Location: Should I potty my baby in the same place every time?

location---should-i-potty-my-baby-in-the-same-place-every-time

Q: I potty my 3.5 month old all over the place. First thing in the morning she seems to need to ‘go’ at about 5am so I ‘potty’ her on the bed, leaning on me with the potty between my legs. Sometimes we’re in the lounge room, sometimes her room or the bathroom. Should I start to try and potty her in the on place (the bathroom) so she begins to recognise that as the place to ‘go’? I noticed in your book you mention that once baby can begin to move, they can communicate that the need to ‘go’ when they crawl to the ‘potty’ place. ~Sarah, Sydney Australia

A: Hey Sarah! I’m glad that you asked this question…it comes up a lot for a variety of reasons.

My advice is this:

At 3 1/2 months, your baby still doesn’t have the (brain) capacity to maintain long term, repetitive tasks/thoughts/processes (this happens for the short term memory at around 6-9 months, long term around 14-18 months).

It might seem like she’s consistently doing new things…which is right, because she’s learning new skills all the time. But, the brain isn’t quite “there” yet at this age.

A long way of saying that you don’t need to worry about place just yet.

However, your hunch is right about eventually needing to begin to potty her in a consistent place.

At the age your gal begins to crawl, it might be a good idea to start exclusively pottying her in the bathroom.

The exception to this would be if you’re hanging in the living room a lot and the bathroom is too far away for your baby to hold it that long. In that case, you’d also have a potty available in the living room.

Also, if you should ever need to do a naked day to re-learn her timing or signals, or to teach her the motion of “going towards the potty” by placing her on there for each pee, then you’d want the potty nearby (obviously).

For nighttime at 3.5 months, keep pottying her where it’s least disruptive for you. IF she should begin to fuss about it, it might be an indication that she knows she’s peeing over the bed and would like to do it in the proper place (the bathroom). In this case, put a dim nightlight in the bathroom and potty her over the sink at those times, at that age.

Nighttime EC shifts so often that this advice isn’t really applicable to every baby at these ages…but these are some things to keep in mind, anyway!

To recap…

Keep pottying her wherever convenient and sensible while she’s young.

When she hits crawling, begin exclusively pottying her in the bathroom (whether in-arms or on the mini potty or toilet set reducer…or in dire situations or pauses, on the floor).

At nighttime, do what’s least disruptive (if anything) and note if she shifts to wanting to potty elsewhere in the wee hours.

Thanks for your question, Sarah!

I hope it helped some other ECers know what to do when practicing Elimination Communication in multiple locations, with multiple receptacles.

I’d love to know your home potty station set-up(s). What do you do at your casa? Please write them in the comments below.

xx Andrea

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my husband and 5 children (newborn to 8 years old) 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.

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35 Comments

  1. Daina on November 15, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Sending you and Twyla some good vibes! :)

  2. Shelley on November 15, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I’m doing part time potting with my 3 month old (pretty much just the easy catches and I don’t worry much when I miss) and I’ve just got one potty so I’m keeping it at our changing station. IT’s working for me because it makes it easy to offer the potty whenever I’m changing a diaper and easy to empty and clean out the potty without worrying about her being on her own since the changing station is on the floor right next to our ensuite bathroom.

    When my oldest was potty training we had a mini potty in the living room and another in our family room. It might have looked odd to visitors but it meant she could get to the potty whenever she wanted or needed to and I think that independence helped her along.

    • Jeri Barela on November 15, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Blessings for a wonderful birth to you and Twyla!
      We keep a potty in the living room and another in my son’s bedroom which he uses when he first wakes up in the morning.

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      Congrats on your newest addition, Shelley!! Sounds like a great routine and great setup. Also regarding your eldest I can completely relate…and if it makes it easy for a child to be independent I am all for it! Thanks for sharing part of your story as a model so we can all see the possibilities!! xx Andrea

  3. Jessica Lewis on November 15, 2018 at 11:32 am

    My almost 21 month old daughter doesn’t seem interested in using the potty. I fear I pushed the subject too soon (around 12 months), she used the potty a couple of times then almost seemed afraid of it. I dropped the matter but left the pottys in the bathroom, occasionally asking if she wanted to use them. I’m finding it difficult to find to find the line between encouraging and pushing. Any suggestions?

