Why newborns cry while peeing: This common phenomenon can unnerve any new parent!
So today let’s talk about why babies cry while peeing.
You hold your newborn baby over the potty, as carefully and calmly as you’ve been taught...and then your baby begins to cry!
Talk about something that can both unnerve you and cripple your confidence in elimination communication.
Why does this happen? And what can you do?
First, don't panic. Okay? Okay.
This is actually a common phenomenon, and also one that I've experienced personally. We're going to talk you through it today, so hold on to your postpartum sweatpants.
You will learn:
- What crying while peeing can really mean
- Methods for soothing your baby through this phase
- What to do when negative self-talk creeps in
- About the fourth trimester
- More options to hold your baby over the potty comfortably
- When to rule out possible health reasons with your pediatrician
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- Go Diaper Free Supply List
- Dunstan Baby Language
- EC Classic Hold
- Kushies Waterproof Pad
- Podcast Episode 38 - Sound Associations
- Baby Leggings and Warmers
- Dr. Sears Baby Book
- Baby Meets Potty Minicourse
- Free Observation Log
- The Tiny Potty Training Book
- Top Hat Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Easy Start Guide for EC (Free Download)
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
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 43, why newborns cry while peeing.
Okay, so, on today's show we are going to talk about a very common phenomenon, why do newborn babies cry while they're peeing? "I thought you told me that EC is good for babies, Andrea? Why would my baby cry? It sounds like, I don't know, am I hurting them? Is she uncomfortable? Does she really not want to do this? What is the deal here?"
So, you guys, I hear this all the time and I've also experienced it with my own babies, and I would like to talk about this and give you some solutions for ways to soothe during this period, and also share one of our readers’ tips at the end of the show. So, stay tuned for that.
So, first of all, the show notes for this episode are going to be at godiaperfree.com/43. So, anything I mention in today's show you can easily look up there, and yeah. So, let's talk about this problem. First of all, if you've never done EC with a baby before you're probably going to go into it feeling really, like you don't have any confidence, you're probably going, "Will this even work for me?" And so, you're already going in with a little bit of self doubt, and with everybody who you know, if you've told them about it, going, "Oh my gosh, you're crazy. Why don't you just let a baby be a baby and put a diaper on them?"
But in your heart of hearts you know that babies haven't actually used diapers for all of human history, and is that really right for all babies? Is that what being a baby even is? So, maybe in your head, my point is, you're going through a lot of self doubt and you're going, "Wait, maybe everybody is right, because now my baby's crying when I'm offering the potty and they're a newborn." And from anybody else listening in on this, “I'm probably doing it wrong, or this just isn't what people have done for all of human history.” You're really confused, maybe.
Okay, so, before I get on my soapbox on all that other stuff, you can listen to all my other podcasts episodes for opinions on all of that, but let's just talk about biology for a second. Baby comes out of the womb. They are still not able to hold up their head. They can't really focus very far from their body. You really have to give birth to your baby, because if their head got any bigger you wouldn't be able to birth your baby, but your baby's not really quite able to be in the world in a comfortable way yet.
And with a newborn you always have to put an extra layer of clothes over what you're probably wearing. You want to keep your baby warm, socks on their feet, hat on their head to keep their body temperature controlled until they can self regulate that. There's a lot of changes that happen in this, what we call the fourth trimester. The first three months after a baby is born.
So, newborns will... Their only way that they know how to communicate at this point, and for several months from here, is by crying. Even making eye contact, looking your way, gesturing at something, can't really happen yet. They're going to cry for every single need, whether it's a discomfort, or they're hungry, or they need to go to the bathroom, or whatever it might be. So, you're not necessarily... They're not necessarily crying out of pain, and I think that we probably, often think, "Well, they're probably in pain, because that's why my older kids cry." Or, "That's why I cry."
