Why Toilet Training Stinks And How To Avoid It Completely

Posted on Oct 21 2013 - 5:51pm by megganmamma


toilet training

I was down at the beach last week.  Joshi was playing in the water with this other little boy, also 18 months old. I was chatting with his mom.  She asked me, “When are you going to start toilet training Joshi?”  “I’m not,” I said, “We’ve been practicing elimination communication (EC) and responding to Joshi’s toilet needs since he was 10 days old.” I also shared how he’s been nappy free at night since he was 6 months old and that although we still miss catching some wees we almost never miss a poo. She was surprised. She’d never heard about ECing.   Most mums I’ve spoken to haven’t.  So if you’re also one of those who’ve not, then this is the news – you can give the whole toilet training thing a complete miss if you EC your baby instead.

Toilet Training Stinks

Yes, I think the whole idea of toilet training stinks; in more ways than one.  This mum I met read that you shouldn’t start toilet training your kid until they’re 22 months.  I was genuinely shocked, but when I googled ‘toilet training’ that’s the advice that came up.  Seriously some of the worst advice ever. I can’t believe this lousy information is really what parents are being given.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the ‘regular’ toilet training info that mums read:

1. Toilet training encourages you to not respond to your kids toilet needs for the first two years of their life

Online it said, “don’t start toilet training too early.”  Is it really possible to respond to your kid’s toilet needs too early? Surely by not responding to your kids toilet needs for the first years you’re basically teaching them that the place for them to go to the toilet is in their nappy/pants.   If this is what you do then you’re eventually going to have to teach them that what you’ve been teaching them is wrong.  How confusing must that be for kids? I’ve heard some pretty yukky things about toilet training.  One kid refused to do a poo anywhere except for in his nappy.  His mum literally had to put his nappy back on so that he would poo. How unsurprising.  For years this is what he’s been taught and now he’s being told not to.    Kids learn from our actions but they also learn from our in-actions.  The repeated inaction of not removing your kid’s nappy when they need the loo teaches them that the place to go to the toilet is in their nappy.   ECing is not rocket science … you just take their nappy off and take them to the potty.  You can start this right from the time they’re born (and yes, it’s possible even when you’re in public).

2. Toilet training says “your kid needs to be between 18 months and three years before they are mature enough to recognize the urge to use the toilet”

From my personal experience this is complete nonsense.  If you observe newborn babies you’ll notice they’re already able to recognize the urge to use the toilet.  Of course they won’t say so with words, but they’ll probably make sounds and gestures.   They might even cry, pull off the boob while feeding or start wiggling about. These are a few of the signs that EC talk about.  That’s when you hold them over the sink, potty or bush.

3. Toilet training says “Toddlers can’t hold on for long”

Well surprise surprise – for months or years your baby has learnt to go in their nappy.  They’ve had no need to practice holding. I noticed with Joshi (who’s now 18 months) that he very quickly started holding.  I remember when he was just a few months old, we were in the car, on the freeway.  He needed the loo.  I told him to hold and he did – for a few hours. I used to EC Joshi a few times through the night, but since he turned 14 months he’s been holding right through the night (from 8pm to 7am).  I also never subscribed to the practice of no liquids  before bed.  He has a big feed before bed, has his final visit to the potty and then feeds a few times through the night. Still he doesn’t have to go until 7am.   Ironically, my current challenge is to get him to go once he’s up!

4. Toilet training says, “A child usually masters daytime toileting before they can keep their bed dry at night.”

This may be so for that expert’s child, but it wasn’t true with mine.  Joshi was dry at night as soon as I started pottying him regularly when he woke. I only started pottying him at night from 6 months and he’s been dry through the night ever since, long before he was dry through the day. Basically, your baby will be dry through the night when you take them to the potty when they wake at night.  Baby’s wake to go to the loo.  If no one takes them then they’ll have to go in their bed.  If someone takes them, they’ll stay dry.

5. Toilet training says, “Most children under the age of five years still urinate in their sleep.”

As I said in the previously point, babies don’t urinate in their sleep.   From the time they are born they wake to wee, but if there’s no one to take them to the potty, they’ll have to go in their nappy.

6. Toilet training says, “Toilet training’s a big step in your toddler’s life.”

Yes, it’s going to be a big step for them if their toilet needs have not been responded to for 2 years.   That’s one of the great things about ECing … it’s a gradual process that unfolds over time, not something you suddenly present to your kid which is in complete contrast to what they’ve learned before.  Also, with elimination communication there’s no hurry, you’re not trying to get your kid toilet trained, you’re just responding to their needs when you see them, knowing that they’ll eventually get there once they’re ‘on the path’.

7. Toilet training says, “They need to have the ability to sit in one position for two to five minutes.”

Really?  In our household it takes about five seconds to wee.   With elimination communication  your child isn’t thrust onto a potty at a time of the parents choosing and then expected to wee before they’re again permitted to toddle off.  Your kid doesn’t even need to be able to sit before you start responding to their toilet needs.  They just need someone to hold them over a sink or potty for a few seconds whenever you read their signals.

