Dang this baby is getting heavy. (or, “Moving from in-arms to a potty”)
When and how to transition from the in-arms EC hold to a mini potty.
If you have been holding your newborn in arms over a container or top hat potty, you might be wondering "hey, when can I start my baby on a mini potty?"
Maybe your child is getting heavy, or they are starting to show you that they can sit up. Whatever the reason, it's a great question, and one we will dive into shortly.
Today on the Go Diaper Free Podcast we're talking about how to transition from an in-arms-hold to the mini potty!
You will hear:
- When and how to transition to the mini potty
- What developmental stages to look for before transitioning
- Signs that your baby is ready for a mini potty
- Other options if you can't hold your baby, but they are too young for a mini potty
- How to position your baby on the mini potty
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- Potette Plus
- Episode 38 - Sound Association
- The Continuum Concept
- Tiny Potty Board Book
- Bear- Potty Companion
- Potty Cozy
- DIY Potty Cozy Tutorial
- Kushies Waterproof Pads
- Free Observation Log
- The Tiny Potty Training Book
- Top Hat Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Mini Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Easy Start Guide for EC (Free Download)
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast, where we're all about helping you stop depending on diapers as early as birth. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five EC’d babies. This is episode 39. We're going to talk about when to transition from in-arms holds to a potty with a baby during elimination communication.
I get this question all the time, "Andrea, when do I stop holding my baby over the potty and actually use a mini potty or the toilet? Please help me, and how do I do it?" I get this question a lot because, frankly, our arms get tired holding the baby when they reach about 20 pounds. You might know what I mean. We want to talk about when to transition them but, also, if you've got a two-year-old who will only go to the bathroom when you're holding them over the potty, probably want to start teaching them how to use a potty sooner than later.
That's a little bit on the higher end of the age range, but I have to admit that I have held my first child, a boy, over the potty in public toilets all the way up till he was two because they're gross, and we didn't want to use the toilet seat on outings. If you do have that situation, definitely check out the Potette Plus. It is a wonderful portable potty for young and older toddlers, so you can use public toilets without the gross.
We're primarily going to be talking about babies right now though, in-arms as in you've got a newborn. You're holding them in the classic EC position, which is found in my easy start guide, which you can find at GoDiaperFree.com/start. That will show you some primary positions we use in elimination communication.
Basically, you're holding them in-arms. If you don't know what I mean, look at that and you'll see, or look at any of my other videos on YouTube. We're going to transition from that, holding them over the receptacle, to using a mini potty is really what we're going to talk about in this particular episode. We will talk about transitioning to the big toilet in another episode.
Today, we're just going to talk about moving from in-arms to a mini potty, when and how to do it. The first criteria, the first reason why you would ever want to transition from in-arms to a potty and the first moment of, yes, you have full permission to do that, which, by the way, you do anyway. If you need to hear it from somebody else, full permission granted when your arms are too tired or your back is going out and you just can't hold baby over a potty anymore.
However, if that's happening, and they're very young, a newborn, then you want to potty them laying down over a pad. Say you're recovering from a Caesarean birth. Maybe you can't hold your baby over the potty because you have something developmentally or you've had an accident where your body just can't handle holding the baby over a potty. Lots of situations like that in our Go Diaper Free worldwide community. What people have done is used something like a Kushies waterproof pad underneath the baby and just done a lot of extra observation time before the baby's mobile. During those times, when they go to the bathroom, we do a sound association along with it, which you can learn more about in episode 38 from last time.
When to transition them, when your arms are tired or your back is hurting, and your body just can't handle holding them over a receptacle anymore, slowly try to transition them to a potty. You want to wait until they have neck control. Some babies get it super early. It depends on a lot of things, developmentally, their background, your heritage, but also how you handle babies or not.
I have very strong opinions on how to handle babies basically stemming from what I read in the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. If you have not read that book, please do. It's amazing. Also, from my experience being in Ghana, West Africa in the year 2000 before I ever had any babies. I noticed a lot of kids there were sitting and walking at what seemed to me like really early ages.
