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Why are we trained to watch our babies poop and THEN change their diapers?

watching our babies poop, waiting to change their diapers

As a preface, this post is about how we parents have been trained to wait for our babies to go in their diapers. Which is different from noticing that our babies have gone in their diapers and then changing that dirty diaper. This is about watching them, waiting for it to be done, and then changing them...and never thinking about any type of pottying or cueing along with them or anything. And how we parents aren't at fault for that...but a power greater than us IS. So that's clear. :)

I wrote this on Facebook yesterday:

"The couple next to us at lunch just said "Oh it looks like you're pooping" to their baby in its carseat. I can not help but feel sad for the baby who has to shit herself, myself wanting to be evangelical, and also feeling slightly frustrated that we parents are taught to wait til our babies poop themselves and THEN clean them up. Why is the diaper a wearable toilet? Why is it not just a backup so we can feel secure about messes while we also pay attention to signals that babies need to poop and help them go in the toilet instead? Oh why oh why world?"

A few people took very vocal issue with me personally, calling me judgmental of the parents involved, and of a certain parenting style even. And that makes me sad.

"Don't judge other people's parenting style." was the first nasty comment.

I replied:

"Yep {name} - I don't see how I wrote is judgmental of the parents. Parents are MISLED by our own pediatric doctors who were MISLED by a pediatrician hired by Pampers to tell parents to wait for readiness. So they aren't informed about what our greatgrandparents found to be everyday potty etiquette. No fault of theirs! But there is a LOT of defensiveness on the topic and it can be quite triggering (probably because of each of us knows, deep down inside, that something is amiss). Hence "why oh why WORLD," not "why oh why PARENTS"."

Harmless enough, I thought. Trying to share my motives. Totally didn't hear me.

And to that this person went OFF. All over my very peaceful page.

I won't post all the nastiness here. It was pretty darn terrible.

Then, one of my favorite EC mamas wrote this:

"I don't really see how attacking Andrea with rudeness is any better than the behavior you are accusing her of, Andrea M and Tiffany. If you don't like what you read, move on. If you feel like someone was human and maybe spoke before thinking, and you feel the personal responsibility to address it, then there are much better, more tactful, more considerate ways of expressing these thoughts. If you felt she was wrong, two wrongs don't make a right. Be the change... And all that."

Which is so true. Which brings up the Mommie Wars.

Mommie Wars are relatively new. They came about when all these new-fangled parenting styles came into the picture. And they hurt EVERYONE involved.

My parenting style isn't more right or wrong than yours. We all clearly love our children and do our best with what tools we have at our disposal.

Which brings me to tools. Information. Knowledge.
(Different from "Wisdom" and "Tradition.")

Tools = information. Knowledge. Which is provided (unfortunately or fortunately) by MEDIA and MARKETING. By companies with selected interests based on profit margins. No harm, no foul...until there is harm and foul.

We are the victims here, collectively, parents. We've been misled by the diaper companies, who hired pediatricians as their spokespeople in the late 90s to tout their efforts, to believe that we must be "gentle" about potty training by "waiting for readiness."

We, as a human culture of mammals, used to pick up on our babies' signals and feed, provide rest, provide a sanitary disposal of their feces (off their skin, into the bushes), and provide sleep. Just taking care of babies. That's pretty simple, right?

But now, we parents have been convinced to go against 100,000's of years of instinctive parenting. We have been convinced that we are being gentle by watching our babies poop into our diapers and then changing them later...essentially training our babies to use their diapers as wearable toilets.

I stress that last phrase because that is what we are doing, when we take an honest look at it.

Are you brave enough to look at it?

(I mean look it in the eye. Really think about it. I'm not judging you. I'm challenging you. I'm pushing you against your edge.)

Are you strong enough to take an honest look at what our society TELLS US to do? And at how we have become sheeps following the herd of late potty training and extended disposable diaper use?

Are you courageous enough to do some non-biased research into what is anatomically, physiologically true for our babies and their needs? And not rely on what your pediatrician tells you (which is their opinion based on what they've been a multimillion-dollar diaper corporation's pediatrician spokesperson...who was PAID to make this stuff up).

Elimination Communication (EC) is not new, y'all.
Potty training & disposable diapers are what's new.

EC is an ancient practice that was used regularly up until the 1950's. That wasn't too long ago when we look at human history. That's a mere 2-3 generations' worth of time.