Now, it's not necessarily pain, newborns are crying to communicate. And any of Dr. Sears books, especially the Baby Book, will tell you that babies cry to communicate. So, first, we just want to solve that riddle. The second part is, everything is new. So, even the sensation of going to the bathroom, in your womb they were not peeing and pooping, in your womb the umbilical cord was pulling everything out, putting the waste into your system where you would excrete the waste.
So, the sensation of peeing and getting those pipes going can often feel really new, and some babies, depending on their temperament, which they're born with, they will either resist that feeling and go, "Oh, that feels... I don't like that feeling." Or they'll go, "Oh, that feels really good and now I'm really relaxed, and I'll just fall asleep on the potty."
So, we have a very large range of possibility of how the baby is going to accept this new feeling of needing to pee, or, of going to the bathroom. Peeing or pooping. And honestly, that would happen whether they're wearing a diaper or not. So, the act of doing EC does not cause your baby to cry, it's not painful. What it is, is just an expression of, "Hey, this is new."
The second thing it could be, they could be crying because they're cold. Now, again, like I said, my midwives with my first birth said that you need to layer your baby one layer thicker than you're wearing. So, if I'm wearing a tank top, I'm going to put my baby in a short sleeve. If I'm wearing a long sleeve, I'm going to put my baby in a thicker long sleeve.
So, we want to have an extra layer until they can regulate their own body temperature a little bit better. And they might be cold when you take their pants off to go pee, so in this case we want to keep leg warmers on them, socks, long knee high socks, if you have them, chaps. All of this stuff is on my supply list at godiaperfree.com. Just click on supply list.
You will see all the places to get these kinds of things, but basically, with your really, really tiny newborn baby, you don’t want to keep them cold when you remove their diaper to offer the potty, so that they can stay as comfortable as possible.
And again, we're doing EC to keep them comfortable, and to honor their instincts that they're expressing through another cry. If you want to decode all the different cries of a newborn, the discomfort one is the closest one I could find to the EC cry, "I need to pee." But listen to Dunstan Baby Language, or find her videos on YouTube. Very, very helpful.
So, anyway, back to this. Sometimes babies cry while peeing, because all they want right now is snuggles, and they want to be in the womb, and they want, you know, they want to hear you, smell you, feel you, be really close to you, and some babies want a little more snuggling than others.
Between my five children I've actually had a variety of whether my babies are really snugly or not. So, different babies want different levels of comfort. So, how to solve this. We want to make the baby comfortable by using a different position, and also by soothing in route to the body.
So, first of all, as you take your baby to the potty, or if you're just sitting in your bed and using a Top Hat Potty, which I'll link to in the show notes as well, it's a great newborn potty that you hold between your legs. Maybe you're immediately postpartum. You started moment one like I had with all my kids, you don't really want to get up and take them to the potty, so you're doing it in your bed. You're going to, as you pick them up and position them, make soothing noises, help to relax them, "Shh, Shh, Shh, Shh. It's okay, it's okay."
And help them know that it's okay to be in the world and to feel these sensations in their body, and that they're okay and they're comfortable. Get them as comfortable as possible en route to the potty. If it's a slightly older, couple week old, maybe five week old, six week old, as you walk towards the bathroom you're just going to, "Shh, Shh, Shh, Shh." And soothe them and hold them close.
And then we are going to, not abruptly, but very gently turn them into position of the EC classic hold. There's a picture of that in my book and a few places on my blog, but basically, you're holding them with their back leaned up against your chest. Their head, and back, and neck are all supported by your body. And you're holding your hands underneath their thighs. And you're not holding too tight, we don't want their feet turning purple. We want to hold them comfortably and safely.
So, if they cry in that position there is another position, and going to try to get a picture of this position to put it on this blog post. Worst case scenario my easy start guide shows this position, I believe. You know, I make so much stuff that I'm not really sure. I'm just going to definitely put it in the blog post.
