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How to hold a newborn for elimination communication

This is a re-post of an article originally published by Andrea Olson on February 16th, 2018


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.

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. 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:

the baby potty by andrea olson

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

All you need to know about starting EC at birth-4 months old

In addition to my popular, comprehensive, how-to-oriented book, Go Diaper Free, we now have the comprehensive program on starting at birth with newborn Elimination Communication: The Golden Window Newborn EC Program. It has tons of bonus footage of me pottying my hours-, days-, and weeks-old babies, myself.

Baby Meets Potty Newborn MiniCourse

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....

Watch the Video Version (new!)

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

Disclosure Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from purchases made through the links on this page.

Resource Recommendation

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

Potty Time Master: is my minicourse about the "when" behind pottying your baby.

The Golden Window Newborn EC Course: A deep dive into how to start EC with your newborn baby

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 Charlotte on January 31, 2024 at 11:01 am

    As grandmother of premie twin boys, I felt they were too small and floppy at 5 .5 lbs each, to potty. I spent a few days with them, and they would often pee when the diaper was removed, but I felt unable to potty them safely. then I had to go home, a 7 hour drive, and mom had to go back to work, maternity leave used up while the boys were in the NICU.

    You might consider addressing the NICU/Premie challenge, if you have suggestions.

    The boys are now 20 months, and I just sent an email via the Tiny undies website , of my success and challenges with potty training for a week.

    Thank you Andrea for your wonderful help! Both my daughters have your books, and some supplies. My 10 month old granddaughter gets regular “pottytunities” outside of daycare hours.

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on February 13, 2024 at 5:32 pm

      That’s amazing!!! Thank you so much for being a part of our community!

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