EC Etiquette (out and about)

by Yumi (New York)

Dear Kristen,

Thank you for your always helpful responses, and congratulations on the latest pregnancy.

Lara is now 14 months. When she was little, for a visit out I would pin her into a prefold, with lanolized wool soakers on top and then wool pants. Nothing ever leaked. Since 7 months or so she has been going out just in training undies under the soakers and pants. Until recently she never had an “accident” when out of the home.

However, the last few days she'd somehow been a little less secure than usual, and after an hour's subway ride to her friend's house, the papa was taking a long shower, we were waiting, and then suddenly there was a puddle.

Everything went straight through; or possibly out the leg opening since the training undies and soaker are rather loose. Our host was kind about it, but of course not everyone is relaxed about puddles.

I really don't want to go back to diapers; they're cumbersome and uncomfortable, they're hard to handle with one hand in a city bathroom.

Is it possible that I haven't been lanolizing the soakers properly (had switched to using bathtub, and several woolies at once, instead of one in the sink)? Would tighter things help? Or should I just try to have outdoor playdates as much as possible while the weather is warm? Or etiquette-wise does one just have to use diapers sometimes? What did you do?

Thank you again for your wonderful writings, and sending warmest wishes.


I would guess that your culprit was probably the looser fit of the trainers/soaker rather than not properly lanolizing; though you can try going back to the sink method and then doing a “test” with water poured over the trainers/soaker to see if it goes through.

It's hard at her age because most trainers are really loose on babies of that age – they are not made for young toddlers because companies don't think toddlers that young will be in undies!

If you have a smaller soakers from when she was a smaller baby, those might work better since you don't need the larger size going over a bulky diaper.

I can certainly understand the desire not to go back to a diaper – they are much harder to deal with when out and about and they are bulkier for the little one.

When I am out with Galen I make a point to try and potty him frequently, at every stop (or at least offering). It's a little easier for me because we have a van with a small potty in it in the event we are somewhere with no toilet or where we can't use the toilet.

But I would dress her as you have been (possibly with some tighter-fitting clothing) and offer the potty as often as you can. It's hard in the city, but you can possibly even take her outside and creatively water some bushes. I would certainly discreetly use bushes at the park in the summertime if need be.

There is a story in one of the EC books, I believe Laurie Boucke's Infant Potty Training, about her being on a long trip and having nowhere to potty the little one. She had a disposable diaper with her, and rather than putting the diaper on the baby, she just opened it out, held baby over, and cued. The baby peed on the diaper, which she then folded up and disposed of when she got the chance.

Since it's probably hard for you to carry a little potty with you, this may be an option – just have an emergency disposable in your purse/bag and if you need to, take her to a discreet area and cue over the diaper.

A prefold and a ziploc bag or wet bag could also work – I'd lay the ziploc/wet bag under the prefold to provide a wetness barrier. Then cue her over the prefold, fold it up, and stow it in the bag until you get home. If your wetbag were made with just the inside waterproof, you could turn it inside out, put the prefold on, then turn it back when you tucked the prefold in.

Another possibility is trying a different style of trainer, such as one with a PUL outer. I, like you, prefer cotton/wool – natural fibers – but PUL could be a more effective stopper for a simple “one time miss” like you experienced. I believe there are trainers that are made with a built-in wool cover.

I would check with some of the EC stores to see the selections they have – keeping a few “EC-ready” trainers on hand for when you're out and about somewhere that you know you won't have easy access to a bathroom may be worth it. If you enjoy sewing, making several of your own may be more economical. Do It Yourself EC has several free patterns that I have used with success 🙂

Hopefully some of these suggestions will work for the situations you find yourself in. I think you do have a more challenging time being in the city, but I also think you can probably find solutions that will work for those times when you're not able to get her to a bathroom for a longer period. Also remember that “this too shall pass” and the time will come when she's able to hold it for longer – she will only be little for a short time!

Best of luck to you and your sweet girl!

(NOTE: Want proven, practical strategies to make elimination communication work for you? Use these 5 proven techniques to connect when your baby and have EC success! Get them here.)

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About the author 


Kristen is a pregnancy coach, student midwife, and a mama to 8 - all born naturally! I've spent nearly two decades helping mamas have healthy babies, give birth naturally, and enjoy the adventure of motherhood. Does complete support for a sacred birth and beautiful beginning for your baby resonate with you? Contact me today to chat about how powerful guidance and coaching can transform your pregnancy, birth, and mothering journey <3

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