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 EC’d babies. This is episode 41: when to transition from diapers to undies, or something else, with elimination communication.
Welcome today. I love this topic. I get asked this all the time. "We're doing EC, Andrea. Things are going great," or, "Things are going so-so," or, "Things are going... you know, they're terrible. When can I stop using diapers for real?" This is a great question, and there are a couple of determining factors that I like to go by, but you can totally always just do whatever you want.
By the way, the show notes for today's episode will be at godiaperfree.com/41 for anything that I mention in this episode. So you can look there for all the links to fun stuff that I might talk about today. But, yeah. When do we go from diapers to undies? Question of the week.
The first indicator that I love to use, is when that baby starts to walk, and I mean when the walking has been mastered. So usually a few days after they take their first step, they're getting pretty good at it, and within a couple weeks they're rocking it.
That's a good indicator, and actually back before disposable diapers were invented in 1961, this is typically what parents would do. They would catch what they can while their baby was growing up. Any poops caught were a bonus. They would use a diaper as a backup, and when that baby started walking, they would be sat on the potty.
Different times of the day, when they wake up, after a meal, things like that. That's how potty training used to happen. So when you're doing elimination communication, or if you're just doing early potty training, which is great too, or regular potty training, you want to know when to stop using diapers, and to go to undies, walking is always a good marker.
And I say when they've finished completely mastering walking, because if they're about to start walking or they're working on it, they're going to be really preoccupied on that and that often can cause potty pauses. It can also cause resistance. It can also cause a lot of misses, a lack of signals, or an increase in signals at those early events.
So that's when you zoom out, you're like, "Wait. This is about to be a developmental milestone, and we can adjust our course." So, when walking is a good time to transition from diapers to something else. Doesn't have to be undies, and I want to note that now, early on in this episode. You don't have to switch directly to undies.
Sometimes that works great, sometimes that's a disaster. If you want to switch to training pants, I do make small, all-cotton Tiny Trainers training pants. Somebody today on Instagram was mentioning how it caught an entire pee, and kept her floor dry. That is why I created them.
You can get those at tinyundies.com. So anyway, another indicator of when to transition from diapers to undies is when you can tell your child is all of a sudden, instead of just having misses and not really thinking about it, but they are intentionally using the diaper as a toilet.
That's when you're like, "Wait. I should have stopped using diapers a couple months ago." But it's never too late. When you notice that, you think, and you get the hunch, you think they're just using it because it's convenient, and it's on them, that's the time to definitely remove them, and switch to some other backup.
Another indicator of time to transition is your own intuition. It's really important to honor when you get the hunch, or you get the feeling, "I really feel like it's time for me to stop putting diapers on my child." Because it is your decision as a parent as to when to do that, contrary to popular belief.
So when your intuition says it, do it. And then another indicator is when you are just done changing diapers. You're done, you want to be done, you don't want to change any more, you don't want to use any more. So if you want to do this at six months, you want to do this at birth, no diapers, go for it.
So that's another indicator. When you've got all the poops pretty much 100% caught, that's another time, that's a really great chance to transition from diapers to no diapers. Note that we're talking about during the day. At night, you can still use diapers as a backup until the child's older, or you want to do night training, and we'll talk about that elsewhere.
Another time - looking at my notes here, transition - is when the diaper changing becomes hard. When you are having diaper changing struggles and your baby will no longer lay down for a diaper change, it is a good indicator that it's time to transition from diapers to something else.
I just want to remind you, you can change to trainers, you can change to undies. I have Tiny Undies six months and up, also at tinyundies.com, and there are also pullup covers, so if you want to switch to something that's like a cloth diaper, but you don't want to have to lay them down to change them, those are really great; they're called Tiny Ups.
I've got you covered head to toe, you guys. Well, almost. Just the bottom. You can also change to just commando, pants only for a while, and then you see what works. I cannot go into this in this podcast, it is too detailed of a decision. However, you're in luck.