I watched one woman with a brand new newborn strapped to her back with a piece of cloth, dancing so fast that baby's head was going wild, side to side, and turns out that they don't treat their babies like they're China dolls over there. Their babies, coincidentally, this is not scientific, coincidentally seem to have earlier bodily control and were amazing at so many things that it seems like children where I live, it takes them a little while longer to get coordinated. I don't know if that has anything to do with it. You can tell me if you agree or not in the comments. It's up to you.
What I'm saying is for the purposes of using a mini potty, you definitely want them to have neck control, and it will vary at what age your child has that, somewhere between really early, like four weeks, up to eight or nine or ten weeks. Typically, around that six-week mark, they start to get that little bit of control there per the Montessori books I've read and other things.
Another reason to transition from in-arms to a mini potty, and a time when it's okay to do so, is when your baby is bucking. Basically, they're straightening out flat as a board when you're holding them over a receptacle in position. That can mean a bunch of things. A lot of it is developmental. They're developing mobility when they're laying down on a mat or the floor or in bed. You can tell that they are rolling, and they're stretching their legs, and they're pushing. They're getting ready to crawl eventually. Bucking at the sink could mean that they're trying to roll over. They're just practicing what their body is always... I mean, babies are constantly in motion when they're awake, and they're practicing that while you're holding them. It can look like refusal. It can also prevent you from catching pees. It can be very frustrating. If baby's bucking, you can definitely transition to a mini potty.
If baby is wanting to stand all the time, then it can be a time, in other words, they're straightening out when you try to potty them in-arms just like the bucking, and you can tell that they really want to stand, you can transition them to a mini potty. You can also do the standing hold, which I have a picture of in my book, where you basically put their feet at the edge of the toilet or the sink or the tub and you hold them at their chest and below their waist and aim. This obviously works better with boys, but it also could work with girls possibly. You also could possibly stand them in the tub. It's only going to last a few days or weeks if they want to stand like this. There are a lot of creative solutions we found. The Go Diaper Free book contains access to our support forum. It's very active and vibrant, and you can definitely ask a question like that if it happens to you. It doesn't happen to everybody, but if the baby's wanting to stand all the time, it might be a good time to teach them how to sit on a potty.
Another time to transition them would be when they want to sit all the time. They've just learned or are learning to sit up, and that is really all they want to do right now. It's a good idea to start sitting them on a potty.
Another time to know that it's time to transition is when you, the parent, feel like it's time. EC is wonderful because it helps you develop intuition and helps you listen and uncover and unbury the intuition that already exists underneath the surface in your own self. If you feel the inkling like hey, it occurs to you or you listened to this podcast, and you go, "Yeah, I really want to change them to a potty," then do it. Then, also when to transition, you can again go to a mini potty or go to the big toilet. This episode, we're going to talk about going to a mini potty. How do you do it?
A really great way to transition from in-arms to a mini potty, no matter what age your child is, is to start by holding the baby in that same in-arms position that you would hold over the toilet or the sink or the tub or outside, start holding them over a mini potty that you have placed in your lap facing away from you. Put the mini potty in your lap faced away from you or sit on the ground and straddle the mini potty facing away from you, and hold the baby over it without even touching his or her bottom to it to begin with and do your normal signaling. Get them used to doing that. Then, you can eventually start holding them over it still in your lap or still sitting down with it facing away from you with your back leaning up against your chest still to get them used to being on the potty. Then, eventually, we will turn the potty around, place the baby on it, holding them at the waist if they can't sit on their own yet. That is sort of how that transition timeline looks.
You can also teach them to mount the potty. A couple ways to do this. One way is, if the baby's pulling up to standing all the time and creeping, they call it creeping, it sounds creepy to me, but sliding along furniture, they're just inching their way back and forth on everything, they just want to stand all the time, you can have them stand holding onto something, and you can push a very small mini potty up to the back of their legs so they can touch it. You can say, "Okay. It's okay to sit now," or, "Go ahead and sit." You hold onto their hand, and you help them sit. They feel that pressing up against the back of their calves, and they will sit down on it. That's a really cool way to do it.
Another way is just to teach them to mount the potty when it's non-potty time, when the focus is not, "Oh, let's try to catch a pee or poop," but the focus instead is about teaching. This is covered a lot in my Go Diaper Free book and also my Tiny Potty Training book. How to mount the potty is a skill just like tying your shoes, just like brushing your teeth. We're going to have to sit down and teach this because if it were up to them, they're crawling, they're going to crawl out of your house and go outside where everybody else goes if we're living in like a mud hut kind of situation. That's not to dumb it down. That's just to give you a vivid example in your brain so you can imagine what I'm talking about.
