I came across some information on “elimination communication” (or “EC”) while researching cloth diapers before our first child was born. It intrigued me. Then I met some people who had successfully done it. They had potty-trained their kids by about 12 months old. They pointed me to two great books on the subject (The Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh and Infant Potty Training by Laurie Boucke), and after reading those, I said, “Why not? Let’s give this a shot!” And so began the journey.
I usually get very extreme reactions when discussing this subject. People either love the idea or say it’s impossible. I don’t bring it up much in conversation anymore, unless I anticipate the other person will react positively, because the potential hostility just isn’t worth it to me. When I started this journey, I anticipated that people would think I was a little (or a lot) weird. I did not anticipate, however, that some people would practically sneer at me while telling me it can’t be done. (So here’s a heads-up on that for anyone who wants to give it a go.)
We can easily get caught up in the status quo around us and think the rest of the world does things the same way we do. In Laurie Boucke’s book on infant potty training, she discusses potty training methods around the world (in addition to the how-tos of infant potty training). It’s great to get some outside perspective and learn from other cultures and simply realize that there are other ways of doing things that may be better than what you see around you. Great food for thought, if nothing else.
The real question is…does it work? The short answer is yes. The long answer is that the results depend on the individual child, the personality of the parent and the amount of effort/focus put into it…as with any potty-training method.
I’m not an expert on this stuff. I can only tell you what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced with my own kids.
As I mentioned above, I started potty training my kids when they were each 10 days old. How do you get a 10-day-old to go potty? Well, as most any parent can tell you, you generally just take off their diaper and they’ll start to go when that cool air hits them. Rather than fighting against that reaction by covering baby back up with a diaper, you just anticipate that they’ll want to go and get it in the potty instead of a diaper. At 10 days old, the “potty” I used for my kids was a sturdy bowl that I would hold them over (the purple thing behind my son in the pic at right). With my first child, my son Devon, the very first time I held him over the bowl and said “Pssss” to cue him…he went. Even after reading two books that told me it was possible, I must say that I was still pleasantly surprised that my newborn just peed in a bowl for me. And with that….I was hooked on the idea.
Was Devon fully potty-trained while still an infant? No. But about 60-70% of his business was going in the potty versus diapers by around age 4-6 months. (I actually tracked it to see our success rate.) I first put him in underwear (for a few hours at a time) at about 15 months old, and he would keep them dry for several hours, going potty about every half hour. The key thing missing was for him to consistently tell us when he needed to go versus just going whenever we took him. That piece fell into place at 26 months. I had hoped it would be sooner, but I can’t complain. 26 months is still pretty good for a boy (at least in the US). In the meantime, we avoided a whole lot of dirty diapers. It took all the way to age 3.5 to get consistent nighttime dryness, because this boy sleeps like a LOG. Seriously.
Potty training with baby #2, our daughter Aria, has looked quite different. She’s #2, so I couldn’t spend as much time on pottying as I did with Devon. Mostly, I put her on the potty upon waking, before sleeping, at diaper change time, before meals, if we’re out somewhere and big brother needs to go, and if I happen to get to it
any other time I think she might need to go. I also did several diaper-free spurts along the way (a couple days at a time) to test out her readiness for moving forward in pottying. At 14.5 months, she began telling us sometimes when she needed to potty. At 17 months, she was doing fabulously and getting most of her stuff in the potty. However, then she started teething on all her canines and molars and pottying went out the window almost entirely. We started getting back on track around 19 months, but then we left on a 5-week road trip and had to put it on pause again. Aria is now 21 months and as long as I leave her completely bottomless (no diaper/underwear/pants), she goes on her little potty all by herself pretty much every time. Of course, going bottomless can only be done at home So we’re not done with her yet, but things are looking good.
If you want to give infant potty training a try, I highly recommend it. Read the books I referenced above to get lots of info, perspective, reasons, etc. It can be labor intensive if you go full-force, but ANYONE can handle the method I’ve used with Aria. It basically gets baby comfortable right from the get-go with the idea of going potty (outside of diapers), gets them started on it prior to hitting the age of defiance, saves diapers, helps prevent diaper rash, teaches them that the potty is not a scary thing, etc, etc, etc.
Want to try it but have questions? Or…Think I’m crazy? Leave me a comment!