I've created a blog post on godiaperfree.com/blog, but I'm going to link directly to it from the show notes at godiaperfree.com/41 for this episode, and you will be able to jump directly to the blog post that I made. It's very comprehensive. It shows timelines, of what backups I used at different ages for my own kids, when to change from one to the next to the next, and it is basically the ultimate guide to backups for elimination communication, so I'll link to that in the notes as well.
Read that if you want to learn about how to transition out of diapers at any age, but this is, basically in this podcast, we're talking about when to transition from diapers to something else. So again, for the how, go to that blog post, and if you really want to get serious and good about getting this thing wrapped up, and at least starting, because when you switch from diapers to underwear at 12 months or so, or to trainers, you're not going to be done.
You still have a lot of teaching to do, and a lot of handing off the baton to your little one. But what we want to do is definitely check out both of my books. In my books, it will teach you exactly what to do, no matter what age you're at. So if you're zero to 18 months, get Go Diaper Free, and if you're at 18 months and up, see the Tiny Potty Training Book.
Do it and be amazed. Your child is capable of so much. I'm Andrea Olson, and this is the Go Diaper Free Podcast. You can find out all the show notes and everything at godiaperfree.com/41, and also, leave a comment there at that link, to what your plan is to get out of diapers, and if you have any ideas or any questions.
Post them there. I'd love to converse with you there, and as always, subscribe so I can let you know when the next episode is out, and we'll see you next week. Thank you so much. Take care.
I love this podcast so much! I was just talking to my husband about this.
I started moving my now-15-month-old into undies when he was about 9 months old. It wasn’t like a switch flipped, I just tested out the Tiny Undies that I got and wanted to see how he moved and felt in them. He seemed unaffected one way or the other LOL
I noticed he looked more free in the undies (duh!) but I knew he didn’t yet understand what it meant. At first, I’d only put him in for a 45 minute block every now and then, and only after I knew he’d just been to the bathroom. The time slowly grew, the frequency of the experiment grew, and yes, a few piddles on the floor later, and before he was 12 or 13 months old, he was in the undies during the day full time. I only later got the padded trainer-undies for travel days and short visits to the park nearby.
He’s starting to not pee in his diaper overnight!! We are very excited. I am more daring than my Hubster to try undies overnight. I’ll start with the trainers. I know there will be lots more accidents down the line, but I think he’s ready to be a full time undies baby!
Hi Julia! You have done an amazing job transitioning to undies, way to go! If he is staying dry at night, definitely jump on that. Congrats on a totally diaper free baby! xx Andrea
I have 18 month old twin girls that are so excited to use the potty. I had envisioned training them seperately, but they are both showing signs and now I cant imagine not doing them together. Ive got the potties, ordered the underwear (it took a while to find 18 month underwear) and one of the girls just did a #1 and #2 in the potty after her bath (without my telling her to)! I am wanting to wait one and a half weeks for the upcoming 3 day weekend, so my partner can help. With things moving so quickly, im not sure I can hold off (atleast for one of them…shes really getting it).
Hi Jaclyn! Your instinct is right, it tends to work better potty training twins together. It might be a little slower but it really helps to transition both at once. If you start training and feel like you need a plan to follow, check out my potty training book. Sometimes a plan makes all the difference. xx Andrea
I did the full switch just before a year and while we had accidents it was a great decision and she was fully independent in using the potty by 21 months. So it was a transition still. Lots of reminders to go pee and me being on my game to help with no accidents then it was almost all of a sudden she just started to always take herself. We haven’t done nighttime diapers in a long time and do the dream pee. Andrea can u touch on how and when to transition out of the dream pee?
We tried every now and then not doing the dream pee and eventually they just did it. 3-6 months of doing the dream pee but depends on age and for us the sex of the child.
