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 and five EC’d babies. This is Episode 46, The re-set.
Welcome to the show today, you guys. I'm glad you're here again. We've been on quite a roll. I thought about one of the biggest things that people have to do in the middle of EC sometimes and wanted to share about it today. It's called the re-set. I thought about it the other day because I know a lot of moms and dads are struggling with this right now, where EC feels like it's a total flop and failure and they just need a break, but they don't really want to stop and abandon doing EC altogether.
What is a re-set? A re-set is when you feel stressed about pottying your baby. There's a lot of resistance maybe. Maybe you're going through a potty pause. Maybe you're just completely unsuccessful and you feel like you have no idea what you're doing and it's just really stressing you out, making you feel like a failure at parenting and all that stuff. Maybe you just need a break because you're overwhelmed. Maybe you're dealing with postpartum depression. Maybe you have like a million other kids. Maybe it's just not time for EC right now.
But, like I said at the beginning, you don't want to completely abandon EC. You really don't want to give up, you believe in it. You believe in its impact on children, on your family, on your connection, on the earth, to the environment, all that stuff. So you really don't want to abandon EC and you really want it to work out, but you're just at your wit's end. If this is you, this episode is definitely going to help.
You have full permission to do a re-set, and I learned this from somebody who does potty training. I decided to see if it would work with EC, because EC is very different from potty training. But the impact of stressing out a mom or dad during this process is kind of the same. It can be very stressful and very hard when things are just falling apart and aren’t working, especially if EC's been working perfectly and beautifully from birth and then that little child starts walking and you're having a really hard time. You can also do a re-set in the very beginning, any age between zero and 18 months, total permission to re-set.
If you're past 18 months, please don't do a re-set. Please just take a couple weeks break while you read my potty training book and just do a potty training experience to wrap it all up. Even if you've done a little bit of EC or none, it doesn't matter what you've done before, even if you've tried to potty train. A re-set is not going to necessarily get you back on track with EC after 18 months. After 18 months, developmentally they're more helped, your children are more helped, by doing a potty training experience. Within the potty training experience, you might want to do a re-set, and that is covered in that book if that happens. If potty training becomes really hard, you can do a re-set there, but today we're going to talk about re-set as far as elimination communication goes. Just so that's clear.
Okay, so that's why the re-set might need to happen. Stress, resistance, you feel like a failure, things are failing, you need a break, lots of misses, lots of misguesses, you're just not getting it. Or there's severe trouble between you guys and you don't want to psychologically damage them or your relationship, which it won't, because your kids are really forgiving and in your heart of hearts you're really just trying to help. They get it, they know that, but it can be stressful so you might want to re-set.
This is how we do it. You want to mark two weeks on your calendar, starting right this second. Mark it on your calendar because you are a mom or dad and the time's going to pass and you're going to go, "Wait, when was I supposed to do that? I forgot." Set an alarm on your calendar on your phone if you want. During these two weeks you will be doing no pottying and no EC. There are two exceptions to this, but I'm going to encourage you to do nothing, even if you think you should. Okay, it's going to be really hard to go back to no pottying after doing it, but trust me, you need a break and you deserve a break.
So during these two weeks, you're going to use the diaper as a backup while you step away. You might feel like you're using the diaper as a toilet, but if everything's been going bonkers anyway and you haven't been catching anything anyway, what's the difference? It's just not going on your floor, right? You're going to use that diaper for the tool... It was invented to be a convenient backup, and it's turned into a convenient toilet. We're not going to use it as a toilet; we're going to use it as a backup. By the way, a little preview, Episode 48 upcoming is going to be about the purpose of a diaper, backup versus toilet, so definitely tune into that one when it comes out.
During those two weeks, you're going to put two weeks on the calendar. Use the diaper as a backup while you step away. You're not giving up, you are coming back to it. So clear out that guilt. Notice if you feel guilty, notice if you feel like a failure, and just say, "Hey, I'm feeling that way." That is the number one way to get that feeling to kind of slide off. You don't push away from it, you just accept it and acknowledge it. "Hey, I'm feeling like a failure. I suck at EC. That's what I think anyway." Then turn around and go, "You know what? This is going to help us make a step. I don't know what it's going to look like. Let's just do this because everything else... I just need a break." Again, permission granted for that break.
