Pottying in the car line…with no top hat potty, no diapers, no wipes.

pottying in the car line

This week in the elementary school car line (which is the loooong line of cars I wait in while my 2nd grader is released from school), I was quite unprepared for a sudden pottytunity request from my 11 month old, Branson.

If you've ever been stuck in the car when your baby needs to go poop, and you do elimination communication at least some of the time (or are considering it), this post is for you!

Branson is sitting nice and quietly in his seat when we pull into line. (Yes, yes, yes, he is facing forward in this photo - it's either this or he screams the entire way, which is likely to cause me to wreck - so please know that I know rear-facing is statistically superior to forward-facing. Thank you. :) ) Carrying onward.

We have a problem. We are 20 minutes early, which is never good.

B fusses and whines and complains - why are we not driving, mama?! - and then I hear it.

{{{straining noise}}}
{{{pause in breath}}}
{{{breath is let out in little puffs}}}
{{{baby eyeing me in the rearview mirror}}}
{{{a tiny strain on his face}}}
{{{a grunt}}}

Branson is clearly signaling that he needs to poop.

Because I've done elimination communication with my own 4 babies since birth, and have helped 10,000s more EC their own, oftentimes pottying on-the-go, I spring into action!

I know there is time.
I say to B, "Wait! Don't poop yet."

(Cooper, my 2.5 year old, promptly says, "No, B not pooping!" - but I know better.)

Branson looks at me with understanding and the grunting comes to a halt.

I open my door, hop outside, and run to his side of the minivan, opening the automatic door quickly.

When I look down, I realize my first challenge:

I forgot my top hat potty.

I also forgot the Potette Plus base, which I use on public toilets all over town.

All I have with me is the flimsy, reusable, torn up rubber insert for the Potette Plus.

What in the world am I gonna do?!

(My mom is on speaker phone during all of this, mind you. I think she's probably getting a kick out of listening.)

Isadora (4.5 years old now) yells out from the back of the van:

"Mama, let him poop on the ground outside!!"

I quickly weigh my options as I pull B's pants and diaper back-up off with one hand while holding him with my other. I know he hates the Class EC Position. There is no grass in sight.

I try to balance him sitting on the rubber insert inside my van on the rubber mat, but it just won't hold him up and B is not happy.

I guess I should listen to Itsy! Alright. Outside it is.

I place the flimsy rubber insert on the concrete next to my van (we are on the passenger side, and another vehicle is double-parked on the shoulder next to us, so we are somewhat shielded from sight) and I hold B over it in the Classic EC Position, Squatting Next to a Parked Car.

This is what the position looks like (excerpted from my popular EC book, Go Diaper Free):


For the purpose of comparison, this is what I WISH I would have been doing. This is the potty position where you hold baby over the top hat potty in a parked car (also from my book, which has over 70 position photos):


Unfortunately, no top hat potty today.

Now, for all I knew this was going to backfire.

Branson hadn't been held in the Classic Position since he was about 7 months old.

In fact, he began to refuse it at that age.

But, lo and behold, he allows it and begins pooping...right into the insert, below.

Major mommie score.

As I hold him over the rubber insert and grunt gently in his ear to cue and encourage him, I think to myself:

"Whoever owns this Kia Soul I've double-parked is gonna walk out of school any minute and catch me in the act of pooping my son over this weird thing."

Sure enough, moments later a woman walks toward me with a giant smile on her face.

I want to hide under a rock.

She says, "How long have you been ECing your baby?"

{{{total sigh of relief!}}}

I reply, "Oh, from birth. I've started all 4 of mine at birth."

She goes on to explain that she's a doula and that she tells all of her families about EC. That, even though many parents never try EC, she sees parents understand and relate to their babies in a vastly different manner once she has educated them about the option of elimination communication.

(She's completely making my EC day! I am such a geek for this stuff!!)

As Branson poops into his rubber container, Jenn and I continue to chat about the benefits of EC and how wonderful it is that I'm letting him poop into the "potty," at 11 months old, right now.

When he finishes, I realize I have
(1) no wipes and (2) no spare diapers.

Okay. No big deal. Time to get creative with what's on-hand.

  1. I grab a paper napkin from my glove box and wipe an almost non-existent speck of poo from his bottom (ECing a baby in the Classic Hold usually results in a "clean break").
  2. I check the 7th Gen disposable diaper back-up, which I just took off of him, and it is CLEAN and DRY. So I put it back on him.

