How to Potty Train Your Infant (Elimination Communication)

Most people think of potty training as something you tackle in toddlerhood. But have you ever heard of potty training a baby? Today’s episode is all about elimination communication, a method some parents use with their babies to help them learn to use the toilet at an early age. We’re breaking down this topic with moms who have used this with their babies, as well as an expert who’s coached countless families through their elimination communication journeys to help you decide if this is the right method for you.

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Episode Transcript

Natalie Gross 0:07
Most people think of potty training is something you tackle in toddlerhood. But have you ever heard of potty training at baby? Today's episode is all about elimination communication and methods some parents use with their babies to help them learn to use the toilet at an early age. We're breaking down this topic with moms who have used this with their babies, as well as an expert who's coached countless families through their elimination communication journeys to help you decide if this is the right method for you. This is Newbies!

Natalie Gross 1:07
Welcome to Newbies! Newbies is your online on-the-go support group guiding new mothers through their baby's first year. I'm Natalie Gross, mom to a three year old boy and a girl on the way. We've got a great show today talking about elimination communication. Now if you haven't already, be sure to visit our website at And subscribe to our weekly newsletter, which keeps you updated on all the episodes we release each week. Another great way to stay updated is to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app. And if you're looking for a way to get even more involved with our show, then check out our membership club. It's called Mighty Moms. That's where we chat more about the topics discussed here on our show. And it's also an easy way to learn about our recording so you can join us live. Now let's meet the moms joining our conversation today. Tell us your name, location and a little bit about your family. Tara, do you want to kick us off?

Tara Garcia Mathewson 1:54
Yes. Hi, I'm Tara Garcia Mathewson. I live in New York City in Manhattan. I have a four year old girl and a nearly two year old boy. And I did EC with both.

Emilia Jahangir 2:07
And my name is Emilia Jahangir. Our family lives north of Boston. My little girl is going on four, and a second little girl going on to and I also did EC from birth with both of them.

Natalie Gross 2:20
Awesome. So how did you mom's first learn about elimination communication, and ultimately decided that it was the right method to use for your family.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 2:28
My husband actually stumbled across this. He was reading a blog post about things that you don't need to buy, we're pretty minimalist home. And it was a list of 10 things that you don't need. And so one of the things was like a crib, and it talked about the Maria Montessori method and not using cribs. And then it included diapers kind of facetiously, and then talked about the idea of elimination communication or natural infant hygiene. But this idea that maybe you don't need diapers with babies, and as we who use this, no diapers are there as a backup for most of us most of the time. But it planted the seed and we did some more research and decided it was it was a really good idea.

Emilia Jahangir 3:09
In our case, I also stumbled across a newspaper article. This was way way before I had children way, way before we were even talking about children. And the article had kind of a sensational headline saying that, Oh, my baby was potty trained by I think it was like seven months old. And that definitely piqued my interest. And I sort of kept it in the back of my mind. And when I was pregnant and sort of getting ready for the parenting journey, the thought came back up. And we researched more about it with my husband. And I actually know Tara personally, and her baby girl is four months older than mine. So I actually learned from her about what worked for her when she was doing elimination communication with her daughter. And she gave me a lot of pointers, you know, beyond the sensational potty training by a very early age, which was certainly attractive, I really was liking the aspect of hygiene, just the idea of a child sitting in their own waist for a long time and an adult knowing about it and not doing anything about it. That just seemed like a bad idea to me. And the other aspect of EC that really aligns with our ever forming parenting philosophy with my husband, as we came up with this idea of early exposure. So imagine the things you want for your child in the future, and why not expose them to those things early on. So for example, just because a child doesn't speak to, let's say, one year of age, it doesn't mean that we spent the first year of their life in complete silence, we always talk to them. So you expose them to language early. In my household we actually expose my children to three languages because we want to expose them to my native language, my husband's native language and English which happens to be, you know the language around us. Another example I like to give people is you expose children to good manners early. It's not like you will make us wedge from becoming very vulgar to suddenly became becoming very polite and you expect a child to make a switch from reality one, to reality to you expose them to the reality that you want for them. So the idea that, let's call it the conventional method, in our society is that at some year of age, and it's sort of an arbitrary potty training ready time, you make a switch from a diaper being a toilet, to a toilet being a toilet, it's actually a switch that a child has to make. But why not expose them to the, you know, the finite goal early, so expose them to the toilet from an early age, so they don't actually have to make a switch. They're just exposed to the toilet from the beginning. And they they know what it's for, and they know their bodily function in the process. So kind of a long winded way to say that this really very much aligns with what is logical to me. And it really worked well for our family.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 5:54
The other thing that really resonated with us is the idea of starting from birth. This is a time when you have a newborn, especially for the first time you're paying such close attention to everything they do, you come quickly to understand what kind of cry means tired, what kind of cry means hungry, or uncomfortable or in pain. So why not add at that stage of such close observation, the idea of paying close attention to figure out when the child might be making certain noises or faces or whatever to to indicate that they need to eliminate the need to use the bathroom. And so I'm a journalist, my husband isn't as an ethnographer. And so we were while I was pregnant, it was like, we're going to be so good at paying such close attention and figuring this out. And this is something that we can definitely do. And we just liked the the idea of the challenge of being able to closely find patterns and recognize what was happening with our baby.

Emilia Jahangir 6:46
So Tara, and I keep mentioning our husbands one thing that I'm often asked for is, Hey, is your husband on board with what you're doing. And I will say that it's very important to be a team about EC. It's very helpful that the whole household embraces the idea and the philosophy and we're in it together. And it's not just mommy's job to go toilet to the child. It's also daddy's job and, and I'm very fortunate that my husband is very much on board. And we are each other's support system along the way.

