Thursday 25 October 2012

Are Potty Training Methods in the West ....

At the Joint Congress of ICCS (International Chilidren's Continence Society) ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) and BAPU (British Association of Paediatric Urology) at the Royal College of Physicians, London earlier this month (October 2012) I attended a session “Are potty training methods in the West contributing to bladder dysfunction”. Anna-Lena Hellstrom presented a research study carried out in Vietnam of what we call Elimination Communication (EC) or Natural Infant Hygiene (NIH). Babies were releasing the bladder 'on demand' at 9 months, starting independence at 12 months and in control of the bladder by 18 months.

I know that doubters will say that fitted carpets and the lifestyles of modern parents are not compatible with Elimination Communication, sometimes misleadingly termed ‘diaper-free’. However at Real Nappies for London we know that an increasing number of modern parents are giving their babies the opportunity to pee and poop on the pot at changing time because it has so many advantages: fewer dirty nappies, fewer changes, less nappy rash, less washing if they are using washable nappies and, most importantly their babies like it. All we are saying is that parents should have the knowledge so they can choose what's best for them and their babies.

Please, if you have experience of this let us know. We want to share this knowledge with other expectant and new parents. We also want to raise awareness of this issue amongt child health professionals.

For more info on EC visit

Other posts that may be of interest: the true cost of disposables


  1. I've used ec with all three of my children despite fitted carpets ;)

    It's more enjoyable that you might think and it's easy to give it a go without any commitment or special equipment.

    I'd encourage anyone who is even vaguely curious to give it a try (even in a very limited way) and see how you get on!

    There's lots of information on (my website) or - all written with UK parents in mind.

  2. We started using nappies in the conventional way but learnt about and switched to the EC method when our daughter was 4 months old.

    It worked out much better for her and for us. There was no need for potty-training or toilet training later on as she'd learnt about the toilet gradually all along in a gentle way.

    It was much more hygienic and less messy, and she never had to suffer nappy rash. I am very houseproud, but she always wore dry training pants - very different to a soggy nappy.

    It also stopped colic as she was getting rid of waste more regularly and in a comfortable, upright position rather than straining lying down, or holding on to it. She became a happier baby when we started this.

    I now run regular workshops in London so that parents can make a more informed choice about how to respond to their child's toileting needs. Please contact Real Nappies for London if you are interested in coming to one!

  3. I discovered EC when my son was 5 months old, tried it and was immediately successful in terms of baby learning to use a potty/toilet when given the opportunity. It became second-nature to him to release bladder/bowel when we offered the potty to the point where we didn't need to make any cueing noise at all. Growing out of nappies when he was 2 was easy, conflict-free and happy for him.

    We also started from newborn with my daughter and similarly, got off to a good, comfortable start. She gives us semi-verbal signals now (such as blowing a raspberry, and sometimes even says 'poopoo'). It is rare to have to clean a soiled bottom. She is now 10 months old. She does have bladder awareness to the extent that when carried in a sling, rarely wets her nappy. We help her by giving her opportunities ('pottytunities') to use a potty or loo throughout the day - this is no inconvenience to us - and, as such, she stays dry for long periods. It's easy and can be done as little or as much as you like. It is a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone.

  4. We started our first EC journey when our son was 5.5 months old (with fitted carpets!). It has been an amazing experience for us all. Certainly not without it's bumps and blips, but this I put down to us having to re-learn this practice, not having our relatives to guide us. Despite our hurdles, he has been mainly dry day and night since 19 months (had bouts of both earlier but it all came together around 19 months), we have the odd miss still but it's crucial to remember that 1) it's about the communcation first and foremost, not about getting them dry as early as possible, 2) like moving, talking etc., they learn gradually - it's not going to all happen in one go and 3) up to a certain age it's about teamwork - they need our help to take them to eliminate. We've learned a lot from our experience with him and hope this will serve us well on our 2nd journey that started 3 weeks ago when our 2nd son was born.

    We have started - full time - from birth this time and it has truly been eye-opening. I've started an EC blog on my website Tribal Babies - - to document our journey this time round.

  5. It's really fascinating! At around 10 weeks, we started to experiment with early potty training.

    I was rather skeptical at first, but I'm now often able to read my little ones signals (a certain squirm, or pulling off the breast when feeding) that she needs to go. I hold her on the loo seat and make a little grunting noise - and then she tends to empty her bowels. Amazing! I'll also make the sound even if she goes in her nappy - it seems she often wants to be more upright when she goes, which makes sense.

    At nearly 4 months, I've started doing the 'pss pss' noises for when she goes for a wee too, so she'll start to associate this with going to the loo.

    We get some interesting looks from friends and family, but once we talk about it, I often find agreement in grandparents - they potty trained their kids by 18 months - and a friend who has worked as a nanny successfully did early potty training with a boy she looked after.

    Catching number twos in the loo seems somewhat easier than wees, so I'm interested to know how parents have fared with this with young babies.

  6. After reading "The Diaper Free Baby" I started EC with my son at 7 weeks by holding him over a bucket in the "in arms" position, and I'll always remember the look of glee and understanding in his eyes as he turned around and locked eyes with me. By 4.5 months I was regularly following his cues and offering him pottytunities when he signalled - he had clear "tells" such as panting and shaking his head (wee), or crawling forwards with his head on the floor while he teethed on his hand (poo) and once I realised these it was clear he was waiting until the last minute he could for me to notice and offer him a potty! We've used EC more or less intensively at different times depending on what else was going on in our lives and he was taking himself to one of the potties dotted about our house by 13 months. He was out of nappies long before his second birthday. It has been a wholly positive experience I'd recommend everyone to try as another method of communicating and understanding your child. We know to cuddle, feed, engage, play, rock etc when a baby needs it, why not allow them to eliminate freely and cleanly if we know when they need it?

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with others. It's great to hear. Do you live in London? Would you be interested in offering face-to-face support to other parents interested in EC?