When starting elimination communication with your baby, you probably have a bazillion questions, like:
How often will my baby need to pee?
When can I expect my baby to be potty independent?
I’ve heard about potty pauses - when can I expect my baby to resist the potty?
And that last question, my friends, is what we’re going to address today.
But, I’m not going to guesstimate when your baby might resist the potty. I’m going to share with you the actual results I’ve gathered from surveying 855 people from our community who’ve done EC with their babies.
73% of those in our survey started EC between 0-7 months, and even more impressively 52% of them started EC between birth and 3 months old.
The biggest age for resistance: 12-13 months old
32.6% of the parents I surveyed said their babies resisted at 12-13 months old. I’d like to explain what’s probably going on here.
You guessed it: walking!
Most babies begin walking at around 1 year old. Dr. Sears says, “Around fifty percent of babies walk by the time they’re one year old, but there is a wide normal age range of walking, from nine to sixteen months.”
When doing EC, we know that if babies are working on a developmental task, they often resist other things until that task has been mastered. It’s almost like babies are saying “don’t bother me, I’m focusing!”
The Wonder Weeks also backs this up, but on a mental level - indicating certain “stormy” periods that are usually proof of progress. Specifically, the Wonder Weeks website says:
“Babies cry during a leap because they’ve reached a radical new step in their mental development. That is good: it gives them the opportunity to learn new things. The ‘difficult behavior’ is actually a signal that great progress is underway.
Like the physical growth spurts that a child makes, the mental development of children is also made with leaps. Neurological research has shown that such leaps are accompanied by changes in the brain.”
Funny enough, Leap 8 occurs in between months 12 and 13, no coincidence here!
“Shortly after the first birthday, at around 55 weeks, your little one will have gone through another big change in his mental development and will be ready to explore the world of programs. This will make her seem even more like a little person with her own way of approaching the world. A watchful parent will begin to see the blossoming of a new understanding in the toddler’s way of thinking.”
But why do babies resist the potty at this age?
For that we can look at what causes potty pauses.
I’ve mentioned this so many times before on this podcast and in my book - if we lived in an indigenous culture within an intact community model of cohabitating closely, our babies would no longer need us to help them go potty in the proper place at crawling, and especially at walking they’d no longer need our help.
The fact that we wear clothing and go to the bathroom inside a room with a door on a toilet or potty that they have to figure out how to get onto, and they have to let you know ahead of time so you can help...all of these aspects can cause friction with a focused, willful baby! It makes perfect sense.
The older kids in the community and family would just show the baby where to go when mobility hits. But in our modern societies, this has changed.
This misalignment most definitely causes resistance, and this is an opportunity for the parent to give the child more control over the process by beginning to hand off the baton, teach things, and support baby with privacy (like with turning your back or leaving the room when your child is safely sitting on a toilet reducer atop the big toilet).
The next ages of resistance: 10-11 months + 8-9 months
Alright so the next biggest reports of resistance occurred at 10-11 months (26.2% of parents), which is also related to the walking milestone in my opinion and experience.
The next highest? 8-9 months (25.8% of parents). You guessed it! I think this is also about a developmental milestone. Since 50% of babies are walking by 1 year old and the range begins at 9 months old, it makes sense.
Ok, so we now have the 8-13 month period covered.
Finally: 14-15 months + 18-24 months
14-15 months and 18-24 months are almost tied (24.3% + 24.2%) - let’s look at those for a sec.
Long term memory development begins at 14 months through about 18 months, per BabyCenter. This could be a partial reason.
But more than that I would assume that these babies at 14-15 months are ready to be done with EC and to OWN their process!
At 14-15 months, we can stop using daytime diapers if we haven’t already.
We can also wrap-up elimination communication with:
- pure EC (just moving from part time to full time, or becoming more matter-of-fact and adamant about it)
- my Hybrid Plan (found as a free download with my Go Diaper Free book - a blend of EC/potty training), or
- a Potty Training Experience (in other words, potty training as though you’ve never done EC before, with my book The Tiny Potty Training Book).
Baby is asking for completion by resisting at 14-15 months.
As for 18-24 months, often resistance occurs when a new baby is born, two year molars come in, or life gets busy and mom or dad stops prompting baby to use the potty.
Zoom out and see what else is going on in baby’s life if you get resistance during this age. If you’re still using diapers, do a Potty Training Experience with my potty training book and stop it already. :)
Regarding prompting, after completing EC, it is so dang important to keep supporting until you no longer see the need. We still remind our 4 year old when he does a fantastically brilliant pee-pee dance and will not stop to pee. Luckily he is fine peeing outside, because he pushes his waiting limits for sure. We say “Cooper, go pee.” Plain and simple reminder.
After completion, you have to continue to take your child at times that make sense, be matter-of-fact, and stop (or do not ever do it if you can help it) asking your child if they need go pee. Hey, it’s time to go to gymnastics. (place child on potty - move on with the day)
The importance of privacy + how it solves potty resistance
I also want to remind you to absolutely, from around 8 months onward, give your baby PRIVACY when going potty. Use the toilet seat reducer on the big toilet if they don’t stay seated or won’t go on the mini potty.
Then, turn your back and put your focus on something else, including the option of leaving the room to grab something you “forgot” (if you feel safe leaving baby on the toilet for a sec)...your child will usually go potty right when you leave eyesight.
The most important group from the survey
And last I want to share with you the most important group from the survey: those who experienced no resistance at any age!
8.4% of those I surveyed reported no potty resistance at any age.
If I took 8.4% of my 17,000 Instagram followers, for example, that would equal 1,428 people who experienced no resistance. That’s great news!
My point is to not expect resistance. I did not have any with my first or second babies, the third gave me hell around 17-19 months old because I didn’t take him out of diapers soon enough, the fourth resisted around 12-13 months, and my fifth hasn’t resisted at all (unless you count poop. But that’s a whole nother story.).
Two takeaways from today’s show
What I want you to take away from today is two things:
- Do not expect resistance
- If or when you do have resistance, solve it immediately by offering privacy, teaching part of the process, or moving from diapers to undies. In other words, do something, and re-listen to today’s episode to learn how.
Now I’d love to hear from you!
When has your baby shown signs of resistance?
Please comment below, and share if you’ve had none at all, too!
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)