Natalie Gross 7:17
Yeah, well, thank you mama so much for sharing. I am excited to learn more after we take a break.

Natalie Gross 7:28
Today on Newbies, we're talking about elimination communication. Our expert today is Andrea Olson. She's the owner of the company's go diaper free and tiny undies and a mom of five children who were all out of diapers by the time that they walked. She's also the author of Go Diaper Free, tiny potty training book, The tiny potty bored book, The Night potty bored book and brave new birth. Andrea, thanks so much for joining us. Welcome to Newbies!

Andrea Olson 7:51
Thank you for having me.

Natalie Gross 7:53
Yeah. Well, I'm excited to talk to you today because I have started reading your book. And I'm very interested in this method. Because I also heard about it from Tara. We're old colleagues. And so she's quite the ambassador for it. Um,

Andrea Olson 8:07
I'm so happy to hear that.

Natalie Gross 8:10
Well, it's a start, what exactly is elimination communication? And how does it work?

Andrea Olson 8:16
Well, that's a great question. It's kind of easier to explain it as all mammals are born with instincts that keep them dry, right? Well, no other mammals go around with diapers on their babies. None were the only ones. So elimination communication is basically taking advantage of these inborn instincts for dryness, and to be clean. That our babies are all born with all babies of all human history. We're born with these instincts. And we moms and dads, and aunts and uncles and grandmas and grandpas and siblings are also born with this desire to be responsive to what the baby needs. And until pretty recently, we've always used a diaper as, as Amelia mentioned, as a backup. It's never been a full time toilet until the last couple of generations really, cloth diapers were invented a couple of 100 years ago, commercially available ones and disposable diapers were only invented in the 1960s. So what did we do before those? We did some form of EC or elimination communication. And that's basically you're following the baby's innate instincts. They do signal to go to the bathroom. When they're newborns. They usually stop signaling when they become mobile, because why would they need you anymore, they could just crawl off to where everybody else goes. But they are born expressing their need and their desire to stay clean and dry just like every other mammal. If you've ever held a very small puppy and they've wrinkled and wrinkled and you finally like okay, I'll just put you down and then they pee on your carpet. It's the same kind of signaling. It's not like hey, I need to go to the bathroom but it's like this uncut. have trouble squirming, usually babies will cry. And the mom will try everything and then check the diaper very last after they try to give them some maybe some breast milk or maybe rock them to sleep or shush them or put a pacifier in, when they finally get around to checking the diaper, they're like, Oh, you're dirty, or you're wet. You were crying because you were dirty or wet. But actually, the baby was crying before that, to try to get the mom to take the diaper off so that they could go hypothetically, because if you think about it, if babies were not born this way, and parents were not born to respond, our human race would have died out a long time ago from disease, because babies would have been peeing and pooping all over the cave. It's just not the way we're designed. And we're designed to really work in unison together. And yeah, the modern world definitely makes it harder. So with EC we definitely adapt it to the modern age, we have carpets, we have clothing, we have toilets, instead of squatty holes that you squat over. We have a lot of things that we have to sort of navigate, and we're way busier way more distracted, I'm sure Tara and Amelia can resonate with that I've got five children, I've got two businesses, there's a lot going on. So I imagine that before diapers, and before anybody was told any different by any company trying to make billions of dollars off of them, which the diaper companies do. Before all of that when we were connected to our intuition into our babies, we would just respond and not have them in a diaper from the very beginning. Now nomadic tribes would have them in a sling. And they would, the baby would recoil. They'd pull them out of the swing, point and shoot towards the bush, they'd go to the bathroom, they put them back in the sling, they probably would nurse breast breastfeed right there. So they're basically riding along until they're more mobile. So when you think about what did babies do before diapers, etc, is generally your answer. And then yeah, like one of you mamas said, we totally use diapers as a backup instead of a full time toilet. And when one of my coaches that I trained, we have groups all over the world, led by my certified coaches, and one of them was like, Hey, this is the one thing that everybody has to just shift and then ECE makes more sense. You're not using the diaper as a toilet anymore. And it never been brought to me that way. I was like, Oh my gosh, that's so true. That's exactly what we do. And it's all I've ever known. All my babies were started right at birth, and they were all out of diapers by walking, and I hardly had to change a poopy diaper. And really, it's not a trick that only my children can do. Because I'm the expert on the topic. It's literally applicable to any baby from any walk of life, any age zero to 18 months. And really any developmental delays or things those also don't really matter. All babies are completely equipped. And all parents can learn how to do EC from as early as birth.

Natalie Gross 12:56
That's so interesting to me. So day one, what do you put them in?

