Newborn Elimination Communication Guide – ECing Sadie!

Elimination communication with a newborn baby sounds intimidating, but I’ve found that it’s not at all hard. Sadie is my 7th baby, my 6th EC’d baby, and the 4th baby I’ve EC’d from birth (I started at 6 months with Cassidy, and 2 weeks with Brennan). That could give me an advantage – but I’m sure I can give you the same advantage. Here are some pointers for starting with your newbie!

Guide to Newborn Elimination Communcation


The biggest thing that has made elimination communication work for us is relaxing. For our family that means using diapers with no guilt. Later, we’ll focus on moving away from diapers. But for right now I keep Sadie in a diaper much of the time. That keeps me relaxed.

Your baby can tell if you’re tense, and if keeping a diaper on your baby to avoid getting wet or soiled helps you feel calmer, then do that. I’ve had newborn-sized cloth diapers for Corwin and now for Sadie, so those work well for us. With Honor and Galen I tended to keep them sitting on a prefold diaper that I had draped across my lap, with another prefold draped over them (kind of a like a blanket). They weren’t actually fastened in the diaper.

The advantage of doing it with the prefold on your lap is you tend to notice right away if baby wets – at least I did because I had my hand supporting baby’s belly and my fingertips felt wetness right away. You don’t notice as soon if baby is actually fastened into the diaper. But fastening into the diapers makes it easier to switch baby around for nursing, pop him or her into a carrier, etc. So there are pros and cons to both – pick what works for you and what helps you relax.

Scott likes the baby to actually have a diaper on, but he’s also very willing to take the diaper off and offer a potty break for baby, so it works nicely for us to have a diaper.

Change Frequently

I feel like Sadie is always peeing!! I don’t want her to get used to sitting in a wet diaper, so if we have a “miss,” I change her as soon as I can. We rarely miss poos, but if I do miss one, I change right away (more on that shortly).

I think there’s actually an advantage to having a diaper, or little undies, or even a prefold loosely around the baby. Andrea Olson talks about this in Go Diaper Free – that you want baby to learn to use the potty place. You don’t want a kid who runs around and pees or poops wherever!! Associating soft cloth around the waist and between the legs is not a bad thing (he or she will wear undies, after all). You want to teach your child that staying dry is normal – and that pottying happens at a designated location.

For a newborn that means keeping him or her dry as much as possible, and offering chances to potty and to associate elimination with the potty.

Be Patient 🙂

Elimination Communication Selfie!I recommend you offer to potty your newborn on a potty container that you can keep near you. It just makes a newborn more comfortable. My favorite for this is a little plastic bowl I got when Brennan was a baby. I’ve used it for every baby since! We also have a “top hat potty” that I like, but the little plastic bowl is still my favorite (it’s just a food storage bowl – check it out here in the EC selfie Sadie and I took, hah!)

I do offer over the sink occasionally, and I’ll probably start offering over the toilet here and there soon – I want to keep my little one willing to go in a variety of places. But snuggled close to me over a bowl is my preference for the first 3-4 months.

A real key with a newborn is to be patient. Sadie often pees very shortly after I hold her in “the position” over her bowl (almost like she was born knowing what to do – imagine that!). But poops generally take longer, and may come in spurts. I prefer to keep Sadie on the potty as long as she is content, because she’ll often start a poop then finish a few minutes later. If she starts to fuss, I clean her and diaper her up.

If she does not finish the poop then, I try and stay aware because she’ll often need to poop again within an hour or two.

In the first 3-4 weeks Sadie poops every day and a couple of times a day. Now she tends to go 2-3 days and then have a couple of really big poops in one day.

(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.)

Easy Elimination Communication

Dressing for EC’ing

Sadie in a gown on pottyI like gowns for my newborns. They’re simple to put on and they’re very easy to pull up when it’s time to offer a potty visit to my little one. If it’s really cold, leg warmers or tiny split pants can go under the gown. I have used mostly leg warmers with my girls and newborn boys. My girls go from gowns to dresses so leg warmers work well. My boys use leg warmers and split pants more.

I do use little sleep suits / rompers with both girl and boy babies sometimes because they’re so cute! But they’re pretty impractical for easy EC’ing, so I like gowns better. I rarely use one-piece body suits because they are very impractical. Instead I use t-shirts or kimono shirts. They may not stay “tucked in” as well, but they’re much easier to deal with if I want to help baby go potty.

Language for Elimination Communication

As I mentioned above, Sadie usually goes pee as soon as I hold her over her little bowl. It’s like she was born knowing how to do that – and in fact I do believe she was. I feel that just like animal babies, our babies are intelligent and dignified enough to be aware of their elimination needs and instinctive cues for addressing those needs (such as the baby “potty position” seen across so many human cultures).

But I like many parents (again across many cultures), like to help condition baby to a cue. I don’t think conditioning is in any way disrespectful to a baby. If you only use diapers, after all, you are conditioning/training your baby to go in his or her pants. So potty positions and cues are respectful to your baby’s innate intelligence and preserve your child’s dignity by helping him/her handle elimination from the start.

Using a “shhhh” or “pssss” water-like sound is very common for EC, and it’s what I tend to do right away with my babies. I’ve been purposefully trying to add “go potty” in with that cue. This is because as Sadie grows we’ll tell her it’s time to go potty (such as before getting into the van to go somewhere). Or, we’ll ask her if she needs to go potty. I want to begin to develop that word association right away, so that’s what I’ve been working to make sure I use anytime I hold her over the potty bowl or sink.

You can use whatever language works well for your family.

As Sadie gets bigger, especially when she can sit on a free-standing potty, I’ll start to show her signs for potty, too. We have used signs with our babies with great success. Galen was especially good at them, but both Galen and Honor used them. Corwin never much took to signing but was good at communicating his needs in other ways (and was our earliest “EC graduate” to date!). I think signs are valuable so we’ll use elimination signs with Sadie as soon as it feels right 🙂

Newborn EC’ing

The biggest thing to remember about elimination communication in the newborn period is to relax. Get to know your baby and enjoy this time. Sometimes it may feel overwhelming to try to be diaper free, but you can still offer potty chances if your baby is in diapers.

In fact another tip is to always offer when you change your baby – you’ll probably frequently find that he or she needs to go again right away! Upon waking from naps or when finished with feedings are other good times to offer.

You’ll get the hang of it, and can move on to more diaper-free or more days without “misses” later. For now, enjoy your baby and this special way of respecting his or her needs <3

(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.)

Easy Elimination Communication

Guide to Newborn Elimination Communcation

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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