An EC Update: 16 months old and pooping in the potty

“Want to take a bath?” I suggested to the baby, who’s 16 months old now. She rushed into the bathroom shrugging out of one sleeve of her red shirt.

“Psss! Psss!” The baby said a few minutes later, submerging a bowl to fill it with bath water.

“Psss” is the noise the baby makes when she has a wet diaper or needs to go pee. But she sometimes cries wolf, signaling she needs to go but refusing to pause in her play long enough to use the potty. Plus, I was busy writing in our family journal.

When I finally looked up, Leone was still saying, “psss,” almost singing the sound with good humor as she balanced the now full bowl on the edge of the tub.

“Do you need to go?” I asked. Then I saw something gray floating in the bath water. “Ut oh,” I said with a laugh. “Do you need to poop? Did you do some poopy in the tub?! Let’s do the rest on the potty.”

I held Leone on the toilet. The toilet is the only place she’ll go these days. She has no more interest in her green potty. Too babyish.

When we think she needs to poop, we make a soft grunt. I grunted. She strained a bit, and did a poop. She stayed on the potty, strained some more, and did another bowel movement.

“Poopy!” I said, kissing her on the forehead.

Then I looked again in the bathtub. The gray floating object was a hippo-shaped eraser that Leone had brought into the bath with her.

She hadn’t pooped in the tub!

She looked at me innocently out of her big gray eyes, blond curls wispy around her head, unaware or unconcerned that she’d been wrongly suspected.

We keep a bucket in the shower to catch gray water to flush the toilet or soak diapers. There hasn’t been a diaper in it for weeks. When Leone needs to poop she’ll either say “psss” or her eyes will get slightly red rimmed and she’ll become still, with a concentrated look on her face. We need to pay attention since she’s still too little to take her pants off herself (and it’s too cold in our house to go bottomless for long). But as long as we respond when she signals, the baby poops in the toilet every time.

I know theoretically that Leone’s behavior is totally natural, that human babies are born with the instinct not to soil the nest, and that as long as you communicate with them, they won’t lose that innate awareness. But I’m still amazed a baby this little can be so conscious of her body, and so able to communicate that awareness. Our culture, unlike many around the world, has lost the understanding that babies can–and want–to learn to use the potty.

This could all change tomorrow. We could be back to having more misses than catches or back to a potty pause. But right now I’m grateful that our EC adventure is going well. Why, oh why, wasn’t I open-minded enough to try this with my three other kids?

Have you tried EC (elimination communication aka infant pottying) with your children? I know many diaper-free parents recommend crotchless pants for toddlers but I haven’t tried them (mostly because all of Leone’s clothes are hand-me-downs but also, probably, because I’m not sure I get the concept). EC readers, do you have advice about crotchless pants or EC’ing a toddler to share?

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8 thoughts on “An EC Update: 16 months old and pooping in the potty”

  1. I remember our last poopy diapers around a little trip/potty pause at 14 months, but really our EC babe was pretty darn reliable after about 6 months. Pee was another story, that went in and out more. Quite the opposite of feeling amazed at my EC experience, I feel sort of amazed when I see toddlers and even preschoolers pooping in their diapers, right in front of their parents. It seems so strange and honestly, gross, to me now to not just take them to the potty! I don’t voice this at risk of offending and of course I know this is what they learned and once they are older there is resistance. I never used the crotchless and don’t get it. Seems drafty and they need help either way. I loved cotton trainers with wool pants or shorts at that age until he stopped having accidents around 20 months.

  2. We’ve been ecing our little girl since she was 5 months old. She is pretty reliable unless she’s teething or sick… all that goes out of the window. I haven’t tried crotchless pants. She’s almost always diaper free around home and normally doesn’t pee when we’re out and about. I’ve never seen crotchless pants in action and am curious how that would work.

  3. I’d planned to sorta lazy EC. But when my daughter was born with Down syndrome I chickeded out and every thing said she’d take extra long to learn. Finally at about 11 months old I realized I didn’t care what *they* say and was going to start that long process sooner than later. She took to her potty immediately. And this last week? 100% potty pooping. It’s fantastic. This is like a month after I bought the potty!

    I just don’t get how you could see your kid is about to go and not take them to the toilet! But that’s just me (or us!) I guess.

    Also, I saw crotchless pants in action in China. I don’t know if its the same concept? There the crotchless allows them to just squat-hold the baby anywhere with only a second notice and they can go. No time to pull down pants or remove diaper. I also saw lots of very cold chapped bums there! They use em all year. I think I saw one kid wearing 5 pairs of crotchless pants at the same time. Oh his little bum looked C O L D!

  4. It really is remarkable when you aren’t used it it, isn’t it.

    I only used the crotchless pants when we were outside in the backyard and it was cold and DS was quite young – so he could crawl around and we could pee quickly but he’d stay warm. They were fleece and we had one pair. For me, you are past that stage.

    As far as the stage you’re at – may I suggest that they don’t really stay totally clean and dry until you go for it with underwear daytime. They understand they CAN pee in a diaper or the toilet. I know my DS was dry in undies daytime at 15mo – but he’d pee in diapers no problem. And when we went for it with the undies I found myself almost kicking myself that we hadn’t gone 100% for it earlier – he knew just what he was doing and he was very capable.


  5. Our 16 month old daughter has had maybe 2-3 poopy diapers in the past 13 months (then, only when she’s sick), though our peeing goes through stages. We went for a week with only 4-5 wet diapers total, but then hit a potty pause, and now we’re getting back to more catches.

    We use leg warmers to keep her legs warm, because our house is cold, too. Her bum feels cool, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Right now, we have much more success if she’s completely bare-bottomed. Hoping for undies soon!

  6. Split crotch pants are great for EC’ing toddlers because the ability to go and sit down on a potty independently often precedes the ability to pull one’s own pants up and down. Split pants allow a toddler to be warm and covered but when they squat or sit on a potty, the pants open at the crotch so that they can eliminate without having to pull the pants up or down. We make two styles of split pants, in several different fabrics (wool, fleece, bamboo, hemp) and they are very popular with many of my ECing customers.

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