Anneliese peed in her potty three times today. Three!

What??? WHY? She’s a BABY!

You may or may not have noticed, but I briefly mentioned a while ago that I was interested in trying elimination communication with Anneliese. Basically, it’s the idea that if you notice signs that your baby needs to pee or poo, you can help your baby be more comfortable by letting her do it in a potty instead of her diaper. I wouldn’t want to pee in my pants and sit in it till someone decided to change me (no matter how frequently they changed me! — especially if I didn’t have the communication skills to say, “Dude, I’m wet.”), so why would my baby?

It works the other way too, where you can communicate to your baby that now would be a good time to pee (before going to run errands, for example, or before a nap) and if she can, she can eliminate and be more comfortable for a while. Exactly the same as telling your toddler (or teenager) “Why don’t you try to use the toilet before we start our road trip?” or yourself peeing before a class or long conference.

So to me, the idea just makes sense. Why not? No pressure, no insane celebrations if there’s pee in the potty (well, no celebrations obvious to the child), no punishment or demeaning if the child goes in the diaper (duh, it’s a baby). Just, “Hey, you wanna pee now? Yeah? cool.” or “No? That’s fine too.”

Also, the fact is, when babies start eating solid foods (or anything other than breastmilk) their poos get gross. We all know this. And there are flushable diaper liners (that go on top of the cloth inserts), and diaper sprayers to help you put the poo in the toilet where it belongs, but wouldn’t it be nice if I knew when Anneliese needed to poo, and she knew how to poo in a potty, and she didn’t have to have poo on her bottom inside a diaper, and I didn’t have to deal with poo laundry? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Yes, that.

So how do you do it? How do you start?

I don’t know exactly how other people do it. I mean, every family is different. Every baby is different. What works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for me and won’t necessarily work for you. Some people see the “signs” from Day 1, and are able to “catch” a lot of pees and even poos early on. I didn’t. My baby was nursing ALL THE TIME, so would usually pee while nursing and I wouldn’t notice any signs at all.

I just knew that I had to change her diaper about a million times every day. I tracked the times I changed her diapers, nursed, and when she took naps, and noticed no. pattern. at. all.

Some people have diaper-free time, so they can get to know their baby’s signals. Maybe wiggly legs or a certain face or sound beforehand. Like I said, my baby was nursing constantly. And I didn’t want to be peed on, so we didn’t do that.

Some people hold their baby’s naked bottom over/in a bowl or small potty WHILE nursing, to catch the pees. After a couple attempts at that, I decided it was too uncomfortable, a ridiculous position for us, and that I would probably spill any resulting pee in my lap, thus defeating the purpose of the receptacle.

How’s Anneliese been doing with it?

We really haven’t tried a lot. The early stages (first 2-3 months) because of near-constant nursing, it wasn’t something I was really interested in. Some EC folks on twitter tried to tell me I needed to start ASAP, or I’d miss “the window” and train my baby to be comfortable with sitting in pee and poo. I thought that was silly and didn’t worry about it. The few times I tried to hold her over her potty or the toilet (her back against my chest, my hands supporting her thighs), she was uncomfortable. It made her too stressed to even think about relaxing enough to pee, so she didn’t.

Once she could hold her head up better, I thought she would be more comfortable with me holding her in a sitting position ON the potty, instead of above it. She was much more comfy but her body wasn’t used to being in a sitting position like that, so she would try to straighten her legs. Again, too distracted by the New! Thing! She was sitting on! to relax enough to pee. So she didn’t.

We also did some diaper-free time on a towel on the floor while she played with toys, once she was comfortable being away from me for a bit. Usually she didn’t pee, and would get tired of being in one spot for very long (since she wasn’t mobile at all), so when she got fussy I’d put a diaper on her and hold her again.

All this time, I’ve been talking to her about pee and poo. When I change her diaper, I’ll say things like, “Your diaper was wet because you peed in it. Here’s a clean and dry one. Isn’t that comfortable?” And if I noticed her peeing or pooing WHILE I changed her diaper, I made a “psss” sound, then when she was finished, I’d say “You were going pee. You pee in your diaper, but Mama and Daddy pee in a toilet.” Just factual, objective things to help her be aware of the process of eliminating. But obviously, she wasn’t thrilled about the potty.

