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Yes, you can start EC at 12-18 months of age. And finish.

Translations of this post: Spanish

Pros and Cons of Starting EC with a Young Toddler

You can start potty training at 12 months old with elimination communication.

Okay, okay. I just did that for Google. So people can find this post. You are not actually starting potty training at 12 months old...with EC, you are starting to tune in to your baby's needs, learn his or her patterns, and beginning to potty baby. can finish potty training by 18 months old!

(Yes, yes. I did that for Google, too. You'll be finishing EC at 18 months old, not potty training. You get my drift.)

First I'd like to explain something...then you can watch my short video on this topic.

You're not too late!

Did you know that you can start (and finish) EC, both!, between 12-18 months old?

Most people who start with an older baby (aka: Late Start EC - although that title discourages people so I've stopped using it) are here because of 1 of 2 things:

  1. they didn't know EC existing until today, or,
  2. they were so overwhelmed with having a new baby that EC fell to the wayside...and now mama and daddy are emerging from the new baby bubble and are ready to give it a go.

And then sometimes they don't.

Guilt can be a terrible thing, really.

But, even and especially in the face of that guilt, I want to encourage you to start EC between 12-18 months...because by starting, you can also finish!

(Btw, 12-18 months is Montessori's "sensitive period" for toilet learning. READ: it's easy in this window.)

(How? Start with my book - at whatever age your baby is 12-18 months today. It has a hybrid plan, a pure EC plan, and all the building blocks to potty independence so you start out on the right foot. Starting blindly? It sucks, trust me! You'll probably give up! Start with my book. Then...finishing. Finish with my Wrap Up minicourse - at 16-18 months or start finishing right after you start starting. Make sense? Beginning to end. 6 months. Done deal.)

So, back to today's video. Pros and cons.

This video covers what's great about this age (and what's a challenge - including how to solve those challenges). It is only 6 minutes long. Go:

You'll learn:

  • why this "sensitive period" is easier than waiting til your child is 2 to potty train
  • what skills your 12-18 month old is developing...and how they will fast-track their potty learning
  • whether cotton pants or PullUps are recommended in this age range
  • how you can actually set up completion while starting EC during this age
  • at what ages your child's brain is primed for retention of the whole process. and,
  • just how recently parents did exactly this (toilet trained at 12-18 months of age)!

Watch it and be amazed. Then...

Please comment below with whether you started EC at this age (or whether you're planning to after reading this) and how it went!

Looking forward to seeing where everyone judgment zone!!! <3

xx Andrea

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Resource Recommendation

Potty Time Master:  a MiniCourse that helps you get extremely good at detecting the 4 ways to know the baby has to pee.

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 Kate on September 25, 2017 at 7:36 am

    We tried at 12 months. It went okay for a while, though she wasn’t signalling or initiating or anything. After a while she became so resistant that we would have had to forefully hold her down (and she’s strong) so we stopped. I plan to try again at 18 months, which is the next time I have a block of time to commit to it.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 25, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Hey Kate! So sorry to hear this happened for you. It would have definitely helped if I had gotten my Potty Pause course out before that happened (it is out now at – but if you wait until 18 months to try again, go ahead and potty train with my book – it is faster and much more in line with her 18 month needs! is my book for 18 months and up. You’ll do great! Resistance is a SIGN that you should wrap it up and make a decision, as a parent, to stop using diapers. Use either tool above. You’ll do great. And note that I also have a wrap-up course if you DO want to wrap up with pure EC or a hybrid of EC/potty training – xoxoxo Andrea

    • Avatar Blessedmomof6 on October 4, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Hey, I’m a mom of 6 and ALL mine were potty trained no less than 18 months. The youngest being 14 months ( that late because she started walking later at around 13 month) in my opinion.. the sooner they can walk. They’re ready to go.

  2. Avatar Lauren on September 25, 2017 at 10:19 am

    We started EC at 14 months with the help of your book. Our daughter wasn’t talking yet so we had a lot of misses the first few days but over time my intuition kicked in and we started having more catches. I’m happy to say she’s been diaper free (except at night) since 17 months! She’s 23 months now (and just started saying poopoo and peepee) and no one can believe she’s been out of diapers for 6 months already! Thank you so much!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 25, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      And that, my dear Lauren, is *exactly* what I am talking about in today’s video!!! You are a perfect example. Thank you so much for sharing your success. Even if you start in this window, you can finish in this window, and all babies are totally capable of this. Thank you SO much for sharing this – and also for sharing the reality that babies can be ECed…and out of diapers during the day, permanently…even if they do *not* signal. They eventually do! Yours did! Yes!

