elimination communication/ natural infant hygiene
save money on nappies- spend many pennies in cafes so as to use their toilets

Like many aspects of childcare and life in general, ideas about potty training have varied around the world and through history (Amber Hatch).  In the UK we are usually told to wait until a child is 2, but I was lucky enough to find out it can be done earlier.  You can find infographics on the benefits here and here, and post addressing concerns here.

At first, my postpartum body and brain were too beaten up to consider it.  However, one nappy change, when baby was 9 weeks old; I had a sudden burst of confidence, coupled with a desire to protect the precious carpet we naively bought when I was pregnant.  The plan was to hold baby over a bucket at nappy changes to prevent sprinkledge.  After about three days it became apparent Baby was waiting to be held.  This brought with it a sense of pride for all of us, but also the necessity to think about wees constantly and all the time from that point forward.  

Most instructions tell you to let Baby run around the flat naked ('nappy free' time) and observe when they wee on the floor before you start.  Once you start they then don't always wear nappies.  This advice did not chime with our carpet or the time of year, and so was ignored.

Article on EC in Nursery

Bathroom Tiles
Image by Rob Hayman



How to hold baby

Initially I found it hard to remember the instructions about how to hold baby, and not to imagine dropping them down the toilet.  Perhaps it would help to have a picture printed out when you start.

Images and videos for how to hold baby can be found on the Born Ready website.  A video also recommends teaching baby to sign by slapping their shoulder.  This hasn't caught on in our house.  Baby is enthusiastic about actions in action songs, but not in general conversation.  


Make a 'psss' wee sound to let Baby know it is time to go.  Nowadays this isn't usually necessary, but I still use it if we wait a while. 

Below, I will list the routines I have used, and the signs Baby has given me.  I also recommend a simple infographics on when and how by ecpeesy. 

I never criticise Baby for accidents or not needing to go.  I try not to impart any shame around bodily functions or body parts, so as Baby feels safe to talk to me about them.  I am grateful to Baby for communicating with me, and for their patience when getting dressed; but I don't feel they need to be told it is morally 'good' to hold a wee.  I might say something like 'ahh that feels better'!

Routine reminders

I first read that the best routine is to give baby a wee after a feed.  I wasn't sure how this would work, since at the time life was just one long feed, where each feed started and ended with another feed.  When I found out you can wee after a nap as well it was a revelation.  

When changing the nappy (even if the nappy is wet Baby is likely to have held some of the wee)

After a sleep

On arriving and leaving a place

When out and we happen to be near one

Before and after the bath

After a feed (baby had a phase of wanting to feed on the toilet, and currently still finds it easier to concentrate there when out)

Before and after a meal

On the hour/ half hour if it's been a while since they asked

Convenient moment between busy things or the need to sit still

When you need to go yourself

Signs baby needs a wee

From time to time, baby changes their signal.  A kindly way to ensure I can't become bored.  Here they are, vaguely in the order we've used them:

Acting like they need a burp

Coming on and off the nipple

Unexplained discomfort

Staring at you

Making a sound

Lies down

Leg wave and quiver

Tries to escape from buggy/ carrier

Comes over for milk and goes away again

Pulling at your trousers

Pulling at their trousers

Gets self out of bed

Hovers by the door (may get distracted on the way)

Hovers by the toilet (they've started to hover near cosy places for milk or the table for food too)

Leads you by the finger


Says wee (pee may have been and easier word to say, but it's too late to change now)

Signs baby needs a poo

Look of concentration or seriousness

Still and quiet- lets you get on with housework

Appears strangely independent and focussed on an activity

Subtle bum wiggle

Stands holding something

Hasn't gone to sleep when expected

Had a feed recently

Has been distracted when out (Baby likes to go at home)

Has just been and you think they couldn't possibly need to go again


Says poo

I view working out when Baby wants the toilet as a mindfulness practice which has brought us closer overall, but at times to tears. 


In the morning more potty opportunities are needed.  On waking, I might give Baby a wee, stand them up, and then offer them another wee straight away.  Or have a wee myself in between their two wees.  They will need another one at least before breakfast.  
When Baby was younger, they would lie on the changing mat beside the radiator.  I would moved them on and off the bucket, and they kicked their legs and eat their toes.


We began with a bucket.  At 4 months Baby decided they were too old for this and we got a toilet seat.  They are now happy with either.  Now that Baby is bigger, it can be more comfortable to hold them out as I sit on a chair. 

We have a portable, foldable toilet seat thing called a Potette Plus.  You can convert it into a potty by buying a silicon bowl or attaching a carrier bag.  Baby has used the potty in the summer when we weren't near a loo, but has at times held out until I take them to a tree.   

There's also something called a My Carry Potty with a lid, but I haven't tried this. 

I also bought a radar key to open accessible toilets with, as I noticed baby changing facilities were often locked in the accessible toilet at train stations and in Planet Organic!  

Baby mostly wears GroVia My Way padded pants.  I chose these because they were smaller than other training pant options, are padded, and can be opened with poppers.  For a while, we used the poppers to attach GroVia biodegradable liners.  I find pants much easier than a nappy to put on the fidget bum.  Baby will get some normal pants once their bum is big enough.  Some people use flap nappies, but they fell off.


The Bonds Wondersuit and the Boody Babygrow have two way zips which are much quicker than poppers.  The Wondersuit also has fold out feet.

Some people make split crotch pants.

Baby is now at an age where their legs are long enough for trousers to stay round their ankles when they use the toilet, so we use these.

When they are wearing a rain suit, I squat and lay Baby over my legs. 

Breaks and bad days

Some days there is too much going on, or one of us is tired, and Baby and I fall out of sync.  There have also been longer phases when we stopped understanding one another.  For example, when Baby learnt to crawl they were very busy and found it hard to multi task.  I had to learn to spot the signs without being in physical contact.  Other phases were when baby started eating, and when we moved house.  
As they have got older, Baby has had more things to say and I sometimes misinterpret the signal as asking for something else.
There was another phase where Baby only wanted me to take them to the toilet, and would simply not go if someone else tried.  They may have even sat there giggling.

Flappy times

Sometimes Baby isn't into it.  At these times it is more common that they do need to go than that they don't.  They sometimes get in a flap while waiting to be brought, as can be the case the leaving the house or getting milk.  Here are some things I do to address this:

Offer a boob

Go myself to set an example

Change the position, ie toilet seat reducer or ec hold

Hold over a sink in front of a distracting mirror

Give up and suggest a nap instead

Accept that I misinterpreted the situation

If Baby struggles with a poo, the ec hold can be good to squeeze it out, or a tummy rub.  I leave them to go in the nappy or the bath at their convenience.

EC at nursery



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