Yes, our daughter is 6 months old, and does 95% of her poop, and most of her pees on a potty. And no, it’s not strange or incredible. Actually, every baby can do it, but in the ‘western world’ we’re not very open to the idea. Which doesn’t mean we weren’t amazed when Liv pooped on a potty for the first time at 4,5 months old. But, first things first…
I had heard of it, even before I was pregnant, but I hadn’t read about it in any depth. The first time we really heard about it was on the ‘reunion’ day of the hypnobirthing course we did. Elimination what?? The mama who had done it with her oldest child explained briefly how it worked, and Denny and I were both impressed. Was this really possible?! A baby using a potty?
When I got home I started Googling, and what I found sounded so incredibly logical that I starting thinking it was strange that I hadn’t heard about it before. But then again, it wasn’t really strange at all. We ‘Westerners’ are so busy that we just don’t have time for things like this, and we aren’t really open to it either. It’s based on a centuries-old principle, a method used in much of the non-western world. They don’t even call it a method, because it’s just a way of life. A baby isn’t actually made to poop and pee in a diaper, after all. We teach them to do that. Has this ever happened to you? You want to change your newborn baby’s diaper, and exactly at the moment that one diaper is taken off, before the new one is on: yes, that exact moment, they pee. Or you’ve JUST put on a new diaper, and they poop. This happens till we teach them it’s ok to use the diaper. Our diapers are so advanced and stay so dry these days that children don’t even know when they pee, and it doesn’t bother them in any way at all. So why should they stop? Add to that the fact that we are far too busy for accidents and such inconveniences – a diaper is much easier! And so we’ve slowly become a society which teaches children to poop and pee in a diaper, because it’s easy, and doesn’t affect them. Why would they need to use a potty or a toilet?
A baby will tell you when he or she needs to go
So to get back to the start: babies prefer to pee and poop outside of a diaper (or in a clean one). Also, babies let you know when they need to pee or poop. I, like many people, didn’t know that. We learn that when a baby cries it can be one of a few things: they need to sleep, or are in pain, are hungry, or are too hot or cold. Nobody ever told me: baby may need to go to the toilet. A baby can also tell you in other ways, and the trick is to learn to recognize these signals. Liv generally tells us by crying in a certain way.
There’s a book in the Netherlands called ‘Your baby on the potty’ which I could get from someone second hand. There are different versions in English on Amazon:
1. The Diaper free baby – the natural toilet training alternative
2. Diaper Free – The gentle wisdom of natural infant hygiene. (this is an ebook)
3. Go Diaper Free – A simple handbook for Elimination Communication (this one is pretty expensive)
These books say that it’s best to start elimination communication when your baby is not yet 6 months old. (But of course not impossible to start later, there is also a chapter in the book about elimination communication after 6 months old). The mama at the hypnobirthing course started with her oldest when she was 4 months old, and she was fully potty trained at one year old. Denny and I decided to try it out when Liv was 4 months old. Initially just for fun – we didn’t really think it would work.
After sleeping you’ll always have success
In the end we started when she was 4,5 months old. We were in a shop and saw potties there. “Shall we try?”, so we did. We left the shop with a potty. I hadn’t read the book yet, but the mama from Hypnobirthing told us that that you need to find out when your baby needs to go, but you will always have success just after they’ve woken up. So it seemed handy to us to start there. The idea was that when Liv did pee or poop on the potty, we would make a sounds. If you’re consequent about this, the baby will learn to associate that noise with peeing and pooping. When you’ve been doing it for some time, it will also work the other way: you make the noise and the baby poops or pees (if they need to, of course).
The first day, the day we bought the potty, we put her on it twice, but nothing happened. We felt a little dumb, putting such a small baby on a potty. Liv was fascinated, but that was all. The day after I had a work meeting at the house, and Denny was upstairs with Liv. Suddenly I heard him calling, “Marry! Marry! MARRY!” His voice sounded strange, like something had happened. I flew into the hallway, and he was standing at the top of the stairs, looking disbelieving, with the potty in his hand. “She pooped on the potty!!!” “What?!” We were both stunned. The only thing I could say was “take a photo,” Hahahahahaha
The first few times on the potty 😉 (Iphone photos)
That was the moment that got us fully interested, and we really started giving it a good try. The first weeks we just tried randomly. It was odd, but every poop and pee in a potty saved a diaper, so that was good. Especially the poops on the potty were great – with cloth diapers poop is a little trickier than with disposables.
