Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Potty Training Your Infant

In case you are looking for underwear for your 3 month old- be warned, it may be hard to find. But that is not stopping a growing number of parents who are skipping diapers and attempt to potty train their babies from birth. The real question is not where to find 3-6 month size underwear, but rather how in the world do you potty train an infant?

The answer is "elimination communication" a.k.a. EC, or my favorite "potty whispering". The infant doesn't really get trained- the parents do- in figuring out exactly when the baby is about to go. Yes, that is correct. Instead of wrapping your baby up in a diaper, you stare at his face and little body and when you think he is ready to go, you carry him to the bathroom and hold him over the toilet. Glamorous, right?

Adults figuring out when babies have to go really isn't all that new, parents can often tell anyways. The difference with EC, is that you whisper a watery sound such as "sssss", "psssss" or "tssss" to the the baby at potty time. This way the child can learn to associate that sound to the sensation of going to the bathroom. The idea is that if it is nearly time to go, they will then release on cue. Ready, set, tssssssss. Right over the toilet.

When the child is slightly older, they can use sign language to tell when they are ready to go. Erinn Klatt who was interviewed by MSNBC said of her experience with EC, “I don’t have to wake up at night and change diapers or have wet sheets anywhere. That’s really nice. And being able to travel without a big, bloated diaper bag is terrific”. The other major reason you hear parents excited about EC is the environmental factor- no throwing away of diapers at all.

Many doctors remain skeptical about the practice, saying children under 12 months have no control over bladder or bowel movements and only little control for the 6 months after that.

Dr. Mark Wolraich, professor of pediatrics and editor of the American Academy of Pediatric' book on toilet training insists that, “to be truly toilet-trained, the child has to be able to have the sensation that they need to go, be able to interpret that sensation and be able to then tell the parent and take some action... And that’s different from reading the subtle signs that the child is making when they have to go to the bathroom.”

If you are intrigued, check out a nonprofit that supports infant toilet training. They call it "a natural approach to responding to babies' elimination needs". also has information about EC and a store that sells those tiny undies. At you will find DVDs, books and other resources.

Other good reads onEC: an Op-Ed in the NYTimes by Meredith Small. conventional wisdom column by

No comments: