NW resp header for EC information

Starting EC

Just begin today

Don't over think it - just get started!

For a baby up to about six months

Next time your baby wakes (either in the morning or from a nap) take off the nappy and hold him/her over a potty or the toilet or the laundry tub or even the bath. Hold his/her back against your stomach with your hands under the thighs. Babies generally hold their urine while sleeping and then need to go shortly after waking up so that is a good time to try for your first "catch". Say "ssss" or say your chosen word for pee or wee and hold your baby there for a short time - twenty or thirty seconds. Make the cue sound again and then put a nappy or diaper back on.

For a baby older than six months

Again, straight after your baby wakes from a nap, remove the nappy or diaper and either hold your baby as described above, or assist her to sit on or over a potty or toilet. If you have a toilet reducer then it will make it easier to support your baby, but that is not essential. Do not let lack of toilet seat reducer be a reason not to get started.

You may choose to use a cue sound or otherwise you can go straight onto using words and perhaps hand signs. If you already do signing with your baby, you may choose to use a recognised sign for toilet or wee or poo etc. Otherwise, you can make up something that makes sense for you.

We used patting the lower abdomen as our potty sign. Others have used signs such as "pulling the earlobe", "shaking T", finger to the side of the nose etc. You might consider a sign that you can do with one hand - so that you can use it while helping your little one to sit on the potty or toilet.

Lily's summary on how to start EC

Most people think that the optimal time to start is before 5-6 months.

How the psss cue works is that your help your baby form a connection between peeing and the cue during an observation period. Basically you keep your child nakeybutt or in a cloth diaper with no cover so you can see when they pee and then you make the pss sound when you notice them peeing. After a while they will make the association between the cue sound and what they are doing (basically it's Pavlovian conditioning).

During this period you can also make a note of how often they usually pee and how this relates to sleeping, nursing etc., and whether you can notice any signals (often a 'pee shiver' or a little bit of grizzling, with an older baby they will often try to get off your lap to avoid peeing on you - it's mostly pretty subtle though).

Once the association has been made between the cue and peeing you can take them to the potty at times you think they will want to pee (eg. just after waking or nursing) and make the sound and if they need to go then they will go when they hear the cue.

prime time for potty offering

Laura's Golden Rules for When to Potty your baby

1) Potty when sudden fussiness strikes

2) Always potty before leaving anywhere

3) Always potty upon arrival anywhere

4) Potty on waking up from sleep

5) Potty after an accident

6) Potty upon getting out of the bath

7) Peenie-weenie = time to potty (boys)

8) Always act on sudden random potty thoughts

How to hold your baby

Photos of pottying positions:


There are also some great pictures showing ways to support your baby on the potty and the toilet at Born To Potty. While you are on that website, be sure to have a surf around the baby wearing pages as well!

Classic hold

Holding your baby so that she leans back against your stomach and you are supporting her under the thighs with your hands. For a little boy, you might use one wrist so that your hand can then direct his bits so that the wee goes in the toilet rather than upwards.

Cradle hold

For newborn babies a comfortable hold is the cradle position where you support your baby across your body and place a receptacle under their bottom.

Why upright babies hold it better - Freddy

In Germany it´s common to go to an after-birth-course with a midwife to learn some exercises to get you back in shape, especially the pelvic floor. We call it "Rückbildungsgymnastik". Well, a few weeks ago, my midwife talked to us about bladder-function and I got some information, which is interesting for ec-ing as well.

By design of your bladder, it is easier to "hold it", when you are in an upright position. When there is pressure on the "exit" of the bladder, the muscle around it pulls it shut reflexivly. The higher the pressure gets, the tighter the bladder is shut automatically. This is why it helps to jump up and down when you´ve got to go urgently, but the bathroom is occupied.  In an upright position, the content of the bladder is putting the pressure on the right places - when lying down, there is no pressure, so you´ve got more trouble to keep things watertight. 

This has several implications for EC:
- Already with Wolfgang I could help him to hold it a bit longer by moving up and down when he was upright in the sling. 

- This also explains why children have to go less often when carried upright in the sling than when lying on their back 

- And it´s another explanation for the "baby obviously has to go - you hold him over a receptacle - nothing - you put him down - and he pees immediately after". While holding him to pee, he´s more upright, when you put him down on the floor, he´s horizontal and the sphincter-muscles release because there is no more pressure. I found out, that it is sometimes difficult for Jutta to release in an upright position, especially if she had had to "hold it" for a little before offered the opportunity to go. I these cases it helps to put her down or hold her horizotally for just a short time (maybe 10 to 30 seconds) and then try again. 

