Category Archives: Elimination Communication

What’s the difference between Potty Training and Elimination Communication

I’m often asked what’s the difference between Potty Training and Elimination Communication (EC).

#ECchatAs a mother who started ECing Baby in Provence (BiP) when she was 3 months old, I’ve never had first hand experience of traditional potty training as she decided a few months before her 2nd birthday that she wanted to wear no longer wanted to wear a nappy/diaper. Amusingly, her decision to stop wearing nappies was just as we were boarding a long haul flight and she was very determined to have her own way!

Before I get into the differences between Potty Training and Elimination Communication I’d like to start with the definitions:

What is Potty Training?

Toilet training, or potty training, is the process of training a young child to use the toilet for urination and defecation, though training may start with a smaller toilet bowl-shaped device (often known as a potty). Cultural factors play a large part in what age is deemed appropriate, with the expectation for being potty trained ranging from 12 months for some tribes in Africa to 36 months in the modern United States. – Wikipedia

What is Elimination Communication?

Elimination Communication (EC) is NOT potty training. It is a gentle, natural, non-coercive process by which a baby, preferably beginning in early infancy, learns with the loving assistance of parents and caregivers to communicate about and address his or her elimination needs. This practice makes conventional potty training unnecessary.- The Diaper Free Baby


What’s the difference between Potty Training and Elimination Communication?

In short, Potty Training is about training the child whereas EC has nothing to do with training the child – it’s about training the parent to understand the child’s rhythms, cues and signs to help get them to a potty. EC is not about sitting around staring at your baby waiting for them to pee or poop! For more information on EC and our personal journey you can read all about it here.

Other differences between Potty Training and Elimination Communication include:

  • Signs of the child’s readiness are important in Potty Training vs. with EC readiness isn’t even acknowledged.
  • Some Potty Training methods have a reward scheme for the child who uses the potty vs. having little reaction to a child who goes to the potty with EC, as rewarding a normal bodily function is thought to be bizarre.
  • Potty training is often treated as a mission – something to get done vs. EC which is a journey with your child.

What are the similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication?

Obviously there are a lot of similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication! Pee, poop, more pee and poop, and accidents!

Other similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication include: 

Nappies/diapers – lots of them are used with both methods!

Equipment – both methods use Potty Training equipment; potties, steps, training underwear, cloth diapers etc – I did buy a fair amount of my potty training equipment from Tesco.

Mixed emotions – Potty Training and EC can frustrate you as a parent, at the same time you discover a level of joy about seeing a poop in a potty that you never knew was possible.

Criticism – no matter which method you chose to use you will be doing it wrong by someone – this does seem to come with the territory of being a parent!

Relief – Neither method lasts forever – eventually you will no longer have the need for nappies, you can carry a smaller bag and you’ll probably become an expert on the public toilet locations in your local area pretty quickly!

That’s a brief look at the differences (and similarities) between Potty Training and Elimination Communication.

What was your experience?

Elimination Communication is for Everyone!

#ECchatThis post was original written for “The Survival Guide for Rookie Moms” last May.

I stumbled upon Elimination Communication (EC) when I was pregnant. The minute I realised that there was an alternative to years of changing diapers I was sold. Ironically EC is considered to be a controversial stance in infant hygiene although it is far from new and it is practiced by billions all over the world. They don’t have diapers in most countries outside the industrialized world!

Not everyone will understand!

When I mentioned EC to my friends the usual response was “What?” and some had  fairly strong views on the subject:

babies are not aware enough to understand what’s going on

children should not be potty trained until they are old enough to be interested in it

or my favourite “I simply don’t have time to sit around watching my baby for signs that it needs to pee”.

Even my pediatrician told me that babies are incontinent until the age of 18months at the earliest.

What is Elimination Communication (EC)?

Described as a toilet training practice, “Elimination Communication (EC) is when a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant’s need to eliminate waste”

Basically, you tune into the rhythm of your baby’s need to pee or poop – usually babies need to eliminate 10 minutes after a feed or upon waking so that’s when you whip off their diaper and put them on the potty, over a bowl, over the toilet, in the garden – whatever works for you.

Isn’t it just potty training?

Yes and no. Babies are born with the instinct not to soil themselves and we actuallytrain them to pee and poop in a diaper and then we un-train them to go in the potty/toilet years later.

Through EC your baby starts to become aware of their need to eliminate and will start to let you know when they need to go.

So, when did we start Elimination Communication?

We started EC when Baby in Provence (BiP) was 3 months old. I bought a potty and held her over it 10 minutes after her last feed which was roughly about the time when she would usually pee.

I cued her by making the sound “Psst-psst” and a minute later she peed. I was sold. The day I caught her first poop in the potty I was elated. So was she! She hated being wet so it was a win win!

We take each day as it comes. It is not a competition. I don’t get upset about the misses. We celebrate each catch in the beginning and go with that. Some days BiP never makes it to the potty and that is absolutely fine. Life is stressful enough without adding to it.

What are the benefits of EC?

There are loads of benefits to EC. Too many to list here. For us it was simple. BiP hated being wet so she screamed everytime she peed so we went through masses of diapers so through EC we saved the crying and the diapers! It is much cleaner when they poop. We still have the same tube of diaper rash cream from when she was born as she almost never has diaper rash. I’ve read that it can help prevent UTI’s, thrush and other skin problems. Also the traditional method of potty training will be a stage you will probably sail through.

What are the downsides?

Like everything there are downsides! Once BiP got used to the feeling of pooping outside her diaper she would go crazy if I was missing her signal to go. If I did miss a poop she would cry inconsolably whilst I cleaned her up.

One time we were out and she refused to go in her diaper so I cued her in a car park – she pooped and was happy – I wasn’t. If your baby decides that they want to go when the diaper is off you can face problems when you are out.

Elimination Communication for Everyone

Everyone can do EC. It’s not exclusively for stay at home mothers. You can practice it full time, part time or occasionally – there are no hard and fast rules. It has to be something you can fit into your everyday life.  I do encourage everyone to try it before they knock it. Now we’ve been doing it for 1 year and I can’t imagine having done anything differently.


Are you interested in practising Elimination Communication? Are you ECing your baby? What tips can you share?

Taking EC to the next level!

ECingWe’ve had a great Elimination Communication journey with BiP to date – we’ve had some impressive times when it’s backfired too! Over the last couple of months I have noticed that she wakes up with dry diaper every morning so I decided this week to take things to the next level.

The first night I let BiP sleep in just her pajamas and no diaper. I put a towel under her just in case. She woke up dry, had her morning feed and then peed in the potty. The next night it was really hot so she was just in a t-shirt and cotton bloomers/panties (the ones that come with cute dresses) and she was dry all night (in spite of being up 3 times in the night and I didn’t potty her). I took the towel away because it was getting bunched up. 5 nights on she is still diaper free for over 12 hours and dry. At 14 months! It’s all her doing!  (I realise posting this will probably set us back into a regression but that is ok! I do have a mattress protector so all is fine.

We have had a fair share of potty pauses and days where I just can’t do it. It’s important to remember that it has to be manageable – it’s not a contest and it doesn’t have to be full time.

Interesting signs I have noticed with BiP recently:

  • She’ll bring the potty to me
  • She will wait until she is taken out of her highchair or car seat to pee
  • She will get off the bed or sofa to pee (even if it’s just on the floor)
  • She won’t pee on me
  • She has started putting her doll on the potty
  • She likes peeing in the garden
  • Poops are harder to catch with a diaper free baby
  • We’ve had misses and sadly it’s the dog who seems to enjoy the delicacy (*gag*)

By allowing BiP to be diaper free at night, I’ve noticed that she is more into ECing during the day, I realise that I am too. She brings the potty to me, she spends hours playing with her potty and practising getting on to it (previously she was the master of getting off it and peeing nearby!) She is completely aware of her elimination and tells me (non-verbally) when she has to go or if she’s had an accident. I know many EC experts say that the goal of EC is not to potty train early but it looks like it’s already happening naturally.

What are your recent EC experiences?

If you are looking for ways to start ECing your baby check out my 5 Tips on how to start

Elimination Communication in Macy’s NYC?

Macy's New York City

We are on a family holiday to New York and, as you do, we hit the shops! My husband was watching BiP as I went in search of some new, breastfeeding friendly clothes (I’ll save that for another post) when I heard “Ameena, come quick! You HAVE to see this! Now THAT is hardcore Elimination Communication!”  “What?”  I thought, we are on the 3rd floor of Macy’s in downtown NYC, he was outside the fitting rooms next to Starbucks so what on earth was he talking about?

