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How to hold a newborn baby over the potty

baby potty positions for elimination communication

Many parents want to start Elimination Communication with their babies as early as possible. When they find out that EC can be started at birth, the first question is:

How do you hold a newborn baby over the potty?

My first response is (as the image above illustrates): doesn't necessarily have to be done over a potty!

Let me explain before you get too grossed out:

Newborn poop is benign, and the pee, right when it comes out, is actually sterile. (The poop of an exclusively breastfed baby is said by various sources to be sterile, as well, but I can't be 100% sure.)

So, pottying over the sink or wherever you happen to be is actually much more hygienic than using the diaper as a full-time toilet and having your baby sit in it for a while.

You can rinse the sink and sanitize it much more quickly than cleaning up that nasty newborn explosive blowout.

And, babies sitting in newborn poop often get diaper is not good for the baby's skin, at all.

If you know me, I am quite practical and love using visuals to teach about EC. So, in today's post I've included a bunch of photos to show how to hold a newborn baby in position (these are from the 70+ positions photo gallery in my popular EC book).

I've also included some photos of how to use my favorite newborn potty, the top hat potty, with a newborn baby...because the top hat is the #1 tool I insist people carry in their diaper-free bags.

Quick Aside: Where to get a top hat potty

If you do not yet have a top hat potty, you can now get them on pre-order! You see, they completely disappeared from the market for a while and I'm bringing them back (in 4 lovely colors).

Please click here to reserve your potty by Sunday, February 18 - and to ensure that they remain available to ECing parents of 0-12 month babies, everywhere.

Okay, onward to the most popular newborn EC positions.

The most popular newborn potty positions

Classic EC Position

This is the most common elimination communication position and a great one for newborns. It can be used EVERYWHERE. Baby's back and neck are supported by your chest, and baby is loosely held by the thighs and 'pointed' in the direction of the receptacle. For a boy, simply use your finger to aim.

Here are several photos of the classic EC hold in various settings, using various receptacles:

baby potty position elimination communication - classic squatting
baby potty position - classic over sink
baby potty position elimination communication - classic over toilet
baby potty position - classic ec hold over pad

Cradled Classic Position:

If your baby hates the classic position, cradled classic can help her relax while also encouraging her to pee in a hygienic place. Same as the classic, but this time you cradle baby in the crook of your elbow. Again, great idea to aim a boy's stream with your finger.

Here are a few photos showing the preparation of the arm and then laying the baby in the crook of the arm to use this very gentle EC position in many environments:

baby potty position elimination communication - cradled classic squatting 1 of 2
baby potty position elimination communication - cradled classic squatting 2 of 2
baby potty position - cradled classic over pad 1 of 2
baby potty position - cradled classic over pad 2 of 2
baby potty position - cradled classic over sink
baby potty position - cradled classic squatting over toilet

Pottying while Nursing/Breastfeeding Position:

Many newborn babies poop while nursing, and the signal they typically give right beforehand is called "popping off the breast" - in other words, the baby can not stay latched and her head bobs off and on. It doesn't mean your milk supply is too high, or your let down is too sometimes means that baby just doesn't want to use the bathroom while having his tasty meal! (I can't blame him.)

If your baby pops off the breast while nursing, and you see her grimace or bear down or push (or not - it can be stealthy, too), you can continue nursing over a pad or pull baby off for a moment to potty over a pad (or a bowl, or a top hat potty, or the ground) to relieve herself and then return to the breast - to finish the full meal. (It is always easier to eat once you've paused to relieve yourself, right?)

Again, best to aim a boy's parts into the top hat potty or toward the pad by tilting the potty, positioning the pad, and/or aiming at either receptacle with your finger.

Here is one image of nursing over a pad (the baby would be naked-bottomed in this case), and one of nursing over a top hat potty in the car (because who wants to clean up a blow-out while out and about?? Much easier to "catch" it in the top hat potty, which you hold between your thighs while sitting.):

baby potty position - breastfeeding over pad
baby potty position elimination communication - nursing over top hat potty in car

Top Hat Potty Positions:

Like I've already mentioned above, the best newborn potty, hands-down, is the top hat potty. (My new top hat potty, The Baby Potty, can be pre-ordered by Feb 18 and will be available to the masses by April 2018.) It is compact, lightweight, and comfortable for baby to relax and relieve herself in most any situation including on-the-go, at night, on the bed, on the couch...anywhere.

(And mine come with a potty cozy to keep the seat comfortable and warm, and an extra wide rubber band to keep the potty from slipping out from between your legs - ask me how I know.)

But, Andrea, how exactly do you hold a newborn over a top hat potty?