    Hope you are meeting Twyla soon!

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      Hi Jessica! I would wager that you maybe could have introduced the potty even sooner. If we acclimate our babies (and more importantly, ourselves) to the presence of a potty from early on, there is no reason to develop a fear around it. Food for thought for if you have another one in the future. ;) And meanwhile, check your own vibe about it. IF you feel the slightest tinge of nervousness or fear about asking her, she will pick up on it and respond accordingly. My advice is to grab my potty training book and read the pep talk in the beginning (the free excerpt at https://godiaperfree.com/ptbook includes this part) and get your mind psyched up about it. Then if you haven’t done it, follow my book to the “t” and potty train her right away. Clear minded and with confidence. Not rushing but not being child-led. I think she is waiting for you to be clear about it. You’re doing great, let’s take it a step further!! xx Andrea

  4. Stephani on November 15, 2018 at 11:35 am

    I’m actually getting ready to ditch diapers with my 13-month old. We used to have a potty station in the living room when she was young, but we’ve been pottying her almost exclusively in the bathroom for several months now. We are coming out of a long pause that involved learning to walk. Now she just seems resistant because she wants to do it herself. I’m teaching her independent skills while I wait for Thanksgiving travel to end, and then we’ll ditch diapers. She likes to hide in one particular corner usually to poop, so I was considering putting a potty station there since that seems to be where she feels the most privacy. But I’m worried I’ll be teaching her to go to the bathroom in the living room, especially since she tends to just stand up off of the pott and run. I worry also though that she’ll be reluctant to use the bathroom with our seat reducer because I have to help her in there. How can I set up the most effective potty stations for the initial ditching of diapers?

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Stephani! I would actually put a potty station in that corner and see how it goes. We like to give options even at 20 months with our youngest…who is particularly whiny and “DIY” without the ability to do most things himself…can be really frustrating for all of us, including him! I would be really matter of fact when taking her and using the toilet seat reducer. Like let’s do this and move on with our day. And then sometimes when it’s just a pee, give the option by saying “sit on your potty and put your pee in it” at her potty station that she can 100% do on her own. Poops usually are more relaxed on a seat reducer but your mileage may vary. Most important is to ditch the diapers and stick with it. You’re through the toughest part!! And I’m excited for you!! xx Andrea
      PS – location at this age truly doesn’t matter. Instincts for more privacy will begin to kick in and she will not be conditioned to go in the living room! If you feel better about it, give a mini potty option IN the bathroom and close and lock the door with both of you in it when you feel she needs full control. Bottoms off. Turn your back and be “busy.” See what happens!

  5. Tromila on November 15, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    It definitely changes by age. For my 3 month old, we are super part time, mostly doing easy catches and no night time, so I keep a mini potty in the living room and potty him immediately after nursing and during diaper change.

    My two year old will only use the little potty or the mini frog urinal in the bathroom.

    And my three year old only uses the toilet. She’s “too big” for the potty or the seat reducer these days (according to her!)

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:17 pm

      Lol! My 20 month acts like your 3 year old, Tromila! I agree. It depends on age. And with this the instinct for privacy increases as kiddos get older. And to be more like the grown-ups. Thanks for sharing where each of yours is with their potty preferences!! xx Andrea

  6. Sydney Kalebaugh on November 15, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for the information Andrea! I am due on Monday with my second! Midwife thought I would have the baby a few weeks ago but still hanging in there, we can’t wait!

    I did EC starting at about 3 months with my first and took her to the potty everywhere since we were always out and about. Good to keep in mind developing a consistent place at home when baby gets older.

    I had a question, with my first when I was out and about I would take her to the bathroom if I could or if we were at the park I would just hold her beside me or between my legs off to the side on the grass. Was so simple and easy and somehow she never pooped whenever I did that!🙌🏻 For this kiddo I am thinking through what happens if we are out and about and baby has to pee/ poop and there is no bathroom. I have the top hat potty on my registry but am trying to figure out logistically how I can function with it out and about. So if baby pees in potty do you just toss it out on the grass? And if baby poops do you go to the nearest bathroom and put it in the potty and the rinse it in the sink? And do you have a bag for it in your diaper bag just in case it’s wet? Just processing through what it will really look like rove out and about and do it when I don’t have the same flexibility as I did with one kid. Thanks!!!