When Can You Start Elimination Communication?

If you’ve not EC’d your baby/toddler until now, it’s never too late, you can start anytime. Why don’t you start now!  It  doesn’t have to be practiced 24/7, so if you’re a working mamma you can still do it.  You also don’t have to do it at night if you don’t feel you can manage.  You just do it when you can and when you choose to, that’s often good enough.

Some Of The Things I Love About Elimination Communication

  • I love not having to clean poo of cloth nappies
  • I love not having to clean heaps of poo of a baby’s bottom and back
  • I love reducing the amount of cloth nappies that need to be washed – less laundry’s always a winner!  If we weren’t EC’ing, I think the laundry aspect of cloth nappies would be too much for this mamma and I’d resort to disposables which are expensive and terrible for the environment.
  • I love not having to get my head around toilet training
  • I love that for the past few months I’ve watched Joshi going to the potty, doing his thing and then lifting the toilet lid and emptying the potty into the toilet.
Now it’s your turn:

Have you heard of elimination communication?  Would you be open to giving it a go with your kid?  Let me know if you’ve got any questions about it and I’ll be happy to help If I can.

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14 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. katesurfs October 21, 2013 at 10:48 pm -

    Nice one Meggan! I love this one so much and reading about your adventures with EC! I remember when you first started and it all seemed like a mystery and I kept telling you that it will all sort itself out and it looks like it definitely has! Now you’re a pro 😉 I was shocked too when I did a search for conventional toilet training tips. Absolutely floored when I read some of the advice. Margo (3 1/2) holds her wees at night for so long! Sometimes 12 hours and she’s the same, I have to bother her to get on the loo!

    • megganmamma October 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm -

      Thanks Kate! Thanks for inspiring me about it when I was pregnant. I think hearing about it early on made all the difference. Not sure what I’d have ended up doing if I’d not heard of it… happier not to even think about it! Happy holding.x

  2. Trish October 23, 2013 at 5:45 am -

    What a brilliant and compelling article. I wish every new mother could read this blog. Makes me think of all the other learned behaviors children have to unlearn as they grow. Wish I’d known about ECing decades ago. It would have saved a lot of heartache, hassle, tears and frustration.

    • megganmamma October 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm -

      Thanks Trish. What ‘other behaviours’ are you referring to?

  3. sonya November 9, 2013 at 2:15 pm -

    i started part-time-ish ec with my daughter (now 17 months) when she was about three months but took a break when she started to refuse to sit on the potty (around six or seven months). the frequent mopping up of wee kind of wore me down. i was still quite fragile after conventional potty training proved… “challenging” with my son. she’s started to pat her bottom when she’s done a pooh and she loves sitting on the potty in her brother’s room so i bought another one for the bathroom and i’m going to start giving her nappy free time at home and see how we go. i was absolutely amazed when we were doing EC at how a three-month-old could ‘tell’ me when she needed to go. it’s brilliant. i wished i’d known about EC with my son. i read about “nappy free” in baby love when he was tiny but it’s not explained well at all and i remember thinking it sounded insane!

    • megganmamma November 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm -

      Hi Sonya, thanks for sharing here. Joshi also went through a phase of resisting the potty and from what I’ve heard a lot of kids who are EC’d go through that. Actually we’re in one of those phases right now. He’s currently 19 months old and has been through the potty-resisting phase quite a few times. So now, instead of only putting him on the potty I’m back to holding him from behind with his thighs pressed into his tummy. It’s working really well. Sometimes he’s fine with being on the potty though, so I just have to take it wee by wee!

      Glad to hear that you’re going to give your daughter nappy-free time again. I’m sure she’ll be pleased with that! One of the things I love about ECing is that it’s a gradual journey, with ups and downs, rather than the very sudden ‘let’s toilet-train you now’ approach. All the best with it Sonya. Do let me know how you go and feel free to ask any questions. I’m happy to help in any way if I can.

      • sonya November 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm -

        hey meggan
        thanks for the encouragement. our adventures in EC have been interesting since i first commented. anouk absolutely pats her bottom to tell us that a wee, poo or fart are on the way. on one hand it is great that she’s aware and communicating. however, the nappy-free time has revealed that the actual event may not happen for another 5-10 minutes, which is way too long to keep her sitting on the potty. we were trying to entice her to sit down with books and so forth but she really strongly objected. i have tried to hold her out but she’s not up for that either. i think she doesn’t like the feeling of the plastic potty on her skin. i have one of the ‘top hat’ potties with a fabric cover and she seems happier with that but only when she sits on it independently and someone keeps it stable not when i put it between my legs with on her on my lap (if that makes sense).
        another ‘layer’ to all of this is that she often asks to have her nappy taken off or refuses to wear one if we’re changing her. i’m fine with that, unless we’re about to go out or she’s about to have a nap. it’s just a bit complicated because she’s not got the sitting on the potty thing worked out but she has a mini-freak out when she does do a wee or poo and we don’t manage to catch it (only had two catches so far, lots of misses!).
        Anyway, I’ve been trying to make using the toilet seem less scary by getting her to come to the bathroom when I or her brother go and telling her what’s going on etc. She’s very interested and has started to volunteer to sit on the potty again, no wees or poos but still a step in the right direction i think.
        Wow, that’s a long comment… Anyway love to hear any suggestions you might have.

