Diaper-free Time: Are We Teaching Our Babies to Pee on the Floor?

Elimination Communication: Teaching Baby to Pee on the Floor?A new trend has emerged in the field of Elimination Communication:

Babies are learning to pee on the floor, whenever, wherever.

I’ve been doing a lot of work with my readers on my private support Forum and have been trying to figure out, for a long while now, why this has been happening.

Why Do Lots of ECed Babies Pee All Over the Floor?

The answer is simply that we teach them that.

Just like we teach them to go in diapers. Or to call us Mama or Papa. Or how to sing a certain song (by modeling it over and over again).

More specifically, once a parent chooses to begin ECing their baby or young toddler, they generally tend to go from one extreme to another…from exclusive dependence upon and use of diapers to –> completely naked all the time. (Not that all parents do this…but some do.)

This allows the baby to pee anywhere, anytime, and doesn’t actually teach anything new.

It’s kind of like allowing a child to urinate in a diaper for 4 years straight. Allowing her to pee on the floor for 4 years straight is no different, is it?

Some parents love the title of “ECer” and would rather clean up a puddle of pee than change a diaper. I totally get that. But, in the end, it’s just as extreme as diapering full-time. (My apologies to those who might disagree.)

NOTE: Even babies in tribal villages are “shooed” out of the hut if they pee on the floor after it is certain that they both know where pee goes and are able to get it there.

So How Do You Prevent Your Baby from Peeing Everywhere, Anytime?

The solution would obviously be to go from exclusive dependence upon diapers to –> using the diaper or another back-up (undies, trainers, or commando-just-in-pants) as a tool. Strategically. Responsibly.

We wear clothing in the Western world.

Having them in clothes or some sort of back-up (while doing EC) teaches them how to work with such things, which they’ll have to do for the rest of their lives.

Sure, a college kid will get it, but a 2 year old will get mixed messages if he’s just allowed to pee anywhere, anytime, while naked. We wear clothes.

There is, indeed, a way to do EC AND to do regular diaper-free time responsibly…we just need to re-examine what being “diaper-free” means to us.

And, to reverse the peeing on the floor habit? Well, you just turn that ship around. “We don’t do that anymore. We wear clothes, and we pee in the potty.”

Said out loud or not, it’s really that simple.

Remembering What “Diaper-free Baby” Really Means

I think that we really need to define what “diaper-free” means once more:

free from exclusive dependence upon diapers

Note that it doesn’t say anywhere that this means “naked all the time.”

There is a distinct difference between “diaper-free time” and “naked time.”

In fact, using underwear or trainers or just pants qualifies as “diaper-free time.” Yay! That’s what we want, right?

Yes, it’s cute to see that bare bum all the time, but when you’re cleaning up yet another puddle of pee off the tile floor, doesn’t it somehow feel wrong?

NOTE: If it doesn’t, and you don’t have this particular problem…awesome. Keep her naked! It’s really only an issue if there’s pee everywhere AND it bothers you personally.

An Excerpt from Version 2.0 of EC Simplified

So, I wanted to go ahead and share an excerpt of my (freshly updated) book, EC Simplified: Infant Potty Training Made Easy, that addresses this issue and discusses some of the new perspective I’ve taken about “diaper-free time” and how to do it more responsibly.

Version 2.0 of the book actually has about 20 new pages addressing this idea, questioning our present beliefs about it, and offering solutions of how to “un-train” your baby from peeing on the floor.

By popular demand…here is the excerpt:

Doing Regular Diaper-free Time, Responsibly

I added this section because recent trends show that overdoing naked diaper-free time can actually hinder the EC process, teaching a child to pee on the floor. Read on….

The Bottom Line

IF your baby signals best while naked and you don’t have a peeing-on-the-floor problem, then do naked time as much as you want!

If your baby doesnʼt signal when naked, and there is pee everywhere, then youʼre better off limiting naked time.

The Importance of Diaper-free Time

Although diapers are commonly used as a back-up, after youʼre finished with Part 1, Step 1, and diaper-free observation time has served its purpose, you may choose to continue giving your baby some diaper-free time every day or week.

1/2 hour per day is common, and before bathtime is popular.

The most important thing here is to do any naked diaper-free time *responsibly*.

Hereʼs how….