Let's talk about the only two reasons you would want to potty during this re-set at all. The first one is for poops. If you are consistently getting a 100% of poops anyway and you need to do a re-set because you're having issues with struggles with pee, then by all means don't let that baby start pooping in a diaper. Get the poops in the potty. You notice they're starting to poop, just say, "All right, let's go poop," and put them on the potty. You notice they start to poop and you really just don't want to have to clean that up during this re-set and you usually don't have that much resistance with it, cool. Then you say, "Hey, you're pooping. Wait," take the diaper off and put them on the potty and catch the poop. Poops are one sort of hall pass you get with the re-set, if it doesn't cause a bunch of struggle. If it does, then you're going to let the diaper take it and you're going to clean it up during that time.
Okay, the second little hall pass I can give you is if it is 100% obvious, and you are 100% sure, and your baby is feeling completely willing and so are you, then you can potty. If you always get the morning pee and that's never been a struggle, keep doing that, but the rest of the day you are not allowed to do EC for two weeks. Okay? If there's something that's preexisting that's already working, keep doing that during the re-set, but I really want you to not offer at all any other times. Don't offer transition times, don't offer any other times.
This also gives your baby a break. This gives your child or toddler a break, and this also allows them to reclaim the process for themselves without you intruding anymore. Shame on you for intruding. If they’re crawling and walking in an intact indigenous culture somewhere in the world, even today where there aren't diapers, they would be done with you. They wouldn't need you to help with all the stuff. Because they can't do it completely by themselves, sometimes they resist. We talked about why babies resist the potty in Episode 42. If you missed that one, go back to it. But anyway, this re-set also gives your child a break and reduces the stress in the house. It's good for everybody. It's a blessing. If you notice guilt, just let that slide right off. This is a good thing.
Now, I don't want you to try for any others because this is a time for break, but if it's 100% obvious... If you don't get any obvious signals at all right now and then you do this re-set and during the time your baby starts giving obvious signals, it's because they finally have the space and the bandwidth and the privacy, and this process is now fully their own again, to voluntarily tell you that they want help and that they need to go. So if they point at their diaper or they tug at it and they look right at you, don't say a word. Take off the diaper and stick them on the potty. If that means that your re-set is over, then don't finish the two weeks. But if you're really having a hard time, then do the whole two weeks.
All right. Again, it will only be a 100% obvious if you were already catching that one before, like the poops, or if your baby feels like they have so much leeway now and so much ownership that they're going to voluntarily tell you because you're re-setting. This does not mean give up on EC; this just means re-set. You have an end time on this. It's like telling your partner, that you're in an argument and saying, "You know what? I can't talk about this. I'm too stimulated right now, I'm too triggered, but I will come back in 15 minutes and we can talk about it." It helps everyone know that there is a container, if that makes sense, that holds all of this process.
Okay, so, “What do we do after the re-set, Andrea? Okay, we've done a re-set. Now what? Just leaving me hanging.” No, I would never leave you hanging. We want to get back on track. If you have my book already, you're just going to do some more observation time and learn your baby again and pretty much start from scratch. Get some new information, how often is my child going. You can do this with a training pant backup, if they're already walking and stuff like that. I have a lot of information on that in the book, Go Diaper Free. You're going to go back and you can start in with just the easy catches. You can just keep doing what's working, but now the diaper as a backup becomes the variable. It might be time, and you might have had so much stress and resistance because your child was telling you that they want to be independent.
So you might want to jump right into potty training, with the Hybrid Plan or with my potty training book. The Hybrid Plan comes with the Go Diaper Free book. The potty training plan is part of my book for older ones, you can do that around 15 or 16 months. Hybrid Plan, like 12 to 18 months, if you're in there and you feel like after this re-set, "I feel like it's just such a strong sign, I need to stop using diapers," and you're between 12 and 18 months, do it. Oh my gosh. It'll be such a gift. Learn through observation, get rid of the daytime diapers. If you want to do a little hybrid couple of day naked thing, observation teaching time, it's all covered in the hybrid section that's part of my Book Owners’ Area of the Go Diaper Free book. If you have questions about what method to use with what age, definitely email us.