In conclusion of my long-winded rant, please know that I'm not judging you or anyone else. I love you, parent. You are doing your best.

Alas, I am mad at the Man, at the corporation, at the ridiculous cultural shift that is based on nothing but thin air and a desire to capitalize on us and our desire to be kind to our babies.

Are you? Please share in the comments below, and be nice. I will absolutely delete any nastygrams in there, but a pleasantly-stated opposing opinion is always welcome. xx Andrea

Traduzione a cura di
Diana Dalle Molle
Consulente certificata Go diaper free
Visita il mio profilo
Visita la Pagina Fb Go Diaper Free Italia.

Resource Recommendation

Potty Time Master is my minicourse about the "when" behind pottying your baby.

The Bundle: 7 deep dives into the challenge areas (Newborns, Nighttime, Outings, Potty Time, Potty Pauses, Back on Track, Wrap Up) you may face while doing EC with your baby.

Go Diaper Free: my popular EC book that simplifies EC, beginning to end

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)


  1. Avatar Andrea MacLeod on September 15, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I like to make clear that I was not being nasty at all. I only wrote one comment and used “please” as well. (And you quoted that wrong in this post btw, but whatever.) It was also never my intention to start that nasty conversation that followed.

  2. Avatar Spheni on September 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I was just reading comments on a Facebook post about potty training and what age your kid potty trained at. It made me sad to see just one that said she started at 3 months and was diaper free at 16 months. Even sadder was the numerous comments about waiting until the kid was ready and having read studies/books/etc saying that was what to do or their doctor said to do. That kids physically can’t use a potty until they choose to. I was surprised to see numerous comments that a child didn’t use the potty until 4 1/2 years old. When I read that it makes me angry that there is such misinformation spread as gospel. I’m not angry at parents, they are doing what they’ve been led to believe is right. I’m angry that corporations have such control over us and the information we receive.

  3. Avatar Michelle on September 15, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I think that the problem is that while you answered your own question in this blog post; you only posed the question on Facebook thus leading to some of your page audience, of mostly mothers, to infer that you were directing your criticisms towards them directly.

    The wearable toilet companies have clearly done a great job convincing their customers of their need of their product, you yourself state that you use them full time while teaching others to do without them or to use them in the same manner in which you do. I feel sad that babies have to wear wearable toilets AT ALL, but just as you have a reason for using them in any capacity, I am sure that other mothers, and the corporations that sell to them could offer similar excuses for doing them same.

  4. Avatar Anna on September 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I’m genuinely confused as to why someone would seek out a page/group whose entire topic was something they were vehemently opposed to. It has never occurred to me to find a page that I feel strongly against (I considered giving an example but I don’t want to invite drama), then start arguing with the members about how wrong they are. If you don’t believe children can control their bowels until age 3 or 4, and anything else is abuse, then why on earth would you be on a page called “Go Diaper Free”? This boggles my mind.

    I traditionally potty trained my two girls around the age of 2.5. I never considered that there could be another option. The one time I saw a reference to “babies are born potty trained”, I dismissed it as a crock of shit (ha). I often knew when they were pooping and waited until they were done bc it never occurred to me to do any differently.

    Then I had my son, and commented in a mommy group that he held his pee while sleeping; then soaked his diaper within a minute or two of waking. His poop signal was also very obvious. Someone suggested taking him potty and initially I dismissed it as absurd, but the thought was planted. I researched, was fascinated, and gave it a shot. The very first time, he peed in the potty after waking (he was 2 months) and I was hooked! I’ve practiced EC part time ever since (he’s almost 11 months now). His pee signal is pretty subtle so I work on intuition and timing for the most part. Some days I catch almost everything. Most days I catch about half of the pees and most, if not all, of the poops. Some days, I’m too emotionally/mentally exhausted to put forth the effort, so I catch the obvious ones and use diapers for the rest. Will he potty train sooner than my girls? No clue. Do I feel like offering him an alternative to sitting in his own feces is abusive or extreme? Nope. Do I judge other parents for choosing not to practice EC? Absolutely not. It makes me a little sad at times, but how can I judge someone for something I used to do?