Amidst the flurry of shop assistants yelling and screaming there was a mother holding her baby over some Starbucks napkins. The baby peed. The grandmother arrived with more napkins and then the baby pooped! The shop assistants screamed “You can’t do that here! That’s disgusting! Call security!” I could not stop laughing. It was hilarious. The mother and the grandmother were ignoring the attention (they were from the Far East and clearly tourists). The grandmother picked up the soiled napkins and headed for the Starbucks bin – another drama ensued!

So, how do you practice Elimination Communication in a department store? Unless you plan to take your baby to the bathroom I suggest you don’t but I guess other’s think otherwise!

When Elimination Communication Backfires: Potty Pause

“Potty Pauses” are a normal part of Elimination Communication particularly when your baby is hitting new developmental milestones such as crawling, standing, walking etc … Like anything, there are always drawbacks, setbacks and times when it just backfires! Recently we have been having a serious potty pause to the point that I wonder if I have any wisdom to share anymore! I have 2 options; to cry or to share some of our recent distasters and hopefully some of you will laugh with me!

Ok, I wear Birki's and yes, that's BiP's pee on her sock AND my foot! (excuse the lack of pedicure)

What’s a Potty Pause?
“Potty Pauses” are when your Elimination Commuication efforts with your baby grind to a halt! You’ve had weeks of straight sailing; catching pee’s and poops as if your tiny baby is already potty trained and then it stops! Overnight all your efforts are no longer going down the toilet (well, potty) they are going everywhere else!

When the floor just isn’t good enough
Standing up and peeing in the bath is a common favourite and that’s ok – peeing on MY feet has become a favourite that I don’t love that much but I guess I’m lucky to have come this far without being peed on!

Diaper Free Time on the Terrace
Spring in Provence is warm so BiP runs around outdoors diaper free with a potty within easy reach. She misses and that’s fine when it’s a pee – until she decides that she is going to pee on dolly. Poor dolly. I’m OK with this for now – I’m not so cool when it’s a poop – and yes, we’ve had poops. TIP: Keep a watering can close to hand!

Poor dolly!

When a dog becomes your best EC friend (warning this is NOT for the squeamish)
Just today BiP was playing in the garden playing with the dog and wanted to poop. I whipped off her diaper and held her in the bucket hold and she went. Just as I was cleaning her up I turned around to see that the dog had eaten her poop *gag* OMG! I was almost sick. Damn dog won’t eat the rice she drops on the floor but he will eat that *YUCK!*


SO, there you have it, the glamour of EC backfiring royally! I swear if that dog DARES to lick BiP’s face he’s going straight to the taxidermists!

Any EC backfiring stories you’d care to share?

Making clothes more EC friendly!

Do you have a lot of bodies that you don’t put your baby in because they are pain to EC with? I know I am sick of having to deal with the snaps and make sure they don’t dangle into the potty.

Collection of lovely new bodies which are totally EC unfriendly!

The few times that BiP has peed on the bit that fell down into the potty were enough to make me reconsider using them at all – not to mention the issue of having to whip off the leggings, then undo the snaps then get the diaper off … you get the picture!  Problem is some of the bodies are so cute! A lot of sets come with matching bodies so it seems a shame to wear them.  So, I decided it was time to get creative!

I don’t consider myself to be very crafty at all. I can sew if I have to but I certainly do not enjoy sewing hems and I don’t know how to use a sewing machine! Here is one way to make your baby bodies more EC friendly and without a needle and thread in sight!

What do you need: A pair of scissors, some wonder web and an iron. Yes! That’s all!

Step One: Cut the bottom of the bodies off just above the seams for the legs so you have enough space to put a hem. Throw the bottoms away.

Cut the bottoms off


Step Two: Turn the body, now, t-shirt, inside out. Fold the bottom to make a hem. Iron in a crease. Lay wonderweb and then apply heat so the fabric sticks together making a nice tidy hem! Done!


Done!! All the tools you need (iron not featured)



Not bad ... almost perfect hems!


That’s my tip! How do you make your baby clothes more EC friendly?

Diaper Free Oops!

Now the weather is warmer in Provence I have decided to let BiP spend a lot of her days diaper free.