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Hey Sydney! Congrats on your soonish birth and thanks for sharing where you’ve been with your first. I understand your concern for the second. And you’ve nailed it. The top hat potty – https://tinyundies.com/tophat for those who don’t know – is the perfect tool for outings. If baby poops along with pee you’d do exactly as you said. If runny, dump it and cover with earth matter. You can wipe it with a wet wipe and put back in your bag, and keep a small ziploc in your bag for dirty wipes. Or you can find a bathroom, dump, rinse, and wipe with a paper towel or cloth/wet wipe. I usually carry wet wipes, a cloth wipe or two, top hat potty, and spare backups in my diaper(free)-bag. If baby poops directly onto the ground, cover with earth matter. That’s it! For more on potting on outings, I also have a minicourse that focuses on this topic alone – https://godiaperfree.com/minicourses/outandabout/ – if you want a bunch of great instruction and examples :) Enjoy new baby when baby arrives!! xx Andrea

  7. Jerusha Cascione on November 15, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Good vibes and well wishes for a safe delivery for Twyla!!

  8. Heather on November 15, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    I have a 2yo daughter who goes where she wants (so either on the “big” toilet, with or without the seat reducer – we have a stool so she can climb up by herself-, or the toddler potty in the living room). She’s very independent and goes when she wants and where she wants. She’s been diaper-free since 18 months (almost a year now!) With my son, he’s almost 7 months, I have only put him on the toddler potty a handful of times. I struggled with postpartum depression for a few months and really haven’t done EC like I did with my daughter. I started her at 8 weeks. But I am wanting to be diaper-free with my son between 12 and 18 months.

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      You can do it Heather!! We were in the same boat with my second and weren’t really in the headspace to focus on EC full time until about 8 months with her. She was out of diapers by 13 months and telling us every single time by 15 months. I think it’s the perfect time for you guys to get back on track (esp since you mentioned it here, which is a great sign!!)…I have a podcast episode on getting back on track and also a minicourse here – https://godiaperfree.com/minicourses/backontrack – if you want to see and do exactly what we did with her. Best wishes and thanks for sharing your story!! xx Andrea

  9. Caroline on November 15, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks for the great info! I potty my 3 mo old in the sink but need a kid potty soon, as he is getting too heavy and squirmy. We stopped trying to EC at night because it was so disruptive for him, even though he gets restless in the morning around 5 from having to go pee. We still swaddle him in a Halo wrap because he sometimes won’t stop rubbing/scratching his eyes when he’s tired, to the point of making himself cry. So pulling the velco off, unbuttoning his onsie and then pulling his disposable off wakes him up entirely and we spend another hour trying to put him back to sleep. Not sure how to get around this until we stop swaddling. Anyone else have this problem?

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      You’re welcome Caroline! So the problem you’re describing makes perfect sense given the noises of the swaddle, etc. Are you using a light dimmer so as to not stimulate his visual sense? Or perhaps not turning on a light at all would help, too. If that won’t help and you must continue swaddling for now, then I would forego nighttime EC until you’ve moved to another stage in your journey. If you are, however, changing him in this situation anyway, I would try to make pottying him as unstimulating as possible by reducing any light, cold, or extra layers of clothing. :) xx Andrea

  10. Susan on November 15, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    We just transitioned our 19th month to using the potty only in the bathroom. We used to have a potty in 3 or 4 different places around the house. As his pees consolidated and he got better at holding, we moved down to just 2 potties. He has been diaper-free during while awake for a couple of months now and is better at independently staying focused on the pottying task. So we ditched the potty in our main room (where I could more easily supervise while accomplishing other things) and the transition went well.

