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Passing the baton: The art of gradually handing over the potty “keys” to your baby

Translations of this post: Italian

passing the baton: the aret of gradually handing over the potty keys to your baby

You might be wondering how to pass the baton to your child and give her the gift of potty, when to do this and what exactly you should do so you don’t screw it up.

Well first, don’t worry. You can’t really screw this one up. But, I do have some really solid answers for you in today’s show that will help you bypass a lot of toilet training completion oopsies.

Let’s dive in! Today we’ll talk about passing the baton and the art of gradually handing over the potty keys to your baby.

This episode is all about gradually transitioning from elimination communication being mostly parent-led to mostly child-led. Overall, we’ll talk about how to support your child’s potty independence during a time when it is developmentally spot-on.

But. You'll notice that I said gradually - that's because, at this young age (12-18 months), this process occurs on a spectrum, not all at once! It's a process, and it isn't going to happen overnight. So let's talk a bit more about it.

(If you’re potty training an 18 months+ child, this process is actually a lot less gradual, so definitely check out my potty training book if that’s you and skip this whole episode.)

You will learn:

  • Why we pass the baton
  • When to start focusing on passing the baton
  • Developmental milestones to watch out for
  • Why passing the baton is a gift
  • How to encourage your child to participate in the process from early on
  • How communication might evolve during this stage
  • Specific skills to focus on teaching your child
  • A tip from one of our learners!

Links and other resources mentioned today:

Download the Transcript

If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?) and read the transcript here:

Transcript download: Passing the baton

Watch the Video Version

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

Thanks for Listening!

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  • Share your thoughts by leaving a note in the comments section below!

Which part will you teach your child today? Please leave a comment below!

I look forward to chatting with you in the comments.

xx Andrea

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 Whitney on September 10, 2019 at 8:44 am

    I have been passing the baton for quite some time with my son who is 15 months. He really is doing pretty well; I will have him naked at home and he takes himself or does great with my prompting, then we go commando and he does great for a day or two (maybe one miss) but then starts to pee in his pants again and we repeat the process and it seems to be a cycle of doing well, then starting to pee in pants again, then going back to naked time and starting the process over again. We potty full time out of the house too, where he does great unless he finds something he really doesn’t want to stop playing with which might result in an accident. When he has an accident, he tells me, and he knows pee and poop goes in the potty and he does the chest slap sign and says “pa-pa” (potty) (signs often, but not EVERY time) and I still prompt and remind him often. What would you suggest here with this sort of cycle we are on? Should I have him naked at home more? Or just keep up with what we are doing and hope one of these times the cycle doesn’t restart?
    Thanks for this podcast :)

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 10:06 pm

      Hi Whitney! I would stick with the commando and not revert to naked bottom. There is a learning curve with pants. It will improve. Using clothes at home will help him make progress. xx Andrea

  2. Avatar Cassie on September 10, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Thanks Andrea! Your podcasts are always so timely 😀 we are absolutely in this passing the baton stage as my 21 month old is now wanting to pee and poop in private, independently.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 10:08 pm

      Wonderful! It really is an exciting time. xx Andrea

  3. Avatar Alex on September 10, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    I started passing the baton at 15 months! I started EC at 14 months and was surprised by how fast the process can be picked up. She knows how to sit alone so we are working on undressing and running to the restroom… that one is hard. Thanks for all your help!!!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 10:09 pm

      That’s great Alex! Yes, when you start EC around that age things really do move quickly. She’ll have it all down before long. xx Andrea

  4. Avatar Malissa on September 10, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Andrea, EC Coach here. What would you suggest if my boys don’t eventually decide for themselves that going to the toilet on their own is better than changing wet or poopy underwear with me? That’s where we have been hung up for… Years. My boys are 4.5 and 2.5, Both EC’d since birth. My oldest especially just doesn’t want to take ownership.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 10:11 pm

      Hi Malissa! I would have them be responsible for clean up. Not as a punishment, just taking responsibility. You may also want to try ditching undies for a bit and have them commando. You’ll get them there! xx Andrea

  5. Avatar Amber on September 12, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    I had to laugh when you said something along the lines of “better than waiting until they’re 3 and want to do it themselves without knowing how and throwing tantrums.” I swear my 16 month old daughter is already a threenager when it comes to teaching her most things. How to put on undies? How to push down undies? She refuses to let me show her how and will throw a tantrum (and the undies!). So thankful for EC because she would be hella difficult to train the traditional way. We’re working on washing hands right now. She thinks it’s super fun and actually let’s me help.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 10:12 pm

      I know just what you mean Amber! I have a spirited kiddo or two and potty training would have been a nightmare. It sounds like you’re doing an awesome job passing the baton. xx Andrea

  6. Avatar Emily on September 19, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you for this! My 13 month old is doing well on the potty…we catch most poos and a few pees a day. I’m still not catching all her signals, but working on it. I think I will progress to doing EC on outings too, and teaching her to push down her own pants. Do you take a potty or seat reducer on outings? We do hybrid diapers, with reusable cover. I’m interesting in moving to training pants to help her learn to take them off but really nervous and it will be a difficult and messy transition. I guess we could start with the training pants just at home? Thanks again!!

  7. Avatar Kids Point on October 16, 2019 at 6:43 am

    Excellent and A wonderful read! Your article is the best one I have learnt, and it has helped me. Keep doing that.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 24, 2019 at 2:41 am

      I’m so happy to hear it was helpful! xx Andrea

  8. Avatar Karina on October 16, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Hello! First time parents here new to EC. We started catching poops around 9 months because who wants to clean poopy cloth diapers and decided to go full EC when my son was 14 months. He was doing pretty well, usually signing when he needed to go and we always offer potty-tunity at transitions. About one accident per day. He’s now 17 months but recently stopped signing and having lots of accidents. Any suggestions to get him back on track?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 24, 2019 at 2:43 am

      Hi Karina! This is totally normal, don’t stress. When kids are going through a developmental leap, illness, teething, growth spurt, etc communication can drop for a bit. Just take over with prompting/offering. Working on teaching skills will help too. xx Andrea

  9. Avatar Sydney Deas on January 27, 2024 at 10:51 am

    Hi Andrea! I have a 16 month old who has done EC from birth! She is walking and we’ve been wrapping up for a few months now. When she is awake at home she’s always wearing underwear and we’ve mostly stopped offering the potty (she gets VERY upset if it’s not her idea), and we just wait for her to move to the potty and/or tell us. This is going pretty well! She’s also started wearing underwear while in childcare at the Montessori school I work at! It’s also going well there. So on the one hand, I’m encouraged that the wrap-up is going so well… BUT she’s recently started waiting until she’s in a diaper (after a nap or something) to poop. This is really discouraging because she basically stopped pooping in a diaper at like 2 months. So I’m really confused why she’s choosing to do this?! Also, at times she really hates her mini potty now, so I’m wondering if that includes hating pooping in it. The toilet seat reducer isn’t her favorite though either. We did deal with some constipation while being sick, which I know can contribute to something like this. I’m just at a loss as to why she starts pooping so quickly in her diaper after waking up. If i do catch her before she does this and put her on the potty, I feel like I rarely catch the poop right now. I never thought catching poops would be hard! Help!

    Thanks for all your wonderful and helpful content 🙂


    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on January 28, 2024 at 10:00 pm

      She might be wanting some more privacy and independence, it’s super common in children about your little ones age to have some resistance. Stay the course momma, you got this!

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