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I’m Sierra. I live in the Boston area with my family.

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Infant Potty Training

by Sierra on May 20, 2009 · 23 comments

in parenting

While children are clearly ready to potty train at different ages, I don’t think it was entirely luck that landed me with less than two years per child of diaper duty (my youngest was out of diapers at 18 mos, the oldest right around her 2nd birthday)IMG_3898. So with the caveat that you could follow all the advice I’m about to dole out and still be changing diapers on your four-year-old, and that would be fine-if-tedious-for-you, here’s how we did it:

1. Cloth diapers. Cloth diapers, even the fancy ones, feel wet when they are wet. This is uncomfortable, and helps kids know what is happening in their pants.

2. Potty, potty, everywhere. I left several small potties strewn about the house. The kids found them, played with them, wore them as hats, sat their dollies on them – and finally peed in them.

3. Just bare it. At home, I left my toddlers naked. Being bare-bottomed helped them recognize when they needed to go. Yes, I had to clean up a few puddles, but we have hardwood floors, and the quick potty training was well worth a few messes.

4. Model good behavior. Let the kids watch you use the bathroom. Having a tiny person peering between your legs while you’re on the toilet might be awkward, but it’s a great way for kids to learn what’s going on there.

5. Expect success. The Very First Time each girl peed in the potty, I took her out of diapers. With both girls, my plan was to put them back in diapers as soon as they needed them. Neither kid ever did. Both were sleeping dry at night from the first day. Neither ever had an accident in a public place.

A lot of these techniques are used in Elimination Communication. The one book I read, which I found helpful, was The Diaper-Free Baby. The book, and the EC movement, advocate never using diapers, even with a newborn. As I mentioned above, I used cloth diapers on my kids until they were able to use the potty on their own, so I can’t really speak to the infant aspect of the approach.

A few things we did not try include:

  • candy
  • sticker charts
  • other rewards or consequences
  • fancy potty chairs
  • special potty books or toys

I think these things work for a lot of people, we just never needed them. Again, every kid is different, and will have a different timeline and set of needs for this skill. But it is a skill that just about everyone naturally acquires. I think in many cases it can be accomplished with speed, simplicity and little or no stress. Hopefully our family’s approach will help a few of you who are going through it now.

If you have additional resources, anecdotes, or tips, please share them in the comments.

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  • Molly

    I don’t have any data, but I did do some EC with my kid from about 2-9 months, and let her come in and pee with me all the time. She also just woke up one day, right after her 2nd birthday, ready to use the potty. I think that with her, rewards would have been counterproductive. As it was, it was just something she wanted to do one day. I feel pretty lucky.

    [Reply]

  • Molly

    I don’t have any data, but I did do some EC with my kid from about 2-9 months, and let her come in and pee with me all the time. She also just woke up one day, right after her 2nd birthday, ready to use the potty. I think that with her, rewards would have been counterproductive. As it was, it was just something she wanted to do one day. I feel pretty lucky.

    [Reply]

  • Ellen

    6. Have only girls. :) Boys, on average, take longer to get it than girls. Alas.

    [Reply]

  • Ellen

    6. Have only girls. :) Boys, on average, take longer to get it than girls. Alas.

    [Reply]

  • tribalbaby

    Apparently the average is only three months difference between boys and girls, hardly worth mentioning!

    Um, the ‘EC Movement’ doesn’t advocate never using diapers, even for a newborn, that is crazy really.

    You can ease into EC gradually, using diapers or nappy backup. MOST people do it this way. I actually don’t know anyone who never used any sort of backup. I wonder that it may be an urban legend by now!

    We have diapers, can use them, at some points they are gradually replaced with washable trainers, or knickers.

    [Reply]

  • tribalbaby

    Apparently the average is only three months difference between boys and girls, hardly worth mentioning!

    Um, the ‘EC Movement’ doesn’t advocate never using diapers, even for a newborn, that is crazy really.

    You can ease into EC gradually, using diapers or nappy backup. MOST people do it this way. I actually don’t know anyone who never used any sort of backup. I wonder that it may be an urban legend by now!

    We have diapers, can use them, at some points they are gradually replaced with washable trainers, or knickers.

    [Reply]

  • tribalbaby

    Oh!
    Can I post a link?

    http://www.PartTimeDiaperFree.com

    My new site – a free guided tour in starting part-time baby pottying or EC, and an online course and other resources too.

    [Reply]

  • tribalbaby

    Oh!
    Can I post a link?

    http://www.PartTimeDiaperFree.com

    My new site – a free guided tour in starting part-time baby pottying or EC, and an online course and other resources too.

    [Reply]

  • http://childwild.wordpress.com/ Sierra

    The EC movement doesn’t advocate a diaper-free approach? If using these techniques as an alternative to diapers is an urban legend, it’s one being widely promoted by authors, websites and e-mail lists. Of course you can use EC techniques with an older child, and do them as much or as little as you like.