Andrea Olson 13:00
I was cloth diapers all the way with the first baby. And the other four because they were not my first baby. I use disposables and with my, let's see my fourth baby. compostable diapers became my thing that I loved using because I use diaper with a y- D-Y-P-E-R. There's no other diaper that makes me feel like okay, this isn't actually terrible for the environment within 75 days, it can biodegrade. I'm cool with that. So I with such a tiny baby, it's really hard to use cloth in my opinion with my babies. They're so small, and I couldn't really get it to work. So even with the first baby, I use disposables for a little while. But no matter what kind of diaper you use, you're usually going to use something because a newborn doesn't want to pee or poop in it. So if you have them naked all the time, they really don't have a reason to signal to you. So I definitely recommend using diapers as a tool. Because if they have it on, they're going to want it to come off. And then you'll be able to know Oh, Now's the chance to take my baby to the potty which we call a potty tunity or an opportunity to go to the potty. So when we have that opportunity, like if the diaper I hope that makes sense. If the diapers aren't there, even a newborn can just wriggle out of can pee on the bed and then wriggle out of the way and not have to lay in the wetness. So if you have a diaper on, it generally will help. I've known like maybe a handful less than 10 people who have done no diapers from birth, out of hundreds of 1000s of parents that I've helped so most of us do use a diaper some of them stop using one I like eight months. Really just when you're when you're done with the whole poop cycle, which usually their poop train within a couple of weeks of starting mine. We're all poop trained immediately because they're like, hey, I need to poop and I took them poop and they're like, Yes, this is amazing. And then we never really looked back. It's just the way nature intends. But usually people will start with a diaper and honestly between cloth and disposable It really doesn't make a difference. From what I've seen through our widespread groups, really whatever makes the baby signal the best, and stay dry and clean, and helps you the mom or dad stay really low stress. That is the kind of backup you should use. It could be underwear, I do make undies at Tiny Undies for six months, which can fit almost a newborn, you could be used underwear, you could use training pants, you can use a diaper cloth or disposable. And you could go for it and do it naked. And if you do naked, you'll just want to do a lot of baby wearing so that you'll get some kind of signal like the wriggling before they need to go. So you can actually have some level of success with it.

Natalie Gross 15:41
So you feel them wriggling. You see them kind of crying are starting to do these queues, which we'll get into in a little bit, and you take them immediately over the toilet.

Andrea Olson 15:50
Yeah, so you can hold them over anything. I love the top hat potties. And when I've got my first one with my first baby, it was a total game changer, you hold it between your legs, they're from Southeast Asia is where they originated. And you just hold the baby over it. So think about the baby with her back along your torso. And her head wobbly as it is in the beginning, kind of between your breasts, and you're holding gently underneath the thighs and pointing him or her away from you. That's the position we usually use. Some babies don't like that. So we cradle them while we hold their thighs in the same way. And we're not opening their thighs or anything like that. We're just gently cradling them, so that we can kind of aim over a receptacle. A lot of moms use the sink, because you can stand and your back and your wrists and everything else from birth is just kind of wonky so and then you can also look into this into the mirror, behind the sink at your baby's face, breast milk exclusively breastfed babies, their poop is very runny. And if you're okay with it, because as you're saying can, you can decide, you can wash that down with some hot water. And it doesn't affect I've never had it affect anything in my house, my pipes because it's really liquid. And it's also sterile when it comes out. So you've got a few options, you can squat in front of the toilet. And if you have a low stool like a kid's stool, you can sit on that while you hold them over the toilet. But a top hat potty, if you're starting at birth is super helpful. Because you can sit and relax in your bed and not have to get out of bed at all to potty them like in the middle of the night. And I do want to say that if you're working with a newborn, up to like a couple months old, you want to do every time they wake up, just hold them over. We have a hormone called the antidiuretic hormone all mammals do that keeps us clean and dry during our sleep time. So with a fresh newborn, they're going to be really connected to the cycles. And just very primal stage, right. And right when they wake up, their bladder will fill and they'll be prepared to go to the bathroom. So you have a little window there. Newborns sleep all the time. So my biggest recommendation would be when they wake up, just hold them over something and make the running water noise which is where grunting noise. So that could be alternated for peeing and pooping. With a newborn, they pretty much poop all the time too. So you have a lot of chances for success if you just look at the wakeups with them.

Natalie Gross 18:24
Now, what's the youngest baby you've ever seen potty trained like fully out of diapers?

Andrea Olson 18:29
Well, like I said, there have been a little bit under a dozen moms that have started from birth with no diapers, and had a rhythm from the very beginning. So it really depends on your definition of potty trained, the child can't really participate in some of the process until they're mobile. So crawling over and mounting the potty themselves really takes a little bit of dexterity and the ability to get onto something. So eight or nine months. Because of those developmental things having to be in place first. Eight or nine months is about the earliest I've seen because they have to be able to get on the potty.

Natalie Gross 19:04
Well, when we come back we're going to hear more from our expert Andrea as well as our moms so stay tuned!

Natalie Gross 19:15
We are continuing our discussion with Andrea Olson of Go Diaper Free and our moms Tara and Emilia today. So before we get into more serious questions, I want to know if any of you have any funny stories about using this method, any crazy looks from strangers in public restrooms or anything.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 19:31
Oh my gosh, so many stories. I feel like there's whole categories of stories. So there's like the funny stories while you were in public in a restroom holding your baby over a potty on the changing table or in a public park needing to empty a potty. Or like I remember once with my daughter I was celebrating how many hours we'd been reusing the same diaper because it was always dry. And I was composing in my head the text to her about You know how excited I was in taking my daughter off of the toilet tipped over the body and emptied out the urine into the and I needed to clean it up with a diaper because that was what was there using a cloth diaper. So there's so there's just so many stories all the time.