You're going to cradle your baby while in classic hold. So, you're going to make a little nook by bending your elbow, have the baby's head in the crook of your elbow and their bottom is basically going to be where your hand is, because they're very small. And with that hand that their bottom is in you're also going to hold their one thigh, so they're kind of, facing upward, and you want to hold the other thigh with your other hand and then aim, if you need to use your pointer finger to push the penis down so it'll aim into wherever you're aiming. So, they're in a cradled classic position. Hopefully I did a good job of describing that. That often will solve a baby's fussiness.
The other position that will work too, is the bottom back position, which I created and made up when my first was little, because he did not like the classic, he did not like the cradled classic. He was not also very snugly.
To this day, he's getting there, but he's still not very snugly. What you do for this, is you hold them over a pad or the edge of the sink, but usually just a pad on your bed, a waterproof pad, and you hold them by their waist with your fingers holding their neck up, because they have no neck control yet. And you shift their body back a little bit while their feet stay where they are. So, you're not putting pressure, you're not making them stand, but you're holding them in this position that moves their bottom back behind their feet a little bit so that they can pee there. So, that's the bottom back position. Another alternative for positions.
All else fails, lay them on a waterproof pad. My supply list has one. I'll also link to it in the show notes. The Kushies Pads, I love at the moment. I've had them for eight years, the same exact ones. They have PUL back and a cloth top. So, this is a waterproof pad. You can also use a piece of wool with a cotton blanket or something on top of it, or a pre-fold. But basically, you're going to lay them on the pad, and when they go, especially if you're recovering from a cesarean birth, you're going to lay down the pad, when they go, you're just going to do sound association and let them go on the pad.
And this is covered in episode 38 of this podcast. Sound association and all the observation stuff is there. But this is an option for if no position is working. You're going to use this temporarily, just for a few weeks. And you reintroduce these easier positions later on.
Again, you're going to soothe them through it, help them understand, "This is the way your pipes work, this is okay, this is your plumbing." Introduce them, and be with them just like you would comfort them for anything. Again, crying is their only way of communicating at this time, it does not necessarily mean that they're hurt.
Now, if you have intense crying and it persists every time they pee, you're going to want to rule out a UTI -urinary tract infection. For that you're going to go to your pediatrician, get your baby tested and just rule that out, because sometimes babies can get UTIs and EC is a really wonderful way to get an early alert that, "Hey, something actually is wrong, and I need to go see my pediatrician." So, definitely do that.
And you might, if you're really unnerved by this whole newborn crying while peeing thing, even after everything I've just said to you, don't worry. Just wait a few weeks and start EC then. This too shall pass. Everything in EC passes so quickly. Everything with baby passes so quickly.
We want to help the baby be comfortable, help the baby be less fussy, help honor their intuition, their born instincts, inborn instincts to not soil themselves, or better, you. So, we do EC for these purposes and if it's stressful, you want to keep doing it, keep doing sound association, but maybe just start actual pottying in a few weeks, and that is totally fine too.
And by the way, you can do EC part-time. We cover this every single time. You can do EC part-time. So if this feels like too much, go for every other pee, go for just the morning pee, just try to get the poops. Be easy on yourself and hang in there, because newborns crying, for a mom, is like nails down a chalkboard. And that's good, because it keeps the human species alive and surviving. But it also, it's hard to deal with crying and, especially if you have older kids. I feel ya, I get ya.
Alright, so, now, over on the show notes, it's on my blog at godiaperfree.com/43. I want you to tell me there, does your newborn cry while peeing? Do you need some support? Have you figured out a solution that I didn't name? Or did one of these work for you? Please comment over there, underneath the show notes there on my blog. I would really love to talk to you over there, I answer every comment.
Also want to offer a resource, if you don't have my book, Go Diaper Free, it's for zero to 18 month babies. I highly recommend this. It covers this and all the other little intricacies and things that nobody else will know how to help you with, because nobody you know does EC. That book is great. If you don't have it, definitely grab a copy.
And then I also have a minicourse. So after you've gotten the book, you can add on all these minicourses on specific areas that our readers have reported, that, basically they have trouble with.
