When will my baby resist the potty? A little peek at when babies in our community resist the potty
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. ;)
We started today with day 1. Our son is 21 months old and he understands what peepee and poopoo are. He’s even pointed at the puddle after peeing and picked up his potty later on saying “peepee, poopoo” however he refuses to sit on it. I’ve shown his videos and sat on it myself but when the time comes he plain refuses and if we force the issue things end up in tears.
Any advice on this? I’ve read the book but I’m not sure what to do in this instance. He doesn’t seem scared of it,
Hi Silvina! You can sit him down and use distractions to keep him happy. If he won’t stay on the tiny potty, try a seat reducer on the toilet. It also helps to “potty” a toy first. Keep at it! This is brand new for everyone and a big change. xx Andrea
Hi Andrea & Mama’s,
My little girls is now 21mths, we transitioned from EC to potty training at 19mths. She has been doing so well at home & daycare and began to always tell us when she needed to do “wee wees” for both wees and poops. However, in the past 2-3weeks even though still willing to use the potty, she has stopped communicating or will tell us after or as she is doing her business and she is not caring if her pants a wet or dirty anymore.
Is a form of resistance? We are at a loss as to why she has stopped telling us, could it be we need to prompt her more often again? Do u have any thoughts regarding this? Thanks.
Hi Mandy! This kind of resistance is usually caused by teething, illness, a big life change, growth spurt, etc. It should resolve soon. You can take over with prompting in the meantime. xx Andrea
So my son has been at his preschool for like 2 months now. He has been doing really well with potty at home. He is 14 mo. He will complain for his signal or try to go up the stairs etc. He is in trainers/ undies at home with diapers at sleep times.
At school tho he seems to resist a lot. It’s been a while since they caught a pee. Idk what it is. I would love to get him out of diapers. Idk if it is the right time to send him in trainers to school yet cause I’m seeing his progress at home as a sign but idk about school.
Hi Hazal! It might take him being in trainers for him to start using the potty at preschool. If his caregivers are willing to give it a try, go for it! xx Andrea
So, we seem to belong to a rare minority ;) Started EC at 2 weeks old, baby has refused being pottied since the very beginning (and on and on to her now 11 months!) I tried several positions holding her, she always seemed comfortable, but she would hold it every time (with very few exceptions), until I layed her down. At first I thought she needed privacy already, as she only peed when I left the room for a second. But, while the privacy thing changed with age, her resisting stayed the same. Now she would pee before me, but never when I hold her, only if I put her down. Timing seems right, as she nearly always pees right after I‘ve given up holding her. Relaxing myself didn‘t work either ;)
Little potty? Worked for exactly one day, when she was old enough to sit up on her own. Then she also resisted sitting on it. No matter if I was in the room or not. Toilet seat reducer? No chance.
When she really really needs to pee and I grab her to hold her or place her on the potty, she even screams like crazy. Until I let her go and she can finally pee on the bathroom floor.
Any ideas what I could do?
My baby is only 6 months old so I don’t know how this would work with an older baby, but I give him his pacifier for a few moments if he is screeching and fighting me and I’m pretty sure he needs to go. It seems to calm/distract him enough that he will pee. If a pacifier is not your baby’s thing, replace with whatever soothes your baby?
Hi Sarah! When you are ready, I would just ditch diapers completely. Once they are no longer an option she will be more willing to use a potty. If regular EC isn’t working you can either do the hybrid plan starting at 12 months old, or you can do Tiny Potty Training starting around 15 months old. She’ll get there! xx Andrea
I started EC late, at 8 months? Things were going great with offering potty during general timing and we had moved on to Trainers and then we hit potty resistance at 11months. We had 2 poopy diapers and she refuse to sit on the mini potty. This happened after she had begun walking and we ended lockdown, daddy had changed his working days and his work timings too.