Hmm. We have been doing dream per for over a year now. Each time we have accidentally missed it we have an accident. She is 2.5
Some kids need a dream pee well into school age, it really does vary. You can try here and there to see if you can drop it, but don’t stress. Hopefully she will be able to wake herself up to go soon. The Night Potty board book helps teach kids that process, it might help. xx Andrea
Hi Jade! It sounds like you have done a fantastic job, way to go! If you are doing two dream pees, try to get rid of the early am one first. Then shift the other dream pee as needed. If you are only doing one dream pee, just try eliminating it and see what happens. You can try this at any time, but keep in mind some kids need a dream pee for quite a while. If you try dropping it and it doesn’t work, just go back to dream pees. Try again later. xx Andrea
Can you link to the blog post you referenced in the podcast?
Hi Melissa! Was this the blog post you were looking for? If you look where it says “links and other resources mentioned today” I list everything mentioned in the podcast. xx Andrea
I loved this podcast. This is really great and hands-on advice.
We did it this way with our 1st baby (I had not read your book and was just guessing what to do and listening to my instincts) and it was a success.
With our 2nd baby we took of the diapers at 9 months. It worked okay but we definitely had quite a potty pause during the learning-how-to-walk-phase.
Thanks for sharing your EC wisdom with us. xx
Hi Lia! You have great instincts! It also sounds like you had great success with EC, that is wonderful. xx Andrea
Thanks for posting this podcast exactly when I needed it!
My baby turned 1 today, has mastered walking, and we reliably catch poos and most pees.
He’s generally in undies or trainers during the day with minimal misses and diaper backups are only used during sleeps and car rides.
I’ve been considering taking the leap for a month now, but this podcast was the encouragement that I needed.
Thanks again Andrea for your awesome wisdom and support!
Hi Whitney! Serendipity! Gotta love it. I am so glad this helped you find the resolve to make that final leap. It sounds like he is ready for it. xx Andrea
PLAN-Let’s go! Diaper free!!
My baby is 13 months and still learning to master walking, so I’m contemplating putting off using the baby potty (from TinyUndies.com), but will still attempt to show him how to sit on it. Today I caught a morning poo while he was in the tub, I brought him over to the toilet after noticing the signals, I let him do his business while I turned to something on the wall to give him privacy, and with the sink water running (he did not dive to reach for me because I stood a bit further this time). My plan is to come back to EC-ing wisdom, but with the developmental adjustments. I will organize my schedule to better accommodate diaper free time observation, to help me with the easy catch. Since I have yet to catch a pee, I especially want to focus on the pee upon early waking, where I will point to the toilet area, and sign for toilet with a closed fist as I say it, before taking him over, so he can eventually point before he goes. During diaper free time, I’ve been experimenting with commando cotton pant, and the size 18mths tiny undies “LEARN” (from TinyUndies.com), and when there is a miss, he really gets the full “cause-and-effect” with the undies more than the pants. I hope to recover from irresponsible naked time (where he’s left naked and pees or poo on the floor or carpets, due to me being busy with food prep. ect.). Until he masters his walking, I will continue to use disposable diaper back ups for naps, and night time, and for car ride, Im contemplating using tiny trainers (from TinyUndies.com) back ups with the covers I was previously using in my cloth diaper system. I’ve been doing cloth diapers since he’s a baby; disposables have been less bulky, and a time saver, because I’ve been away from home and traveling on weekends, but I’ve also been using them for night time during the week because they hold more pee, though I’ve noticed that it’s usually more full in the early morning, hence my focus. I’m guessing it’s a potty pause i’m experiencing with him, because I would like to be able to use it soon over the next two months, and can take advantage of the developmental mastery around 15mths where I can ditch the diapers completely during day time at least. After I receive my recent order, (from GoDiaperFree.com) I will go through The Tiny Potty Training book. Listening to this special pod cast, I went ahead and listened to all of them, and i’ve decided to forego the support group; Andrea and her team have been amazing, and I am going to be as amazing in my tiny successes.