But the other options after your re-set, if you already have my book especially, because then you know the big picture and what you're dealing with, I have a deep dive into potty pause that you can learn about what you're going through during the re-set and then it tells you how to get back into things afterwards. But I really recommend the mini course that’s called Getting Back On Track. I also have a podcast episode on Getting Back on Track. I'll link to that in the show notes as well, I can't remember the number offhand. When you're done, you want to get back on track. That's the main point.
Go over to the show notes. This is all I'm going to tell you, because this is very simple. Godiaperfree.com/46, and I want you to comment. Do you need to do a re-set? Do you feel like I've named your symptoms and you need to do a re-set? Tell us, and then we can support you. Or have you done a re-set, and did it work? Or do you have any questions about this? Or did this just blow your mind and you're so excited? Whatever it is, go over to the show notes and comment there. We respond to every single one.
Check out some of those resources. I've linked to all of them over at godiaperfree.com/46. So you can pick and choose. It's like a menu, Go Diaper Free is like a menu of things anywhere in the process. The point is, during the re-set, don't stop doing EC. You're just going to step back, take a much needed breather, reduce all... If you're in a tug of war and you don't want to be in one, then let go of the rope, right? But we want to pick up the rope later, okay?
Now we're going to hear a tip from one of - and I look forward to hearing your comments over there - a tip from one of our readers. Ayelet. Ayelet lives in Israel. She has a website, afterbirthdoula.com. She's amazing. She's a postpartum doula and Baby Signs ICI, and that's her website. She began ECing her third child inconsistently since birth, somewhat, and her baby is currently a year and a half old and they're in the process of potty training. So at 18 months, they're wrapping things up with potty training after doing some EC, which is totally a great option. Her tip for all of you is, "It's not all or nothing. Reduce stress," which is what a re-set's all about, right? "Reduce stress - if you're stressed out you won't be doing anyone any favors! EC when it suits you, as long as it remains as stress-free as possible - babies like their parents as calm as they can get them." I think that's wonderful advice. Thank you so much for that Ayelet. We'll definitely check out your website, especially if you're in Israel, but she also does remote stuff.
I just think everybody in our community has such great advice for each other. If you don't have my book already, it comes with a support forum and you really could learn a lot from each other there. Take Ayelet's advice. Reduce the stress. If you need to do a re-set, no harm, no foul. Do it and then get back on track.
All right, so that's it for today's podcast. I'm Andrea Olson, this has been the Go Diaper Free Podcast. I will see you soon.
When using the diaper as a backup during a re-set, how often do you change baby?
Good question Rozelle! Cloth or disposables, change them when they are wet and/or soiled. I never advocate leaving a baby in a diaper when it is wet! If you prefer a timeline, at least change every hour on the hour. xx Andrea
So helpful! I don’t need a re-set right now, but I know I have this option if I feel tired, overwhelmed or if I don’t catch anything anymore…
I have a question for you: I recently had sleep issues (by the way thanks so much for the advice to go to the Babysleepsite which helped us a lot), and I started to catch less during those times. I needed to stop to respond immediately to all my baby’s calls in order to let her fall asleep or go back to sleep, combined with some sleep deprivation on both parts. Do you have any tips for doing EC while sleep training?
Thanks a lot for your book and your podcasts, I am always happy and impatient to have a minute to hear it
Hi Suzanne! I’m so glad the Baby Sleep Site was able to help you, they really helped us as well. I would say that sleep training is the priority. If night EC is making everyone tired, don’t do it. You can try again down the road, it will be just fine. xx Andrea
My 14 month old has been resisting the potty for quite some time, so I have been giving him some space and trying not to force. We tried switching to the reducer and I walk away to give him some privacy, he’s crying the whole time. We’ve done part time EC since 3 months. I’d love to figure out how to get past this or even get out of diapers. He’s very aware of when he’s going, but has made no move to go towards potty on his own. He is just starting to walk but the potty has always been accessible to him and he’s never crawled to it. I have only been offering once or twice a day so I feel like we’ve already been in a pause, not sure what my next step should be. We are taking two different week long trips in the next month so I am guessing it wouldn’t make sense to try any big changes until we’re home from those trips. Thank you for your support and awesome resources!
