Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast, where we're all about helping you potty your baby as early as birth. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five ECed babies. This is episode 35: Starting but not catching a thing.
Today we have a question from one of our listeners, Debbie from Layton, Utah. Before I answer her question, I have yet another special surprise for you at the end of today's episode. In our last two podcast episodes, number 33 and 34, I shared a song about elimination communication and a song about being bear. Seriously, check those out if you haven't already. They are so cute. Today I'd like to share another song from Aly's album, the title track, "Nipple Confusion." I'll play it in full at the end of today's episode with her permission. We'll be doing this for a few more weeks at the end of each of these Q&A type podcasts, so more music for everyone. Stay tuned for that track.
Alright. Now for Debbie's question:
“Hi. My name is Debbie. I'm from Layton, Utah. My baby Cosette is eight months old, and I am just now starting EC. I have been trying for about a week now, and I've been trying to catch the transition, so like after the high chair and the bed, the naps and waking up in the morning, but I can't seem to catch anything. She always has already peed in her diaper by the time I get to her in the morning. My question is, how can I get her to wait until I get her on the potty? Do I just keep trying and hope that she eventually puts two and two together?”
First off, congrats on starting EC, Debbie! Most mamas and daddies ask me if their baby is too old to begin, and it is never too late to begin. So long as your baby's less than 18 months, you can start EC any time. Typically, beginning between zero to 14 months is ideal. Zero to three months is optimal because you definitely stick with it if you start right at birth, but 14 to 18 months gets into a gray area. My book, Go Diaper Free, has a hybrid EC-potty training plan for that age range for that reason, and then 18 months and up is best resolved with a somewhat quick potty training experience. Starting at eight months is awesome. We're really glad that you have begun.
The way to begin and actually have success will definitely vary across families. I want to address a few things that might help you, Debbie, in today's show. You can find the show notes to this episode at godiaperfree.com/35, along with the links to anything I've mentioned, so just keep that in mind if you'd rather read a transcript because somebody is making lovely distraction for you, a little cute somebody, then you can also get the transcript there.
Alright. My first advice is to choose one of two ways to begin EC at any age. By the way, it definitely stinks when you go to potty her and every single time she's already gone. That can be really discouraging when you're starting to potty your baby, so here's my advice. The first way is by observation and getting to know the four roads to potty time, which is what I call them, four ways to know your baby needs to pee. That includes baby signals, natural timing, transition times, and intuition. I have a podcast episode on each one of those. Then, after observation, pottying from there.
This simple starting process is extremely effective, and it is the basis of my popular EC book, Go Diaper Free, which you can find at godiaperfree.com/thebook. It's visual and very clear with lots of pictures and videos and everything, leaving nothing to chance. I think that most people when they start this way have the most success, so it's comprehensive and simple. I think that it's really easier to begin than you know, so just having all of the information in one place is really important. You can find it all in my podcast or grab the book. Alright? That's observation.
The second way to begin EC at any age is just by easing in with the four easy catches. You've heard me talk about these a million times lately. They are covered in episodes 28, 29, 30, and 32. They are all linked to in the show notes at godiaperfree.com/35. This is the wake up pee, the diaper changes pottytunity, poops, and ins and outs. These easy catches will basically get families familiar with EC. It might be actually that a small percentage of people only need these easy catches to do and complete EC, but they don't cover the big picture where people get tripped up, the ebbs and flows, which is where I think you'll find the most help by doing the first way with observation and the four roads to potty training and all that. Not potty training, potty time. Okay.
Debbie, and anyone else facing this problem, which is quite common, I want you to do a few sessions of naked bottomed diaper free observation time. That's what I just covered in number one just a second ago. Download my observation log at godiaperfree.com, the link will be in the show notes, /35. We want you to begin recording your baby's pee and poo occurrences from waking or from feeding, or both, but not randomly throughout the day. You'll probably notice that your baby pees several times after waking and feeding. You'll also notice what her maximum spacing is, like how long can she hold it comfortably, because babies don't ever hold it to where it hurts themselves. They'll let it go if you're not paying attention or you don't understand their signal or they don't give a signal, and you don't realize it's time. They're just going to relieve themselves so it won't hurt them. You want to find out what their maximum spacing is.
It's all information, and it will all change next month, newsflash, but it gives you a good idea of where to begin today with meeting your baby where she is today. We want to do this as often as needed to just get back into tune with where's our baby right now. Also, if you notice any signal before she goes, a change from movement to stillness or stillness to movement, kicking legs, blowing raspberries, a cry or a whimper or a grimace, you'll see what it is during observation. Maybe there is no signal. That is fine too, and that is actually extremely common with certain ages.
Okay. Also for the wake up pee, which we covered in episode 28, you're having a problem with that one. Your baby is actually waking sooner than you're getting to her. I suggest using a monitor during the times you'll try to catch this one, video if you have it, and see when she first starts to wriggle and squirm and make noises. That is when to gently whisk her off to the potty and offer. When the ADH hormone, anti-diuretic hormone, which keeps us clean and dry while we're sleeping, all humans, when this wears off between sleep cycles or in the morning when you wake up, everybody's bladder fills and everybody needs to go potty, adults and babies alike. Babies aren't incontinent. We just teach them to go in a diaper and they get used to that. The more consistent you can be with this wake up pee, yes, eventually she'll go, "Hey, I get a pottytunity every time I wake up." If you just get one or two of these in the potty and she's how it feels to go successfully, she'll likely begin to wait for you and you'll hit a rhythm with that. Just try to pay attention to that as well.