    I don’t think it’s crazy to forgo diapers entirely. It’s a simple fact that most of the people who have ever lived on this planet have never come into contact with a diaper, and they all figured out how to manage their waste. I know several people who’ve had success with EC from day one. I am just not one of those people.

    [Reply]

  • http://childwild.wordpress.com/ Sierra

    The EC movement doesn’t advocate a diaper-free approach? If using these techniques as an alternative to diapers is an urban legend, it’s one being widely promoted by authors, websites and e-mail lists. Of course you can use EC techniques with an older child, and do them as much or as little as you like.

    I don’t think it’s crazy to forgo diapers entirely. It’s a simple fact that most of the people who have ever lived on this planet have never come into contact with a diaper, and they all figured out how to manage their waste. I know several people who’ve had success with EC from day one. I am just not one of those people.

    [Reply]

  • tribalbaby

    Hi Sierra,
    No, that’s NOT what I said at all! Sorry if I made it sound like going diaper free was an urban legend – but I meant diaper free from birth – they simply go too often, and I think that telling people that this is the reality (no diapers ever) simply puts people off the idea!

    I was meaning that MOST people use diapers as backup – I’m talking about in the west of course. At later stages (like after a few months) there are many situations when your baby is easily diaper free – in arms, for naps, etc, yet on the run they’ll wear a diaper usually – no-one really wants to have their baby wee on someone’s floor if they can help it!

    Myself, we used diapers on my first son for 4 months, then hardly ever after that. We used training pants as backup on outings, at peoples homes and so on, at home he was nakey bum a lot.

    I’ve read all the EC books, am on most of the lists, and they all talk about using diapers as backup. ‘Diaper Free’ is the goal, the mind-set, you know? I too have had success with EC from day one – I’ve practiced it since birth woth both my sons, and I soooooo love the connection, after 4 years, it is still just as thrilling to me to communicate with my baby and get a poop in the pot! Gush, gush, gush…

    I considered my son ‘diaper free’ as we didn’t use them as a toilet for him – as a backup for accidents instead, if that makes sense.

    Even those I know who are really into EC, still use trainers of various types, but the goal is always to STRIVE to meet your child’s needs.

    It’s great fun. I LOVED that I never used diapers on my first son at night, by 7 months he was simply sleeping naked in our bed! (or with a top) – made it easy to offer a wee in the bowl if he needed it.

    I am sadly so devastated that I can’t do the same with my second son, though I’ve tried! He has Talipes and wears a brace at night, which neatly holds his legs in the elimination position, so I find it hard to catch his signs at night – so disappointing, though we do have some dry nights.

    I’ll be using eco disposables at night when I get some soon, for now I just use a flat diaper between his legs and change it when wet…

    [Reply]

  • tribalbaby

    Hi Sierra,
    No, that’s NOT what I said at all! Sorry if I made it sound like going diaper free was an urban legend – but I meant diaper free from birth – they simply go too often, and I think that telling people that this is the reality (no diapers ever) simply puts people off the idea!

    I was meaning that MOST people use diapers as backup – I’m talking about in the west of course. At later stages (like after a few months) there are many situations when your baby is easily diaper free – in arms, for naps, etc, yet on the run they’ll wear a diaper usually – no-one really wants to have their baby wee on someone’s floor if they can help it!

    Myself, we used diapers on my first son for 4 months, then hardly ever after that. We used training pants as backup on outings, at peoples homes and so on, at home he was nakey bum a lot.

    I’ve read all the EC books, am on most of the lists, and they all talk about using diapers as backup. ‘Diaper Free’ is the goal, the mind-set, you know? I too have had success with EC from day one – I’ve practiced it since birth woth both my sons, and I soooooo love the connection, after 4 years, it is still just as thrilling to me to communicate with my baby and get a poop in the pot! Gush, gush, gush…

    I considered my son ‘diaper free’ as we didn’t use them as a toilet for him – as a backup for accidents instead, if that makes sense.

    Even those I know who are really into EC, still use trainers of various types, but the goal is always to STRIVE to meet your child’s needs.

    It’s great fun. I LOVED that I never used diapers on my first son at night, by 7 months he was simply sleeping naked in our bed! (or with a top) – made it easy to offer a wee in the bowl if he needed it.

    I am sadly so devastated that I can’t do the same with my second son, though I’ve tried! He has Talipes and wears a brace at night, which neatly holds his legs in the elimination position, so I find it hard to catch his signs at night – so disappointing, though we do have some dry nights.

    I’ll be using eco disposables at night when I get some soon, for now I just use a flat diaper between his legs and change it when wet…

    [Reply]

  • Mike

    I love this article and the blog!

    [Reply]

  • Mike

    I love this article and the blog!

    [Reply]

  • Lazar

    I love this article

    [Reply]

  • Lazar

    I love this article

    [Reply]

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