Then I put B back into his seat, buckle him in, say good-bye to my new friend Jenn, and tackle the next issue.

(Geez, I feel like such a survivalist right now!)

Next issue.
What do I do with the poop now that it's in the potty?

There is no bathroom nearby, or in the near future, at all.

We are 20 minutes from home, and I am NOT unloading 4 children to dump a potty in a public restroom at some local store...where they will probably beg me to buy them something.

We wouldn't get home for hours.


I grab an empty Starbucks water cup that is (luckily) sitting in my fancy new minivan trash can and turn it upside down over the poop in the rubber potty insert.

I flip both pieces over in unison and then seal the cup with its lid.

I dump the rest of the pee onto the concrete under my van (it will evaporate in minutes, and no one is watching) and I set the rubber insert back in the car, cup inside of it, on top of my rubber car mat.

To recap, I caught the poop on-the-go with only these two tools:

creative potty time

Feeling like Wonder Woman (the mom version), I hop into the drivers' seat and close B's door with my little button, with 10 minutes to spare before my 2nd grader comes out.

(That's 10 minutes, start to finish, to do the whole deed. With zero mess. If you have heard EC is time-consuming, or messy, try cleaning up the poopy diaper, with no wipes or spare diapers, as an alternative!)

Sitting there, satisfied, I hear a disembodied voice say:

"What did you do with the poop?"

Oh my goodness. My mom is STILL on the phone with me. She's cracking up, but not really surprised. I am her daughter, Andrea, after all. Constantly up to some kind of pottying shenanigan with my kids.

I explain to her and she expresses her Divine admiration of my creativity.

(She is my mom, after all. My biggest fan.)

Then I grab my son and we're off for home...with NO poop or dirty diaper smell in the air...and when I get home I dump the cup in the garbage can outside.

Done deal.

The 2 things I learned today:

  1. Never travel without the top hat potty.
  2. Never travel without the Potette Plus base.

What I'm grateful for:

  • Elimination Communication gives greater flexibility than using the diaper as a toilet.
  • Catching a poop is faster than changing a poopy diaper.
  • Cleaning up that particular poop would have been a nightmare with NO diapers and NO wipes in the car...so I'm grateful that I knew what to do.
  • My son didn't have to sit in his own filth for the 20 minute car ride home. He would have been freaking out and it would have smelled terrible. And I would have felt GUILTY.
  • The in-arms EC positions can still be useful at almost 1 year old.
  • My son understands to wait when he has to poop, and can do so long enough for me to get him undressed and into position. (Um, pediatricians and nurses - news flash! Sphinctor control is possible AT BIRTH, not 18 months like your textbooks say.)
  • You don't really need gear to do EC on the go. (Survivalists, unite!) But it does help.


I do wish I'd remembered my top hat potty - it would have been a million times less stressful and more graceful!

Which brings me to an announcement:

You can pre-order your own top hat potty between now and February 18, 2018.

I want to make sure that YOU are also never stuck on the road without a receptacle for your 0-12 month baby! They stopped manufacturing these years ago but I'm bringing them back, round two of production, international delivery by April 2018.

Click here to learn more, pre-order, and support my 7 day fundraising campaign that is bringing the previously-discontinued top hat potty BACK to the market, permanently. >>

This is what The Baby Potty looks like. You can see why I wish I'd had it with me.

the baby potty by andrea olson

It is recyclable, comfortable, and slip-proof...so lightweight you can throw one in your diaper-free bag, in the car, and beside baby's bed for easy pottying in precarious situations.

Anyway, that is the end of today's story.

I hope that, by sharing the very particular details of this story with you, it has inspired and given you a glimpse into the day-to-day challenges (and opportunities) I have while ECing my babies.

In the comments below, please share your most precarious on-the-go pottying situation with all of us!

I love hearing your stories.

Til next time...and don't forget to grab yourself a few top hat potties...happy pottying! xx Andrea

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 4 children (7, 4.5, 2.5, and 1) 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.

Loved this post? Here are a few more:


  1. Rebecca Mottram on February 12, 2018 at 8:03 am

    Best ever example of how to use a Starbucks cup!