Emilia Jahangir 20:15
You're wondering about the crazy looks, we get definitely very many crazy looks. Probably many rolled eyes. Some people are very nice. And when you tell them about elimination communication, they'll smile at you and then roll their eyes once you turn away and maybe make a judgement. Not that it really deterred any of us. One of my one of my stories that I like to share is my older daughter was a C section baby and I was I was also getting intravenous antibiotics while in labor. So it really affected her digestion in the early weeks of life. So she was extremely uncomfortable. And we could tell that elimination was actually very straining for her. And we started easy with her probably about a week or two of life, once you know, the C section, scarring became less painful, and I could actually physically do it. And I remember I also use a top hat party which, which is what Andrea mentioned as a great tool for newborns. And I remember that the potty actually brought her relief. And one time we were struggling with a lot of crying at night. And we realized, Okay, I think she needs to go to the bathroom, she needs to poop. And I put her on the top hat potty, and this is like four in the morning. And she eliminated she pooped in the in the potty. And then I realized she actually fell asleep on the potty. Because I'm assuming it was a squat position that I put her in which was you know, the natural way to eliminate I think it brought her so much relief and comfort that she actually was comforted by partying and, and went to sleep after a very hard night. So that's a story I like to share. I also like to tell people that some of my extended family was a little skeptical. And they're saying, oh, you know, this is very different. What are you guys doing, but what really convinced them was actually seeing it in action. So for example, my husband's mother, she came to visit us when the baby was about four weeks old. And by then she was pretty much consistently pooping on the top potty. And it was just amazing to see such a small child being able to do that. And that is just seeing it is believing. And a lot of people were let's call them converts to the method after actually seeing it in action in action.

Andrea Olson 22:35
You want a story for me too?

Tara Garcia Mathewson 22:36
Sure, Andrea go ahead.

Andrea Olson 22:38
I have many, but I think one of the best ones was very, very beginning. Kaiba my oldest was five months old. And I took him on his first airplane trip. And it was really, really loud in the cabin. So nobody could hear it. But I could. And I held him over the mini potty in my lap because my top pet potty hadn't come in yet. And he had a big giant poop. All right, in my seats because he couldn't get up. And I kind of luckily it was just exclusively breastfed poop so it didn't smell at all. And I like put a wet wipe on top of it. And the flight attendant noticed the potty and they're like, looked at this other kid next to us and said, Oh, good job. Did you go in the potty? And I said no, it was this guy, this little baby in my lap and she could not believe it. She started clapping and telling everybody that this baby had just used the potty on the airplane. And then you kind of have to sneak it down the aisle and get it to the thing with a baby in arms and like dump it in the latrine and go back to your seat. And that's a whole nother story.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 23:45
I have so many disposal stories. Disposing of the toilet, I showed up to a friend's house once with the toilet inside of a bag. So I had like newborn in my hand. He had woken up from a nap that I let him take in the car. And then we were going to this friend's house and so I'm holding baby and also this bag and so I get there and and my friend said oh, I could take this for you and was like no, no. I'll handle this. Just need to run to the bathroom. Yeah,

Andrea Olson 24:12
There was one time I was in Target and I had five kids at the time. So, hands full totally, had my stroller. Baby starts making faces I am clear on the other side of the story from the from the bathroom. And so I whipped out the top potty and I squatted in between aisles kind of hidden by some racks of clothes. While my other kids were kind of playing nearby and I partied her she had a full on poop right there in the middle of target. Nobody noticed at all. And I put it in the bottom of the of the stroller, which is nice that it's got like that flat little bottom and I brought it straight to the bathroom again, nobody noticed. I feel like nobody ever notices I've partied in so many restaurants just like I know people might judge me for this but whatever. It's better than having to wipe it up from home baby's body. But I have definitely held my baby kind of underneath the table view with a blanket over her lap. All of my babies have been potty in restaurants in my seat in a pinch, because like, you don't have a lot of time when they make that face that they're gonna have to poop. And I'd much rather have an awkward moment where nobody really knows what I'm doing anyway, nobody notices ever when I do it, I don't know if I just disappear or wet, but nobody notices it. But then, if I tell somebody, they're like, oh, man, I can't believe that. Why don't you let them just go in their diaper? Well, because I don't, I wouldn't like to do that. I do have one more story. I was in this big museum in Raleigh called marbles. It's a kid's museum. It's a nuthouse. And I went into the bathroom with six month old grandson and the baby carrier. And I knew he needed to poop. So we went we go in. And there's this woman changing this newborn who had had a blowout, actually, the baby was probably about five months old. On the changing table, she was going through an entire package of wipes the poor thing had poop all over her body. You know how it happens. It goes all the way up there back. And she was changing her clothes. The baby was screaming, I felt so bad for them. I walk in, go into the stall, take my baby out, hold him over the toilet, he goes, usually don't have to wipe at that age, you guys can probably relate. And then I put his diaper back on on my lap because I can change a diaper on my lap pretty fast. Put him back in the carrier walked out and pass this poor woman who is still cleaning up. It probably took us about 60 seconds. Not to brag, but it was just like, she had no idea what I was in there doing. But I felt so grateful for ever having heard about easy because that would have been me. And definitely has been me one time over five kids. I've had one blowout all the way up the back one time, because I was at Biltmore Estate, and there are no bathrooms there. There are none. So I literally couldn't do anything. But it's been I don't know if you guys have ever potted into a diaper, I mean into a bush side of the road. I've done it in a boat in Thailand on a mini potty, you name it.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 27:08
I've pulled over we were on the highway and my son was probably a little over one. And he said he needed to go to the bathroom. And we was just so I mean we have pulled over onto the side of the road but there happened to be like a pull out like a truck stop kind of thing pull off there. And there were no bathrooms it was just a rest stop like a pull off rest stop and I just had him go on the grass near where the cars Park and it was poop and it was like, oh my god, I'm so glad because I didn't know whether it was going to be poop or pee. But I will go to such great lengths to avoid poop in a diaper. I have actually across two kids. I didn't I've never had a blowout. I've never had diarrhea in the diaper kit my kids have because they are poop trained so early. By the time they got sick to have diarrhea, they would always be able to control it enough to wait until the toilet I think the the benefits of not having to clean up poopy diapers cannot be overstated.

