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How to Know When Your Baby Needs to Pee

Translations of this post: Spanish

How to Know When Your Baby Needs to Pee - Elimination Communication

When you're doing EC with your baby you're gonna need to know how to determine when your baby needs to pee.

In potty training language, this could be considered your baby's "PeePee Dance."

In EC language, it's what I call "The Four Roads to Potty Time" and it includes 3 other things in addition to said PeePee Dance....

Why more complicated than just a Dance?

Well, that's because we're dealing with young infants here (ages 0-18 months)!

And although they are constantly communicating, it does come out in their own unique little language.

And sometimes that's not enough...sometimes we can't see or hear any signals at we'll need to call in all the options.

Resource Recommendation

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

Getting EC Back on Track: you can totally re-learn your baby's pattern with this step-by-step MiniCourse

So, how best to know when it's time to pee?

Well, in a well-rounded EC practice there are 4 primary signs that tell you it may be Potty Time:

1. your baby's SIGNAL(S) (aka his PeePee Dance, although there are over 60 possibilities from body language to cute little noises to extreme fussiness to a "smiling" grimace, all personal to your baby)

2. your baby's NATURAL TIMING (when your babe usually does her business, in intervals after waking and feeding)

3. GENERIC (or common) TIMING (times when most babies typically need to go)

4. your INTUITION (if you don't know what this is...keep reading! I'll illustrate.)

Okay...that may sound like a LOT. (That's because it is!!)

To help SIMPLIFY all of this crazy stuff (that's what I'm here to help you with), I've written several role plays (excerpted directly from my Elimination Communication book) that will help you visualize what I mean....

Role Plays of Possible EC Potty Times

Here are 6 sample scenarios to help you see what leads to potty time. #1 is about Signaling, #2 about Natural Timing, #3 shows a combination of both Signaling and Natural Timing, #4 is about Generic Timing, #5 is about Intuition, and, finally, #6 illustrates a combination of Intuition and Natural Timing.

1. So you’re sitting around and your baby is playing nicely, and all of a sudden she gets grumpy and starts crying. That’s a Signal you’ve come to know and you see if she needs to potty.

2. Your baby is playing nicely after you fed her. It’s been about 10 minutes and you know she usually needs to go by now. You offer her the chance to potty, knowing her usual Natural Timing.

3. You fed your baby 10 minutes ago and she is playing nicely until all of a sudden her energy shifts, she gets a bit grumpy, and she starts crying. You put the two together: (a) she just ate (Natural Timing), and (b) she is Signaling you. You offer her the potty.

4. You are about to transfer your baby from the baby carrier to the carseat after grocery shopping. You offer her a pottytunity first (based on Generic Timing). When you get home 15 minutes later, you offer another pottytunity upon getting her out of the carseat (also based on Generic Timing).

5. You are carrying your baby around the house without his diaper on, when all of a sudden you feel warm and if he’s soaked you! You move him to the other hip and find yourself to be completely dry (this was a “phantom” pee...a.k.a. Intuition). You offer him a pottytunity and he goes!

6. You are cooking dinner and have the thought “the baby needs to pee” (Intuition). It’s been about 20 minutes since she last breastfed, which is her usual time to potty (Natural Timing)...but the thought “the baby needs to pee” keeps nagging you (Intuition) til you decide to leave the stove and offer the baby a Pottytunity. Voila! She pees.

Remember: These 4 events may shift over time...with every miss and every catch, remain open to change & evolution.

Hope you all enjoyed these role plays and now have a better understanding of what it might look like when your baby needs to pee!

IF one of the above situations happens to you, you can test out EC to see if it's right for your family! See my EC videos for some more hands-on examples.

Remember: if you mis-guess or have a miss (accident) then you've just received a ton of valuable information for next time! Take it in's the most helpful advice that comes from the "mishaps." :) you have an example of "how you know when your baby needs to pee" that comes from your own life? If so, please leave your favorite one(s) in the comments, below!

Thanks! As always, I hope you have a great time doing EC with your baby!....Love, Andrea

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Resource Recommendation

Baby Meets Potty: 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 Justine on May 14, 2012 at 8:55 am

    My daughter woke up with a dry diaper a few weeks ago (she is almost 1 year) and I decided to put her on the potty and I was so surprised when she peed. I have started giving her the opportunity to use the toilet each morning and she goes about 90% of the time and sometimes poops too. I couldn’t believe it. I would like to venture into other times of day but wasn’t sure how to get started. This post is really helpful – thank you! 

