How I’m NOT Potty Training My 20-month old

Right now she’s sitting on her little potty chair pooping. She took her underwear off and took herself to the potty after breakfast while I was on the phone. It was a pleasant surprise to walk in on!


I can’t keep diapers on this kid. Cloth diapers with snaps are supposed to be virtually toddler-proof, but she has figured out how to unfasten them and she runs around the house with a naked bum. I tried putting underwear on her, but she has figured out how to take that off too.

<break to clean a butt>

I can’t fight it, so I’m just letting her do her thing. I also don’t have the energy to do formal potty training. So when she takes her diaper/underwear off, I ask her where she’s going to put her pee if she has to go. She usually answers the couch, or bed, or wherever she’s sitting, grinning all the while when I say, “Nooo, in the potty!” And then she points to her potty and laughs.

There’s a thing called Elimination Communication. It’s not potty training, it’s communicating with your kid about their elimination needs. The idea is that babies know when they need to eliminate and are capable of communicating this need from birth. It’s up to the caregiver to either recognize the cues and help the baby get to the toilet, or train the baby to ignore those cues and soil a diaper.

When Little Monster was a baby I was intrigued by the idea and I could tell that she was aware, but being away from her for 11 hours a day made it impossible to effectively communicate with one another, no matter how hard I tried to deny that fact. We had moments of greatness where she would go through two diapers in an entire weekend as a young toddler, and then she would go back to daycare and get used to using diapers again. I was active in the Elimination Communication Facebook group and scrolled the page for ideas on how to make EC work part time. I knew my kid was capable, but I just couldn’t be with her all the time to guide her. It ended up being more frustrating than helpful, and probably caused more anxiety about finally potty training, for both of us.

When Little Miss was a baby I thought I’d try it again. At two weeks old she was peeing in a small toilet I held under her bum several times a day. At five weeks she had her first poop in the potty. We were getting along great and I was recognizing her cues – the restlessness, little fuss, patting the diaper area. And then I went back to work. I didn’t even attempt to continue EC while working this time. I figured it was a lost cause. But she always let us know when her diaper was wet. She hates the wet feeling. So I changed her immediately after each pee, trying to keep her comfortable, and trying not to train her to be used to soiled diapers.

I haven’t made it a focus in the year that I’ve been home, but if she wakes up dry in the mornings, on the toilet she goes! If it has been a few hours since she peed, time to try the toilet! At 14 months she was climbing onto the toilet herself. Not always to do anything, but she enjoyed the novelty of it. She wanted to be like everyone else.

Over the last month she has taken matters into her own hands. She won’t keep a diaper on unless we’re out of the house. She yells diaper when she has to go. Yesterday I did diaper laundry in the morning and didn’t add anything to the new wetbag until bedtime, when she had her first miss on the floor. She even yelled diaper in the middle of the grocery store and started taking it off. When we got to the toilet she immediately peed.

I’m so impressed with her ability to learn how to use the toilet all on her own. I’m not ushering her to the toilet on a regular basis. I just keep a little potty available in the middle of the living room. Sometimes I’ll suggest she might want to try if she has recently finished a cup of milk and it has been a while since her last visit to the potty. Oftentimes she’ll go, but sometimes she doesn’t. There is no ill will when she misses and doesn’t quite make it. We just clean it up, and say next time we’ll try to get it in the toilet.

So am I potty training my 20 month old? No. I feel like that just exudes pressure and expectations. Instead, I’m letting her go at her own pace. I allow her to show me what she is capable of. I praise her when she makes it to the toilet all on her own. And she is potty training herself. Will she be trained in a week, a month, a year? I have no idea. She’ll be done whenever she’s ready, and I am ok with that timeline.


2 thoughts on “How I’m NOT Potty Training My 20-month old

  1. I need to pull the potty chair and undies out for my 4th. He lnows his cues, but we’ve had so much going on for the past 9 months that I just didn’t want to deal with the clean-up. I did the same thing with #2&#3 as well…definitely worth it to not be comstantly pushing them to learn and stressing them (and you) out.


    • We are having a mini vacation for the weekend which is great, except that she’s in disposables for the weekend with limited access to the toilet. And with so many distractions we’re not paying attention to cues at all. We’ll see how things go when we get home! Next month is going to be a crazy month, which is why I’ve avoided any potty training. But if she wants to go ahead and do it herself, I am for it!


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