Emilia Jahangir 28:01
I totally relate to that. And can totally relate to patting on the side of the road or in a park under a bush. If someone is walking their dog and it's okay for them to pee under a bush. Why can't my baby do the same? So I totally That's my philosophy and I totally take advantage. The top hat potty is something that we keep in a backpack wherever we go. And then the disposal stories of course.

Natalie Gross 28:27
Yeah. Well, Andrea, what are some common cues that babies give when they have to pee or poop? And then, you know, moms, I would love to know what your baby's cues are. Or were as well.

Andrea Olson 28:37
Yeah, so the most common one is fussiness crying. And I would estimate after all these years of teaching this and doing this that about a third of your unexplained fussiness and crying is I need to go the bathroom. With some babies. It's 100% of them. So when they first so you might be like, well, how in the heck can I tell one fuss from another? If you look at Dunston Baby Baby language, which Oprah did a little thing on that you can find it on YouTube, the one for discomfort, that cry is the closest thing to an EC signal that I've found. And usually if you also understand how often your baby goes, so I have an app called the log with a poop emoji after it. It's pretty new. And it'll allow you to track how often your baby goes during diaper free observation time. So if you also know that your baby will usually pee five minutes after nursing, and they first always say the first fuss after nursing is a signal. So that's one way to start to kind of decode your baby's language, which you're going to have to do anyway for everything else for sleeping and eating too. And then another signal that's pretty accurate, is when you have them in a baby carrier, and they start to arch out of it, especially a little bit older babies. They really use their strength to try to get out of the carrier and they wriggle and they just don't you think that they hate the baby carrier, but it's actually a signal. Sometimes you might feel like you've gotten peed on. And then you check, and there's nothing. In that case, that's called a phantom pee. That's a pretty real phenomenon to, it's actually the bladder filling. And you can feel it if you're that connected to your baby and that interested in what's going out as well as was going in. That can be a signal with a mobile child who's like walking, walking as much so walkers. Yeah, like around a year old, they start to grab and pull out their diaper, or their underwear. So I usually recommend to take them out of diapers once they have mastered walking, because they rise to the occasion just put them in underwear, it'll all work out. But whatever they're wearing, they'll start grabbing at it. Even though they can't disrobe yet, they will grab and pull and tug. And then the last one I want to say is any movement towards if you have the mini potty in the living room, or if you have a bathroom nearby where you guys play, the baby will start to crawl or walk towards the toilet, or the mini potty or the bathroom. Or even bang on the door to go outside. My my first son did that he'd bang on the door, and then he'd go outside and pee right outside the door. All babies are so brilliant. And they're so aware of what's going on, they know where you go to the bathroom. So they will start to go there as a signal. The biggest one too is a sign. When they start to bear down, they have to go poop or almost every mom and dad knows when their baby is pooping. They might not know when it starts, but they know when it's happening. And then they wait for the diaper to catch it all and then they clean it up. When you start to see that grimace, it looks like their first smile. And it's not it's they're just pooping. You just say wait and take their diaper off, take them over something and have them finish in that receptacle. It is amazing how fast they will start to look at you while they make that face. Even within a couple of weeks of birth. And go hey, I'm I'm about to poop here. Get me to the toilet, and they'll start to look for you.

Natalie Gross 32:00
Yeah, Emelia, and Tara, any of those cues. Sound familiar?

Emilia Jahangir 32:04
I'll be honest with you in the early stages, I was much much better about always reading solid waste rather than liquid waste. I never quite got to reading the pee cues in the newborn phases. And then once my daughters became mobile, as Android was mentioned that those cues usually are lost. So we in our family actually dependent more on rhythm and timings. So the poop signals are kind of like a straining of the face muscles. or later on when they became mobile. It's almost like they pause for a moment like like they're walking or playing. And then they'll pause. And they're just not really doing anything for let's say five seconds. And then I know Oh, she's about to poop, I gotta run her to the toilet. So I was pretty good at catching the solid waste. And there were poop train very early. But I will mention the rhythm because that worked really well for us. Kind of timing that I would always put my girls on the potty right after naptime. So over time, we sort of learned each other, they learned that Oh, mommy and daddy are gonna put us on the toilet. So we will wait a few minutes before we eliminate because they don't pee while they're sleeping. They will only pee when they wake up. So this is how I explained it to myself that they learned that they will expect to be put on the potty. So why soiled herself into the backup diaper if you can just go on the toilet so. So that worked really well for us. So after every nap after every wake up, and after every meal. So early on when I was breastfeeding, typically every time I nursed I would put them on later on when they went into solids, it obviously just spreads out your your timings to be further and further apart. But that sort of worked for us really well. And I really liked Andrea's Description A little while ago of use whatever backup method diaper method that stresses you out the least. So I take that to heart because we didn't want to put too much stress on ourselves. We're busy working parents. So sometimes if I didn't catch a pee, that's okay. And if I didn't catch a signal, that's okay. We celebrated the victories instead of mourning the losses if you will. So, if I couldn't catch a cue that was okay in our case, and later on, when my kids started learning language that was the next cue. So for example, my older daughter, she learned a word for pee around 12 months of age. So at the time, she shows a very consistent poop on the potty but not fully trained out of diapers when it comes to pee. But she would tell me using language that she needed to go. And early on. That's actually a funny story early on, it wasn't always consistent. Sometimes she'd say the word because she knew it yielded action. She knew that the moment she said that word. We would take her out of the highchair so she doesn't have to he'd eat anymore or she would get out of a situation that she didn't want to be in because she'd know we'd immediately stop what we were doing and run her to the toilet

Natalie Gross 34:56
Bad time. That's I'm going through that with my toddler.

