Written by Elizabeth R
When my first son was four months old, I saw a little potty at a friend’s house.
The Mom said her baby was using the potty every day now. WHAT? I asked questions, and she told me about Elimination Communication. I went to my local library and checked out a book. The basic idea is this: your child has a natural desire to not sit in their own waste. Teach them ways to communicate that they need to relieve themselves and they will.
I decided to experiment. I took my son to the tub and turned on the water. While he was pant-less, I put his foot in the water. Naturally, this made him want to pee. As he went into the tub, I did as the book suggested and made a “psss” sound. Each day I repeated the process, continuing to use the “psss” sound. After several days of this, I stopped putting his foot in, just showed him the water and made the sound. After some time, I could cue the baby to go pee just by making the “psss” sound.
Following this, I would make a “psss” sound if I saw him pee between diaper changes or on his way to the bath.
Around months 6-10, we got into a routine where I would take his diaper off in the morning and place him right on his little potty. We would read a book, smile at one another and pause to make a “psss” sound if pee appeared. I also used sign language for the letter “P.”
Soon, he naturally started making poop in the potty too. His little face would make the pre-poop grunt and I would mirror it back to him. I used a sign for poop that I learned in the book and on the web.
We had the system down and rolled happily along until he started walking. And then, my friends, my little son was too busy for potty time.
I had read that the key is to stay relaxed through the whole process. So we followed his lead and waited until he showed interest again. It took till month 15.
We would spend the summer months in the back yard, our son pant-less. This allowed us to see if he was peeing and to make the sound and the coordinating sign. He loved to show us that he knew pee was coming.
When he was 20 months, my son and I flew from Boston to Albuquerque with no diapers. When he was 23 months, we took a five-day rafting trip and only needed diapers for night time.
I was fascinated to learn that the majority of the world uses this approach, as diapers are a luxury and disposing of them is a major problem.
Elimination communication is flexible and can be used only as much as your family has the time to dedicate to it. I believe increasing bodily awareness at all stages can help the potty training process, so consider starting early to reduce struggle down the road.