Lisa "Dee" Perusse, our certified coach in Montreal, Quebec. Some links here may earn her a referral commission. We only refer to products or services we’ve actually tried and think are super useful, because we’re practical and helpful like that. :) ALSO, because these are tough times, financially, there’s a discount code if you scroll all the way to the end! :)
People ask me all the time why I only did Elimination Communication with my second child and not both. The answer is simply - I had never heard of EC until my first was 2 years old. At that point, I thought I’d missed the boat. I earmarked the knowledge of EC for my next baby and started what I felt was “classic potty training”.
Fast forward a year to me being pregnant, nauseous, exhausted and frustrated. My kiddo had no interest in learning to use the potty and all I could do was coax him onto the potty with screen time. I was at my wits’ end, but since I was so nauseous, I couldn’t fathom taking on any more serious form of potty training. I knew I was absolutely done wiping poop out of skin folds, but that’s all I knew at the time.
When my second baby came along, we started EC almost immediately (I needed a few weeks to physically recover from the delivery). And then for a brief month or so, my baby was using the potty more reliably and with more frequency than my then-3.5-year-old.
We would routinely have interactions like this:
Me: Hey kiddo, you look like you have to poop squeezing your legs like that, shall we go to the potty?
Kid: No, I’m good, I don’t have to go *continues playing*
Me: Are you sure dude? Let’s go sit on the potty to make sure.
Kid: NO!! I’m busy!! I don’t need to go to the bathroom *starts walking over to a corner and grunting*
Me: Dude, I can tell you’re about to poop. I’m not changing your diaper, let’s go make that poop in the potty
Kid: Grrrr i’m unggghhhhh not rrrrrrrrrrrr going to use the potty
Me: You’re pooping right now!
Kid: DADDY, CAN YOU CHANGE MY DIAPER????!?!
Me: * rolls eyes so far back into head they fall out *
At this point, I was at a loss. I’d tried stickers, screen time, fruit snacks, and if I’m honest with myself, I probably shamed him a fair bit when he chose his diaper over the potty. What I didn’t realise is that he wasn’t choosing his diaper, he was choosing autonomy.
I started to research more techniques for teaching potty skills to older kids and came across Diaper Free’s Potty Training Experience. Here were all the missing pieces - a program to teach your kid to use the potty. All the common knowledge around me was to basically condition your child by putting them on the potty at set times, then rewarding them if they should happen to pee or poop. I knew that this kind of coercive training wasn’t teaching skills, it was only reinforcing a desire for rewards. In fact, this became super obvious at one point - he started asking to use the potty when he wanted a sweet treat, or to watch TV after dinnertime!
I was still very early in my EC journey with the newborn when I decided to wrap up with his older sibling, but I felt the time had come long ago and was eager to ditch those diapers. The Potty Training Experience went swimmingly for us. I stopped coercing my child into potty time and began teaching him the skills to take himself to the potty. By dinnertime on the second day, he peed in the potty on his own and then exclaimed “Mom! I think I’m really getting the hang of this potty thing!” and did a little celebratory dance.
Truly, this was the only approach that worked for us and it blended so well with doing EC with our baby. As a family, we practised outings and took both kids to the bathroom at IKEA. My older kid started helping make sound associations with the baby - something he had no interest in before he mastered the toilet basics. He started to giggle at the pfffftthhbbbb of a poop being caught in the little potty. It was amazing.
I know that we often recommend wrapping up Potty Training with an older sibling before beginning EC with a new baby, but for my little family, blending the two worked very well. The only thing I would do differently is - if I had a time machine - I would go back in time and learn about EC with my older kid from the get-go. And since that’s not possible, I would do it all again just as we did!
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