So, one of them is called Baby Meets Potty, and it contains all of this unpublished video of me starting from birth with all five of my children. The very first catch, the very first pee, the very first poop. So, if you want to see newborns crying while peeing, and what I do to soothe them, you would be very helped by getting that minicourse as well.
And now I want to share a tip from one of our readers, and this is a very succinct thing. Cordula T., one of our readers says, "Ignore all the critical voices and just go for it." So, if you've got critical voices In your head, and your baby's crying while peeing and you feel like, "Oh my gosh, I really want to do this, but I just can't." Just ignore all the critical voices. Don't tell anybody what you're doing and just go for it.
Your baby and you will be so much happier by going through this journey, even super part-time. So, I just want to encourage you, I want you to feel encouraged, and also, I want to share one other tip from one of our readers. R. McGuire from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says, "Patience, Patience, and consistency is my number one tip for all the parents starting EC. Baby will eventually trust you and the process, so don't count the misses or setbacks. Patience."
Alright, we got that? You guys, thank you so much for listening. This has been the Go Diaper Free Podcast at godiaperfree.com. Show notes are at godiaperfree.com/43 and I will see you next time. Thanks so much.
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Does your newborn cry while peeing? Have you figured out a solution that I didn't name...or did one of these work for you? Please leave a comment below with your experience!
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 10 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.)
I find that my baby (now 3 months) will sometimes cry right before she pees and relaxes after. So, I treat it as an early warning signal to get her on the potty asap if it’s not a routine-based potty time. However, if she’s crying too hard, I have to soothe her enough for her to relax to pee. She is also more likely to cry on the potty if she needs to poop.
Hi Anna! It sounds like you have done a great job figuring out your daughter’s signals. That is great! xx Andrea
I remember my babies cried at times . and I would hold them over the sink . with their feet in my right hand knees bent and cradle their he’d in my left hand. And just put my head next to theirs and talk soothingly till they relaxed and went.
Hi Corina! What a great way to soothe your baby, thank you for sharing! xx Andrea
As was stated, babies cry to communicate. I believe that crying can be a way of saying: wow, I need to pee, and man that feels better now that I have. Sometimes I cry when I’m happy, sometimes because of frustration, sometimes I don’t even know exactly why. As a side note, babies do pee in amniotic fluid, and I’m pretty sure that they poo also since meconium can be in amniotic fluid since that is a tool used to assess stress in a baby…although it doesn’t seem likely to happen often since it indicates stress.
Hi! Exactly, crying is communication! xx Andrea
Interesting post for all parents, I guess. I started EC in with my 1 week old baby, morning catches only, and I was quite confused about the crying. We had the impression that the classic EC hold was not comfortable for him and used the craddle position. I think after 1-2 weeks he got used to this experience…
It is very common for new parents to feel confused in the beginning. I’m so glad to hear you worked your way through it. xx Andrea
We started trying ec at 2 months. It was going pretty well but now at 2 months 3 weeks she’s beinginng to resist wanting to ec. She’ll straighten her legs and cry and we end up not doing it. Then a few minutes later she’s pooped in her diaper.
Hi Lori! I would try a different position or sitting her on a potty. Things like running the water, singing, etc will help her relax. xx Andrea
She isn’t really resisting (as in I don’t want to ec!)…she’s fussing because she needs to go, and she may not be able to relax, or maybe what she’s feeling is new to her, and she’s not happy about it. Try nursing her while you ec her, sometimes the comfort of nursing makes them just do what’s needed.
Very good advice Suzy! xx Andrea
Thanks for the advice! Just starting with the newborn and crying is hard to hear…how long should u wait for them to go before changing positions etc? And always offer pee and poo noises?
Hi Ali! You don’t want to hold them over the sink/potty for very long. If it isn’t working, try again later with a new position. And yes, you always want to cue. Just make sure to work on the association during observation. Congratulations on your new little one! xx Andrea