Here are some photos featuring the top hat potty in a variety of situations. For boys (and some girls) who pee straight out, simply tilt the potty toward yourself like in the photos below:

baby potty position - placing the top hat potty between legs
baby potty position - classic held over top hat potty
baby potty position - classic over top hat potty, facing away
baby potty position - classic tilted over top hat potty on lap
baby potty position - classic over top hat potty facing you
baby potty position - classic over top hat potty in car
baby potty position - classic tilted over top hat potty in car
baby potty position elimination communication - cradled classic over top hat potty in car
dumping the top hat potty

And here is a video of me demonstrating how to use a top hat potty with then-few-month-old Branson:

Again, where to get a top hat potty

You can pre-order your own Baby Potty over on my indiegogo campaign by February 18, 2018, and if you see this post after that date, click the link anyway and you'll see when/where you can order thereafter.

And while we're talking about pottying newborns....

All you need to know about starting EC at birth-12 weeks old

In addition to my popular, comprehensive, how-to-oriented book, Go Diaper Free, I would highly recommend my one hour video course on starting at birth with newborn Elimination Communication: Baby Meets Potty. It has tons of bonus footage of me pottying my hours-, days-, and weeks-old babies, myself.

And that's it for today, folks!

The most popular newborn EC positions, complete with doll photos and a darn cute baby (if I might say so, myself).

Did I miss your favorite newborn elimination communication potty position? Is one of these your current faves? If so, please post about it in the comments, below. I truly love hearing from you.

Til next time....

Resource Recommendation

Getting EC Back on Track: a minicourse that walks you through observation, logging, and getting back on the EC wagon

Potty Time Mastery: a minicourse that helps you get extremely good at detecting the 4 ways to know the baby has to pee

Go Diaper Free: my popular EC book that simplifies EC, beginning to end

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 P on April 22, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Thank you Andrea for the great post! The visuals were really helpful. Doing the cradle hold has been a relief to my arm muscles. I also started using the inner section of the BabyBjorn Smart Potty similar to the way you demonstrated using the top hat potty. I think my baby likes it better than traveling to the bathroom.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on April 22, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      That’s wonderful, P! Thanks for sharing how the cradle hold has helped you – it’s one of my faves, too. xo Andrea

  2. Avatar Jericca LeFors on April 28, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Aw man, wish I had found this months ago! I tried EC with my newborn, but couldn’t figure out how to hold him until he was about 2-3 months. This will be useful for my next one though! Thank you!

  3. Avatar Jessie on April 28, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    What a great post! We are due with our first in September and I’m trying to learn as much as I can before our little one arrives. Bought your book and will be purchasing your mini courses soon. I am so greatful that you are taking the time to share all of this wonderful information with us. I’m a very visual learner so I am LOVING all the videos and pictures you provide.

  4. Avatar Rachel on July 23, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    My newborn signals well but hates having his diaper off. He is not happy about being held half undressed. What can I do?

  5. Avatar Kat on April 30, 2019 at 8:21 am

    I learned about go diaper free on the Birth Kweens podcast. And I’m so glad to have this knowledge BEFORE my baby is born! Thank you for this great information!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on May 2, 2019 at 1:38 am

      You are welcome Kat! It’s wonderful you discovered EC before your baby arrives. You will be ready to jump right in! xx Andrea

  6. Avatar Dalia on June 23, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Hi Andrea how much time is it ok to hold baby in position? It feels like too long can hurt her spine and yet sometimes if it’s not long enough she will do partly in the potty and the rest on the pad…

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on June 26, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Dalia! Great question! A good way to time it is singing two songs or reading two board books. If baby is working on a poop, it can take little awhile. They often poop a few times over 10-15 minutes. Prolonged sitting in something like a chair that forces them into an awkward position is a problem, holding them over a potty or supporting on a potty so they can go won’t cause harm. It is for a brief amount of time. xx Andrea

  7. Avatar Germee on August 12, 2019 at 1:15 am

    thank you for the information. Doesn’t classic position adversely affects the baby’s spine? I am finding mixed opinions about this position? could you pls enlighten me where I can find more scientific information regarding the baby’s developmental health in classic position? thank you so much! I am very worried

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      Hi Germee! Unfortunately no one has really ever done a study of EC. The thing to keep in mind is EC is the standard in many countries and used to be the standard everywhere, it doesn’t cause babies damage. When you are holding baby in the classic hold their spine still has the natural curve. They are completely supported and aren’t struggling to hold the position at all. It’s the same if you hold them supported on a top hat potty.