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      Great, Susan!! Yours is a perfect example of when and why to transition from multiple potties to fewer of them. Thank you for sharing with us all! xx Andrea

  11. Kat on November 15, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    I found out about EC when my daughter was 11mth old and have been doing only daytime pottying….she is now 14.5mths and this is what we do….

    We have one on her bedroom next to the change table (looking out the window…being able to look around outside at the birdies helps her stay seated that little bit longer haha) which seems to be the best for us….and after use she helps me “toddle” to the bathroom nextdoor to empty it.

    We also have a potty in the back if our car which we use when out…(I think she likes the view best form there haha)…this has been a success too…but catching a poo in the car has been interesting…if near a toilet I empty it in there if not I have toilet paper and my cloth nappy bag to work with haha.

    Andrea…good luck…any day now! Looking forward to hearing about the birth of Twyla x

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks Kat!! What a cute story. I can envision your daughter enjoying the view from her various potties. Adorable. I think your example proves a few things – 1. You can totally start ec at 11 months and have great success! And 2. Potty stations can be creative and enjoyable without distracting from the task at hand. Thanks so much for sharing and yes, will be updating whenever this baby decides she should make her debut!!! ;) xx Andrea

  12. Maya on November 15, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Our bathroom is so small there is no place to put the potty on the floor. I used to hold my son over the toilet in EC position in my arms, but now he’s 1 and doesn’t like it so much anymore. He prefers the potty, so I put it outside the bathroom door when I think he has to go poo and for pees, he goes mostly over the kitchen sink because, I don’t know why, he doesn’t like the bathroom sink anymore.

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      Makes sense Maya! He’s growing into more privacy and with that comes a shift in preferences (even if they don’t make perfect sense to us grown-ups! Lol). I think the potty right outside the door is great. One of our bathrooms is tiny like that and we’ve definitely had to improvise in exactly that manner. Thank you for sharing what’s working for you right now!! xx Andrea

  13. Michelle Dam on November 15, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks Andrea,
    I hope you have a safe and healthy delivery soon!
    We have a potty in the lounge and next to the change table in the spare room, and in the bathroom, car…
    I think I need to start taking him to the bathroom though as he’s just had a pause. I did a reset by putting him back in cloth nappies for 4 days and he finally started walking. In hindsight I put him into day undies at entirely the wrong time as I realised a couple of days later that he was trying to cut 6 teeth and try to walk and I removed the nappies! Oops!

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Ah well! Live and learn, right? It’s always worth a guess! Yes, after your pause, taking him to the potty will be helpful now. Just remember to be matter of fact and all-business. You may see that he is ready for you to direct the logistics and guide him to a place of independence. You may also see that your potty stations will get more use – on his own – once you have reestablished the routine and expectations. You’ve been thru a lot!! Hang in there and thanks for sharing what you’re doing now! xx Andrea

  14. Hope L. on November 15, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    This is a great article, and awesome responses! Every child/situation is different. We started PT EC at 4 mos. We had a toilet reducer and I would hold him on the toilet reducer until he could sit up on his own. Our counter was large enough that I used it as our “diaper changing station”. Essentially, if I thought he might need to potty or noticed he was already wet, I would take him in the bathroom, remove his diaper and set him on the toilet. Sometimes he would go, sometimes he wouldn’t, but I wanted to establish the routine/correlation between bathroom and elimination.

    Once we removed diapers, I kept a floor potty close by in whatever room we were in so we could catch pees at a moment’s notice. We only have 1 bathroom, so if it’s going to be occupied for a long time, we set the floor potty outside the door so that he has access if necessary. Our next step to independence is ditching the floor potty and getting him back to the big toilet.

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

      I totally agree, Hope! I love reading everyone’s different situations her in the comments :)
      Thanks for sharing yours, and your plans for the future. Sounds solid.
      Establishing the connection between elimination and the bathroom/potty is essential and you’ve done a nice job of that. And I can relate to having only one bathroom at our last home!! Leaving the potty outside is a good move, and one that you may want to keep in your back pocket for emergencies! ;) again thank you for sharing your situation with us all!! xx Andrea

  15. Mary on November 15, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    We keep a potty in the family room tucked on the lower shelf of an end table. It’s easy reach from my nursing chair. That works well as the older children know just where it is and not to knock it over (I don’t always dump after every pee, but after each poop).