Emilia Jahangir 34:58
Yep, because they're so smart, and they know exactly that there was a cause and effect, mommy and daddy will run her to the toilet.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 35:05
Yeah, my kids did similar accuses is everything that's been mentioned my oldest was particularly well, I start to say that she was very verbal as an infant in terms of like her fusses were very clearly tied to needing to pee, and it was easy to take her. But I think with my second when I had a second, it was just that I didn't notice them early enough. And then why would he keep being verbal about it if I didn't respond every time. So I feel like I may have missed the cues until they weren't done anymore. And for him, I much more relied on timing. And so it was like, Well, if he just nursed, he's gonna, he's gonna go within the first 10 minutes. And then again, another 15 or 20 minutes later, and then it's extended extend, and you can kind of think of the amount of whatever he's consumed, getting through him. And then the cycle starts again when he nurses again. So there's a lot of patterns. And as the kids change age, it's different. So when my daughter was one and a half, she would clearly kind of bounce around when her bladder was full. And it was easy. I felt like it was easy to explain to others, you know, obviously take her now this is her potty dance. But I think you have to keep looking for different cues as different developmental stages are reached and as your kids growing and becoming distracted by different things. But my son always would find me wherever I was in the room and lock eyes with me when he was about to poop. And it was very clear I needed to rush him to a toilet.

Andrea Olson 36:24
Yeah. And I also want to add a story about my mother. With my second child, I had moved to North Carolina, so I was close by so she got to see her a lot more. There was one time she was holding her. And she's like, getting fussy in her arms. And my mom said, I think she needs her diaper changed. And I said, Why don't you take your diaper off and go hold her over the sink and safes. And she's like, What, okay, so she brought her in there did as I said, sure enough, she was dry and she went potty. So we already can kind of tell when a baby is uncomfortable and needs a diaper change a lot of easy babies will give you the same kind of signal. But they're actually holding it and waiting for you to kind of sync up with them. And I will also say that babies who don't signal at all, anybody who starts EC between like four months and even 14 months, you might not get any signals at all, like both of these other mamas have said, you can do EC very successfully with all the other ways to know the baby needs to pee. So baby signals, baby's natural timing, which is that rhythm she was speaking about, just how often does my baby go to the bathroom right now, and it changes over time. And you've got common times when most babies need to pee, like Amelia was saying after a nap before the bath. After you get them out of the car seat or the baby carrier, we always just offer the potty tunity because eventually our babies will sync up to it. And then the fourth way to know your baby needs to pee is just the mom or dad's intuition like this thought flashes through your mind or you wake up from sleep. And you're like, I literally have woken up from sleep and can pee my baby's up. And then sure enough, five minutes later, they're shifting and they need to go the bathroom. Or when you just think, oh no, there's no way you could possibly have to go again. And then you have a miss. And sure enough, that was your intuition saying, actually they do. They're coming to you because they need some help. Another signal is just crawling to you or coming to you and tugging on you. You might feel like they just want to be with you at all how sweet you came over to say hello. Actually babies are pretty utilitarian. They're like, hey, I need help with this thing. Can you help me for a second? And then they're back off to exploring.

Natalie Gross 38:35
I know all of you are working moms. So I want to know, kind of one of my biggest questions about this method is how you handle this with childcare providers. Because not everyone is well versed in this I would imagine. So how have you three handled that, you know, with daycare, or nanny or things like that. Tara, why don't you start us?

Tara Garcia Mathewson 38:54
So I with my first she had two different nannies before she started daycare at one and a half. And in both cases, when each new person started, there's the learning curve because they had never done this before. Both were skeptical at first. And I worked from home so I could like hear my daughter making a noise that indicated she needed to be and I would kind of shout across the hall like that means she needs to be and you know, encourage them to put her on the toilet. So it was it was a frustrating kind of learning curve. But you know, they did end up having some successes. And my daughter, you know, came to know when she was around me or her father, she would much more consistently be put on the toilet and she could fall back into better rhythms when she was with us. Even if during my work day she was peeing in the diaper more than I would have liked. In both cases with my son and daughter when they started formal daycare environments. It was just hard. It was hard for them to to understand the concept of hoping to see a dry diaper during a diaper change time putting the kid on the toilet letting them be there and then putting the diaper back on. People are just so conditioned then it's like, Oh, if the diapers die, then I don't need to do anything. And so in the end, in both cases, we we switched out of diapers and just went into underwear. Mostly to get into something more common for the daycare provider, like they understand potty training. So even if my kids are younger than other kids, they would have done it with they understand the concept, like give them opportunities to go to the toilet throughout the day, clean it up if they miss every now and then. And it was in both cases, it was a quick process. My daughter was about one and a half. My son was a little bit younger. He was 15 months, I want to say. And yeah, once we switched, it was quick.

Emilia Jahangir 40:36
So in my case, we also ended up having a nanny, which, which was wonderful for us. And we chose one that was very much on board with EC. I will say that before we made the decision to go with a nanny, we toured several daycares. And the conversation about EC definitely came up. And this was still at an early age where there was definitely very much hands on EC needed. And we found a couple of acres that were actually on board to try and they didn't completely dismiss it. And they didn't complete the sale. I you know, I don't have time for this, I'm not going to deal with it, which is what I often hear from other moms. We had one daycare where the provider there was actually kind of judgmental about EC. And it was actually one of the reasons why we decided not to go with that particular centers with that particular center, maybe because maybe she stepped on our pride a little bit about our parenting decisions. So in the end, we made a decision for many reasons, not just for EC, but for many reasons to get a nanny, and we were fortunate that we could, and by the time she was our child caretaker, our daughter was actually pretty close to being verbal and she was actually using language. The other thing I wanted to mention is that our nannies has since had a grandson. And she was actually doing EC with him. And and he was very much early poop trained as well. So I was very proud that I was able to spread the word about EC with someone who didn't know about it before.

