Can you potty train an infant?
Apparently the average age to potty train a baby used to be 18 months! Then, diapers became too good and babies never wanted to get out of them! I'm sure there are other reasons but having traveled, I also had to think of what some cultures without diapers do.
Well, they potty train!
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There is a method called Elimination Communication (EC) and it suggests starting as soon as DAY ONE!
We were actually late to the game when we started at 4 months!
In this blog, I'll talk about resources to learn more, what you need to get started, our experience, and some tips I've learned from doing it (and failing)!
If you've followed me on YouTube or have read any of my blogs you know that I like to find the strangest things (i.e. Montessori floor bed and cloth diapering) and give them a go! Well, this is no different.
Can you potty train an infant?
I was eager, Seth was even more eager, to get started. However, when you're a first-time parent trying to learn all the things, something has to give. We stalled on this until she was about 4 months old.
The week I tried to start learning her cues was the same week she started the dreaded 4-month sleep regression and it was terrible. My sleep deprivation told me it was impossible. So, I gave up.
Literally, that was it.
I was like, “Welp, not for us!”
But I kept getting messages from people, “thank you so much for telling us about EC, it's going so well!!”
Then Seth started trying again when she was 6 months, and what do you know? It worked. Now we catch between 1-3/day.
I have heard a few times that men are the ones to initiate EC. Idk if they're more excited for the party trick (which we would never do in front of a crowd, and also, what crowd #covid) or more excited to not have to change diapers!
Now that we're getting the hang of it, I don't know that I would call what we do “potty training”, but she absolutely understands what to do on the potty.
In this post I'm going to share:
– Resources for more information
– Items that helped me be successful
– Our experience of trying at 4 months and FAILING and then succeeding when we tried again at 6 months
– Tips/what I wish I'd known
Resources to learn more:
This book is a great no BS approach for how to start potty training your infant, and actually make it happen! If you want some more info before committing to the book, her podcast has great 10 minute episodes covering a ton of topics!
Items I found helpful:
#1 Tiny Potty
A tiny potty! These toilets are great for an infant. They also have a Top Hat for potty training an infant starting day one!
Because we started at 4 months the Tiny Potty (first photo) was perfect for us.
I've also included a few other options depending on the age of your baby and your set up at home!
#2 Potty Cozy
Potty Cozy‘s can be great so your infant doesn't have to sit directly on the cold plastic. It's nice when they're starting to learn, but the material gets messy quickly and our babe doesn't mind without. You can skip it.
#3 Tiny Trainers
Tiny Trainers HEYSHAYLA for $5 off
These are fantastic when you're trying to learn your baby's cues!
I would recommend the purple or blue pair instead of white so you can easily tell when they are wet.
After she goes potty, I will flush it down the toilet, dry it out with toilet paper or cloth wipes and then swipe it with one of these. Sometimes she gets a hold of the potty and I want to make sure it's clean.
This is a super easy way to clean out poop from the potty. I have a sprayer for my cloth diaper and it's likely you have a peri bottle from labor. Both of these can double as a potty cleaner!
#6 Cloth wipes
I use these on her for pee diaper changes + drying out the potty after I rinse it.
I cannot recommend this baby tent enough! (They're almost always running a sale plus HEYSHAYLA will get you an EXTRA 10% off)! The tent + inflatable mattresses are super easy to pack up and bring with you! You can see in this video.
What I tried at 4 months:
The first step in EC is to learn the cues that signal when your baby has to go potty.
I swear when she was little it was SO easy to know when she was up to something. That would have been the perfect time to use the potty!
But instead, I waited until she was scooting around! Big mistake, but in my defense she was an early mover! At 4 months she was scooting to crawl so I did the best I could to try and figure out her cues.
– Put her in tiny trainers (heyshayla for $5 off, I recommend blue or purple trainers instead of the white ones so you can easily see when they're wet) and watched her
– Laid a crib sheet protector on the floor and let her go diaper-free
– Put her in the playpen because the self-inflating mattress was easy to wipe clean.
One of the first things you try to understand is her cues for when she has to go. A cue can be when they're active and become still or vice-versa. Sometimes they talk to you, sometimes they go sit by themselves. There were times I could tell that she had to go but would not do it when I sat her on the potty!
If you're having trouble figuring out your baby's cues like I did, they suggested to just start trying to do “transition catches”. So that's what we do, and that's what works!!
Now, I catch almost all of her morning potties and offer the potty during transition times, after naps, after eating, and after being in the car. We also taught her to grunt when she sits on the potty, and she does that a lot.
1. Cloth Diapers | I share our 80/20 diaper plan here
Cloth diapers and elimination communication go hand in hand. With cloth, our babies can feel when they are wet. With disposables, they do not, which can make it take longer for them to want to use a potty. Plus, there is an overlap in items: the sprayer is used on the potty and the diapers and the cloth wipes dry the potty and the babe! They really do work well together!
2. Don't think “potty training”
When you start, no stress. I was so concerned that when she would go in her diaper, I was falling at potty training her. But, that's not the point. Instead, the point is for our infants to understand the association with the potty. Sit down here to go potty.
3. No Praise?!
Instead, comment on what you're observing. We want to avoid extrinsic motivation or being motivated by the caregiver. And instead, create intrinsic motivation and have them do it because they want to! More info on this on this quick podcast: Episode #121 of Go Diaper Free Podcast.
The podcast suggests things like “I see you went potty!” or “Does that feel better?”. But ultimately, at the end of the episode, she asks “what do you choose to do with your children?”, I think this is pretty great. She tells you what she thinks then sends you off with “You do you”.
When we started, we praised her, and now that she's getting the hang of it we're choosing different words.
4. Track poops
When I started EC, I received a DM on my Instagram from someone letting me know about a possible negative side effect. Some babies hold it which can cause problems for the baby.
So, I keep an eye on this and track her poops, and I offer the toilet often.
5. If all fails, try for transition times! This is what finally worked for us!
After I tried observing her diaper free for hours, and failed, at 4 months I was no closer to understanding her cues.
Then, we tried again but this time focused on transition times. Babies don't typically go to the bathroom while they're in their car seat, high chair, while you're holding them, in the place where they sleep, etc. So if you offer them the potty after these times you just might catch something!
We catch something EVERY morning now when she wakes up and typically once or twice during the day.
When she sits on the potty we say and do a few things:
We will cue her with a grunt! Baby grunts are the cutest thing! When she's off the potty, a grunt is not also the indicator for when she needs to go on the potty.
7. Away with the onesie! (kind of)
I was, and honestly still am, an obsessor of the baby onesie… they're actually the cutest thing ever. I still put her in one every night. But during the day she usually rocks her cloth diaper and a shirt. This makes it soooo easy to pop her diaper off and have her try to potty.
8. Part-Time EC?
The book says you can absolutely part time. For example, I usually only catch her morning potty, maybe the one after the nap and likely nothing after that. But she knows what to do! I think it's more that I'm not paying close enough attention to catch!
9. Potty her in the bathroom?
Chyeah! That's basically what we do!
We are stoked about what we catch but don't stress about what we miss. We plan to keep offering the potty to her throughout the day and hope that we will catch more and more!
I don't know the right answer honestly, but I might start moving the party to the bathroom when she has to go so she can associate the bathroom with going potty.
I'll keep you posted with how everything goes!
If you want more information, this is the book with all the info in one spot. This is the podcast with TONS of episodes all about EC!