My daughter, Rose, was 10 weeks old when she first asked to use the toilet. I had taken her to the park in her pushchair for an autumnal walk with my husband. Suddenly Rose shouted “A!” and started jiggling about, squirming frantically as if she had a sore behind. We rushed home and dashed to the bathroom. To my surprise her nappy was dry. I lifted her up and, cuddling her with her back to me, supporting her legs on one arm, I held her bottom over the loo. A huge wee gushed out. She raised her little head and grinned at me. “A!” she said again. From then on, that was her signal that she needed to wee. At 16 weeks she added the word “poo” to her vocabulary.


It’s still hard to believe it now. We had read about elimination communication or “infant potty training”, tried it, and we were amazed to find how well it worked for us.


We were certain that the method would reduce the environmental impacts of our baby’s toileting. We had very many clean dry days and were able to give up daytime nappies altogether when Rose was 19 months old. But until then we did need some kind of nappy for the times when either Rose or I was distracted or asleep, or just too slow. We tried several types of cloth nappies but had show-stopping problems with all of them, so we used disposables. It was not until after Rose was out of nappies that we found out we changed her much more often than most parents. Instead of waiting until the nappy was heavy, we changed it whenever it was wet. In total that meant that we used as many disposable nappies as the average baby, compressed into a shorter time.


Since then, we have found some cloth nappies that probably would have been suitable. If we had been using them, the extra wet nappy changes would not have had a significant additional impact. For us, elimination communication certainly did drastically reduce the number of dirty nappies – a benefit both for us and the environment. What I’m intrigued to know now is: how many babies would it work for?


Celia Jones

(There is a longer version of this article on our blog)