      I get way too excited about such things. Congrats you guys. :) And thanks again for sharing this with everyone.
      xx Andrea

  3. Avatar Jeph on September 25, 2017 at 10:35 am

    With all the change we have had, I wasn’t able to be consistent with EC from birth, though we have used it during transition times pretty much all of his life. In the last few weeks he is seeming to really master the skill (he is 16.months) he is putting almost all bowel movements in the toilet and probably 80% of wet, though I am not training for naps or nights. I need my sleep! Those will come soon enough.. thank you for encouraging us to wrap it up at this age. I truly believe he is ready,

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 25, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Hey Jeph! Nice to see you here. Thank you for sharing so honestly what you’ve been through. Transition times, first of all, are so awesome. They are so valuable when doing EC part-time. Priceless, really. I’m glad you’re saving nighttime for later in order to get your sleep – yes, self-care! And yay for LO for mastering getting most of his refuse into the potty. You guys are 95% there. Remove those diapers, do a little training, and you’re a done deal. ;) Much encouragement to you – you’re doing great, esp given all you’re going thru! xx Andrea

  4. Avatar erinfontanilla on September 25, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Hi Andrea,
    I just found your materials and purchased your older toddler book. I wish I knew about them sooner! My son is 2.5 and has Down syndrome. He is walking, very active,learning signs and wants to communicate, but has very limited speech. I don’t want to wait until he is 3.5-5 which seems to be a more typical range to potty train a child with Down syndrome. Do you have any experience with your method working with children who have DS? Thank you!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 12, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Erin!! Yes, one of our coaches in Colorado has ECed two Downs babies with much success, so potty training would naturally also work. Feel encouraged!!! These children can also be pottied from birth. Definitely! Any age! xx Andrea

  5. Avatar erinfontanilla on September 25, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Also, if he is developmentally more around the 18 month mark, would I use your earlier book? Thanks again!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 12, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      I would use the potty training book BUT I would be very patient! It will be a more physical, less verbal process, very do-able. :)

  6. Avatar Zayra on September 26, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Hi! Thank you so much for this quick video! We’ve been very loosely doing EC w/ our youngest daughter. We started around 7 months and she now does her morning & after nap pee and poo in her potty. We are able to catch a few pees during the day. We recently started putting little undies on her but not every day and not all day. We cloth diaper at home an use disposables when we are out. She just turned 11 months so I’d really like I jump on the ball on this and get rid of diapers all together. My biggest concern is when we are out and about or when someone else takes care of her. Do we just take her little potty with us everywhere we go from now on? How do you tell caregivers that she’s potty learning without them looking at you like you have 2 heads? Lol Do I just say, “hey, here is my 11mo old, she’s potty learning, here’s her potty.” Any tips on this, and traveling outside the home on a day to day basis, would be great! Thank you!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Zayra! Funny you ask, as I just created a new minicourse on this topic of Outings…it’s called EC While Out + About and has a TON of example videos of how I potty my babies while on the go (I do it with all 4). As for caregivers, just send your child in a cloth back-up (training pants or cloth diaper) and give them some back-ups in a wet/dry bag as well. Have them potty baby at the normal transition times you use at home, or with any signals you can tell them about. I outline this with an example video in my Wrap-up minicourse, which will also help you finish it all up! Enjoy this process!!! xx Andrea

  7. Avatar Eleanor on September 29, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Hi! Great video, thank you for posting it! It’s funny how my 14 month old has run through the signals you mentioned (diaper patting, hiding, running to me with his little potty).

    I have your book EC Simplified but was too overwhelmed when he was younger to begin. But now I can tell he is well into the sensitive time to learn.

    What resources should we refer to next? Should I read EC Simplified still, or skip it and move to the next book(s)?
    Also, he has trouble sitting on his Fisher Price Froggy Potty. He can’t seem to get onto it without help, and I think he likes feeling independent.

    Should I work on that with him step-by-step, or get a different potty? (He gets pee and poop shy if I hold him above the grownup toilet.)

