photo: lkonstanski via YouTube

You’ve probably heard about it: people who say they potty trained their tiny babies without using diapers. But can it be true? And can anyone do it?

Doctors Jeffrey Bender and Rosemary She decided to try to reduce waste and work after having diapered their first two children. For their third child, they tried a different approach: elimination communication, or EC.

The method seems simple: observe your infant’s natural timing and cues. For example, they may pee just after nursing or grunt before pooping, according to DiaperFreeBaby.org, a site that promotes EC. When they give their cue, you hold the baby over a toilet or mini potty while you make noises like “shhhhh” that reinforce bladder or bowel release.

EC isn’t new—some parents used it before disposable diapers were patented in 1955. Today, roughly one-half of babies outside the U.S. are potty trained by age 1, and 80% from 12-18 months, while the current average in the U.S. is 3-4 years of age, which can lead to issues like urinary tract infections.

Drs. Bender and She said it worked for them in an editorial on their personal experience. But is it for everyone?

Other doctors note babies don’t have the muscle or nerve maturity to control elimination, and observing their babies constantly isn’t always possible for parents, including ones who work outside the home. Psychotherapist Ishtar Gabriel, founder of The Toddler Trainer says:

“Until the child initiates going to the bathroom and remembers to go by themselves, they’re not potty trained. And it usually doesn’t happen until about 3 and 1/2 years.”

Having the information, however, can help parents decide what to try.

What do you think of Elminiation Communication? Share your thoughts in the comments below.