Deciding Whether to Continue Offering Diaper-free Time

Once naked or modified diaper-free observation time has served its purpose (to inform you of your babyʼs signals and natural timing, and to inform your baby of what her own elimination feels like, which is what the whole “Part 1, Step 1” was all about), you can decide whether you want to keep doing regular diaper-free time or not, naked or not.

The key here is that diaper-free time can mean naked or without diapers (in clothing or undies or whatnot).

You will know when you are done with the diapers. You will know when naked time will benefit. You will know when itʼs time for underwear…or when itʼs time to strike a middle ground.

If you donʼt, visit me at my Forum and weʼll have a little chat. No worries!

In general, lots of folks start doing away with diapers when their babies resist them more than not, or even begin to prefer other things like underwear. This can begin around pre-walking or 9 months.

Usually by around 14 months parents start to look at permanently ditching daytime diapers. We did it at 9 months and it was a lot of pants/undies laundry for a few months…but it felt right for our son.

But letʼs take a look at the main culprit here: whether and how to do NAKED TIME or not. Because thatʼs the real point of this section!

When Naked Time Becomes Counter-Productive

When naked, no one needs to signal, now do they?! Naked time (observation or regular) can become counterproductive when:

  • you already know his signals
  • you already know his current natural timing
  • and *baby* is already aware of what’s going on down there.

If you’ve got all this going for ya, naked observation time may have already served its purpose. Any naked time beyond this and you could essentially be teaching him to pee on the floor (depending on how you handle things).

In EC terms, if you continue to give naked time when itʼs become counter-productive, you are just being lazy.


But itʼs no different than using a diaper all the time, teaching baby “pee in here.” Too much naked time without communication or action or any boundaries will result in teaching “pee wherever.”

It could be time to add in some ‘resistance’ (think: opposite poles of a magnet): clothing, since soiling his clothing will eventually not feel socially/physically/emotionally cool, clothing can and may become your new “diaper-free time.”

Remember…“Diaper-free” means free from exclusive dependence upon diapers.

It doesnʼt mean having a naked baby or toddler running around peeing all over your floor 24/7.

Once observation is complete, youʼll want to know how to continue diaper-free and/or naked time…responsibly.

First letʼs state the obvious.

How to Continue Diaper-free Time, not Naked

Pick a time of day and a desired location to do some time with underwear or just pants (commando) as your “back-up.”

Training pants (besides being expensive) often feel like a diaper, but see how your baby responds.

Increase this non-diaper time over the weeks and before you know it you will be done with dipes.

Now letʼs cover how to continue naked time….

Some Reasons to Not Keep Doing Naked Time

First of all, your baby could stop signaling as strongly, or at all. Which makes sense.

Why signal if Iʼm already naked?!!

Next, your baby might learn that peeing on the floor, or on the cloth heʼs laying on, is okay. Which itʼs not, really…right? Right.

Lastly, we wear clothing in our society, so your baby will also need to learn how to wear clothing and not soil it.

Reasons to Keep Doing Naked Time

If you are starting with a more mobile baby (5 months+, and especially 12 months+), you may decide to spend some additional time naked to reinforce the cause & effect rule.

If you just like having a naked baby bum around, no matter the babyʼs age, you might want to do more nakey time too.

If you have a baby who doesnʼt pee on the floor when naked, go for it yaʼll! If baby signals better when naked, awesome. Do it.

Also, if you struggle with diaper rash, naked time is one of the only things that helps. So youʼd want to do it then, too.

In any case, just see #3, below, to learn how to modify it with an older baby so you donʼt teach her to pee on the floor (again, a common problem faced by some ECers).

How to Modify Naked Time After Its Purpose Is Served…and When Baby Becomes Mobile

Okay, so youʼve gathered your info (signals/timing/awareness), cleared up the diaper rash, want to continue having a naked feral child, whatever.

Your child is becoming more mobile by the day….and her brain is building permanent pathways on how to do stuff.

Letʼs modify naked time to place some building blocks for eventual potty independence into your EC practice….

I’ll just leave you hanging there. :)

If you’d like to read the rest of this section in my book, AND the new Troubleshooting Section called: “How Do I Untrain My Baby from Peeing on the Floor?”

…then get my book right away. It’s all in there. Version 2.0, baby. I can also help you personally in my Forum when you buy the book.