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 16, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Eleanor! You are so very welcome. Sorry for my delay in replying…sometimes I can’t find the newest comments LOL. Okay, so, what I would do is wrap up with my potty training book. Do the ease-in period for as many weeks as you like. Use ECS for your next baby. :) And replace the potty with a smaller mini potty – see some options on my Supply List page that has a gallery of potties that I like. Unfortunately the Baby Bjorn small potty is no longer available…but I’ve used the bEco with much success. Best of luck – you’ll do great in this sensitive period. And no worries for not starting sooner…as I’ve said, it happens to many many many of us!!! :) xx Andrea

  8. Avatar Laurel on February 24, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Hi Andrea, thanks for all the great resources! My daughter is 13 months, and we’ve been doing EC since 11 months. She’s doing really well at home, mostly diaper free with only a few misses here and there. I use a diaper backup when we aren’t at home, but she’s started getting really upset, not wanting to go in her diaper when we are out. I started keeping a potty in the car, but don’t always have it on hand, and she won’t go when I help her sit on a big toilet. Any advice for transitioning to being diaper free out of the house? Thanks!

    • Avatar Jennifer Thompson on April 23, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      Hello! Not sure if you will see this as its two years later. I started my daughter at 11 months but we are two weeks in and its really not going great. We are home almost all the time with COVID< so lots of time to go diaper free and offer potty. Any tips for your daughter I would love to make as much progress by 13 months.

      • Avatar Andrea Olson on April 24, 2020 at 3:06 pm

        Hi Jennifer! I am so glad to hear you are starting your EC journey! It will take a little time to get going starting at this age. Diaper free time and using undies or trainers will really help her start using the potty. xx Andrea

  9. Avatar Jess A. on March 23, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    Hello! We’ve been EC since birth. Babe is now 14 months. We’ve been catching his poops regularly for most his life, but pees are so hard! Around 5-6 months (if I remember correctly) he started signalling pees, but then that disappeared and hasn’t really returned. At this moment he almost always pees while eating or drinking water. He also has started grunting (which was our cue for pooping) for pees. But then we get him on his potty chair, and he gets restless and crawls off and then pees shortly after. If we keep him on the chair he screams with discontent. If we offer him a pee when he’s not interested he screams his head off too. (we’ve been saying pissy-pissy, like here kitty since birth). I swear he just doesn’t even realize he has to pee until it’s coming. Except when he signals by a grunt or patting at his diaper, but then nothing comes until he’s back to doing whatever he was up to before we interrupted him. Oh! Sometimes he false signals bc he wants to sit on the potty and read books (for him I don’t think it’s a false signal). Lots to unpack here, thank you!!!

  10. Avatar Gosia on March 24, 2018 at 2:27 am

    I introduced a potty at 6 months and quickly started catching a few pees a day based on timing and most poos based on a very obvious poo face. Did diaper free time on a semi regular basis drawing attention to her pee when it happened and then at 11-12 months WOW she actually started requesting the potty with a little grunt and even nodding yes to the question “potty?” Started waking up with dry diapers too! And then at 13 months… suddenly screaming and refusing the potty and back to wet diapers after sleep and lots of poopy diapers. Now at 14 months I have coaxed her back to at least sitting on the potty with books and am back to occasionally catching pee/poo based on timing. She sits there forever and wants me to just read books, getting angry if I try to leave. I’m so disappointed, things were going so well. What do I do from here?!

  11. Avatar Jane on August 10, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Hi Andrea,

    My 14 mont old is in daycare, so I don’t have any input on his pottying during the day. At home, we have a small potty and I sit him on it in the morning and after meals. He’s recently started to sit on it when he has to pee or poo (occasionally, let’s say 15% of the time).

    What material should I be reading to start ec with him, or is it not possible when he’s in daycare?


  12. Avatar amanda on February 4, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    hi ,

    I bought x2 top hat potty from you 6 months ago.. but just have NOT been able to get round to using them or my head around catching baby wee! I was also waiting for her to sleep through the night. I hope I may be able to manage it now she is 13 months. Sleep is a little improved and I may have the wear-withall to give it a go, so I’ve bought yr book through amazon Uk. Can I get the MP3, digital version etc… by accessing the book owners resources page on the web site?

  13. Avatar Alexis on February 10, 2019 at 8:43 am

    I have (identical) twin boys who just turned 12 months two days ago. I kind of tried EC a couple times but with twins it’s so hard and stressful to watch for cues from two babies at once. They don’t even show any, even with poop! They’ll just start going. And then if I try to catch it they get startled no matter how slow I move. I cloth diaper AND handwash said diapers (and most other laundry) so I’m definitely determined to try again now. I have no money as I’m a SAHM and twins run dad’s bank dry so I’m relying solely on free information from the internet!