Hi Isabelle! It sounds like you have a great plan laid out. I love how much thought you have put into it. I think switching to training pants is a great idea, it really helps with them gain awareness and progress. xx Andrea
Hello dear Andrea, I’m so thankful for what you do and teach. My babe is now 16 months and a half, and I’m so ready to ditch the diapers. I’ve decided to just let him go commando pants for two weeks with a diaper cover, which means frequent changes, and surely to send a message. When he turned 16 months there were a few moments where his resistance to sit on the toilet dissipated, it was brief (it’s like I dreamt that I caught a pee in the toilet, which I’m sure I did), but the resistance came back, even stronger it seams. I continue to teach skills, and am trying to do the easy catches, but not so easy when he throws his back and cries when I try to sit him on the toilet seat reducer, even after moving him to it when I actually see him pooing. I’ve moved the potty in the bathroom, on a soft carpet, with a basket of relaxing toys and potty books, we’ll see if that helps.too. I’m wondering if I should get s step to help him mount the toilet, any ideas about the resistance tho? Not sure how I’m supposed to wrap up EC, when I haven’t had much success in catches .
There can be resistance in the beginning, hopefully things have progressed. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job teaching independence, that really does help. You might not want a step stool just yet, but it is a good idea to try a seat reducer so he can’t just get up. Then use distractions to keep him happy. If you feel he just isn’t making progress you can try either the hybrid plan that comes with the Go Diaper Free book or the Tiny Potty Training method. xx Andrea
Thank you for this episode. You touched on a few things I had questions about and I am in a similar situation as Julia (above). My son will be 9 months next week and I have been experimenting with tiny undies (very occasionally) since 6 months. As you mentioned, my son is super resistant to getting a diaper on, in fact I am usually chasing him around or trying to get him to look out the window so I can throw a diaper on. I will try what Julia mentioned with more regular 45 min intervals in undies after the potty. Do you think transitioning now is too early or can the diaper resistance temporary?
Now I am working full time so a disconnect is growing. My nanny (amazing 19 yo) is having great success catching both 1 and 2. Do you recommend revisiting observation timing on the weekends for parents? And maybe using the undies to monitor during these observations? After nap times there has been dry diapers but in the morning we have a really soggy diaper. My point is there isn’t consistency yet so maybe using a combination of backups is best for now. I have your board books and love them but at this point my son just likes to eat them.
Apologies for so many questions in one swell swoop, but understanding when to transition to anything results in my questioning everything.
Hi Erin! I think you have the right idea. I would definitely do observation on the weekend if you are feeling out of sync. Undies/trainers would be perfect for observation. As far as transitioning to using trainers more, if you are getting most poops I would give it a try. Another thing you can try, if you aren’t already, is doing standing changes. It also helps with resistance. xx Andrea
Hi Andrea, thanks for all the super-helpful advice! My baba is 13 months, and I have been trying to work on a combination of EC/potty training since his first birthday, when he started walking. I keep him commando much of the day, and manage to catch some poos (though no luck at all with the pees!) but he doesn’t really seem to be getting it yet…. I regularly put him on the potty, but he moves off pretty immediately, and often then pees right after! So right after these misses I pop him back on the potty and he will sometimes (maybe half the time) sit there for a bit, so I’m hoping this is him getting more comfortable with the idea, what do you think? Thanks a lot!
Hi Ros! It sounds like you are doing a great job with EC! It is a good idea to put him on after a pee. If you’re not making progress in a few months, I would move forward with potty training. xx Andrea
We are experiencing things a little backwards from the norm and I wondered if you could give me a little guidance here: my 10 mo old is doing really great with EC (we’ve been doing it since nb). Her disposable diaper stays mostly dry, even at night. But as soon as I put cloth trainers on her she pees in them without signaling to me. I’m guessing she’s just used to the disposables, and if that’s the reasoning then I’ll just have to start a few steps back when switching to undies. Have more misses for a while until we make the transition. Is this correct or other thoughts? Thank you so much!
Hi Bethany! It is very normal for them to have a learning curve with undies/trainers. It’s also not uncommon for kids to signal better in a certain back up. It’s okay to continue to do some diaper free time in trainers, she’ll get used to them with time. When you’re ready to ditch diapers, just go for it. Don’t let her current misses in trainers deter you. xx Andrea
At 9 mths of age I tried adding in night EC ( I was waking a few times to feed anyway ). I would sometimes get a huge pee but he could be upset the process. Either way he would have no trouble going back to sleep. After a few weeks he was then very sick for a few days and sleeping soundly with a fever, so I stopped.. then out of nowhere he woke dry Christmas Night – a miracle?! =) He actual fed ~ 3 times during that night.
Then again a few nights later it happened. Other times I noticed I might just have missed the morning pee, and overall nappies were much dryer than they had ever been. His wakings are irregular, but if I hear him wake from 5ish I will offer the potty as I feel this could be around when antidiurectic has dropped.
My question is, is there something I should do to support this. His nappies have now become quite wet again overnight. During the day he holds for up to 2 hours sometimes even when I’ve offered a couple of times.
( I’m reading this post because his cloth back up feel a bit overkill so I’m looking at moving to trainers. )
Hi Kim! There really isn’t anything you can do to encourage him to hold. When they rouse/wake that is when they pee, staying dry all night means he slept really well. You can try to do night EC again, see if you can catch those pees. xx Andrea
Thank you for this!! We are at a point where we catch almost 99% of the poos in the potty. Started EC at 10.5 months and baby is now 12.5 months. At first it was part time and now it sometimes feels full time.
We went from 10 to 11 diapers a day to almost 5. We are now throwing diapers away with no poo or pee because they get so worn out as baby is really mobile and busy. I now need something more durable for the misses that especially happen when he’s in the high chair.
Should I go for cloth or straight to training pants? If I use training pants will his clothes still get wet?
Thank you for sharing your wisdom so extensively.
Hi Nemeeta! I would absolutely go for training pants!! If you want some waterproof protection you can use a Tiny Up over the trainers. xx Andrea
Hi Andrea – the link to your blog post talking about what undies/trainers you used for each of your children at different phases isn’t showing up in the hyperlink. It’s just taking me to your Easy Start Guide. Could you please link the blog post you referenced? Thanks so much!
Thanks for letting me know.
I will make sure to get that link fixed ASAP. In the meantime, here is the link: https://godiaperfree.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-ec-back-ups-when-to-use-which-undergarments-during-elimination-communication/
Hey! Thank you for this podcast. I didn’t know about elimination communication but have just felt like my baby could get in the habit of using the potty so I’ve been putting him on it when he wakes up and sometimes if he hasn’t gone in a while.
We started that at 7 months and the last time he pooped in a diaper was when he was 8.5 months. Now he’s almost 10 months so its been close to a month and a half. He’s not walking yet but might be getting close. I’m not sure because he’s my first. He cruises along furniture and today took one independent step before catching himself on the bed.
He really hates diaper changes and has recently started really emptying his bladder in the potty. We could probably catch all the pees if we were a little more diligent. Sometimes I know it’s about time but am busy so I just let the diaper get it. When I do take him to the potty, I usually sit him next to it until he crawls over and touches it, then I put him on and leave him on it until he stands up on his own. That used to indicate he was done but lately he pees right away but then wants to keep sitting on it forever. I’m wondering if it’s because he knows I’ll put on a diaper after.
I got some trainer pants but am a little hesitant because I tried the tiny undies about a month ago and he peed through them without any hesitation. I guess I’m just looking for some encouragement and wondering if i should wait until he walks since it might be soon.
Thanks again, I don’t know anyone personally who has started pottying this early (besides my grandma but she doesn’t remember much about it) so this is a huge help!
Also a follow up question – we are traveling to see family at the end of the month for a week. If we try undies but then need to go back to diapers while on the trip would that maybe have a negative effect?
I would do a blend of the two, that way baby maintains that mind body connection. You can try keeping baby in trainers or undies for part of the day then use your diaper backups the rest of the time.
First of all you are doing great mama! Perhaps trying tiny trainers would be a great transition out of diapers before moving to tiny undies. The trainers are able to let baby feel wet and help with staying dry as they learn to make that mind body connection. Keep going, you got this!
Also a follow up question – we are traveling to see family at the end of the month for a week. If we try undies but then need to go back to diapers while on the trip would that maybe have a negative effect?