Hi Mary! Often at his age potty resistance is a sign it is time to wrap up EC. Ditch those diapers, work on teaching skills. You might want to wait until he has mastered walking a bit, that will throw off potty learning. After you’re done traveling next month will be the perfect time.. xx Andrea
Thank you Andrea! I’ve been trying out EC since my babe was 4 months, but could never seem to get passed the observation phase, (maybe because I found EC too daunting despite my good intentions, or held back because I hadn’t allowed myself to fully experience it, hence believe in it). We recently finished a reset as he was turning 14 months; yes Andres, I was excited and blown away by the results, I felt confident and accomplished! Our son was “clicking”, he now would signal in sign language “toilet” for pee and poo, while in the cloth diaper, which was astounding to me how quick that had happened, the timing was right on, at the end of the 2 weeks reset (I guess we backed off enough that the signals was coming from his willingness). Time fly, he is now 15 months, and having some potty resistance; even though he will continue to signal, when I put him on the toilet seat reducer he’ll just scream and want to come off, and then goes to hide somewhere else to do his business (I hear him grunting somewhere behind…), and same thing when I put him on the potty, he just comes off. A recap of episode #42 potty resistance, and I gather that it might be developmental, since he’s mastering walking soon getting into running and jumping I assume, so I offer my support with patience and nurturing. He might also be asserting his independence, that also came along with the recent screeching screaming (its frustrating for him that he needs my help most the time and can’t verbalize everything yet), and so I address this by coming to his level with a calm tone and encourage him to use his indoor voice, point or speak in sign language. Also possible that he has food sensitivities from my diet passed through the breastfeeding. meanwhile, I continue to teach the foundations of potty training; (sitting on the potty with a fun rhyme, pulling up and down undies/pants,). Though I wonder if it might be because, I’m more “part time” with the EC, and not having fully integrated the maintenance portion of it after the reset (like continuing to use the cloth diapers at home rather than undies or commando pants), but we were out away for a full week, so that might be it too. Also wondering is how many resets can you do, how far apart should they be?! My intention is to gain further info during diaper free observations so I can hone in on his timing, and maybe prevent over offering. My goal was to potty train him at 15 months (I guess I kind of am now), but since he’s been “clicking’ (alternating his signal from ‘Im peeing/poo-ing” – “I peed/poo-ed’, wrap it up at 16 months. What do you think?! Thank you for including me in this post; happy to share!
My son will signal in the cloth diapers and in the sumo style, but not while in commando pants or in undies. and he’s resisting the potty and the toilet seat reducer. I don’t know what to do anymore, please help.
There is a learning curve once you ditch diapers, just keep at it. It will take a few weeks or so for him to get the idea. xx Andrea
Hi Isabelle! It sounds like you have been doing a great job working through resistance. I think your plan of potty training at 15-16 months is a good one since he is currently mastering walking. You may not need to if wrapping up continues to go well. If you do wind up potty training, if you feel a reset would help you can do one right before. You don’t want to do resets often, only when needed. Once you have fully ditched diapers for the day, you’ll only want to do one reset if you need to. You can’t do more than one with potty training or it gets too confusing. xx Andrea
Much appreciated reply Andrea, thank you for the encouragement!!! Yes, I felt I was doing well also, and then I saw myself back off because of his resistance to the potty and toilet, and now, nearing at 15 months, EC has really come to a halt; he stopped signalling in sign “toilet’ when he is going or has gone pee or poo. His back teeth have been coming out, and its been yet another challenge for both of us. The ball has dropped!!! The whole re-set process was quite interesting, but I feel like It was for nothing.