Maybe this piece of information is helpful for somebody. Please tell me, if it works for you as well.
BTW, I'm making use of this again with Carsten. When I want him to go, for example because we are about to enter a store and a pottytunity
will be hard to find in the next 30 minutes or so, and he doesn't pee the first time I try, I'll hold him in a lying down position in my
arms for a little while, often even holding his bottom slightly higher than his head, then put him back in position and presto: pee! Works
like charm if he has to pee at all.


Full time or part time - what does that even mean??

The best way to get into EC is by offering the potty at key times or at nappy changes. Or just for poo. As you become more confident, then you may wish to move on to more frequent pottying in the day and then night time as well - though often your baby will become insistent ;-)

It is just fine to only offer potty opportunities in the morning or on the weekend or at times that are convenient to you, particularly if you are working it is unlikely that the carer of your baby will be as committed to EC as you are. Your baby will quickly figure out who will respond to their need to eliminate and who will not (or cannot).

Nappy free from birth?

Some people (very few!) do this but most use nappies most of the time to start with, until they become in tune with their babies and using nappies becomes unnecessary or too much trouble. Often they will transition into using training pants mostly but still relying on nappies some times such as in the car or at night, before going completely nappy and diaper free.

EC and breastfeeding

Discomfort from their need to eliminate can interfere with a baby's breastfeeding.

L and Kestrel explain:

OK, so my little guy is 7 days old. And it has taken me THIS LONG to realize that it's not that we're having latching problems, it's that he's signalling mega-clearly that he needs to pee/poop!!!! And I have been TOO FOCUSED on "getting nursing figured out again" to recognize this.

This AM, it finally hit me like a bolt of lightning, that, when he woke me up making hungry noises, and then failed to latch three times running, hey, maybe it was potty! (unbelievable, eh?). Papa took him into the bathroom, and sure enough, hugely explosive vast quantities of breastmilk poops, a big pee, and obvious relax. Brought him back to me, whereupon he latched promptly, fed well, and went back to sleep.

This "DUH!!!" moment brought to you by...

~~L! (and Kestrel)

Vocabulary for EC

Discussions about EC whether online or in person, will frequently use terms that may be confusing when you first start.

Nakeybutt: [origin unknown, possibly Earthmoon or Robin] adj. Describes a very small person who has no clothing on the bottom half, to make pottying easier.

To Pee: [from pee n.] v.t. To bring a baby to an appropriate location to eliminate, possibly also holding the baby in "the position" at this location. Usage: "It's time to pee the baby."

Peeful: [Monica] adj. Describes a person (child or otherwise) who needs to pee.

Peenie-weenie: [Laura H.] n. Baby boy penis in state of readiness to pee...enlarged, stiff and wiggly. Usage: "Better pee the baby, he's got peenie-weenie."

Pottytunity: [Monica] n. Contraction of potty and opportunity, which signifies an opportunity to eliminate in an appropriate receptacle. Usage: "Make sure you give the baby a pottytunity before you leave for the store!"

Snart: [Drakka] n. The small wet farts which occur in newborns, leaving a tiny spot of yellow on an otherwise clean garment or diaper. Usage: "We'd go nakeybutt if it weren't for the snarts."

Uh-oh pants: [Laureen] n. The situation when DC has slightly wet his/her pants (or diaper), but still needs to pee (usually urgently!)

Timing - when you offer the potty or toilet at regular times, such as when your baby wakes up and after feeds or at nappy changes.

Signs are the facial or body expressions, movements and sounds a baby makes when he or she needs to go due to discomfort. 

Signals are conscious actions produced by the baby showing a need to go, such as moving towards the potty or bathroom, using specific sounds or sign language, and later, speech.

Intuition is when you get the feeling baby needs to go, you act on it and they do! A key point to remember is to always act on that feeling!!

Cues are signals and sounds that you give your baby to indicate that it is time to go. A common cue for newborns is the "ssss" sound and a grunt for poo.

Catch - getting the pee or poo in the pot.

Potty pause - when your baby seems to go backwards in their ability to sign, signal and eliminate in the potty or toilet. This is generally related to working on developmental milestones or beginning to get sick. See an indepth discussion here.

Graduation - when your baby is able to independantly able to care for their elimination needs. See more here.