Rebecca Mottram is a registered children's nurse and is passionate about sharing her knowledge of potty training with families and the benefits of taking an early approach.

Rebecca Mottram

Baby pottying is also known as elimination communication (EC), assisted infant toilet training, baby-led potty training or natural infant hygiene. It is the practice of using an infant’s natural timing and cues to recognise elimination patterns and holding the baby over a toilet or potty rather than using a nappy. It can be done anytime from birth, some or all of the time. 

What are the benefits? 

Babies are born with a natural instinct to be clean and dry and many parents report a closer bond with their baby when they help them use a potty. Recognised benefits are: 

  • More ergonomic – it’s easier and more effective to poo in a squatting position!
  • More hygienic
  • Better for baby’s skin and reduces nappy rash
  • Better for the environment
  • Can reduce colic, fussiness and constipation
  • Actively protects the bladder and bowel
  • Saves money (by using fewer nappies)
  • Can help with breastfeeding
  • Promotes communication skills
  • Paves the way for an easier (and often earlier) transition into independent toileting

Do I have to do it all the time? 

There is no need to go "nappy free" at all if you don't want to. You can use nappies and potty part-time and still gain benefit. 

I bet when you think about it, you probably already know when your baby needs to poo. Perhaps he or she starts behaving in a particular way or makes a certain expression (the poo face!). Or, perhaps they tend to poo at a certain time, e.g. during or after a feed, or at bath-time. You can learn how to safely hold your baby over a potty at these times.

Offering your baby a potty once a day, once a week or just every so often will make a difference. I promise you that even one poo in a potty will make you smile!

What's the evidence?

Research shows that regular potty voiding protects the bladder (Bakker 2000) and supports the healthy development of sphincter control from a very young age (Benjasuwantep 2011.) There is no relationship between early potty use and later voiding issues (Blum et al., 2003, Yang et al., 2011). Baby pottying can also help with colic (Jordan, 2014).

Baby pottying often leads to earlier independence from nappies, which is shown to be beneficial (Joinson 2009, Hellstrom 2001, Duong 2013).

You can read a more detailed exploration of the research in my blog post or check out my evidence based guide to baby pottying

About Rebecca

Rebecca Mottram is a registered children’s Nurse and author of The Baby Pottying Guide. Rebecca can be contacted via her website Little Bunny Bear

 

References

Bakker, E. and Wyndaele, J.J. (2000), Changes in the toilet training of children during the last 60 years: the cause of an increase in lower urinary tract dysfunction?. BJU International, 86: 248-252.  

Benjasuwantep B, Ruangdaraganon N. (2011). Infant toilet training in Thailand: starting and completion age and factors determining them. J. Med Assoc. Thai. 2011 Dec; 94(12):1441-6 

Blum N.J, Taubman B, Nemeth N. (2003). Relationship between age at initiation of toilet training and duration of training: a prospective study. Pediatrics. 111(4 Pt 1):810-4. 

Yang, S. Zhao, L., Chang, S. (2011). Early initiation of Toilet Training for Urine Was Associated With Early Urinary Continence and Does Not Appear to be Associated With Bladder Dysfunction. Neur and Urodynamics. 30: 1253-1257. 

Hellstrom et al. (2000) Influence of potty-training habits on dysfunctional bladder in children. Review. Lancet. 356:1787. 

Joinson, C et al. (2009). A Prospective Study of Age at Initiation of Toilet Training and Subsequent Daytime Bladder Control in School-age Children. J. Dev & Behav Pediatrics. 30 (5) 385-393. 

Hellstrom et al. (2001). Early potty training advantageous in bladder dysfunction. Decreases the risk of urinary tract infection. Lakartidningen. 111, 98 (28-29) 3216-9. 

Duong, T.H, Jansson, U., Hellstrom, A. (2013). Vietnamese mothers' experiences with potty training procedure for children from birth to 2 years of age. J. Pediatric Urology.9. 808-814 

Duong, T.H., Jansson, U.B., Holmadahl, G., Sillen, U., Hellstrom, A-L. (2013). Urinary bladder control during the first 3 years of life in healthy children in Vietnam - A comparison study with Swedish children. J. Ped. Urology. 9. 700-706. 

Jordan, GJ. (2014). Elimination Communiation as Colic Therapy. J. Med Hypotheses. Sep;83(3):282-5.