What if I told you I haven’t changed a poopy diaper since my daughter was 4 months old – would you believe me? Well, it’s true! No, I don’t have a full-time nanny to take care of the smelly task for me either. While all my other new-mom friends were lamenting the messy “blow outs” and stinky toddler poo diapers, I just had to laugh. And, I really smiled on the inside when I found out how much i’ve saved without any coupon clipping – over $1300! Want to know my secret? It’s elimination communication, infant or early potty training. It works more like mom & dad are trained to pickup on baby’s cues and react accordingly. We started when Bug was around 3 months old and haven’t looked back.
Infant Potty Training History
Before you think I’m crazy, hear me out. What do you think parents did before disposable diapers? Yes, in the late 1800s to early 1900s there were cloth diapers, but prior to that, and in developing countries still today, families rely on elimination communication or early potty training.
In fact, in the USA in the 1950’s 95% of all children were potty t
rained by 18 months. By the 1980’s about half of all parents used disposable diapers and the number of children were potty trained by 18 months declined to about 50%. Today only approximately 10% of children are potty trained by 18 months.
Benefits of Early Potty Training
- Few to No Messy Diapers To Clean Up After
- Reduced Diaper Expenses
- Gives Your Child Dignity To Not Sit In Their Own Waste & Makes Use of Natural Infant Hygiene
- No Diaper Rash – Ever! Nope, Not Even A Little Rash
- Way Healthier For Little Girls, Especially Those Prone To Bladder Infections
- Babies Are Ready & Eager To Learn, So Why Not Teach Them A Vital Life Skill?
- Earth Friendly
- No Need To Rinse Cloth Diapers In The Toilet Prior to Washing
- Baby Never Gets Used To Sitting In Wet/Dirty Diaper, Making Complete Potty Training A Breeze
- For Those Who Are Consistent, Full Potty Training Can Be Achieved As Early As 12-20 Months of Age
- Can Use Elimination Communication Full-time, At Home Only, Or Part Time, As It Fits Your LIfestyle
- Did I Mention It SAVES BIG $$ On Diaper Expenses!!!
How Elimination Communication Works: It’s Easier Than You Think
- It is easiest to start anywhere from 1 week to 3 months after birth, but can begin as late as 16-18 Months.
- Spend a few days watching your baby closely for cues prior to going pee or poo, usually they will make a face or a certain sound just prior to relieving themselves. Sometimes they will pause for a few seconds from their activity to eliminate. There is almost always a pattern/habit.
It can be easier to do with observation a few hours a day with baby naked on a cloth changing pad or blanket with a puppy pee pad underneath. I love this cloth changing pad that a friend gave me as a gift. They are around $15 and I plan to buy a few more when we have kid #2.(Not an affiliate link, just an honest opinion)
- After you feel confident you’ve begun to identify your baby’s cues, begin acting on them. The goal is to start teaching your child to make the connection between the physical sensation that precedes elimination and the location where they should eliminate. So, when you notice your baby is about to go, take her/him to an infant potty, the sink, toilet or other receptacle and hold them over it while making a signal noise such as “psssss” or “wissss” or “poop” (we actually used the Super Mario Bros theme song with all high notes changed to “poop” for our little one’s poop cue – gotta keep it fun, LOL)
- Continue doing this as consistently as possible and after a few a few days to a few weeks (depending on age when started) your little one will actually begin to wait a few seconds to a minute for your cue.
- We replaced the majority of diaper use with training pants. I bought a few different types, some from China with cute animals on the butt, some lightly padded hanes underpants in the smaller sizes, and some Scotty Potty padded underpants. I had to purchase all of them online, since early potty training isn’t very common these days. The Scotty Potty padded pants were our favorite, hands-down. If given a choice, Bug always chooses to wear the Scotty Potty pants too. Though they are made for boys, they have a more absorbent lining and they must be more comfy too.
Voila your little one is virtually trained, or well, actually, you are trained which will help your tot out in the long run and save you from stinky toddler poo messes later on!
Additional Tips (From Experience)
- You will have people (read: Family) tell you you’re crazy, harming your child, etc. Not true. “Back in the day” this was the primary way things were done. You may also have the old-school relative tell you how their kids were trained when they were 12 months, 10, 9, or even “6 months – what are you waiting for?”. Really you just have to do what is right for you and your child.
- This is where a steam mop entered my life. It is one of my favorite cleaning tools and will sanitize the floor with no chemicals if your little one has an accident. Read my unpaid review of the Oreck Steam-It Mop here.
- Afraid of the initial mess? Grab some cloth pre-folds or towels to care your baby around on while you are first learning their cues. Lay the baby on these during tummy time as well. Like I said above, I used a KangaCare Cloth Changing pad and loved it. Throw them in the wash as needed. This will help you to learn to recognize their cues without having to check their diaper.
- As your baby grows into a toddler, the transition to independent toilet use changes things a bit. Once they begin to walk, I found it useful to reward my daughter with praise and stickers to encourage her. Later as she was even more mobile and really began asserting her independence we started using a chart system. She would go on the potty and then get a star on the whiteboard. Every three stars she would get to play an educational game on my phone or watch a 7 minute video of her favorite show. As a bonus this helped her learn to count to three by the time she was 16 months! The key is to find what interests and motivates your child. We tried a “treasure chest” of new toys, puzzles and books she could choose from, but it wasn’t as strong a motivator for her.
- Changes in routine for my child always brought about a new challenge. We recently had our backyard landscaped and began playing outside after breakfast every day. I learned that I needed to bring our potty chair outside for a visual reminder, and so that she didn’t feel her outside time was cut short by going inside to potty.
Consistency is key, but we never stressed over a missed potty. We only used this at home and later on long road trips. When Bug was about 18 months we started bringing her potty out on errands and play dates.
This process isn’t for everyone, and I don’t look down on those who choose to go the new-conventional route of potty training at 3, 4, or even 5 years old. Early potty training is time consuming when you first start out. Some days feel like you hoover over a toilet 50% of the time, especially when they are babies and go more frequently. You tend to watch the clock more closely, 45 min, okay, “let’s try to go potty…again”. When they are toddlers you turn into a broken record “Tell mama when you need to go potty, please”.
All-in-all, I am grateful that we stuck to early potty training. I would rather instill these habits now, than when I am dealing with a stronger-willed threenager with more deeply ingrained diaper habits. On the upside, our 20-month old has learned to count to 12, can verbally communicate when she needs to go potty and wears a look of pride when she accomplishes her goal of making it through the day without an accident.
Bonus: We’ve also saved nearly 75% what a traditional household spends on diapers in the first two years (or over $1300). According to Jessie’s calculations from MoolaSavingMom.com the average family buys about 175 Jumbo packs worth of diapers in the first two years, and at an average of $10 per pack, that’s $1750 in diapers alone! Let’s be honest, when it comes to raising kids, we could all use a few extra bucks in our pocket.
What are your experiences with potty training? If you had another baby on the way would you consider early potty training, or elimination communication?
Here are quick links to check out our favorite training pants: