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Potty Train Your Newborn?!

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"Blossom" star Mayim Bialik thinks babies are born potty trained, and practiced "elimination communication" with her second son as soon as he was born! No more dirty diapers? So she says ...

baby on toilet

In an interview with People, former child star Mayim Bialik talks about potty training her second son starting at 2 days old using Elimination Communication, or EC. (She started using EC on her first son when he was six months old.) EC is a form of potty training that's practiced out of necessity in many underdeveloped parts of the world. It trains infants not to pee or poo in diapers by the parent picking up on the cues of when a baby eliminates. They then make a vocal sound like "shhh" and rush to the potty, holding the baby over it so they can go -- diaper-free. Mayim says she began training her newborn son at two days old, which to us seems extremely young. We asked our expert, pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson, her opinion.

Though Dr. Cara has taken care of patients whose parents are advocates of EC, she says there are also problems with it. For example, if kids are being pushed to go diaper-free, they may develop issues like constipation or urinary tract infections. She tells us the practice, though it had a rise in popularity several years ago, isn't that common in the U.S. and that it should be reserved for kids who really seem ready: "Most kids are fine and they do fine with it, but make note that some just aren't ready and they can develop issues. Run it by your pediatrician if you're not sure."

Of course, there are some benefits, too: Dr. Cara says that the average baby in the U.S. uses between 5-8,000 diapers until they are potty trained. There is a huge environmental and cost burden on buying diapers. However, newborns can have a bowel movement every two hours, so being able to do EC training is asking a lot of the parents. Dr. Cara says that for working parents, it's even more complicated: "No daycare is going to follow EC practices. Maybe a nanny would do it, but a daycare won't."

The bottom line? Dr. Cara is not against EC, but keep in mind it requires a lot of effort, there's no medical necessity for it, and you want to make sure your child does not develop issues because of it.

We want to hear from you! Tell us your potty training techniques in the momlogic community.

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24 comments so far | Post a comment now
Cheryl June 9, 2009, 6:38 AM

I googled elimination training so I could understand what it entails. After reading the kind of time it involves, all I can say is God bless anyone who has the time, patience and cleaning ability to do this. It appears to work for some, but holding the baby over the toilet every few minutes is not something I could possibly do.

Danielle Buffardi June 9, 2009, 8:28 AM

I have one question? WHY

It simple AMAZES me that crazy things that parents come up with.

Maybe Mayim should get a job so she doesn’t have so much time on her hands.

Danielle Buffardi June 9, 2009, 8:29 AM

Lyris June 9, 2009, 1:36 PM

I cannot imagine holding a two-day-old infant over a potty. That is extreme! Infants do not have strong neck or back muscles.
There is simply no reason for the madness at such a young age!

Changing diapers is a part of the bonding process. I for one enjoyed the cute little faces my children made as infants when doing their thing in a diaper :)

Melissa June 9, 2009, 3:46 PM

Just because it’s different doesn’t make it wrong. If it works for some families, who are we to judge?

ame i. June 9, 2009, 4:56 PM

My first daughter was born via emergency c-section, my second a VBAC with MANY stitches. I nursed both of them in my bed for 2 months and can’t imagine trying to run to my bathroom to hold them over the toilet. My 2 usually pooped about halfway through a nursing session.

Anonymous June 9, 2009, 5:16 PM

I couldn’t even stand up straight when my son was 2 days old. I was still in the hospital!! Good grief! Why do we have to push babies to grow up so fast. If money is a problem, used good old fashioned cheap cloth diapers.

mercaties June 9, 2009, 5:29 PM

I actually laughed through this entire article. I think Mayim is crazy and who is watching her older child while she’s sitting in the bathroom all day with her newborn? LOL!

Carrie June 9, 2009, 7:14 PM

Good grief, it’s not crazy. Human beings are much older than the invention of fabric and diapers. There are plenty of cultures that do not use diapers. Like any other aspect of taking care of newborns, it takes time and effort and learning their cues. Just because our society does not value or even understand that babies are capable of expressing their need to eliminate does not mean it isn’t a valid way to raise your children.

Jen June 9, 2009, 7:31 PM

Guess I should have expected a narrow minded article and narrow minded comments. EC has nothing to do with “pushing” your child. It has everything to do with fostering communication with your baby. Potty is view as just another need, like eating. My son has ECed since he was 3 months of age. If I had known about it I’d have done it sooner. Funny how the author fails to mention the most important benefit to EC, communication. Even the youngest babies can tell us when they need to pass urine or a bowel movement. By tuning into their cues we simply meet their needs. The reason EC is much harder to do after 6 months of age is b/c by 6 months of age you have essentially trained your child to ignore the sensations of elimination. Basically you train your child to use their diaper as a toilet.

As for the statement about possible UTI, that is just silly. UTIs far are more likely to occur when a child sits in a poop/urine saturated diapers. With EC your baby’s butt is always clean and there are NO diaper rashes. Yeast infections are also rare with EC babies. The ecological benefit is just secondary to the joy of establishing communication with your baby and the added benefit of good hygiene. My son is not running around diaperless either. I put him in trainers especially made for EC ( These catch the occasional miss. Misses happen and are never regarded as bad. Misses are a normal, natural part of the process.

In other countries where the people don’t use diapers, EC is very much the norm. It is passed down from generation to generation. Caregivers and parents alike use EC. In the US it would be pretty hard to get a caregiver (unless someone close) to tune into your baby’s elimination cues. My husband is pretty good at it though and often notes when my son needs to go.

So before you jump on the bandwagon and flame this very wonderful tradition, do a little research! I highly recommend the book, “Diaperfree, The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene” by Ingrid Bauer.

RachelAZ June 9, 2009, 8:39 PM

Children that young are not able to understand potty training though. So it may work for the parent, but I don’t think it works for the child. Why can’t you just let them be children? Maybe you develop a special cue with them so they “tell” you when they need to go to the bathroom, but they truly don’t understand it all. However, I don’t judge others who choose to do this, but personally I think it is a waste (no pun intended) of time trying to teach kids something that they cannot comprehend. It’s as silly as the “your baby can read” program, don’t even get me started on that scam.

Enith June 9, 2009, 8:46 PM

EC is NOT potty training! You don’t TRAIN them, you COMMUNICATE with them. You get to know when they are about to eliminate. You don’t PUSH them to go potty. This is just being in-sync with your baby, nothing like training. Please research more.

HeRo June 9, 2009, 9:10 PM

you aren’t training your baby, your baby trains you. ALL babies signal a need to eliminate, its simply a matter of paying attention and responding to that need. western civilation is just accustomed to ignoring those signals. millions of people around the world do it differently. we’ve EC’d both our kids and its really not that big of a deal.

Jen June 9, 2009, 9:46 PM

Again I’d like to reiterate that EC is NOT potty training!!! You do not ask anything of your child, you simply tune into their natural cues. Every child demonstrates these whether or not a parent chooses to acknowledge them is the difference. No one is saying that all parents should EC their children. It isn’t for everyone. However to say that there are medical and emotional risks is simply untrue. (see my previous post) This author clearly knows very little about EC.

Kelly  June 9, 2009, 10:32 PM

We use EC with our little guy (5 months) on a part time basis. For instance, we know he always has to pee as soon as he wakes up from a nap, so when we pick him up, we just take him in the bathroom and he will almost always pee! We haven’t picked up all his cues yet, but I love that we can “catch” a few a day—saves that many more diapers, and from there, stretches the diaper stash out longer so I don’t have to do laundry again as soon =]

Anonymous June 10, 2009, 1:26 AM

This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.

HeeHee June 10, 2009, 1:33 AM

do they fart during training?

Abbey June 10, 2009, 4:58 PM

So, Jen, I’m just wondering (you seem to know what you’re talking about) how long does it take for you to understand your baby’s cues & the baby to understand what’s going on? and when you finally get you & your infant on the same level of communication, what does the baby wear? I see at the EC store they have tiny underwear, but nothing that would seem to fit a 6 month old. Do you go to cloth diapers? Just wondering. I’ve never heard of EC before & I find this so interesting! Thanks for the info.

Rae June 11, 2009, 3:08 PM

I found out about EC when my daughter was 4 months old. My mother - who watches her while I work - and I agreed it was worth a try. We switched to cloth diapers, and it was challenging the first week or two. But it really is amazing and works if you are willing to tune in to your child’s natural schedule. We knew when her bowel movements were due and to this day (she is 15 months now) she does all her poos on the big potty. She has the occasional accident, usually my fault for not getting her to the bathroom on time when I am busy, but she goes immediately when we put her on the toilet. And she has done so since day one. As for her potties, she would always shiver right before she had to go, so if we saw her shiver, we’d put her on and catch a lot of her potties that way. She is doing really well with the potty part now, and even fusses to tell us when she has to go. We were never strict about it, and we do use diapers - letting her run around without one was too messy, but you can still follow the basic concept of EC and use diapers.

mommymichelle6 June 11, 2009, 9:02 PM

I’ve heard of this before and I find it intriguing. I’m not sure it’s for me though.

I agree that babies do “communicate” and you can pick up on cues, but I haven’t found this to be really reliable all the time. I can’t imagine having the energy at 2 days post partum to think about such things, but that’s just me personally.

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