So I put the potty away again for a while. We visited family, we moved to a new house, and Anneliese started sitting up on her own. For long periods of time, to play with toys and whatnot. So I decided to try again.


What happened today?

We had been playing in the living room, and I figured it was about time for a diaper change and a nap, because she was starting to get less focused with her toys. So we went to her room and I took off her diaper, which was wet.

But you know how sometimes it’s cold-wet, so you know the baby didn’t JUST pee? It was that. Not the warm wet that makes you go, “aw I just missed it” (if you’ve been interested in trying to “catch” a pee in the potty). Lately she’s been going down for a nap and then waking up a few minutes later, probably because she peed… so I thought, “Well, I’ll offer the potty and see if she wants to pee before her nap.”

She loves watching herself in the mirror, so I leaned her mirror in front of the potty, and placed a stool for me behind it. I sat her on it, supporting her weight with my hands under her arms, and told her, “You’re sitting on your potty. You can pee and poo in it. Why don’t we sing a song?” Then I sang “Jack and Jill went up the hill” to her, hoping it would relax her a bit.

She smiled and laughed at herself in the mirror, and seemed at ease on the potty, so I said the “psssss” sound in her ear (the same sound I made before if I saw her peeing). And what do you know, but she peed in the potty. A LOT.

Was she excited? No… but she looked relieved. As I texted to a friend, her facial expressions and body language seemed to say, “Where’s my diaper? Why am I naked? Oh… we are singing? Okay, yay! … oh… I feel better now.”

Did I swing her around and kiss her all over and scream, “MY BABY IS A GENIUS!!! You peed in the potty!!! GOOD GIRL!!!”? Um, no. I was excited, but she’s not a genius. She did pee in the potty, and I told her so. And she’s always “good.” I said, “Wow, you peed in the toilet. It’s nice to not have to feel wet. Let’s put a dry diaper on you now and you can take a nap.”

Then I put a diaper on her, swaddled her, and she napped for over an hour (which is great for naps lately).

When she woke up, her diaper was still dry, and I offered the potty again. We sang, I asked her if she wanted to pee and made the “psss” sound and she peed again! Just a little, but there it was.

Later in the day, after playing for a while, I offered again and she did not pee in the potty. I told her, “No pee this time? Okay. Why don’t we put your diaper back on and go run some errands.” So we did. When we came back home (maybe an hour or hour and a half later) her diaper was wet.

When I changed it, I offered the potty again, and she peed in it again. Then went down for another nap. When she wakes up (it’s been an hour already), I’ll offer her the potty again. If she wants to pee, awesome. If not, that’s cool too.

It’s not about POTTY TRAINING your infant, or trying to get rid of diapers all together (though some people do). For me, elimination communication is about offering Anneliese an alternative to her diapers. Maybe it’ll mean less diaper laundry for me. Maybe it’ll mean less discomfort and better sleep for her.

Regardless, I’m excited to finally begin this journey with her, and hopeful that real “toilet training” later on will be more of a phasing-out-the-diapers than a bribe-filled “babies wear diapers but big girls pee in potties” frustration-filled guilt-fest. (I know it isn’t like that for a lot of people, but I’ve seen it enough times to hope that it goes more smoothly than that for us.)

And I’m glad I kept trying.

PS (I’ve also been signing “toilet” to her whenever I say “potty”… so hopefully before she can talk, she’ll be able to tell me with sign language, if she wants to use the potty, which will mean less frustration for her.)

PPS I want to buy/make a couple “splat mats” (waterproofed/laminated fabric) to go under the potty in case of mis-aimed pee. And another potty for the living room.

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  1. Do you have any advice on how a babysitter would best learn to do ec with a 10 month old, say they get the job, and that’s what the parebts are working on and want the babysitter to continue.

    • It’s best to talk with the parents about this kind of thing… what they generally do with their baby, what they’d expect you to be consistent with, and so on.

  2. With my son he could tell me as soon as he pooped, he HATED the feeling on his skin, which was ultra sensitive. So he just grizzled a bit and i soon learned that he needed his nappy changed.
    But my daughter was COMPLETELY different and never gave any signs of wet or poopie nappy, and so i had to resort to different methods of detection!
    Just to point out that what works with one, may not with another child.
    So many mums put pressure on themselves to conform to other people’s expectations. Good on you all for just having a go your own way!
    ps They are 21 and 18 now and STILL VERY very different people… Gorgeous but different.