I just ended reset and now doing the prep week according to your hybrid plan since I feel she is mature enough for that and she can walk already. I did try to move her to the potty during naked observation time but she would lock her legs. The last time she peed, I remembered to say wait and she sat on it. So, I’m going to continue this until next week when we do two full days of observation time and then go into Trainers. Would you advise me to continue to use the mini potty in her playroom or to move it or use a seat reducer in the main toilet?
Is it okay for me to continue on with the hybrid plan if she’s somewhat still kind of resistant? She would gladly sit on the potty when daddy is home and is the one who offers.
Hi Atikah! You can try bringing the potty to her, that might go over better. You can always keep a mini potty nearby, whatever room you are in. If you want to add in some seat reducer it’s always a good idea. That way she’ll be more willing to use a variety of potties. xx Andrea
Thanks for taking the time. I do try to move the potty to her but she still locks her legs 😂 I suppose I’ll just have to ride this period out?
Hi Atikah! If she wants to stand you can also let her stand in the tub/shower or outside to pee. It’s a step in the right direction. xx Andrea
We’ve had MAJOR resistance the last 2 weeks. My son is 21 months old. We started when he was 18 months old. I’ve gone back to naked bottom days because he was having so many accidents. Pretty much any time I prompt, especially before nap time, it turns into a meltdown. If I don’t prompt, he has an accident. I’m exhausted and hopeless.
I’m experiencing major resistance from my 13 month old right now, and we’ve reverted to doing most pees in the sink inside of in the toilet with the reducer like normal. His timing is hard as sometimes he waits an hour to pee and other times 30 minutes. If I offer after 30 min and he doesn’t need to go he resists. If I wait until more time has passed he will sometimes still resist if I try to sit him on the reducer rather than give him an opportunity in the sink. He doesn’t like the mini potty much. 💁
Hi Amanda! If the sink is working that’s totally fine. Just try the mini potty or a seat reducer here and there. His preference will change. You can try teaching him a skill like flushing, turning on the bathroom light, etc. That will help make things new and interesting again. xx Andrea
Hi Lauren! Is he getting his 2 year molars? That will always cause potty resistance. Work on teaching him a new skill. You can also have him potty a toy first, that will help with the transition. xx Andrea
We have had many pauses (our son is now 20 months old, doing EC since he was 3 months old), now everything is fine again. How we managed this:
Pause 1: around 8 or 9 months if I remember well (learning to crawl) -> I changed the recipient (a real potty on which he could sit in stead of the top hat potty, and if he didn’t want to go on the potty: in the sink, in arms above the toilet or outside). I recommend this to everybody whose child refuses the potty: try another recipient, it makes it more exciting for them and thus more interesting again.
Pause 2: around 12-13 months (learning to walk) -> I changed from diapers to tiny undies. At first het let everything run along his legs, staring it me as if saying “what’s happening??” After a week he started to hold his pee and to signal again.
We wrapped up EC at 15 months: he signalled everytime he needed to go and held his pee until I told him it was OK to let it go.
Pause 3: 16 months. (learning to say his first words)-> Yes, he was dry and then he just started peeing in his pants again (but no poo, he always signalled for poo, must have found that too dirty :-) ) This was the toughest pause of all, it took him 2 to 3 months to get over it! It probably was the most stressy pause for me, because I knew he could do it but he just refused it. And also: in the beginning I didn’t know the reason of the pause as he didn’t really talk yet at that time, he must have been preparing for it mentally.
It has cost my son a lot of effort to learn to pronounce these first words, and it’ still a difficult process for him, although it already goes a lot easier than before. I’m just telling this, because it explains why the potty pause lasted for so long.
During this pause I didn’t change anything in particular (except from teaching him to pull up his pants, but that didn’t solve it). I just kept on prompting / offering him, although a lot less than before so as not to annoy him too much with it and to let him focus on the talking. So I only prompted him at transition times, and I almost only made him pee outside (he likes that the most) or above the toilet (he likes that sound). But even so, he resisted many times and I have had to wash looooads of wet undies.