    • Andrea Olson on February 12, 2018 at 10:19 am

      Lol – yes it is probably one we should tell Starbucks about ;)

  2. Ariane Blais-Lacombe on February 12, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Didn’t that woman knew you!?!? I mean…

  3. Ariane Blais-Lacombe on February 12, 2018 at 10:32 am

    And yeah, I like pottying my baby by the car, in the street, with the Classic position he fortunately still likes at 14 months. My funniest story is when I tried to potty my baby in an outside mall, against a “closed” shop which I realized several minutes later was OPEN. I was using the shopwindow as a mirror to see if he was pooping and he ended up doing nothing. People inside must have thought I was seriously deranged…

    The whole story is on my Page, it would be worth translation in English!

    • Andrea Olson on February 14, 2018 at 11:40 am

      Haha! That is hilarious, Ariane. Truly hilarious. :)

  4. Victoria Padilla on February 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    True enginuity! This was a great read! It’s awesome to follow your EC journey now that my son is 18 mos and telling us he needs to pee! It’s bittersweet knowing it’s almost over, EC was so special and I’m so glad we were able to do it! Can’t wait to try it from birth with the next little love – oh boy, I have baby fever!

    • Andrea Olson on February 14, 2018 at 11:40 am

      Oh, Victoria, I agree – totally bittersweet!!! I’m glad you’ll have the opp to start at birth next time. Happy conceiving!!! :)

  5. Vernita on February 12, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    My oldest daughter and I were on a road trip (350 miles) with my middle daughter’s 11 month old son. He had on a diaper as we hadnt been doing the ec much, mostly it was his mom and dad at that point. He started fussing and making his potty sound about two hours into our trip. My daughter pulled over and i got him out of his carseat and stripped down. I held him in the classic potty position in the bushes by an Alaska highway and he did his thing! He was still clean and dry.

    • Andrea Olson on February 14, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Amazing! And totally normal for ECed babies. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Vernita! LOVE that it’s multi-generational in your family. <3

  6. Frances on February 12, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Hahahahha!! I truly enjoyed this story!! Just brilliant. Well done, Andrea :D

    • Andrea Olson on February 14, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Glad you liked it, Frances! :) And, btw, I LOVE your babywearing coats. Thank you for sharing your link. I am dying to try one out! That wool one is divine. I always have SUCH a hard time navigating coats while wearing B in the Ergo. <3

  7. Viv on February 13, 2018 at 12:24 am

    We were sitting in a booth at a diner when I knew my 2 month-old had to poop. I asked my sister to come with me to the restroom because she hadn’t experienced EC. We thought the restroom was empty so I showed her how to hold my baby over the sink and my little girl immediately pooped (loudly) just as a woman came out of the stall and proceeded to wash her hands in the sink next to us. My sister feigned surprise by exclaiming “Oooh, we didn’t expect that!” but we sure did ;)

    • Andrea Olson on February 14, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Hahaha! That is a hilarious story, Viv. Thank you for sharing. I vaguely remember having done the same at some point in the past. Luckily with newborns we can play it off as a surprise! :)

  8. diana on February 13, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    I will love to buy the top hat potty, but it says for newborns -12 months. I need one to two for my 3 year old toddler! I wish you can have them for that age! I love the design!

    • Andrea Olson on February 14, 2018 at 11:34 am

      Sorry, Diana!! Yep, they are just for newborns, although I have definitely used mine with my 4 yr old in the car when had no other receptacle around, and it totally worked. :) I do have a new mini potty hopefully coming out soon, since the Baby Bjorn Small Potty was discontinued, as was the bEcoPotty. We need some potties for small tushes. :)

      • diana on February 15, 2018 at 10:02 pm

        thanks Andrea! I am going to buy them now because I really need them for 2 of my girls soon!

  9. Katy on February 15, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    FYI, my son still likes the classic EC position at 26 months. He is (mostly) potty-trained at this point, but I hold him in this position for public toilets and when we’re out in nature (or on the side of the road) since he doesn’t yet “get” the squatting thing or aiming while standing up. (In fact, he would rather I hold him over the ground, with both passenger doors open for privacy, than go in the car potty.) Just goes to show that each child has his or her own preferences.

    • Andrea Olson on February 26, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Yes, my oldest was the same up until about 3 years old. He still has trouble peeing standing, but is finally getting it. :)

  10. Hayley Elliott on April 28, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    I have a story. We were at football practice and for some reason I didn’t have a potty the car and the baby needed to poop. There was no porta potty and the school was locked. So I found a plastic bag in the car. I opened it up on the ground and leaned him over the side of a little ledge at the stadium and he pooped right into the bag. I just had to tie it up and throw it away. ?

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