee on the floor (by not overdoing naked time), and how to fix this problem if it’s already happened to you.

Again, there is no other EC resource that actually discerns between naked and diaper-free time. I’ve examined the difference (through the folks on my private forum, and my research), made it easy to prevent negative habits resulting from this lack of discernment, and I’ve made it easy to correct any damage already done.

See you next week with more info on how to prevent baby from peeing on the floor, thru too much naked time!, and thanks for your question, Heather. It’s a super-important one!

Now I’d love to hear from you:

Do you practice bare-bum or diaper-free time, or a combination of the two?

Comment below and feel free to add questions!

xx Andrea

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

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) 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.)


  1. Avatar Rebecca on April 1, 2021 at 12:33 am

    Thank you, I have only just realized the difference between bare bottom time and diaper free time! 🤯
    I started EC with my first baby at 14 months and started from birth with baby number two (who is now six months). With the second baby I’ve pretty much have had him bare bottom whenever I’m doing “diaper free” time. He is at 6 months and doing more and more inching around, more frequent rolls and I’ve been contemplating what my next step should be to keep the puddle pads under him. I’ve had your book for years and briefly reviewed it when baby two was in the newborn stage but I really didn’t get the idea of diaper free not meaning naked bottom until now. I think I was worried I wouldn’t notice quickly if there was a miss, but i have been doing a lot of cleanup. I haven’t spent much time planning out EC strategy in the midst of sleep deprivation and looking after two kids but I’m so glad I listened to this podcast! Thank you! I think this will be a game changer for progressing with EC with baby two.

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 6, 2021 at 10:53 am

      Great to hear you got some insight and clarity out of the post that it is a game changer for you! ❤️

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