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on May 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Hey Justine! I’m doing a happy dance over here for you both!!! That is so awesome. I’m glad you found this post helpful and I wish you the best with your little one. Idn’t it cute to witness your little lady already using the potty!!!! Hugs, Andrea

  2. Avatar Tara on June 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    On Oprah, they talked about the sounds babies make before they have to go (plus what other noises mean).

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on August 14, 2012 at 12:25 am

      This is awesome Tara! Thanks so much for sharing this with me and all of our other readers!! xoxo Andrea

  3. Avatar anna on July 13, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Thanks, that’s pretty clear :)

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on August 14, 2012 at 12:24 am

      You’re welcome Anna! That was my goal :)

  4. Avatar Shawn Nickerson on August 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for your info. Check out my experience as a daddy with phantom peeing.

    • Avatar Andrea on August 14, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Hey Shawn! Thanks so much for sharing your post…I found it endearing and quite silly. :) So glad you’re engaging on this level with Babbytom!!!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on August 14, 2012 at 12:26 am

      Hey Shawn! Thanks so much for sharing your post…I found it endearing and quite silly. :) So glad you’re engaging on this level with Babbytom!!! I love it when the daddies are on-board. :) Andrea

  5. Avatar Moirac on November 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

    The most obvious signal my 3 month old gives me (we have been EC’ing since birth) is kicking. As we cosleep at night, she will literally press her toes into me as she is waking up. I plop her on the top hat potty and she goes! Pretty amazing and cute! Then there is the less ambiguous (unless she is tired, then it is ambiguous;) cue of fussing in the midst of a seemingly good mood. I love how this journey has
    made me so much more aware of my baby’s body language. Thanks Andrea for your help in getting us here!

  6. Avatar Julia on January 3, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Did you know that Pampers did a video about how babys are looking when they are pooping? I think they did that to teach parents that poo doesn’t belong into diapers. Okay, okay, maybe that wan’t their first intention ;-)

    It’s funny to see how many parents make fun about their pooping babys on youtube without knowing that they could help them. Thanks for writing this blog and your books to change that ;-)

    Kind regards,
    Julia, EC-cloth-diaper-blogger herself :-)

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on January 3, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      Julia! Thanks so much for posting this here. I hadn’t seen that video yet. Especially the last baby’s face – *that* is a poo signal if I’ve ever seen one! Put that baby on a potty! :) Thank you for also writing about these topics. And I appreciate your sweet words too. Step by step, things are changing. <3 xo Andrea

    • Avatar S ag on July 24, 2019 at 5:59 am

      Lol ! Pampers has deleted that video with the fear they might loose their business !

  7. Avatar Salmakh75 on July 10, 2018 at 7:45 pm


    I have recently started my 4 month old son on EC and he starts crying if I give him the opportunity to pee, as soon as he hears me giving cue he cries. I am not sure what happened its just 3rd day t9day

  8. Avatar Anna on December 24, 2019 at 5:12 am


    My 15 months old son points at his (cloth) diaper and says “puppen” (Dutch-ish word). He clearly wants to tell us something. We put him on the potty regularly and we have a catch every now and then. Time to start EC / potty training. Thanks Andrea!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on December 30, 2019 at 8:45 pm

      That’s great Anna! He’s a wonderful age to bump up to full time EC and ditch awake time diapers. You’ll see a lot of progress once you ditch diapers. xx Andrea

  9. Avatar Sally on February 5, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    What do you do if your baby will be with a nanny?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on February 7, 2020 at 2:12 pm

      Hi Sally! You can just practice EC when you are with your baby, or you can get the nanny to practice EC too. It would be ideal to have the nanny to offer the potty at least for easy catches. If they can’t though it will be just fine. Part time EC is very effective. xx Andrea

  10. Avatar Shanea on April 2, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    Hi my name is shanea

    i have a 8 month old baby girl that absolutely dose not like to have a dirty daiper what so ever it can be a fresh daiper and she starts to get upset and tries to take it off she also enjoys being naked as well.

    Just wondering if it is time to start potty training her?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on April 4, 2020 at 9:23 pm

      Hi Shanea! You can start EC anytime!! Grab my book and dive right in. xx Andrea

  11. Avatar Audrey on April 19, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    My baby was doing great when we put him on the potty for the first 6 weeks of his life. Now this past week he cries everytime I start to take his pants off to go. Any advice?

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 24, 2022 at 8:44 pm

      He may be accomplishing some developmental milestones that is causing him to be a bit resistant, this is normal. Remember to give him and yourself some grace as you navigate this journey together, EC is not linear.

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