You can begin EC (elimination communication or natural infant hygiene) with an older baby. You can grow awareness of your older baby’s need to potty. Some parents have even started when their baby was over a year old!
Observation is a Solid Start
Start by observing your baby. You can use a chart to help yourself get a feel for when your baby is eliminating. Watch her patterns in relation to when she eats and when she sleeps. Your baby probably has a regular rhythm.
You can put your baby in a cloth diaper without a cover so that you will know exactly when he wets, or give some diaper-free time over a few days. One of the challenges of starting with an older baby is being right there with your baby to watch his cues. Older babies are just more on the go!
Remember to be responsible with diaper free time. Observe, learn, and then go to a diaper, clothes, or tiny undies. You’re not teaching baby to potty on the floor, just observing cues and beginning elimination communication to empower your little one to potty on the toilet (or little potty).
Catch it When Baby Wakes
A good time to begin working on natural infant hygiene is as soon as your baby wakes up. Take your baby to the potty or offer the potty bowl when your baby wakes each morning or after naps. Babies often need to go as soon as they wake and will automatically go when you cue them.
If your baby doesn’t go as soon as he wakes you may want to walk or play with your baby for a few minutes and try again. You’ll quickly get a feel for how long your baby waits to eliminate.
Working on EC when you know that your baby needs to go also helps your baby recognize your cues.
Another thing you to try with your older baby: take her with you when you go to the bathroom. Let her sit on the potty while you sit on your toilet. Or you can offer to EC before and after you go.
If you think your baby needs to go but he’s resistant, try walking around, reading a book, or playing for a minute and then give an EC cue again. If your baby is happy to sit on the potty you can try running some water, or dribble a few drops of warm water over his feet. These things sometimes stimulate a full bladder to release.
If your baby still resists going, just move on to something else. Place a clean diaper on your little one, or go outside and let her be diaper free.
If she goes in the diaper or without the diaper, simply clean it up. It’s just part of elimination communication – sometimes there will be misses!
If your baby doesn’t go for a bit you can offer to help her potty again (just avoid being a “helicopter EC parent” – it tends to cause potty strikes!).
Starting elimination communication with your older baby takes attention, but it’s rewarding. You start to learn his signals and he starts to learn your cues. Your baby enjoys being diaper free and you love the freedom he has!
(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.)
A Few More Resources
Diaper Free! has a small section devoted to starting with the older baby. Infant Potty Training has a good sized section on how to help the older baby get started with elimination communication. You can also find many, many stories by parents who started later online.