Andrea Olson 42:04
And for me, we've had childcare because I rent I mean, I only work three hours a day, between three hours a week and three hours a day. And I always have stuck to that, but I've always had help during those hours. So we've done preschools at local churches that have like a mom's morning out kind of thing, where they'd be there between three and four hours a day. I've never done full time daycare, although I have examples on my podcast of people who've done full on daycare and done EC very successfully did it at home, you know, while their baby was in daycare and daycare didn't do a lick of EC at all and it worked out great. I've also had in home, babysitters, nannies, etc. And so I've definitely like seen it all. I even made a little a little mini course on daycares. Because it's such a daunting thing. Like why would I bother doing this? If I have to send my kid to daycare in a month? Is it even worth it? I can assure everybody that it is worth it. Absolutely. With an in home caregiver. If you've got somebody from another country, you might want to ask them if they do something like this in their country, where they come from, and they probably nine times out of 10 have seen something like this before. And you can kind of let them know what your baby's signals are, what their timing is, etc. If you're in the other room like Tara explained, I've also done the same thing. So I'm, I'm at home working and I need to nurse the baby when the baby wakes up anyway, bring me the baby when the baby wakes up. The Nanny brings me the baby. I potty the baby and show the nanny what I'm doing. Then I nurse the baby then I give the baby back to the nanny. When she fusses, the next fuss is going to be a signal I want you to take her diaper off and do what I did when she woke up. Offer her and you know what it does, I have no pressure I have no expectations, whatever. Just try it and see what happens. And 10 times out of 10 it would work. And we have a lot of turnover and nannies and Asheville people are just really flaky here and it's really hard to get somebody consistent. So I've trained a lot of nannies and babysitters exactly like that. And then the next time they wake up just say hey could you potty the baby and then bring her to me and then I'll nurse her. And then that first first remember just a potty the baby. Oh, and hey, before you lay the baby down for nap, which would be in 45 minutes with a newborn anyway. Go ahead and potty the baby then too. So you want to show them how make sure they're equipped and drop the bar totally to the ground and be like I don't expect you to catch anything. But if you do, tell me what happens. And they get this confidence just like my mom did have that first catch and then they're eager to try it again. With a daycare or preschool situation. I always do a foundational P potty tunity and a pickup potty tunity so right when I get to the daycare, I bring them in and I potty them so that they know they can do that with me there and it's familiar. Anytime they're changing diapers I say Hey, could you offer the potty at this time? Anytime my child makes this poop face will you please try to get them to the potty because you won't have to change their diaper and my baby will be a lot happier. At the very least with the preschool, hey, could you just change her every hour just to keep her as dry as possible, and babies will usually get it really fast, or they always get it really fast that we do EC at home. And at daycare, we don't do EC if that's the situation. And then if you ever bring if you're finished at home, your baby's like 18 months old, you're totally done and your daycare will not allow you to come in without a diaper on, all you have to do is show them a video of it successfully at home and say, Look, this is what she does at home, do you think we'd give it a try? Worst case scenario. At tiny undies, I have these pull up covers, so it looks like a diaper. But it's actually more like an underwear so you can kind of meet them halfway. I would just have a conversation with the daycare, Montessori traditionally would have babies 12 to 18 months all in cotton pants for learning purposes. If you're in a traditional school, they should do that. And if they don't, you might want to just bring it up and say, Hey, and I think Tara might have something to add about that.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 46:08
Yeah, I had to push back. My son is in a Montessori school. And when I went into for the teacher meeting and explained that he uses toilets, and he's still in diapers, but you know, we give him he uses the toilet most of the time. And they said that because of the Montessori philosophy and respecting the child that they offer to take a child to the toilet. But if they don't say yes, they want to go that they won't force it. And that's just frustrating, because first of all, he wasn't verbal, yet he wasn't saying anything at the time. And also, you know, he's a child playing so often as the kids get older and engrossed in whatever they're doing, you do have to kind of urge them to use the toilet when they need to go. But in our family, of course, it's perfectly reasonable for us to think that the the family norm is that you don't get to keep playing and pee in your pants, you have to go to the toilet. And we didn't get the support for that at the school. But that did it. Like I said before, that just pushed us to go toward more formal potty training faster and get him out of diapers entirely. And so they understood, you know, the stakes were higher for them if there was no diaper to catch it. So really encourage them to use the toilet as often as you needed.

Andrea Olson 47:17
Right? And I did have some problems with my preschool asking too much do you need to go potty do you need to go potty and my child would resist all, all three of them that went through there resisted. So I eventually just said, don't say anything and just take them. And then turn your back and give them a little bit of privacy. And it was really like at least we had a good relationship. So they were down to try it. But not everyday here is going to try it if you only do it at home without them. Or if your child's that your mother in laws and she won't do it. It won't ruin the whole thing. I've had so many success stories with clients who just did it when they had their baby. And the baby was like, thrilled to do it and knew that this was the norm.

Natalie Gross 47:57
Yeah, that's so great to hear, Andrea, because yeah, that was definitely one of my big questions when I was considering this method. Well, moms, I'll start with you and ask if you have any good resources that have helped you that you want to recommend to our listeners, and then Andrea, I'll let you have the last word and give any recommendations that you would like.