  3. I really like this! What a low key non-stressful way to introduce the idea of peeing somewhere other than the diaper. My daughter is 13 months old and usually pees 10 minutes or so after drinking a bottle. Hah, she also gets down in a little squat position sometimes to go #2. I’m seeing the signs and people tell me I should start potty training her. While I think it’s too early for “potty training” this might actually be a LESS STRESSFUL way to introduce the idea. If it works great, but I’m not going to be stressed out on “trying to get my baby out of diapers”

  4. Does that make sense? It’s all one big experiment to me anyway — very low-stress, and I think it’s important to keep it that way. Which I know you already do.

  5. […] on the floor bed, to get comfy with it and associate it with happy feelings. Also, keeping up with elimination communication, even if I haven’t made any “catches” lately. Anneliese is comfy on her potty, and it’s a […]

  6. ECing is so rewarding! Makes you so connected with your baby and it really is cleaner and greener!
    Great post – makes it clear that we don’t stand around waiting for our babies to pee, we don’t force them and anyone can give it a go.
    I’ve had some funny reactions to ECing BiP – we are part time ECers and some days we don’t EC more than once but some think you have to be a crunchy earth mother who has nothing better to do than watch your baby pee … thanks for helping highlight that its not the case!

  7. I loved this post! I have read about EC but for the most part, had seen negative responses to it. It’s wonderful to see a mom with a baby that has a birthday days apart from my girl tackle it. I love that it’s nonchalant to both of you. Can’t wait to see updates in the future.

  8. […] month was also the real start to our elimination communication “journey” […]

  9. I just got back from Bali and all the babies I saw there were in underwear, not diapers. When I asked our driver about it, he said that they just pay attention to elimination signals from their kids and around 1 year, they’re mostly out of diapers unless running errands. Great to hear it working here in our culture too!

  10. Yesss! I do EC with my son too and he loves it. He hates being in a wet diaper and I love not changing them! It’s great.

    He likes being held over the sink against me best (we tried some other methods) and he really loves being able to see himself. I definitely congratulate him when he pees but I don’t make too big of a deal and when he decides he’s not in the mood I make sure he knows I’m fine with it. No pressure!

  11. OK. A. I’m so glad you blogged about this. I don’t think that all people understand you’re NOT potty training.
    B. Anneliese is AWESOME.

    That is all.


  12. You are all so brave. I think its a great idea. Although I fall more on the conventional side of potty training. We just did the naked thing with my oldest son when he was starting to show a lot of interest in using the potty. At 28 months he spent 3 days half naked with a portable potty in the living room and he figured it out…we have been diaper free with him ever since. Only 2 accidents and he gets up on his own to pee at night. Although the idea of ECing with my second son who is about to turn 1 sounds great….I just don’t have the time, its crazy I know, but watching for his cues is just about down right impossible for me. We are always running here and running there. I guess my only hope is that my littlest takes his cues from big brother and shows interest in the potty on his own and maybe sooner than his brother.

    You are right, we all have to find our own way. I do so appreciate hearing your perspective on different things. I look forward to seeing how this all works out for you!

  13. I’m with most of this. Sebastian wakes up dry a lot and he lets me know IMMEDIATELY when he needs to be changed. If I change him first thing in the morning I get peed on. He pees overnight of course, but he also does a pee in the first twenty minutes of being awake. I’m planning to get a potty SOON to start trying this. I’m a WAHM so shouldn’t be too much extra work.

    I am not sure how I feel about the praise issue. I see it a lot with AP blogs and I get it, but I also don’t see the harm in telling a baby Good Job! in an excited voice. An older child, I get it, their worth isn’t based on their bodily functions, but why not make it a fun time for a BABY, yanno? They are responding more to tone than actual words anyway. I’m sure that the first time Sebastian pees in his potty I am going to freak out with excitement and it won’t even be for his benefit!

    Great to see someone else who is doing this juts a couple months ahead of me so I can see your progress and gather motivation and ideas!

  14. Yay! Great stuff! It is wonderful to find another mama who has tried ECing and makes it sound realistic and approachable!

    Most people seem to think I sit around watching BabyinProvence waiting for her to pee … urrr I think not!

    BTW – we have the same potty!

