Elimination Communication: How And When To Potty Train Without Diapers

Sameer C
·6-min read

The diaper as we know it today was invented in 1955. So how did mothers keep their babies clean and dry before that? Well, that’s exactly what elimination communication is about. As complicated as it sounds, the idea is to “eliminate” the diaper in favour of training your newborn to defecate on the toilet.

But why does it say communication? Well, the concept requires the parent to listen to the baby’s cues carefully and discover when they need to go.

With Elimination Communication (EC), we understand the baby’s needs –who will cry, strain or grunt before soiling the diaper. As attentive parents, you’ll need to identify these signs and overtime, your child will achieve toilet independence with your help.

But how can you start Elimination Communication and what are the advantages, disadvantages, and learnings it has to offer? Let’s find out.

Why Should You Adopt Elimination Communication?

how to start elimination communication
how to start elimination communication

Image Source: Pixabay

One of the main reasons to adopt EC is to train the child to become independent from a young age.

Babies communicate their urge to poop or pee and the parent needs to understand this need. You can essentially remove the diaper altogether and the baby is habituated to using the waste receptacle instead of doing it in a diaper.

Civilisations world over have survived without diapers, all the while maintaining natural hygiene practices for babies from one to three months old.

In some cultures, diapers aren’t even common because of limited availability or because of socio-economic situations. Here, the baby defecates by giving cues to the parent, who understands the infant’s need.

Interestingly, on average, a baby isn’t potty trained until about 18-20 months old.

How Does Elimination Communication Work?

EC won’t come to you easily nor will it come overnight. It is a continuous process that will keep evolving every time your baby needs to pee or poop.

For instance, some babies need to pee within a few minutes of being fed, whereas some babies choose to pee during naps or nighttime sleep.

You will have to keep track of your baby’s natural routine. Then, accordingly train him later to use the toilet at regular intervals throughout the day. Not just signals, but some babies cry or get fussy when they need pee or poop, and that’s something you need to identify in your little one.

You can also use cues to communicate with the baby to encourage them to pee when on a toilet seat. Making sounds like “shhh” or “sss” helps children urinate and trains them to do so whenever they hear the sound.

Over time, babies will identify the toilet as the designated spot to urinate or defecate and start looking out for the same as well.

When Can You Begin Elimination Communication?

Some parents choose to follow EC from as young as one month. However, that should not stop you from trying it out. If your infant is too young to be potty trained and still using diapers, it’s worth giving it a shot, especially if your baby responds positively to it.

What Are The Benefits Of Elimination Communication?

elimination communication
elimination communication

Image courtesy: Pexels

EC brings along with it a number of pleasantries that make it worth the effort. To begin with, your baby is less prone to diaper rashes and infections. This is simply because she does not need to spend a lot of time in their own excrement every time she needs to take a leak. You might also notice your child being in a happy mood for longer periods.

EC is also a great method of reducing wastage. Disposable diapers aren’t exactly environment-friendly and usually end up in a landfill. Using cloth diapers is a great alternative as they can be reused and take less water to wash and dry.

You also save a great deal of your hard-earned money spent on diapers every month. So no need to look for lucrative deals or buy them in bulk to save on a few dollars.

And lastly, EC makes for a smoother transition to toilet training as your baby grows older. In a few months of training, your baby will know to poop on a toilet, and that’s one less hurdle when it’s time to bring out the potty seat.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Elimination Communication?

While EC sounds good, it does come at the cost of time.

You need to be more devoted to your child’s schedule. This not only includes holding them on top of the toilet but also cleaning the diapers, following a time-table, and a lot more.

While this may work for a stay-at-home mother, a working mother might find it difficult to follow EC to the prescribed format. Moreover, daycares or nannies may not be on board with the idea, which makes it a little more difficult to execute in the long run.

Full Time vs Part Time: Which Elimination Communication Method To Choose?

Now that you have a grasp on the basics, you can choose if you’d like to follow elimination communication full-time or part-time.

  • Full-time method: Choosing it full-time would mean eliminating the disposable diaper completely from your lifestyle. Over time, you will work your way around outdoor trips. You’ll know when you can simply take your baby to a public washroom.

  • Part-time method: There’s the part-time method too that lets you have diapers as a back-up. You can use them during naps or when sleeping at night for long hours. You can also continue using them if you leave your child at a daycare or are stepping out of the home for long hours.

There is no right way of practising elimination communication. All it needs is dedication and you can always tweak the concept to suit your needs.

Apart from being a parent, you are a human too and need your sleep, time, and comfort beyond the time around the baby.


how to start elimination communication
how to start elimination communication

Image Source: iStock

Let’s just say this first, if you don’t want to practice elimination communication, it’s completely okay. There are no hard and fast rules about parenting. Each parent has their own way of raising their children right. Moreover, EC requires a lot of patience and needs time to be inculcated in your lifestyle.

If you manage to achieve that, it’s just a habit that needs to be followed regularly. Some families choose to use elimination communication when at home while sticking to using diapers outside.

Depending on your schedule and needs, you can always tweak the idea to meet your requirements. That’s all there is to it.

Not only will your child gain toiletry independence earlier, but it will connect you strongly with your child. So, if elimination communication resonates with you as a parent, go on and give it a try.


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