We have evolved to just go where everybody else goes, and it's in the outdoors where we evolved to go. When they're crawling, they could do that themselves. When they're walking, they definitely would go where all the other kids go. We have to actually teach the process of mounting the potty. Definitely a good thing to teach. I've taught it as young as eleven months when my child was walking at nine-and-a-half months. I definitely worked on teaching my first how to do this at about eleven months. Next thing you could do is get a board book that talks about sitting on the potty and shows images of that. My board book I would highly recommend. Obviously, I'm a little biased, but I did write it without diapers or waiting for readiness messages, which are myths, involved. The board book is called Tiny Potty. I will list that in the show notes for today's episode, which are located at GoDiaperFree.com/39.
My board book definitely teaches the whole process, has the gender neutral child sitting on a potty with Bear, and Bear is also sitting on its own potty. Bear is also gender neutral. This can go for a boy or a girl, any age baby six months and up, just because I picked six months. You could read it to them earlier if you want to. Also, this is available at Go Diaper Free and also at TinyUndies.com. I have the stuffed version of Bear. I have a very limited number of them. I think we're down to about 400 of them. You could teach the child to mount and sit on the potty, incentivize it by having Bear there actually and the book, and you're going to sit them on it, baby and Bear, just like it is in the book. Pretty cool.
Next thing I want to talk to you about is how to teach them to use the potty. You want to have the right potty. I used to recommend all sorts of other potties. They all started getting rid of their smallest models, so now I have made my own. It's called the Mini Potty by Baby Potty. It is located at TinyUndies.com/minipotty, M-I-N-I-P-O-T-T-Y. I will also link to it in the show notes. It is way shorter than every other potty out there. It does not have rubber grips. You have to use it over a rug, but I wanted to make it really light. No rubber means lighter. It's got a little handle on the back that baby can learn to dump it themselves as well if you're into that and don't have brand new carpet.
We definitely want something that they can mount themselves. If they can't get on the potty, they're going to either refuse, they're not going to become independent with it, or you're just going to have a really hard time teaching this part. They've got to be able to mount it. Definitely get my potty if you don't have it yet.
If they're sensitive to cold plastic like most human beings probably are, you also want to use a potty cozy. By the time this episode is out, hopefully my potty cozies will be available for my mini potty that fit it custom. If they're not yet available, I have a tutorial on my website on how to make your own mini potty cozy out of a t-shirt. Definitely check that out as well. That's how to transition them from being in-arms to being on the potty. Definitely try to do that over the lap trick that I taught you earlier on.
Stay tuned. In another episode, we will talk about how to transition and when to transition to a big toilet so you can stop dumping that sometimes nasty mini potty all the time. We'll get to that eventually.
In the meanwhile, please leave me a review wherever you're listening to this podcast, and let me know in the reviews what you think about the show and what else you'd like me to cover and love the positive comments that come out there.
The other thing I really want you to do today is to go to the show notes, GoDiaperFree.com/39, and leave me a comment about what you took away from today's episode, when are you planning to transition from in-arms to a mini potty, or if you have other tips that maybe others could learn about from there. We have great conversations in the comments over at the blog. I look forward to seeing you there.
That's it for today's episode of the Go Diaper Free Podcast. My name is Andrea. Thank you for joining me. You can find us at GoDiaperFree.com, and we'll see you next time.
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When do you plan on transitioning to the mini potty, or have you already? Please leave a comment below with your experience!
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 10 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.)
Hey Andrea, do you have to transition to mini-potty or can you transition directly to toilet? We’re still using the sink and love the easy clean up and my husband is not thrilled on the idea of using something that needs to be cleaned out all the time.
Hi Morgan! I would get baby used to using a mini potty and a seat reducer. It is always a good idea to have options. The plus side to a mini potty is that kids can use them independently much earlier, which is wonderful. xx Andrea
Great episode, and very timely as our 3 month old (EC from birth) has just started this “bucking”. We ask “All done?” and she practically tries to jump out of my arms, but then pees a few minutes later.