        • megganmamma November 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm -

          Hi Sonya, sounds like you are doing well. I think one of the most important things is consistency, so just regularly giving her the opportunity to go without making a big deal out of it. And that’s what you’re doing. Awesome that she pats her bottom to let you know, even if it is a while away. Maybe instead of offering her the potty when you see a pat, just offer it to her 5-10 minutes later, now that you know that’s her thing. It might be different and harder to do this with a girl, but when Joshi didn’t want to sit on the potty or be held (yes, that was a phase he went through too), I just had a long, tall container that he could use while standing. That worked a dream. Might be easier with boys, but you could give it a go. I would hold it initially then he started picking it up and holding it for himself. He was around 14 months old at the time. You could also try letting her sleep without a nappy and then just ECing her as soon as she wakes. I’ve noticed that babies actually wake to go to the loo, but I’m not sure if that’s just with babies who are EC’d from birth and whether babies who aren’t do learn to go in their sleep. Hope some of that helps. All the best!

  4. Stephanie November 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm -

    OK I’m inspired. My 13 month old, who has NEVER liked having a wet nappy, meaning up to 25 changes in a day (thank goodness for cloth!!) is going to love this!! haha now I’m going to go get me a potty and see how we go. Yay for summer and warmer weather for bare bums!

    • megganmamma November 29, 2013 at 12:59 pm -

      That’s awesome news Stephanie! All the best and let me know how it goes. Happy catching!

  5. Putri December 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm -

    Hi Meggan,
    I’ve never heard of EC. I doubt my friends here in Malaysia have as well. This is interesting though I’m slightly doubting my abilitiy to EC my 9 mth old baby at night and whether my child minder would mind doing EC. but like you said, do it when I can, so I will try hopefully soon. Sooo inspiring!

    • megganmamma December 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm -

      Hi Putri, I’m so excited for you and pleased to hear that you’re going to give it a go. Once you start you’ll realise how easy it is and the doubts you’re having will melt away. EC’ing your baby in front of your child minder will make them see how easy it is too and then they may be up for giving it a go too. EC’ing is fun. It’s only not fun when you take it too seriously and try to do it all the time. So yes, just do it when you can and enjoy it! Let me know how it goes.

  6. Chaquita August 2, 2014 at 9:36 am -

    Hi Meggan, i am struggling with this, i might just copy and paste what i wrote on another blog about it…
    oh man, I’m still pretty overwhelmed with this dream, my lads are 9 weeks old on Monday & I’ve only caught like one poo! They poo SO much, like at least 7-10 times a 24hrs, probably more, & wee!! LOADS. Twins.
    I became re-inspired this morning so we’re in the morning sun in our bedroom with some plastic change mats and i’ve got out my EC pull-ups to put on after this naked time here…
    Flynn was getting all squirmy before and i got all excited & put him over the bucket, held him there for a good five min or more, but nothing…ooh, then a little pee started, so i put my finger gently on his doodle to point it downward, & it stopped…we waited…nothing more…so i lay him on the mat and about 5min later, out came the wee, i again put him over the bucket, but nothing more came… same thing later i thought i saw poo cue’s, but 5 or so min hanging over the bucket brought nothing… meanwhile, Ra, the other twin, is half asleep over there…
    – I just noted another wee coming from Flynn & zoomed him over the bucket, but yeah, too late again i guess…nothing more came out, then i thought a drop of poo was there but that was it…
    I”m curious about this long tall container you speak of – would that be more for when they can stand?
    i’m amazed at all the success stories here!! go you guys.

    • megganmamma August 7, 2014 at 2:32 pm -

      Hi Chaquita,

      Firstly, well done YOU for taking on ECing your twins.

      Secondly, the thing I noticed with ECing is that spotting cues can sometimes take a while and that sometimes their cues change. Some parents who EC may never really notice a cue as such. I also noticed that a lot of the time ECing ran on my intuition – sometimes I was wrong, but most of the time I was right. Just keep going – there’s really no right or wrong with how you EC – it’s just about doing it whenever you can and being patient too, seeing it as a journey of responding to your kid’s needs rather than a destination of having your kid become “toilet-trained” asap.

      Yes, the long tall container I spoke of is for when they can stand.

      Oh, just to share a bit more – Joshi’s now 2.3months and completely out of nappies. He was dry at night as soon as I started ECing him through the night (at 6 months)- and he totally stopped needing to be EC’d at night when he was just over a year old because he was holding. It’s been so great to skip the bed-wedding that so many parents go through … and I thank ECing for that and for so many other benefits. Much love. Let me know how it goes! If you have any questions along the way, just ask!xx