You can also set an alarm. If you know she usually gets up at 6:30 on the dot, which some babies have a very specific rhythm to their wake up cycles, then you can wake her up at 6:15, offer her the potty, and soothe her on the way there.
I'd also like to invite you to do the poop catch. The poop easy catch is awesome. It's covered in episode 30. When you know she's going, even if you think she's already gone, like you see that very clear sign that they're going, gently tell her wait, and then let her finish in the toilet. A few partial catches in this manner and she'll also begin waiting for you then.
If you want the full on details of this whole getting back on track thing, I have a mini course on that that will teach you how to do the observation specifically. Getting back on track also equates to just starting EC if you've never done it before. We can get into a rhythm by doing observation, and all of this is explained in detail in the mini course. In your case, when you're beginning EC at a mobile age, that's a really good system for learning about your baby anew. Honestly, I give all the details that I can't fit into one podcast episode in the book, so Debbie and others listening, if this gets you a few steps ahead in this podcast, awesome. If you need a little more handholding, just grab a copy of that. My entire brain is in it. That's why I wrote it.
One more thing. Every time you do take her, don't ask her if she needs to go. Just take her and point to the bathroom each time en route, or make a sign language, a different one, every time you go, or say "potty time" each time. Be consistent with this. If she does go, you're going to have a separate thing that you're going to say during that. You're going to say "peepee" or "poopoo" while she's actually going to build an association with going, kind of like feeding new foods. "This is an avocado. This is a banana. Are you hungry? Are you all done?" We are just expanding our communication to include potty time here. We're already communicating with our baby about other things. Then we just add in this. Same as everything else, use the same words to go to the bathroom, use the same while she goes, and she'll quickly develop a vocabulary around it. Even if things aren't perfect, you'll be working on something and you can begin working together.
For those listening who have a pre-mobile baby, just use “pssss” for pee or "mmm...mmm" for poo, or use the words like I just said during the time that they go. They'll associate the sound with going, and sound association is what we use to train puppies as well. It works.
Also, just listen to this episode a few times over. Let it sink in, and get to know your baby in a new way. Just be curious, Debbie. I hope that this will help you find some success with EC pretty rapidly. Do the observation, learn your baby, be curious, and move your timing a bit up earlier on that wake up pee. Ah, one more thing. Babywearing in the house can give you a few more opportunities. When your baby starts to wriggle in the carrier, offer the potty. It'll give you a really clear sign usually. You may find that this form of easy catch number four, which is ins and outs, will yield some catches for you, which will inspire you to continue on. The point is to get you both feeling some success so that you can build slowly on that confidence. You've got this.
Thanks again, Debbie. I really appreciate you asking your question. We hope to hear how it's progressed since you sent it in. Just for sending in your question, Debbie, I'd like to gift you a free copy of my EC book, Go Diaper Free. We'll be sending you an email. I just feel like it will help you guys so much, so I hope you enjoy it.
If you would like to submit your question for me to possibly answer on the show, you can do so at godiaperfree.com/askandrea. I'll also link to that in the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/35.
As I promised at the beginning of today's show, here's another track by Aly Halpert & Friends on their new album, Nipple Confusion, where you can find and purchase on your own over at godiaperfree.com/nipple. That link will drop you right onto her site. This one is about nipple confusion. It is such a sweet and funny song. I hope you enjoy it and get a little laugh. For some mothers, yes, this is a very serious topic, and Aly & Friends have really taken it and lightened it and helped us to just have a good sense of humor about all of the challenges and tribulations, trials and tribulations, of being a new mom.
Have a wonderful day with your baby today. Please subscribe so I can let you know when new episodes come up and leave a review. It helps more people discover elimination communication. Now for the music. Enjoy, and I'll see you next week on the Go Diaper Free Podcast at godiaperfree.com.
Prior to discovering EC, my husband and I (both data scientists) were using an app to record all our baby’s diapers, feedings, and sleeps. We’ve always been ones to change the little guy as soon as he’s wet/dirty, so this data became our de facto observation log when we started EC last week. It’s great because the app has different display modes that let you see potty time in relation to wake ups, nursing, and previous potties. It’s super easy to spot his naturaly timing. Now that we’re ECing, we add notes to each potty record like what cues we noticed, whether it was a miss or a catch, etc.
Andrea there’s probably a business opportunity here for a baby tracking app designed for EC parents – just saying.
Haha! Thank you Chelsea! Would love to know the name of the app, and yes, have been wanting to create an EC app for a long time now…but…babies. I think it’s wonderful that you both have such a deep knowledge of your LO already – kudos!!! Enjoy the experience! xox Andrea
“[B]ut. . .babies.” AMEN SISTER. The app we use is called Baby Manager.
I’m looking forward to listening to this episode and getting started.
4 weeks old and held him in the classic position over the sink for the first time this am. Diaper and clothes were still on, but taking those off is going to be step 2. Fingers crossed we start getting some catches. =)
Go for it Brigid! You will do great. xx Andrea