It wasn’t for nothing. It is so much easier to get back on track after a short while than a really long time. He’ll get back to it once his molars are feeling better. It’s also a pretty common age for resistance anyway. Working on wrapping up will help. If you feel stuck I do have a Wrapping Up EC mini course. xx Andrea
Hi Andrea! I’m on my second round of part-time EC with my second kid, who is 10 months right now. I was almost certain that I needed to do a re-set, but it turned out that she just didn’t like me holding her over the toilet anymore! We switched over to our tiny IKEA potty and she has been peeing and pooping on it for most of the “pottytunities.” Now if she really resists, it’s usually because she doesn’t have to go!
Hi Em! I’m so glad you figured it out! Sometimes all you need to do is shake things up a bit. xx Andrea
Thank you for the podcast. Lots of good information on there. I am considering a reset. I have been pottying my son since he was 8 days old. He is 95% poop trained and we catch 1-5 pees per day depending on the day. Recently, I have been a little impatient with the process/being too obsessive/overly focused on trying to catch more pees and I need a break. My question for you is this: we are going out of town in 2 weeks, so if is started today with the reset, we would be “getting back on track” while on a trip. Is this a bad idea? Should I wait and do a reset once we get back from our trip? Or will this be okay?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Beth! I think it’s just fine to do your reset while on a trip. You can stop EC completely, or just go for easy catches. Then when the two weeks are up dive back in. Safe travels! xx Andrea
Please help, I am feeling so stuck! My 13 mo old daughter has been EC’d since birth. Big potty with seat reducer since 7 mos. She recently started having major resistance and since there’s a lot going on right now (her first cold, teething, there was some constipation at first, mastering walking, company staying in our house…) I decided it was time for a re-set. Well then two days ago she pooped in her diaper and it burned her skin so bad that I have had to go totally cold turkey on diapers and she’s been bare bummed for two days in a row while the diaper rash heals. We’ve caught a little more as a result but she still resists the potty most of the time and prefers to go in her closet (or the bathroom) and pee or poop on the floor. If I do the calm swoop she just seems to hold it from there. (This includes going back to EC hold over the sink or shower or toilet. She just arches back and resists.). I’m at a loss. I feel like I have no choice but to go back to diapers but that’s when the book says I should ask for help in the support group and tag Andrea. I especially don’t want to go back to diapers now that I’ve seen what poopy diapers can do to that delicate skin! But how long will it to convince her that there’s no other option than toilet?
Hi Bethany! I would consider doing the hybrid plan, you can download it from the book owner’s website. It will help her connect the dots a little faster. xx Andrea
I have a one year old who is walking since 4 weeks now. We’ve been doing our trying to do EC since he was five weeks old and for some time it worked quite well for pee and poop. But we never got to the point of not depending on the diaper. And since the last few months catching pee does not work anymore besides after waking up. Catching poop was kind of possible a few weeks ago but is now completely impossible even though I can tell right away that he is pooping. My question is what to do to get back on track (I just learned about the re-set and will try). But why I‘m writing here is an additional thing: until today we have used a simple bowl for pottying which worked really good for holding him on there for longer times and even while nursing. We tried with a small potty already 6 months ago when he was able to sit but he didn‘t seem to understand that this is the potty now so we stopped again. No he is able to sit on the real potty pretty good but doesn’t want to stay on there, far away from using it. So how does the re-set in combination with introducing the new potty make sense? Or should we stick with the bowl for now/only for the reset/after it? He seems to be distracted by his walking abilities and the corona shut down right now but he also is someone who has a huge sense of independence (with eating for example). But he won’t be able to use the bowl as a potty on his own. He also started to signal for food but never really used the sign for pee/poop. Thanks a lot for your help and work on EC, I really appreciate it :)
Hi Julia! A potty pause is very common with learning to walk. A reset is a great idea! When you come back to it I would go with a tiny potty or seat reducer on the toilet. It is more age appropriate. Continue to use the signing, he will pick it up eventually. Some signs take a little longer for them to use. xx Andrea
What would you say about pottying outside during a reset? Our 12-month old is resisting the mini-potty and reducer every time (and leaving puddles all over the house), but hardly ever complains when I ask him to pee outside, and almost always goes.
Outside is fine, as long as we are always working towards getting them to go inside, since this is eventually where we need them to go.
If your little one is standing to pee outside, then you can try using a travel urinal or toilet and allow him to stand up too pee.