    To sum it up, if something offends you, move on. Yes, we have been conditioned to not consider an alternative to diapers. No, most of us have never thought about what our not-so-distant ancestors did before diapers existed. Yes, babies can communicate their needs and shouldn’t be ignored (would you ignore an obviously hungry baby?). Is it reasonable to think that the population at large should suddenly accept the practice? Nope. But if the idea is never planted, how could someone even consider it?

    Cool it with the mommy wars. We’re all doing the best we can with the abilities and knowledge that we have. We all love our babies!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 15, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Anna – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for sharing your personal experience. It is really a great read and I think you are a perfect example of someone who wasn’t doing EC from the start of having babies who has since learned about it and it’s totally working. Kudos. And thanks for not participating in the Mommie Wars :) xx Andrea

      • Avatar Julie Rose Bower on September 16, 2015 at 1:16 pm

        Hi Andrea, I think that the challenge when promoting EC is the emotive and taboo nature of the toilet in our culture in general. I therefore try and keep the most level and gentle tone possible when discussing my EC practice. I think that referring to non-ECers’ children as ‘shitting themselves’ may be a large part of why you got the response you did. Any reference to faeces and urine as filthy and disgusting is unhelpful here. Swearing in relation to children’s’ behaviour is taboo in itself so particularly in writing, best not to do that.

        While I agree that there is plenty of scope for being angry with The Man and greedy corporations, I don’t feel that grassroots political decisions are made by railing at an abstract target in this way. Going against the cultural norm isn’t easy so everyone that does EC is probably best served by not behaving like a berserker defending the cause. EC is only one small part of parenting and none of it is easy!

  5. Avatar Emma on September 16, 2015 at 3:45 am

    I actually think that a huge part of the problem is that diapers/nappies are just so darn easier! We live in a society of busy-ness, with so mich expected of parents and so much to get on and do and so much pressure, that a EC is an inconvenience of having to go against the perceived norm, having to pay much more intimate attention to our babies, having to deal with bodily functions, having to wake ourselves up a bit to what our culture has conditioned us to and having to go against the grain – all of which take effort and all of which take time and/or energy away from other mummy efforts that bring more obvious and societally rewarded benefits. Unfortinately we live in a world currently where peopme don’t want to more our of their ignorance for fear of inconvenience to their chosen lifestyle. Think about obesity – the majority of people know about healthy eating and which foods are better for them, but fast food tastes so good and is so convenient, why would they stop? The same is true in many cases with diapers/nappies. Also in a culture where mums are expected to return to work so soon after having a child and where daycares are not suffiently staffed or set up to care for muliple young children who require the attention and care necessary to help them toilet in an EC way, nappies/diapers are a crucial element in enabling that.

  6. Avatar Heidi on September 16, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I agree with everything that has been said. I do think, however, that there may be an element to readiness for certain children. My eldest would refuse the toilet every time she was teething which was almost always until she got the last of her 2 year molars in. However, because she already knew how to use the toilet, she completed on her own as soon as all those teeth came in. I frustrated myself trying to get her to complete sooner when she couldn’t handle it.

    That said, my second was a completely different story. She was lazy and just didn’t feel like doing what she knew how to do. She needed some coercion, and then she saw that I was serious. Perhaps if I had been more consistent with her through babyhood, that wouldn’t have been necessary, but one never knows what might have been.

  7. Avatar Andrea Reed on September 16, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Great work as always! And perfect timing for what I have been witnessing lately.

  8. Avatar Jennifer Ascani on September 16, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    I’m so sorry people were being nasty, Andrea. For those of us to do and have ECed… WE understand. The Bible verse, “Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do” comes to mind. Most people just don’t KNOW about EC and then for whatever reason, when the are presented with this “new” (or rather old) way of thinking, they reject it and get VERY defensive. That I do not understand for when I learned about EC when my son (who is now 4) was 18 months old… I shouted for joy!!!! It just made sense to me. I’ve noticed it’s very hard for people who grew up believing one way is THE WAY, for them to open their mind to the possibility there my be a better way. And I do hate to say this, but in my experience, I’ve also come across LAZY parents (“Oh, that just sounds like way TOO much work!”) who take the most convienent approach that fits into their previous lifestyle. And before anyone can comment, I have had a few friends who I’ve shared EC with that have actual said, “I’m too lazy to try that!” And “We’re comfortable just using diapers. Going to the potty all the time would disrupt our routine.”

