Diapers. Everyone knows about them. Every single parent in this country and many others around the world is faced with changing diapers. This task is often seen as one of the least glamorous parts of becoming a parent, and rightfully so because it can get pretty gross. Diapers have become such a huge part of our culture that we fail to realize there is an alternative. In many other countries around the world, diapers are not a reality of parenthood.
What if your child could be potty trained by the time they walk? What if your child could tell you they need to go before they even start talking? Many people refer to this as “Elimination Communication.” I’m not a huge fan of this terminology. It sounds gross and confusing to me. I prefer to call it “early potty training” because, well, that’s what it is.
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Early Potty Training: My Experience
I want to start by saying that all babies are different. My first baby took to early potty training flawlessly. We started when he was 4.5 months old and by his half birthday, he was consistently using the potty for 9 out of 10 times he needed to go. He was diaper free 90% of the time before 18 months.
Our second baby humbled us greatly. We totally thought we were parenting geniuses and baby potty whisperers when our 6 month old baby was basically potty trained. However, this routine did not work with my second baby. Now at two and a half, he is just BARELY starting to potty train. I might have been able to find another method of early potty training, but in the craziness of adjusting to a mom of two under two, I just didn’t put the effort in.
I’ll say it one more time, this method definitely will not work for all babies. I am very confident that it could work for many babies and it is worth trying, but it’s definitely not a sure thing.
I discovered early potty training shortly after deciding I would cloth diaper my first baby. I LOVED the idea of cloth diapering and all of the many benefits. The one thing I DIDN’T love is that once the baby starts solids, (tmi) the poop has to be rinsed off before you can wash the diapers in the washing machine. I couldn’t commit to this. I was pregnant with my first baby and I hadn’t faced the dark, disgusting side of parenting yet. After over four years of parenting, rinsing baby poop doesn’t seem like the grossest thing I’ve had to do as a parent. But I couldn’t handle it when I first set out.
Then I came across “elimination communication.” This is the practice of learning your babies cues for when they are going to “eliminate” and taking them to the toilet or training potty. This seemed so much more manageable to me. When my baby was about 4.5 months old, I ordered a training potty from Amazon and we got to work! So that’s how we got started with early potty training. Continue reading to see the method we followed and the supplies we used.
Early Potty Training: Method
Like I mentioned above, I started around 4.5 months, but in many countries around the world they start this practice at birth.
Give baby the opportunity to use the potty when they first wake up in the morning, from naps, and before bed.
Your baby will also have their own cues that you will learn over time (grunting, farting, holding their breath).
I also want to mention that I didn’t use this practice out of the house. I personally don’t like using public restrooms and I held out for as long as possible to have my son use them. He was completely diaper free by 2 years old, but honestly didn’t need them after 18 months or sooner.
Undress baby from the waist down.
Sit baby on the potty. If they are younger/smaller, hold them in a seated position on the potty, supporting their head if they need it.
Say “go potty” and if you want to, sign it as well. This is totally optional, as is this whole process, but it will help your baby learn to tell you when they need to go. Click here to learn the sign!
After the deed is done, get excited, praise them, and sign potty again. This reinforces that they did what you wanted them to do.
If it doesn’t seem like they are interested in going, take baby off the potty before they get too fussy. You want to avoid having negative emotions associated with the potty. Try again after the next nap or feeding.
Every baby is different and you have to learn your baby’s signals. It’s really easier than it seems! It’s all about patience, consistency, and repetition. It was all worth it to have my son out of diapers so early!
Supplies I Use
Arm & Hammer Potty – I love this potty. It’s cute, it has a lid, it can be used as a step stool and the seat part can come off to be used as a transition seat on the toilet.
Kids Built-in Potty Seat – I can not tell you how great this seat is, especially having a child who can go to the bathroom on their own. I love that it snaps into the lid when you’re done with it. All of my mom friends comment on it when they take their littles to the bathroom at my house. It’s less gross and less bulky than the removable ones. They have round and elongated so make sure you are getting the right one!
Kandoo Flushable Biodegradable Wipes – Flushable wipes are amazing. Their poop is still messy and even though it’s not ALL OVER the way it would be in a diaper, but having the wet wipe is essential to keeping a baby’s bum clean. My 4.5 year old still uses them to make sure he gets totally clean.
Step Stool – Again, with a child who can go to the bathroom on his own, a stool is a must so he can get on and off the toilet. Now that he’s a bit older, he stands on it to pee. I also really liked having the stool during training to sit on so I’m not sitting directly on the bathroom floor.
I’m currently trying to potty train my almost 2 year old. Thanks for these great tips. I’m a big fan of baby sign language too!
I love this!!! My daughter is 10 months and I would definitely love to be diaper free by 18 months! Saving this for reference!
My daughter just turned two. I need to get on this lol!
What an interesting approach to start so early! I would have never thought to begin the process at 4 months old, but it actually makes sense the way you’ve broken it down. We are about to start with our 18 month old and this is motivating me to actually get going. 😉
Interesting! I’ve read about this before.. not sure it’s for me but I love reading about different ways to teach!
We’ve been practicing using the potty since 7 months. Between 9&10 months he was pooping in the potty most of the time. He is now almost a year & I feel like we’ve gone backwards, no poops in the potty for weeks & barely any pees. Any thoughts or suggestions?
Consistency is the biggest factor. Just be super diligent for a few days about taking him potty a couple times an hour. Even let him go diaper free for a day or two if possible!
Yes hey will have a small regression just like sleeping.. just keep going it will come back and probably be easier to go diaper free soon. Just keep trying