But then suddenly he started to enjoy those first words and then the potty pause was over. All of a sudden he’s not resisting anymore, unless he really doesn’t need to go.
The only thing is that he’s still not signaling again (which he used to do when he was 15 months old), but if I prompt him enough and at the right times, we have no accidents. I think the problem is that daddy alwas forgets to prompt. When he was 15 months old, daddy wasn’t at home, and I didn’t forget to offer him so he really had a good potty-routine. That routine is not there now as daddy sometimes forgets to offer him the potty, so the fact that there is no routine is -in my opinion- the reason that the signaling is gone for the moment. He thinks it’s OK to have an accident from time to time, so now the next step is to remind daddy that he has to prompt and to reinforce where the pee pee needs to go by asking my son “Is it OK to pee pee in the pants?” (He is learning to say yes and no at the moment). He can’t say “potty” yet, so a question like “Where does the pee pee go?” wouldn’t only stress him because he can’t answer.
So my experience with pauses can be summarised like this: be patient, offer only at transition times during a pause so that they don’t feel stressed about it, change to undies and never change back to diapers, and change the recipient so that the experience becomes more interesting again.
I’m not a diaperfree coach, let that be clear, this is only my personal experience with a strong-willed son :-)
Hi Judith! I would get him involved in the clean up. Calmly say “pee goes in the potty” and hand him a rag to wipe up. This isn’t a punishment, just taking responsibility. Have him wipe up, take of wet clothes, put them in the hamper, get dry clothes, etc. You can help of course, but let him do what he is capable of. xx Andrea
My son is 15 months old. Can we just to do a potty training experience now rather than wait til he is 18 months? Baby #2 will be here then and I’d love to wrap him up before new baby comes. Just wanted to see if he would be developmentally ready for it. We have done EC in the past but are in a long pause now. He’s starting to grab the seat reducer and want to sit on the potty but isn’t going. Thank you for your podcast!!
Hi Taya! Yes, you can start potty training around 15 months old. I think it is a great idea to get him diaper free before baby arrives! It is so much easier to focus. Congratulations on your pregnancy! xx Andrea
Hi, I have an 18 month old who’s been EC’d since she was about 14 months. She does almost all of her poops on the potty but only occasionally pees on the potty so she’s still in diapers. We have carpets in our rented house and I’m not keen to remove her diapers until I’m more confident she won’t have accidents.
We praise her for clean diapers and for doing anything on the potty and she still gets excited when she goes (either pees or poops). She tends to resist going on the potty though unless we try to put her down for a nap then she suddenly wants to go on, and won’t come off again even if she clearly doesn’t need to go! I find she uses it as a diversion tactic, eg if she doesn’t want to go to bed she signs for potty, or if she’s bored in her high chair. We try to respond to her signs anyway as sometimes she’s genuine (that’s how we catch most of her poops) but often she’s changed her mind by the time she’s at the potty or she will sit there but doesn’t go.
Have you any tips on how we can encourage her to go on the potty when she needs to go rather than just as a diversion? Also, how can we replicate the success of poops to catch her pees? My second baby is due in 2 months so I’m worried that I won’t have the time to sit for ages with my toddler on the potty or go back and forward taking her on/off the potty when baby arrives. Any advice welcome! Thanks!
Hi Linda! I would try switching her over to training pants. You can use a waterproof cover like a Tiny Up to prevent messes. This will help her gain more awareness when she pees. Right now she doesn’t have a reason to use the potty. For nap/night potty requests just limit her to 2-3 requests. You can make her potty tickets to turn in, once they are gone no more trips. Congratulations on your pregnancy! xx Andrea
Hello! My son is just shy of 6 months old. We started EC around 2 months and it had been going superbly well. We had a little blip at 3 months with teething, but we quickly got back on track. Then 4 weeks ago (baby was just turning 5 months) we moved. Two weeks later he started teething. And during this time he’s learned to….well, he’s not crawling yet but he is now mobile. What started out as a little resistance has become complete resistance. He’s deliberately waiting until after being pottied (wake up catches only – we gave up on natural timing about a week ago) to pee, and he’s stopped signaling for poops. We’ve gone from one poopy diaper a week to several daily. I would try to give him a little privacy but he can’t yet sit up on his own so he can’t sit on the potty.
