Newborn Potty Training: What Is Elimination Communication?

Potty training a newborn? It’s a thing!

Elimination Communication is an early potty training method, which begins at birth and involves offering the child a potty when parents notice signs and signals that they may need to go.


Top Hat Potty is one of the most well known products to work to encourage this. The idea is that the care-tacker holds the baby over the Top Hat Potty and helps with aim (it’s designed for ages 0-12). Many parents using this method, however, will use a traditional toilet. Elimination communication is ideally started at birth, but the window is 0-4 months, though in theory it can be started at any time.

As the name suggests, the focus here is on communication between the parents and child. I don’t know about you, but there was very little communication with my son in the 0-4 months. I knew that when he was screaming he was either hungry, tired or needed a diaper change, but the only time I knew he was peeing was when he was peeing on me. #2 was more obvious since a lot of grunting was involved and there was a smell, but by the time I realized… it was already happening! There would have been no possible moving to the toilet.

In non-industrialized societies elimination communication type potty training is the norm and while  there may (or may not…) be truth to the idea that babies are born with an awareness of their need to pee/poop and an instinct not to soil themselves, I can only imagine this being a very stressful undertaking.

Image: Getty

What does the research say?

More or less that it’s a lot of work with not much reward. Most of the research we have today says that children aren’t developmentally ready for potty training till after 18 months. As far as consistency with going to the bathroom, whether you start at 0 months or 18, most children won’t be “potty trained” till they’re 2-3 years old.

Bottom line: Avoiding soiled diapers and improving communication between caregiver and child are wonderful and worthy goals, but don’t put your expectations too high if you’re attempting elimination communication.

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