With five kids running laps around the house, Andrea Olson is somewhat used to living in chaos. But one thing she didn’t mess around with was toilet training. In fact, she decided to skip all that poopy nappy nonsense and teach her kids how to do their bizness in the toilet from day dot.
This is known as infant potty training and as crazy as it sounds, it actually works. Well, sort of.
Instead of poopy nappies, Andrea got plenty of poopy sink moments. But, imagine how much money she saved on nappies over the years!
Infant potty training made easy (sort of)
She shares her secret to newborn toilet training success on her blog and Facebook page, Go Diaper Free, and is very passionate about helping other mums learn the fine art of getting their babies to poop in a bowl.
“What we do with our five kiddos is called “elimination communication, EC for short, but it also is known as diaper-free, infant potty training, early potty training, natural infant hygiene, and my fave obscure 80’s title, trickle treat.” Andrea explains.
“We start EC right at birth (although one can technically start anytime between birth and 18 months) because it’s easier to start early. It connects us more completely, and they signal more clearly (newborns prefer good hygiene more strongly).”
How it’s done
Andrea explains the process in detail through her Facebook page, blog, and Go Diaper Free book, but below is a basic guide on how to do it.
1. Potty first, feed after
“When they wake up, we offer the potty before nursing and usually catch a pee or a poo, or both,” Andrea suggests. She even managed to get one of her kids to do his first poop – you know, that tarry meconium mega-mess – in a potty.
2. Become familiar with their cues
Poo cues, especially. New parents know all about cues – mostly sleep cues and hunger cues. But, alas, there are also poo cues!
According to Andrea, “On the day of his birth, my son started wriggling and bearing down.”
After that, she just followed his lead.
3. Poo where?
In a potty, in the toilet, even in the sink. Infant potty training involves being ready for a wee or poop whenever which probably also means lots of squatting in the bushes or backyard.
4. Use back-up nappies
Although Andrea thinks she’s saved up to $10,000 in would-be nappy costs over the course of five kids, she admits she still used nappies until her babies were able to walk.
“By using a “back-up,” our babies didn’t learn the wrong behaviour of just peeing wherever, whenever – which is the same exact thing as wearing a diaper when you think about it!
Any time without a diaper is awesome, but do it responsibly using clothing or a diaper back-up if you’re not trying to learn baby’s timing during a naked sesh,” she explains.
5. Eliminate day-time nappies completely when they walk
For Andrea this was at 9.5 months, 13 months, 17 months, 12 months, and 13 months for each of her babies.
Whether you want to try it or think it’s a load of hoo-haw, you have to admit, it’s a pretty cool thought! Imagine not having to worry about those massive newborn poonamis! Instead they make the mess straight into a toilet.
No toddler toilet training means no wees on the carpet, no tantrums when you suggest they try big boy undies, and no “clean-up in aisle 3 of Bunnings” when your toddler decides he needs to poop now.
Andrea also believes infant potty training has done wonders for her kids,
I dedicated myself to learning my baby in this way, and I am certain I became a better mum because of it. By getting familiar with both the ins and the outs, our babies cry less often, and we are way less confused as a new mum or dad.
For me, knowing what I know about infant biology and psychology, [to use a nappy] would feel neglectful.”
To each their own. I, for one, probably wouldn’t consider infant potty training simply because the first few months are tricky enough trying to read hungry and sleep cues, nevermind adding poo cues to the table. But, hey, that’s just me. You do you.
Would you try it?
What to read next
If you are about to start the potty training journey, whether your baby is two weeks or two years old, have a look at these resources to help you out: