Elimination Communication Signals
If you want to try elimination communication, the key is learning your baby's body language, and you can get started with this right from birth. Infants might not be able to tell you verbally that they have to go to the bathroom, but they do give signals. Your baby might grunt when he needs to defecate or squirm when he's about to urinate. Your job, in a nutshell, is to read these signals and then hold him over a toilet.
The other key factors are:
Timing: It's fairly easy to figure out your baby's elimination schedule. Most babies go at pretty regular intervals during the day, and a certain number of minutes after waking up or eating. Many practitioners say that after a while, they can just "feel" when their child needs to go [source: Natural Wisdom].
Verbal cues: This is where the "communication" part comes in. The baby communicates her need to you, and then you communicate a special sound to her (usually an "ssss" or "shhh" sound) as she's using the toilet. Soon the baby will realize the connection between the sound and the experience.
Experts say it's best to start infant potty training before the baby is 6 months old. After that, it's still possible, but the child will be used to wearing diapers and will have a harder time learning new habits. Laurie Boucke claims that most children have "reasonable control" by 12 to 18 months and that training is usually done by 24 months [source: Infant Potty Training].
And no, your child doesn't have to be diaper-free at all times -- you won't jeopardize your success if you put her in a diaper overnight or on a long car trip. And things will proceed faster if one parent or caregiver is able to work with the baby all the time. But you can still succeed with elimination communication even if you work full-time and your baby is diapered at day care.
What do doctors and traditional potty training experts think about elimination communication? We'll find out on the next page.