      When chiropracters/doctors/physical therapists mention unsafe sitting for babies they are talking about Bumbo seats, walkers, bouncers (the upright ones), etc. It puts baby in an unnatural position and sort of sways their back forward as they try to balance if they aren’t ready to be in that position. xx Andrea

  8. Avatar Barbara on August 16, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Hi! I just started today and my 6 weeks old has already used the potty 4 times, of the 4 times I tried it! I am very pleased with this, and hopeful it will work out well! BUT… I have one question and don’t seem to find the answer anywhere… How do you clean baby’s bottom? There definitely is stool (exclusively breastfed baby stool) on his bottom, so I am wondering how to do that without it getting on me as well. Do you use wet wipes, something else, …? Hope to get some information on that!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 8:06 pm

      Great question Barbara! If you potty baby in a sink you can just rinse their bum under the faucet. Or you can lay them down and clean with wipes. xx Andrea

  9. Avatar Eve on May 13, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    We have a 3 week old and sometimes he is completely fine using the top hat or toilet in the classic holds (cradled too) but recently he’s become more upset when being held over the toilet/sink/top hat and will not go until he’s no longer being held. We know he needs to go but will resist and then we typically have a mess within a few seconds. We try not to hold him for more than about 30 seconds at a time but he will start wailing almost immediately complete with kicks, leg straightening, etc. He’s totally fine in kangaroo and in the hold when he does not need to “go”, and sometimes will be perfectly fine so we don’t think it has anything to do with pain or discomfort. Would definitely appreciate any recommendations you have! Thank you!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on May 15, 2020 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Eve! It is very common for newborns to fuss over the potty. You can try feeding him or giving him a pacifier to help him relax, you can also run water. Make sure he’s warm enough. You will need to hold him for longer than 30 seconds for him to go. Work on observation and cueing if you haven’t, that will help a lot. xx Andrea

  10. Avatar Cristina on July 29, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Is it possible to injure your babies hips doing the classic hold a lot? My 6mo recently started to cry when I get him in position. I can’t tell if he is in pain or if he might be going through a potty pause.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 29, 2020 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Christina! Not at all, you aren’t hurting him. It is potty resistance. You can try changing the hold, sitting him supported, or try a different receptacle. This article on potty resistance should give you some ideas. xx Andrea

  11. Avatar Marcela on October 7, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Hello Andrea,
    thank you very much for the information about EC.
    I’d like to make sure if it is ok to stimulate baby boy’s penis if it is taking long to do a pee pee or not.
    Thank you!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 11, 2020 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Marcela! The only thing you should do to encourage going potty is running water in a sink/shower. If you try other things the baby can become dependent on it to be able to go potty, it becomes a huge problem down the road. xx Andrea

    • Avatar Julie on April 12, 2023 at 2:09 am

      Hi! I just tried EC with my baby boy who is 8weeks old now. I tried during breastfeeding in cradle position. I held the hat potty and he did peed and pooped! So good! But I did get all wet with his pee haha because I couldn’t figure out how to hold him, the potty and make sure his penis was inside the potty (which it wasn t obviously). How can I make this all work together? Thanks!

      • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 12, 2023 at 9:09 pm

        Hi Julie! One of the best ways to use the cradle hold is actually while seated. You hold the top hat potty between your legs, cradle hold your little one so they are sitting in / on the potty and you have a free hand or finger to hold down baby’s penis. This way you don’t get wet, it does take a bit of practice, but it’s worth it! You are doing great!

  12. Avatar Kris on October 15, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Hey Andrea, i love EC and so does my almost 5 months old boy :) sometimes I wonder though if holding them like this puts too much pressure on their bowels this early on ?!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 15, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      Hi Kris! The traditional EC hold is a safe position for baby. If he is spitting up a lot you can try a cradle hold or supporting him sitting on a potty. xx Andrea

  13. Avatar Tasha on July 23, 2023 at 3:51 pm

    Similar to an earlier question here — what is the typical duration in minutes we can hold baby in the EC position without hurting their pelvic floor? My baby girl has been doing EC since 3 weeks old but I still struggle to know when she is done. Sometimes she kicks her legs and arches her back and THEN passes more stool shortly after. Trying to find a good signal from her but also don’t want to linger too long and hurt her. Thanks!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on July 27, 2023 at 2:58 am

      Hi Tasha! It’s hard to give a set number of minutes since every baby is different. The classic EC position if safe for baby’s spine and pelvic floor, and in fact puts her in the perfect deep squat for easily and comfortably pushing out poop. Try reinforcing your sound associations to tell your baby when it’s time to go. Even at a young age, you can start asking, “are you all done?” Like a cue sound, this phrase will cue your baby that it’s time to finish up. It may take a little bit of practice, but she will get it. And it sounds like you’re doing a great job honing in on her signals and body language. Go with your gut – if it feels like it’s been too long, it’s probably been too long. You can also try a little locker room mirror propped up behind the faucet. You can check to see if she’s still relaxing or moving her anal sphincter, or if it’s closed back up and she’s done. You’re doing great, mama. Keep it up!

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