The 3 Stages of Toilet Learning & How Starting with a Toddler Skips 2 Important Stages

Elimination Communication Babies

By Rebecca Larsen

Elimination communication is making a comeback in Western countries, with nappy companies more recently releasing the trainer nappy to support the transition toward toilet independence. Elimination communication may be a newer name, but the method to assist a baby with their elimination needs was the natural and instinctual method used … it all changed after the world wars. At the same time, there was promotion of formula feeding and women entering the workforce. It was a time of progress for women, but a move away from instinctual, natural nurturing techniques for babies. 

Nowadays, many parents follow a method of delayed ‘toilet training’ skipping two important stages of toilet learning. Here are the three stages of toilet learning that promote healthy, instinctual and normal elimination practice. 

Stage 1 – Holding baby out 

The baby is not able to sit, is on a liquid diet and is assisted to eliminate in a squat position hold over a potty. The baby does instinctively eliminate in this hold and shows signals when they need to eliminate to avoid eliminating in their clothing or bedding. A baby will move onto the next stage once they are sitting or can be supported sitting comfortably. This stage is important as it reduces the risk of diaper rash, and develops communication and trust between baby and parent. Regular potty use maintains and develops sphincter control from a young age.

Stage 2 – The sitting potty stage 

The baby is able to sit unsupported and is eating solid foods. Once a baby can sit without support, they can control and coordinate their bladder, urethral sphincter and anal sphincter muscles. The potty is used during this stage as it is accessible for this age. This stage is important for healthy stool elimination and early development in toilet independence. A baby can begin to get onto and off of the potty independently and remove their lower clothing. The regular use of the potty develops a healthy and regular routine of elimination. It brings confidence for a baby to potty in a respectful manner.

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