However, I’ve been missing a few of her signs to go to the potty which are pretty obvious; she walks over to me and starts fussing, a minute later she pee’s.

Elimination Communication MishapI got it this time when she peed on her feet and my shoe! Thankfully I have tiled floors but still! Guess this is could be filed under When ECing Backfires!

What are your recent diaper free oops’?


Five tips on how to start ECing your baby

Today I received an email from a friend who wanted to know how to get started with Elimination Communication. For many ECing seems like a time consuming and daunting process when it doesn’t have to be!

Here are my five tips on how to get started:

1. Put your baby on the potty at every diaper change – many babies won’t go in their diaper once its wet unless they really have to. After a while they will associate the potty with the diaper change and might even wait until you change them to go. If your baby objects, (arches their back, cries, kicks etc) put the potty away and try again later.


2. Make potty time fun – keep toys or books to hand when you put you baby on the potty. BiP’s personal favourites are board books and hand puppets. Sing songs or read a story between cueing “psst – psst” to help them relax and enjoy being on the potty. Maybe even try a fun potty. Give them time. Personally I recommend starting with 2-3 minutes, sometimes longer, after a while they will go within seconds of being put on the potty.


3.  Make it part of their routine – most babies need to pee upon waking so try putting them on the potty at regular intervals; after naps, after meals, 10-15 mins after a feed etc … NOTE: Most babies tend to pee more in the mornings than the afternoons so bear that in mind when getting started.


4.  Take your baby to the bathroom with you – put your baby on the potty when you go to the bathroom. Narrate the process (obviously to what extent you do this is a personal preference and I will leave that to your discretion!)


5.  Relax! A lot of people put pressure on themselves to succeed from the very first time they put their baby on the potty. It’s not always that simple and you will have a lot of misses before you have any catches. Don’t worry about reading signs or signals – that will come.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask!

When Elimination Communication Backfires

As great as ECing is, I have to admit that, there are times when you just want your baby to go in their diaper. When it’s all going well, this, can be, confusing to your little one. Yesterday I was talking to a friend about ECing and I started thinking of the incidents we’ve had with BiP where ECing has actually backfired.

Not under the table!
BiP has made good use of gardens and fields, which is not really embarrassing until she poops (rather than pee’s, as you wrongly assumed) under the table in the garden whilst having aperitif at a friends house!

Poop, a car park and a sandal!
About 6 weeks into ECing BiP we were out in a posh village and she was fussing and being totally “off” when it clicked what she wanted to poop! I tried cueing her to go in her diaper but this just enraged her further so we decided to head back to the car. I whipped off BiP’s diaper and held her in the bucket hold between the cars and she instantly pooped! Just as I was about to get a bottle of water out of the car to wash away the mess the couple who were parked next to us returned!!! Before I could say “Attention!” (“watch out” in French) the lady stepped in it! I was mortified! (Now, before anyone says anything, the streets in France are decorated in dog poop so personally, I would rather step in breastfed baby poop than dog poop!)  I then vowed to travel with a potty in the car from that day on!

Hey! The potty sucks but this rug will do!
Recently BiP decided that the potty was uncomfortable at Grandma’s and pulled herself up on to the coffee table and promptly peed on the rug. During diaper free time at home she chooses to get off the potty and pee on the tiles and then proceed to slip and fall … or if she does actually poop in her diaper it becomes a huge ordeal with her crying her eyes out even when she has been changed.

So, whilst I love ECing it certainly has its downfalls! I am hoping that when she starts walking things will be easier but I am sure I will have more stories to tell!

Am I missing something?

Flip Image

Today is day 2 in our transition to cloth diapers. I was reluctant to use cloth simply because I thought that with Elimination Communication (EC) we wouldn’t actually use that many diapers – I was wrong!

So, I found myself with the challenge of finding the most eco-friendly cloth diapering system around (I couldn’t see how all that laundry could be that good for the environment) so I went with Flip Cloth Diapers – with which you just have to change the insert each time it gets wet and the shell once a day.

Now, they are are super cute but I am not really finding them all that easy to use and BiP is using them on the largest setting. The laundry doesn’t bother me, we’ve not had any leaks but I am not getting that “Fluff Addiction” I so crave. They don’t seem to be as swift as disposables to whip off in a hurry to get BiP to the potty and when they are off I have to readjust them.

Am I doing something wrong? When will my love affair with them start?