    • Avatar Erika on July 3, 2020 at 3:55 pm

      I haven’t done EC with my son, and he’s 14 months. He recently just took to his toddler bed painlessly, so I started to potty-train him today using the method I did with my daughter which was naked 4 days saying “oh you’re going pee; that goes on the potty”. I did read your book btw, which I think contributed to my daughter’s success. However, perhaps my son is too young for that particular approach?

  14. Avatar Emma on November 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    I have just realised e.c exists and it makes so much sense! Don’t know why I didn’t think about it sooner. My son is nearly 12 months and has just started walking. I have tried a couple of times to hold him over the potty or to put him on it and he just has a meltdown! Gets really upset and all the times I have done this he has then wee’d afterwards on the floor. I’m not sure how to get him happy with the potty or being held??? Is it just perseverance? I’m not sure if he’s just objecting to sitting down? Or something else?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on November 24, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Emma! It is so great you are starting EC!! The thing to keep in mind is that all he knows is diapers, so he doesn’t understand what you are trying to do yet. Grab my book and read up on EC, do your observation, and then dive in! As you continue to do diaper free time and EC he will get the idea. xx Andrea

  15. Avatar Karla on June 3, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Andrea, I first came across your website when my eldest was 3 month old, and we had great success doing EC with him. He was pretty much potty trained from 1 yr old.

    I’ve tried to to the same with my younger boy, who is now 1 and it has been a lot harder with him. First of all he tends to do number two’s 4 times a day (as opposed to our older one who would go first thing in the morning and that would be it). And while we try and give him an opportunity to go after every meal and fist thing in the morning. He just refuses to be held over the potty/toilet and basically straight legs us! Only to poo as soon as I’ve put the nappy back on. It’s quite frustrating. I’m not sure what to do. Can you give us any tips?


    • Avatar Andrea Olson on June 5, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      Hi Karla! I would try sitting him on a seat reducer on the toilet. Then use distractions to keep him happy, books, toys, singing, etc. If he is 16 months old or older, you can actually do potty training with him. It sometimes works better with more stubborn kiddos to just go all in. xx Andrea

      • Avatar Karla on June 5, 2020 at 8:17 pm

        Thanks so much for the tip! I will give that a go and fingers crossed!

  16. Avatar Lisa Elena on July 2, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Hey Andrea. I could use a bit of advice. We love EC and have been intuitively doing it since my my daughter was 6 months old. She’s mostly been pooping in the potty since then. She’s now turning 18 months later this month (July) and I feel she’s ready for me to give this EC/potty training a more committed effort. When we have calm days at home she’ll go diaper free without a problem and is pointing at her diaper and verbally telling me when she’s peeing. I’m headed to your store to buy trainer panties, but thought if you can recommend me a resource of yours for our situation? Also – I saw your potty books for children are sold out. Can you recommend another children’s ec/potty book? Thank you for your work! All the best!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 3, 2020 at 5:21 pm

      Hi Lisa! This is the perfect age to wrap up EC! There are three ways to do that. 1) Ditch awake time diapers, move to undies or trainers and bump up to full time EC. 2) The hybrid plan that comes with Go Diaper Free. 3) A potty training experience. All three are great options, just choose what you feel will work best for your family. The board books will be in stock at the end of the month. There aren’t any other EC board books out there, so nothing I can recommend unfortunately. xx Andrea

      • Avatar Lisa Elena on July 4, 2020 at 11:29 am

        Thank you! We’re skipping the diapers now at home and are looking forward to receiving the tiny trainers! Thank you for the other two suggestions.

        • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 4, 2020 at 5:06 pm

          My pleasure! You are going to love the tiny trainers, so darn cute!!