Would also love to see an episode on when to transition baby from a diaper backup to trainers/undies. Personal preference?
Thanks for the suggestion! You might find this helpful. xx Andrea https://godiaperfree.com/ultimate-guide-to-ec-backups/
I wondered what all the bucking was about! Thanks for the insight. Sounds like our 4 month old is ready to start the transition to her mini potty. Do you recommend keeping it in the bathroom to start place association or should I start in the room I normally potty her on and transition to bathroom later? Thanks, Andrea :)!
I would do whatever is easiest, you don’t have to stick to the bathroom. Sometimes it is handy to have a couple of mini potties around the house. xx Andrea
Annnnnd…we have one on this exact coming up next week I think!
Thanks, Andrea :)! Excited to hear more in the next podcast.
You are welcome Sandy! I am glad you are enjoying the podcasts. xx Andrea
Hi Meg! Very timely! I hope it gave you some good ideas. xx Andrea
Do you have any posts or podcasts about doing Ec or potty training when there is a toddler older sibling in the home? Wanting to start this, but I’m concerned that my almost 4 yr old will struggle with the ninja attention for the first 2-3 days. How do I balance playing with her and keeping her occupied (without tv or any of the “distractions” around) while being vigilant with my 15 month old?
The easiest way to go would be to have someone help you. There job would be to care for your 4 year old. A friend, family member, babysitter. It would just be for the first most intense days. If you can’t have help, you can have distractions for your kiddo. Just be sure that you are not distracted. xx Andrea
We started using the seat reducer (prince lion heart. So nice and cushioned) when babe was 6 months. That’s the only way I was able to hold him without aching lol
We still do the classic EC hold over the sink or outside, or use the top hat potty in addition to the seat reducer on the toilet.
He hated it the first few times! But now he understands that he can relax and eliminate there, too.
It’s great that he’ll use a variety of potties. That’s the best way to go. xx Andrea
Andrea, I just finished reading the continuum concept today because of what you said in this podcast: “I have very strong opinions on how to handle babies basically stemming from what I read in the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. If you have not read that book, please do. It’s amazing.”
Thanks for the recommendation! The book was VERY interesting and challenging to my worldview. I feel like my paradigms are shifting because of it! I was wondering if you’d be able to describe the bullets on how you handle babies based on the book? Also, any helpful resources to supplement the book to help me understand the concepts more fully?
(PS we have one baby (8 month old girl) who we have done part time EC with since birth and just started using your mini potty last week. We love it and love EC!)
Hi Maggie! Do you have the Go Diaper Free book? I have bullet-pointed this topic in my book. There is also this article I wrote on the Continuum Concept and EC. I am so glad you love the mini potty! They really are so nice to have. Keep up the awesome work with EC! xx Andrea
Thanks for the podcast (and all the others, and the book, and the minipotty, and the tinyundies). We started using the minipotty since our baby was 2M old (EC’d since 5 days old) because my wrists are wrecked. I guess because of my job and the extra liquid in my joints from pregnancy, the addition of holding the baby was too much for my hands. Potting has been working great though!
EC in general has been an awesome experience. I can say I understand my baby’s cycles, and I know she never fusses or cryies without a reason. She has been dry at night almost since the begining, which still amazes me.
I have had trouble ECing in outings, that’s when I use the disposable biodegradable inserts for the Gdiapers. I potty her just when it’s convenient; and usually when I notice that poo is coming soon.
Thanks a lot for sharing all this info
Nature bless you
Hi Sandra! I am so glad to hear EC is going so well for you! It sounds like you have a wonderful EC practice going. xx Andrea
Hey Andrea! 9 month old baby will only use the mini potty once in a blue moon. He tends to just stand up off of it without going even if he needs to go (which I’ll know from holding him in EC hold over toilet immediately after and he goes with no issue). He’s getting ready to walk so I really want him to be able to use the mini potty (and my back hurts from holding him over the toilet!). Any suggestions? We are using your mini potty that’s low and I also have the cozy.
Hi Ilana-Ruth! It just takes time. You can try holding him over the mini potty to start. Once you’re getting catches regularly that way, have him sit. Then use distractions to keep him sitting. If he just won’t stay on it you can use a seat reducer, that way he can’t just stand up. When he is walking independently you can reintroduce the mini potty. xx Andrea