We couldn’t see any kind of pattern yet (apart from a 95% success rate after naps), and I started wondering how on earth you could tell when a baby needs to pee? But the more we did it, the better it went. It started looking like Liv cried in a certain way when she needed to toilet. Once that was confirmed for us a few times, it gave us a huge boost, and encouragement to watch and listen carefully. She was now 5 months old, and sometime we had a dry diaper from the morning until the late afternoon.
Potty in the same place
I read in the book that it’s best if the potty is kept in one place all the time, do that your baby also learns that when they’re there, it’s time to pee or poop. We just found it inconvenient to walk upstairs every time, so we bought toilet trainer seats for both the upstairs and downstairs toilets. This meant we could be quicker with getting to the toilet. It worked well, and Liv was once again fascinated, especially by the toilet paper. 🙂
First time on the toilet. Mean while we keep the toiletpaper in a different place and of course, once she will start crawling, we will also store the cleaning bottles somewhere where she cannot reach them. (Iphone photos)
It slowly became a habit, and we no longer found it strange that she peed on the toilet. The more we thought about, the more logical it seemed, really. One day we were in town, and Liv was sleeping in the wrap. When she woke up, I thought now she needs to pee, but where? So we stepped into a little coffee bar, and I put her on the toilet. Bingo! That’s when I knew for sure – children are not made to pee in diapers, if you just offer them an alternative.
Not always a succes
Now Liv usually uses just 2 diapers per day. But there are still days that it doesn’t work at all. Days on which we just miss her signals (sometimes she doesn’t cry, but does something else which we don’t see or hear), and that we’re just too late, and she pees in her diaper every time. Usually that happens for 2 or 3 days, and then we find our stride again. In the book it says more than once that you need to have fun doing this, and we do. If she pees in the diaper – oh well, better luck next time. It’s still just a baby who can’t talk yet. We do our best to have it succeed, and it’s fun to be so involved with your baby.
At this moment we are in Cape Verde. I was worried beforehand that all our work may be for nothing, because how would we manage it while travelling? I Googled to find out whether there was such a thing as a ‘travel potty’, and yes, there is! It’s really handy (look here), works as a potty, or as a toilet trainer seat, and is completely collapsible. The day we flew here we had to get out of bed at 5am. Believe it or not, apart from one small poop diaper (because Liv likes to poop while breastfeeding, and I can’t sprint to the toilet at moments like that), she did all her poops and pees on the toilet at Schiphol airport and in the plane!
It amazes me again and again….
On holiday at Cape Verde on the travel potty at the beach.
Does it take a lot of time?
A lot of people ask me whether it takes up a lot of time. Yes and no. If it goes well, it takes no more time than changing a diaper. If it goes less well, then it’s more time-consuming, because putting her on a toilet time and time again with no success isn’t very handy. It’s also a method which works best if your baby does not go to day care, or they have to also be willing to do it there too. That’s not a must, because you can also just do it in the mornings and the evenings, but the more times per day you put them on the potty, the better. Denny and I are both home a lot, so it’s easy for us to do.
So, no child prodigy; just 2 parents who have a lot of fun, a baby who thinks it’s all great, no poopy diapers on her bottom, and a whole lot less diaper washing. Win-win, as far as we’re concerned. And a great way to communicate with your baby. 🙂
So Liv is 4,5 years old now and has been potty trained for a while now 😉 We had a lot of fun doing it and had ups and downs (meaning there were periods where we could read the signals better than other periods) till she was really potty trained. Meaning: that she was able to tell us when she had to go, instead of us reading her signals. From the moment she started eating solid food and her poop changed, she had 3 accidents and other than that: everything went into the toilet! We never had to change any poop diapers! Only for this reason I could recommend this to everyone haha.
When she was 8 months old she didn’t wear diapers for a week (also when we would go out). We were really good in reading her signals, but after this week it didn’t go very well because she started crawling, standing up, walking etc. In the end she could tell us when she had to poop when she was 2o months old and 22 months old when she knew when to pee. By the time she was 2 she was potty trained during the day. The nights took a little longer, but you can’t teach a child that.
The ideal potty on the go
We enjoyed the potty on the go for YEARS after this, because it was the best during traveling, also after she was potty trained (of maybe even more). It was great for avoiding dirty toilets or to put ON a dirty toilet. We used it for the whole year during our worldtrip and left in New Zealand in the end. We can now say Liv used it in the most beautiful places haha.
Looking back at the whole period, we would do it all over again!
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