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Babies can go diaper-free sooner with elimination communication. Did you know that in most parts of the world babies are potty trained by 6 months? However, in the United States, the average age is 2 to 3 years!
There's a great book on the subject that explains the science behind toilet training and how to pick up the signals that your child needs to go to the bathroom.
It's called Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer. About halfway through the book is the most useful chapter. It gives different options for how to hold a baby over the potty and has photos to demonstrate.
We still use cloth diapers. At one month when our baby had good neck control, we started offering opportunities to pee while held over the potty. We use a Pourty Potty we keep near the changing area.
You know how they like to go while being changed? Just hold the baby over the pot and catch that! We offer a "pottytunity" anytime we change a diaper or about every 2 hours. I say a little rhyme and make the sound cue to go.
By starting early, the child gets used to going while their skin is exposed. At two months, our baby surprised us with a poop in the pot while we offered some time there one day.
It is so much easier to wipe a bottom that's been over the potty than clean up a mess done in a diaper. SO much easier! I do not understand how people can change poopy diapers for 2 or 3 years. I think I would go crazy. I'm glad it's a rare accident for us.
We also had our first pee in a toilet at restaurant at 2 months old! Animals have instincts so they quickly learn not to go in their nest area or soil themselves. Babies are capable of this, too, if we just give them the chance to go to the bathroom somewhere else.
Now that we're using the potty full time, I can look back and say, yes, our attempt at elimination communication was definitely worth it. She was getting most of her poop in the potty before her 1st birthday. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
You would probably laugh to see how we panicked about rare accidents because we weren't used to cleaning that up. How do people do that all the time? And with a wiggy and opinionated toddler?!
I have to admit that our pee training on the other hand was a failure. I never learned to pick up the signals, and she got used to wet diapers sometimes not even telling me she was wet. I believe part of that is phases of mental development because they are so busy learning new things.
It was good to do elimination communication to get her used to the concept of going in the potty and it worked for poop, but it did not train her for pee because I couldn't learn the signals.
We started cotton underwear at home just before she turned 18 months old, and we had many accidents. She gradually learned to tell me with enough time to make it to the bathroom, then how to run there herself.
Potty training is a process. Maybe it happens overnight for some people, but for us it began early and was mastered gradually.
This time we again waited for good neck strength before starting on the Pourty potty. He caught onto pooping there as soon as he was past the runny newborn phase at around 2 months due to supplementing formula (that's another story about weight issues--he's fine now, and we still breastfed past 1 year).
By the time he was 5 months old, I could still count the number of poopy diapers I'd changed since 2 months on my fingers! He was in a nice pattern about going in the potty every day before bedtime. Amazing!
However, things changed when we introduced solids. He lost his pattern. He was also mobile and active much sooner than our daughter, so it was harder to see a signal. Over the months, we gradually learned to watch for a little grunt and head rubbing, and he learned to hold it until we get to the potty. I'd say our elimination communication had improved by 14 months.
This time we didn't even bother with trying to catch all of the pee, just offering chances to go in the potty at every change and before and after sleep. He naturally seemed to catch on, having dry diapers some days as long as we offered "pottytunities" often enough, ideally every 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
I will update this page again as he progresses to undies.