Emilia Jahangir 48:16
So I'll start by saying it's really helpful to have your, your little network or your little village. So Tara and I are friends. And it was really helpful to have that person to share stories with and compare notes with and vent to sometimes when when you didn't reach your goal. So it's very helpful to have that little community. With my second child, I actually discovered there's a very helpful elimination communication Facebook group. And a lot of people go there to kind of get started and hear what this is all about. And by then I was actually kind of a veteran. So I was more on the teaching side of things. And it's really helpful to hear that there's a whole community of parents out there who really want to try this. And that Facebook group is also a really nice place to share stories for success and kind of funny anecdotes that, let's say the rest of the world doesn't really understand because they're not going through it. So I would advise any parents to definitely try it. Your child is more capable than you think then you give them credit for and once you see that first poop in the potty you will be a convert to and you'll just never want to stop. But find your village and find your community to make it easier.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 49:25
Yes, as you might expect, I highly recommend convincing mom friends to try it. Your own community with you. When I was pregnant, I read the diaper free baby. It's a good kind of overview of the philosophy of why you might want to try this and ideas for times that it makes sense to take your baby to the toilet. There was another book I kind of skimmed called diaper free looking up you can look up both elimination communication and the other kind of jargon term. Natural infant hygiene both give good tips just to kind of immerse yourself in in the idea of finding the patterns and and taking advantage of them.

Andrea Olson 50:00
Yep. And then I, I started with diaper free baby also. And I was like, How do I do it though? Can you tell me how to do it because somebody showed me how to do this and then all my mom friends did not want to do EC. So it was like, I couldn't convert anyone that I knew they all thought I was a supermom or a show off or whatever. And I just had to kind of keep it on the hush hush and figure it out myself. I also read Infant Potty Training by Laurie Boucke who was on my podcast. And we've been in touch over the years amazing encyclopedic resource examples from other cultures. And then when my first baby was five months old, I decided to write my own book, go diaper free. And with that, I really wanted to make it so dummy proof and easy to start by making it really visual with flowcharts. So the this happens, then this happens, and this happens. Lots of pictures, but also an online community, like Amelia was saying is essential. Mine was on Facebook. But then during political climate, everything, I took it off of Facebook. So we have a private group that's off of Facebook now and one that's on whatever flavor you like, there's that and my book currently comes with that because I agree that you cannot do it without support. So I've trained some coaches that hop in every day and help people in our community. Get through little like the littlest thing and you get one little bit of advice, I can help you through that. Then make the difference between keeping it up or quitting. I also decided to make it audio visual. So I wanted somebody to just show me how to hold my baby. YouTube wasn't really huge back then. Neither were Facebook groups. They didn't even exist yet. So I was like on email listservs and stuff, and we had photographs, but that was about it. So when I made my book, I also included a video library of how to do some basic things. And an audio book because I when I became a mom, literally stopped reading books and audiobooks are my biggest Yeah. Yeah, like the first version of my book, I had an audiobook I recorded an audio book within a month that I included with it, because you we got to have our hands free. So there's that too. So that's my book, go diaper free. And then tiny undies, I created small underwear and potties because well, the party's top Party became MIT, it just went missing from the market, I couldn't find them anymore. So I had one created and then a super short mini potty for little babies who could touch the ground on them. And then small underwear, we just couldn't find them. And then good training pants that actually hold a peek couldn't find those either. So I went and created all the things that I thought that we all needed and tiny undies is a really great place for that. But I also want to tell you about my podcast, which is go diaper free. Every week, I post a new episode there. I think we're at 200. Now, sometimes I have interviews with people. I had Dr. Sears on recently, we have a really good time on that podcast, and then my Instagram every single day, we post examples just to encourage everyone. And like Amelia was saying like you feel like you're the only one doing this. So you can't really share about anything and the general population. But on my Instagram, our comments are pretty active with like, Yeah, me too. And this and that you can always tag me I go diaper free. I love seeing everybody success because we literally cannot do this without each other.

Tara Garcia Mathewson 53:16
Yeah, being part of the online communities, even if you don't participate in them, seeing them seeing comments and things show up in your newsfeed just normalizes something that you're doing that would otherwise feel really strange and outside of the norm seeing so many other people doing it and struggling with the same things and coming up with tips together, it made a big difference. I only found the Facebook group with my second. And it was just really nice. It felt like home.

Andrea Olson 53:41
Absolutely, yeah. And I also wanted to mention that if anybody listening has missed the zero to 18 month mark. I don't recommend EC at all after that age. I have another book The tidy potty training book. And there are other potty training books out there as well. But I would just do potty training at that time because toddlers need quick mastery of things. They get bored pretty fast, and then they'll lose interest etc. It should only take about a week. And you can even wrap up EC with potty training. We have so many moms who do that and find it to be really, really helpful.

Natalie Gross 54:12
That's great information. Thank you so much to our expert Andrea Olson and to our moms Tara and Emelia who joined us for this episode today. I know I was taking lots of notes during this conversation and for our listeners out there. We will be posting a lot of those links that they mentioned on our website, so be sure to check out Andrea's website at Also check out where we have all of our podcast episodes plus videos and more.

Natalie Gross 54:50
That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to newbies. Don't forget to check out our sister shows Preggie Pals for expecting parents, Parents Savers for moms and dads with toddlers, The Boob Group for moms who give breast milk to their babies and Twin Talks for parents of multiples. Thanks for listening to Newbies- your go-to source for new moms and new babies.

Disclaimer 55:15
Then a New Mommy Media production. information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of new mommy media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate. It is not intended to replace or substitute for professional medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health, or the household, your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

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