  15. Awesome post Emily! just this morning, I tried making S sit on the potty but I think he found it way too unfortable. He poops first thing in the morning. So I scooped him from the bed as soon as he woke up and undressed him and thought I’d give it a try but he pooped 2 hours later than usual. I’ll try again tomorrow or the day after. I’m interested in reading more about your EC experiments with A. I like what you say about praising, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but what you makes a lot of sense.

    • Good luck with Siddharth! I’ll be sure to write more as anything interesting happens, and I hope you share your experiences with S (or any tips you may come up with!). 🙂

  16. Thank you so much for this blog post. Our baby is due in April, and I’m just starting to read about how to execute EC. I like the idea, even if it is a bit intimidating. Your blog post, in not being dogmatic, makes it seem a lot more possible. i also like knowing up front not to expect RESULTS…but just to keep on trying to be relational & mellow about it.

    • You’re so welcome! I’m glad I could make EC seem more approachable. It’s all one big experiment to me anyway – very low-stress, and I think it’s important to keep it that way.

  17. I am happy you are so motivated about the process. You are a great mommy!
    I have never heard that it’s not ok to praise when peeing on the potty? I had a very positive experience potty training my now 3 year old (she was 2 at the time and it was definitely not how you described–with bribes and stuff, she was totally self motivated and let us know when the time was right for HER) anyway, we did plenty of happy dancing and celebrating and cheering when she peed and pooped on the potty, still do in fact. She is happy and claps for herself too! It’s a pretty joyous occasion when you see your first “baby” become a big girl with big girl responsibilities. Just my two cents though. I think if I would’ve been like “meh. So you peed.” potty training wouldn’t have been near as fun for us. 😉

    • I think when it’s such a big transition like that, some degree of praise is necessary for sure – but it’s more like, “Aren’t you proud that you did that?” than “You’re a GOOD girl because you peed in the potty.” You know? Does that make sense?

      And an infant who doesn’t know any different… this isn’t a big deal to her, so why should I act like it’s a big deal to me?

      I’m glad your potty training went so smoothly and your daughter was so motivated. That’s awesome, and must’ve been a relief for you. It’s really hard for a lot of families, and causes a lot of stress in many cases.

      • I think what you said makes sense. That her self worth of being a “good girl” isn’t tied up in whether or not she pees on the potty….but rather, she would be good whether she peed or not. And we are lucky it was “relatively” drama free (I got a TON of support on Twitter lol) but she was nearly 3 when she was potty trained. I got a lot of flack for waiting so long but I am glad we did. It made it easier and a shorter less painful process for all of us. I just followed Dr Sears big bit of advice which is to HAVE FUN with it! 🙂

      • You got it exactly. 🙂

        And I think we all get “flack” no matter what we do, so it’s probably best to just go with what works for your family and follow your convictions, and not worry too much about what other people say. Which I know you already do. Cause you rock.

  18. LOVE this post! Too great.

    I know that Quinn has started telling me she needs her diaper changed. People think that’s strange since she’s “only” nine months.

    Hello. SHE KNOWS when she’s pooped. Haha. She crawls over and makes this little noise and I know it’s time.

    • That’s awesome. 🙂 And you’re so right – they’re much more aware than a lot of people give them credit for.

  19. I’m planning on attempting right away, especially for poop, but we’ll see how it goes 🙂 It sounds like Anneliese caught on really quickly, how exciting! Good point about the non-praise talk too, it’s not a “good job” to pee on the potty, it’s just a “this is something you did, and now we’re doing something else!” type thing.

    • Right. I think praise is great, when applied properly in the right situations. Pee in the potty is a matter-of-fact part of life, though.

      I hope it works out for you too! I had been wondering if we’d be able to do it at all… wondered if she’d ever “catch on” or be comfy with it. Looks like we have a good start now though!

  20. This is fascinating to me. I first found out about EC in a Mothering article, and would be interested to try it. My girl is 14 months old, so this would be a good time to start, especially since she’ll be walking soon. Do you like the potty you bought?

    • I thought that article was great – didn’t you? A really laid-back look at the whole thing, not “THIS IS RIGHT AND YOU MUST”, and they acknowledged that not everyone who ECs does it full-time.

      You can start any time – why not give it a shot? Just keep the laid-back attitude, and don’t try to force the issue… just… here’s a potty if you want it, kind of a thing.

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