Infant potty training – does it work?

Imagine potty training your baby at 4 months!? – Forget the expletives and think about how much money you’d save on nappies, and how happy the environment would be.

‘Elimination Communication’, also known as ‘natural infant hygiene’ is the name given to the practice of introducing your baby to a potty or toilet at a very early age – usually between birth and four months.

The success of the process relies on the parent being able to read and recognise the signs that baby needs to ‘eliminate’. Mums and dads are able to tell when their babies are hungry or tired, and it’s much the same with weeing and pooing…you just have to learn the signs.

According to Denise Mann, writing for WebMD, signs of impending bowel movement or urination can include facial expression, grunting, and bearing down – when you see the signs, the idea is to hold your baby over a potty or toilet.

Ultimately, your baby will learn to understand what’s going on with his body and realises if he lets you know, you can do something about it.

Advocates suggest that such early toilet training enhances interaction and communication between parents and babies.

But here’s the thing; for elimination communication to work, a parent would have to be with the child all the time (which automatically bars working mums (at home or office) from the job) – and not only that but one would have to be sufficiently distraction free (yeah right!) to pay close and careful attention to ‘elimination signals’.

So whilst the idea is quite cool, it’s not really conducive to the culture of an industrialised society. It probably won’t surprise you to know that elimination communication is successfully practised in more primitive societies – in India and Africa many if not most mums carry nappyless babies.

But it can be done in western society – time and inclination are key! Check out “Potty Whispering: The Gentle Art of Infant Potty Training” (dvd) or Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living” (book), both by Laurie Boucke for the ‘how tos’ of elimination communication.

Source: webmd.com – “Bye-Bye Diapers?”