    I just realized that my little man was cold and that’s why I kept missing… so I put him in undies and pants rather than the cloth diaper/no cover, and now he’s happier and holds it longer. He’s almost 8 months old.

    Best to you and sending prayers for a beautiful birth!

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      Awesome Mary! Good lookin out for his comfort related to his clothing…you never know what it could be and we’ve definitely shared that exact experience. I like the idea of having the living space potty tucked away. I always get nervous when it’s spillable…and doesn’t it always happen right after it crosses your mind?! ;0) Thank you for sharing what you do right now!! xx Andrea

  16. Sabine on November 16, 2018 at 3:20 am

    When we did EC then we had a potty in whatever room we spent a long time in (especially if she was just wearing undies or of she was wearing a diaper with no cover. So if I was cooking then we had one in the corner of the kitchen, if we were in the living room then we had one in there and so on. I think we did this until she was about 9 months old. She had started walking then and the only other place we had a potty besides the toilet was in her room for convenient pottying during the night.

    I had planned on starting EC immediately after birth and I did some (potty before changing into a new diaper) during the first 6 days while we were still at the hospital (I had trouble walking and even getting out of bed required assistance) but then after we met with a doctor that said my babys hips were popping out of place and she needed to wear what I called a “taco shell” (because that is what it looked like) for 6 weeks. Which meant that EC was out of the question until she reached around 8 weeks. Then we started again!
    I’m excited about Twyla and your “no diapers at all”! I’m due in May and I will be following your documentation closely! Sooo excited!

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Sabine! I think I remember you telling me about the taco shell! So glad you were able to pick back up with EC soon after. And congrats on your pregnancy!! Thank you for sharing your setup and what’s worked for you…I’m sure everyone will benefit from your example of flexibility. xx Andrea

  17. Lucy on November 16, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Andrea,

    I’m really excited for you having soon your little one. As I’m a studend Midwive, the Teachers (also Midwives) always tell us that most babies come in a time range of 5 weeks around the due date! So no hurry for that sweet girl, she’s got plenty of time :-)

    As my kids are a bit older, for me saying good bye to diapers is the big challenge. I guess you mentionned once about potty train your child in a couple of days. I’ve been doing EC with my Baby since birth with a diaper as backup and in nighttime, as it was my second child, and my first is a real earthquake as we say ;-)
    Anyway, my second is in childcare for 5 days a week with cloth diapers and I still try to go with him every day to the toilet. He seems to be comfortable, babbles a lot and makes his wee if he has to on the toilet. In rare cases I get the right moment for his poo.
    Still, we’d like to get rid of those diapers, as he gets more and more inpatient with nappychanging and if he’s refusing on holding still for the new nappy, we go and put him on the toilet. Eitherway, if he had a busines on it or not, afterwards he doesn’t mind having put clothes or diapers on again. This seems to me a pretty clear way of him telling me that he wants to be “all grown up”, right?
    So how can I help him achieve that and more important how can we work toghether with him and recognize his signs and get the childcare into it as well?

    Please excuse my sometimes bumpy English, its’ not my first language and also for the long writing.

    I hope it’s not too much for you and I wish you all the best and hopefully a good birth.
    Love from Switzerland

    • Andrea Olson on November 18, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Lucy! No worries at all. I totally understand you. Regarding childcare it’s great that you have him in cloth diapers. When he is poop-reliable, you can begin sending him in cloth training pants. See my blog post on this topic here – https://godiaperfree.com/how-to-send-your-young-toddler-to-preschool-without-diapers-daycare/ – and hopefully they will help!
      As far as his signs it sounds like what you’re doing – taking him at good transition times – is working. If you want to get better at knowing when to take him to the potty, my ec book covers this – https://godiaperfree.com/the book – and I also have a minicourse on Potty Time (knowing when to take baby) that is a deeper dive into the topic – https://godiaperfree.com/minicourses/pottytime – lots of resources! Hope they help!!
      Thank you for commenting and being in our worldwide community!! xx Andrea

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