Should I just do a reset? Stop EC for a few days and then start over with observation time? TIA
Hi Gigi! I think a reset is a great idea. Only do a potty offer if it is easy (or if he signals), no fuss, no resistance. It will give him time to work through this leap and teething. Then start back in with observation. xx Andrea
Hi! my son is almost one year and we kind of tried ec from the start but it wasn’t really working from 9 months though it has been going very well, pooping every morning in the potty, peeing after naps and then a few more here and there during the day.. the last week he has been fighting kicking and screaming when I put on the potty, when I try to put a diaper on, everything.. he is standing, not walking yet, so I understand this can all be because he is bout to walk and has some major teething going on but I don’t know if I should keep trying to put him on the potty or if I should give it a break to not traumatise him.. at the moment he fights it, gets up and then pees or poos right next to it a minute later..
Hi Daphne! It sounds like it might be a good time for a reset. Do two weeks of full time diapers. It will give him time to work through his teething. You can also switch to standing changes, it will go over better at this age. xx Andrea
Thank you very much for this article.
My little daughter is 14mnts old (have been doing EC from 4mnts) and she would show the toilet sign and even go to the bathroom (suddenly for the last two weeks) but then when I offer to help her take her nappy off she would run away. When I then try to help her by placing her on the changing mat on the floor she would start crying and fussing until she is on the toilet and then she would stop crying and actually make a peepee (most of the time). She is making her poo’s on the toilet after nap time/ evening sleep and then she is happy to go to the toilet, but she is still making peepees in her nappy and only some on the toilet – so when do I know she is ready for underwear? And I also don’t want to make it a negative experience for her so should I not put her on the toilet if she walks away after signaling?
Hi Danel! I am so glad you found this helpful. It does sound like it is time to wrap up EC. You may also find it helpful to switch to standing changes. This post on wrapping up with my youngest will give you some ideas. xx Andrea
Thanks for all the information you give us on this podcast. I never thought I would EC because it seemed like too much work until a friend recommended a book called “Infant Potty Basics” by Laurie Boucke, so I decided to give it a try. It was amazing to me that on the first day and with the first try, I sat my baby on the toilet and just held him there and he smiled and peed!! wow! How does he know that? it just felt like I had underminded this capability this whole time. So I decided to part time EC just offering at every change but keeping him in cloth diapers just in case. I kept being so amazed, he was dry most of the time, I didn’t change a poopy diaper in like 2 months, I was feeling really good and happy that it was actually working and not that hard to do it. But of course right when I was ready to brag about it, my then 8 month old decided he didn’t like the potty. He started to crawl so I decided I would only offer in the morning which I knew was for sure he would pee since he was waking up dry a lot of the times, and not offer the rest of the day. But things kept getting worse and worse and he started to really refuse the potty. It’s been hard because he also refuses to have his diaper changed. I try for it not to be a battle but he kicks so hard I actually fear he can break my nose or something. He’s now 12 month old, almost 13 and we went on a 1 week pause. I tried again and he screamed so I think I’ll go on another pause maybe this time for 2 full weeks. I’m not sure what to do after though, how to re start. I tried putting him on the big potty with seat reducer and leave him in privacy but he tried to get off and fell and hit himself pretty hard. I don’t want to give up but I’m not sure how to keep going.
Thanks for all your help! Catalina
Hi Catalina! It sounds like you have been doing a wonderful job with EC! Potty pauses are totally normal, it’s very typical at this age. After your reset you will want to start from the beginning with observation. It’s possible his timing and signals have changed. Moving to standing diaper changes will help too. If you have the Go Diaper Free book, you could also start back in with the hybrid plan. It is a great option for this age. xx Andrea