potty babies

What is a potty baby?

Known as “elimination communication",  in essence it is about respectfully communicating with your baby about their elimination from an early age. This involves keeping them as clean and dry as possible, therefore keeping their awareness of their own body strong, and as a result most babies complete toilet learning before their second birthday

How does it work?

You can start at birth (or ideally within the first five months) by watching for your babies patterns or cues or timing about when he/she pees or poo's.


Well, I admit I haven't tried it but after reading the following article, I wish I'd heard about it earlier!

Personal experience - My Potty Baby
by Liz Neill

My baby pees in the potty and has done since she was just a few days old. She is 10 months old now and pottying is just a part of our day as are meals, breastfeeding, bathtime, sleep and play.

I heard about “elimination communication’, or ‘infant potty learning’ when I was pregnant with Elliot – my fourth child, and to be perfectly honest I thought the person telling me about it was a bit off the wall. But, I watched them, I read one of the books available, I learned and I decided to give it a go.

When Elliot was first born I just watched her for patterns or cues or timing about when she peed and poohed – I was amazed, this tiny new baby really did know when she needed to go, the patterns were discernable and she was trying to tell me. When she was 17 days old I held her over the potty for the first time, cued her – and she peed. It happened again, and again – I was hooked!

I started at birth, but many families find out about this when their baby is already here, and that is fine too. The ‘easiest’ time to begin is within the first 5 months but many babies have success starting later than this, right through to toddlers almost ready for conventional toilet learning – The first thing I did was get my then 26 month old out of nappies over Labour w/e 2002, using these principles.

Sure there are crazy times when we miss some, and early on I wondered how on earth I would ever do a supermarket trip with a baby who needed to pee every 20 minutes, because I couldn’t imagine whipping out the potty in the fruit and vege section, but we worked through that issue and others. (My partner and my three year old still go and get the groceries at 7am on Saturday!)

I have two potties, one for at home and one in the car for when we are out. Sometimes I take it with me in to places, other times I potty her in the car and then go into a shop or wherever and offer again when we get back to the car.

But – the best parts for me are, that I almost never have pooey diapers – maybe one or two a month. From a birthing perspective, I love that my daughter has learnt to ‘release’ rather than ‘hold’ in her pelvic area – that’s got to help with her births later on!

I love the fact that Elliot never has wet pants on for more than a few seconds, that she is comfortable, dry and clean always. Even if all this did was show me how often babies pee so I could change her that often it would be worth it. It’s not every 20 minutes any more, at 10 months Elliot regularly goes an hour or even a couple of hours between pees. It’s no harder than diaper changes now – in fact much easier as I remember how fast my other children would roll over or run away at this age.

And she loves sitting on her potty as the photos clearly show!

The most frequent question I am asked when people see Elliot on the potty is ‘what is the theory behind using the potty at this age?’ My understanding is that babies know when they need to eliminate, just as they know when they need to feed or sleep or burp – it is an issue of communication, of us as parents being able to discern what she needs. By positively reinforcing that communication they keep the awareness and refine it – when it is not reinforced they lose the awareness until a more conscious time around 2 years, unless they are gently brought back to it. Elimination Communication is a gentle loving way of being with our babies, there is no place for coercion, punishment etc within this relationship.

There are times that are more likely to work – babies don’t pee in a deep sleep so nap wake up times and first thing in the morning are good times for ‘catches’. Some babies are predictable around feeding times as well, and some are quite regular with poo times. I found I relied on timing mostly for several months but lately I have introduced a hand sign when I offer the potty and Elliot is beginning to use it back to me and signal herself when she needs to go.

There is a growing resurgence in the Western world of what peoples in other cultures have always done with their babies. It is totally possible to do this in our culture, my baby wears training pants at home mostly and an all-in-one diaper or specially made OneWetPants when we are out. There are people who do this full time with their baby, those that do it part time, some with twins or a baby with special needs, some days only, some at home only, some offer the potty at each diaper change and when baby wakes from sleep. The concepts can be worked into any family situation, and there is plenty of support available.

Update – 7 months later – October 2004

Elliot is now 17 months old, and things have changed quite a bit in potty land. She wears underwear fulltime now, tells me when she needs to pee more and more reliably, will ‘go’ if we try before going out or before meals or bed, uses her hand sign, waits a little bit to get to the toilet or car potty, and is quite happy using the big toilet with the insert seat. She loves to empty her potty into the toilet, in fact I’m not allowed to redress her before she has carried the potty through to the bathroom.

She is also very funny around her potty – she will scoot round our wooden floors on her potty, or stand up and run away holding the potty to her bum with both hands – usually while empty thank goodness, or put the potty on the rocking chair for movement whilst peeing ……And I’m back doing the grocery shopping with a toddler and my 4 year old as Elliot now often goes 1 ½ - 3 hours between potty stops.

Also, in the bigger world of potty land there have been some changes too. The online support group mentioned below now has over 900 members, but most importantly for us, we now have a local support group in Wellington, and have monthly Potty Parties. We have 5 regular families, 4 with potty babies and toddlers, and one due with their baby any day soon, as well as a couple of other interested families wanting to find out more. Its very reassuring being with other people making similar choices with their children, and being able to talk through the issues as they arise. I also like that the kids get to see the normality of babies using the potty, and new parents can see different positions for holding a baby on or over the potty.

Further reading:

There are websites devoted to this, books available and an online support group with over 700 members of families with potty babies www.diaperfreebaby.org.

See the orange "further reading" box at the top of this page.

Web sites:



Small size potties for EC available from Organic Baby. potty baby

Further reading

Diaper Free

(prices may vary)

from Fishpond NZ

Organic Baby | Promote Your Page Too