  17. Avatar Lana C Bear on November 3, 2020 at 12:42 am

    We’ve been doing EC since day 1 with our son. He’s been exclusively pooping in the potty since 6/7 months old, but pee has been harder to catch. He was clear signals for poop (and lets us know!). We read the potty training book, and decided it was time (he is 15mo) and naked observation days didn’t show us much, as we still don’t see any signals/signs/cue’s from him with pee. The other 3 roads to potty we can juggle, but it’s been a week and although we’re letting him wear tiny undies and pants inside, we’re not having a lot of success catching pees. Any tips?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on November 4, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      Hi Lana! I’m not sure how long you have ben working on potty training, but if things aren’t clicking it can help to go back to the very beginning. It will help fill in any gaps in learning. Also be sure to join the book owner’s support group, the coaches and parents there are a great help. xx Andrea

  18. Avatar Jessica on November 4, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    HI Lana! I have two sons. With the first, we started potty training from day 1. With the second, we didn’t bother to start until many months later, based on our experience with the first.

    Pees are tough to catch! Is your child walking? For us, that was when we noticed both our boys seemed to “get it” cognitively. Maybe there is a developmental milestone that corresponds?

    The other crazy thing is that it always seemed like it was going NOWHERE, and then BAM one day there was a click for the child. Of course there were still misses, but there seemed to be an unpredictable click for each of them, sometime after walking.

  19. Avatar Kaleen on December 10, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    My son is 13 1/2 months old. We have been doing this for a couple days now. I’ve been getting a little discouraged. I’ve learned his signs for pee and poop and have been focusing on the easy catches. He will sit on the toilet no problem. We can read books and sing songs. He will even just sit. But every time he gets off the potty, he take two steps, and poops or pees. There has been so much on my floors. I don’t know how to get him to actually do it in the toilet. I’m not sure if it’s me or if it’s just him or if it’s the potty.

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 11, 2020 at 6:55 pm

      Your little one might respond better to my hybrid plan, have you read that section in the book? I also have a great podcast on peeing 5 minutes later. Here is the link:

  20. Avatar Brittany Murray on December 12, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I am somewhere in the middle of “coming out of the baby bubble” after being overwhelmed during the early months and having learned about EC 6 months after baby was born. I have your book and I’ve just started really diving in now that I have some tools (a bjorn mini potty and toddler toilet seat and your baby board books) and this post was SO encouraging to me that I am hitting a good window with baby about to turn 12 months old. I thought I’d missed my chance because the kiddo squirms off the potty as soon as I sit him on it before bath time. :( We’ve done a little practice with sink peeing as an experiment, but again, I have just started your book, so I am sure to be more informed and confident as I finish. Bookmarking this page for future reference. Thanks again (and wish me luck – haha).

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 15, 2020 at 4:49 am

      Wishing you luck! 🍀 (Even though I don’t think you need it.) I know you will do great!💕

  21. Avatar Nan Winkens on March 26, 2021 at 5:08 am

    Hi! We started EC around 5 months and it was pretty succesful! I remember his face during that first pee, so awesome!
    At about 9 months, we only cought poo for a while. It seemed that during teething catching pee was a lot harder. I found it harder to read the signs. Now he is 11 months and we hardly catch anything. I don’t recognise any signs anymore. Also he’s teething non-stop. A lot of crying when I put him on the potty, with or without toy. Do you have any advise?

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on March 29, 2021 at 7:03 am

      This is a common age for regressions, and it certainly seems like the teething is causing some resistance to the potty. You can stay the course and just go for the easy catches or even do a reset and take a break. Do which ever feels right for you and your little one. 💕

  22. Avatar Deborah on July 9, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    Andrea, you say that the child (and parent) can learn EC within the 12-18 mos range. My daughter is almost 16 mos and we’ve been trying the hybrid plan this past week and she’s starting to understand the cue but we haven’t figured out the signal for her to want to go to the toilet and she is non-verbal. While this is easier for us at home (given the close care etc), I am finding that it isn’t something that the daycare workers are picking up on. I don’t know how to deal with this and am nervous that this is negatively impacting her if she is unable to communicate with the staff about her needs. Do you have any recommendations for this? Also, would it be better to get her out of daytime diapers and into trainers or undies? Would it be problematic to continue to keep her in cloth diapers when we go out for longer periods away from home?

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on July 14, 2021 at 3:47 am

      I highly recommend trying to het your little one out of daytime diapers and into trainers or undies.

      As far as daycare goes. If they are not on board, you can request that they take your little one when they would typically do a diaper change on the other kids.

      It won’t be damaging to put her in cloth diaper when you are out and about, though putting her in undies with a waterproof cover might be better. Either way, just tell your little one what is going on. And if you do use a diaper, treat it like she doesn’t have a diaper on, and you will be good. 👍

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