  9. Avatar Ev on September 16, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Was reading this when my five week old started farting. We part time ECed my first and definitely want to do at least as much with kiddo number two, but I’ve only been doing a little bit of cueing waiting for life to settle a bit (ie visiting family to leave!) to really start taking him to the potty. So back to the farting newborn, I started cueing him and realized the irony of the situation so I actually took him to the potty and had a catch! Yay! One less diaper to rinse :D thanks for the motivation to start!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 16, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Synchronicity!! Love it. Thanks for sharing your day :)

  10. Avatar Corinna Riginos on September 16, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I have had the same thought process as Andrea so many times when I have watched other kids around. But I think this raises a really important question for people like me who really believe in EC: how do you talk about it with others without sounding judgmental or like a total weirdo? I find myself not sharing publicly that we do EC way too many times (not denying it, but being shy about taking my baby to the toilet in front of people we don’t know too well).

    • Avatar Kimberly Bostwick on September 16, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      I do the same thing Corinna! I feel super strongly about EC, and how amazing it has been for building trust in my relationship with our daughter…but I have never posted about it on social media or even talked about it with many of my friends. Why? I don’t know…because I don’t want them to feel bad about letting their babies go in their diapers, I guess. The few I have explained it to, when we arrive somewhere and I excuse myself to go to the restroom with our girl. They say – oh, I can hold her – and I say “oh, no thanks, I offer her the potty after we have been traveling for awhile.” If they ask more questions I explain it as “I watch for her potty cues, just like her hunger and tired cues – and offer her the potty when she needs and and also at natural times like when she wakes up, etc.” Most of the time the conversation ends there. If they show interest I tell them about our EC community and Andrea’s books that have helped so much.

      • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 16, 2015 at 6:09 pm

        Yes – I’ve been told many times that someone will hold my baby when I don’t have to go…she or he does. :) Thanks for sharing what you do, too, Kimberly.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 16, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      I just don’t say anything. :) Unless asked.

  11. Avatar Andrea Olson on September 16, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Then I shall update this post to “they” because you and one other gal called it judgmental against the parent and if she’s the one who went off, my apologies. Note there are no people named here. Thanks for clarifying.

  12. Avatar Jonathon Mirza on August 3, 2016 at 5:44 am

    I think all children should be kept in diapers till they are 21 and then given the opportunity to make an informed and educated decision as to weather or not they wish to toilet train or continue using diapers. Using the toilet is not our choice as parents, we force that choice on our children, and forcing a child to do something they do not want to is wrong, unless it is to keep them safe. There is no harm in wearing and using diapers, just change regularly and keep the diaper rash cream free. (one tube free in every pack of diapers)

  13. Avatar Catalina on October 6, 2019 at 3:29 am

    Hello Andrea, first of all let me tell you that I admire your views. I must admit I can’t follow all your advices for a number of reasons but I do my best with my 6 months old son. I started the so called EC stuff before knowing is EC because of my mother who advised to put my son to poo on the potty as soon as I feel comfortable because this is what she had done with me back in the days. This worked very well for us for a few moths now. Family tradition should have been stronger than mass media in this regard. I can’t imagine how our mothers’ advices where replaced by a corporation’s interest. I’ve been told as well that a baby can’t control his sphincter, yet I see it so obviously he is doing the pushing when pooping or peeing. There are certain areas where I believe research made us smarter in raising our babies, like it is the information on not puting salt in their food until they turn one and more the same. Mothers have to analyse if a given advice is in somebody’s business interest or not, because if it is, that advice should seriously make the mother skeptical. I hope someday EC will be something you are told about by your doctor as your option as a mother and will be not regarded as some weirdo hippie stuff.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 13, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Catalina! I am so glad your mother was able to tell you about EC!! I think that’s the thing most parents don’t understand, EC isn’t all or nothing. If all you want to do is have baby poop on the potty, that’s fantastic! I do hope one day EC is mainstream. xx Andrea

  14. Avatar Kiera on June 12, 2020 at 12:24 am

    Yep, our society trains kids to crap in their pants until they’re 2,3 or even 4 years old. Then we get frustrated when a child struggles with potty training. That’s on us for training them to crap their pants instead of watching for their cues to take them to the toilet to empty their bladder and bowels. It’s bizarre and a bit insane that we train them to defecate in their pants.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on June 12, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Kiera! I agree, it doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately most parents don’t know there is another option. Hopefully EC will become mainstream soon. xx Andrea

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