Would love to read your thoughts about this ground-breaking news in the EC world: that diaper-free doesn’t necessarily mean naked!! Thoughts? Please add ‘em to the comments below….

And please share this with others via the Like button below. Thanks a million! And here’s to less pee everywhere.  xx Andrea

15 replies
  1. Heather
    Heather says:

    Thanks! I read your thoughts on this in an email a month (or so?!) back, but this just reinforces it for me. Very helpful. If I’ve already bought your book, do I need to buy Version 2.0 to get the whole scoop?

  2. Lacey Sutton
    Lacey Sutton says:

    Many thanks for discussing this – it is precisely what I needed! Because my son is 20 months old I was sort of doing a combination of EC and the potty-training method used by Jamie Glowacki, and for both we’ve been doing the diaper-free time… and the only signal my son seems to give that he needs to pee is the “pee-pee-wee-wee” and the increased tendency to play in corners/out of the way places. And so I’ve cleaned up a lot of pee and poop off the carpets and only had 2 catches, one of which meant I just literally caught the stream in the insert to his toilet. I think we’re taking a break for now while I try to figure out how best to get the whole idea of pottying in the toilet/potty chair through to him.
    The strange part is I have a daycare that is SERIOUSLY into potty training, and they give him regular potty opportunities, but he’s still been hit-or-miss (mostly miss) with that method as well… he just is NOT making the connection….

    • Andrea Olson
      Andrea Olson says:

      Hey Lacey! Thanks so much for sharing. My honest opinion about working with a 20 month old is to completely stop doing EC (I know, sacrilege), and to commit to ONLY doing Jamie’s 3-days and then a brief 4 day follow up. In her 3 days she only has ONE naked day. It’s very step-by-step and I think that at your son’s age it’s much more appropriate. Commit to that fully and I think you’ll just be done. And WOW – your daycare’s into it!!!!! That is priceless. :) Good luck! xo Andrea

  3. Emmy
    Emmy says:

    Thank you Andrea, Libby has been dry most nights…If I am quick to put her on the potty in the morning she will go but lately I been so tired (pregnant again) and she has not been given the opportunity quick enough.

    • Andrea Olson
      Andrea Olson says:

      You’re welcome. Yes, it’s so hard to be pregnant and have that completely sleepy feeling with a child to take care of…..feeling for you! Do what you can…and that’s good enough. :) Andrea

  4. Annaliese
    Annaliese says:

    Could not have said it better, wonderful job Andrea! I fell into that trap with my first child who is now 2 1/2. I made sure this time I wouldn’t let it happen, and now my daughter who is now 10 months only ever had naked time to teach cuing in the hospital after she was born. I have not had to do naked time since the 2 days I was in the hospital :-)

    • Andrea Olson
      Andrea Olson says:

      Oh, Annaliese, thank you so much for sharing your story!! It totally confirms what we’re discovering in the ECS Forum…I’m happy to hear that your 2nd child is doing EC without over-doing naked time. Hope to hear how it all ends up, and how the two differed. Keep me in the loop? xx Andrea

  5. Bonnie
    Bonnie says:

    I have a very mobile 10 month old boy. I would love to start ECing principles, but I’m scared to begin because I’m afraid when I do naked time that the pee is gonna go everywhere!! He likes to stand , crawl, etc. and .. well.. since he’s a boy, pee could literally hit the ceiling.. haha! Any tips???

    • Andrea Olson
      Andrea Olson says:

      Hey Bonnie! Thanks for writing in….and guess what? I literally JUST yesterday wrote one of my November Q+A blog posts on this topic and it’ll be posting at 6am EST tomorrow, Saturday November 3, 2012! Look for it here at that time (when it turns “live”) – NOV3: Clean-up: How do I clean up the poo and pee while observing a diaper-free mobile baby?: http://ecsimplified.com/clean-up-how-do-i-clean-up-the-poo-and-pee-while-observing-a-diaper-free-mobile-baby – and I think you’ll get a load of great info on how to do naked time without too much mess (with preparation, planning, and some active stuff *during* the observation time period). I LOVE synchronicities like this! :) xx Andrea

  6. jessie
    jessie says:

    andrea, i appreciate your bringing this up. i think it has been difficult for me to figure out what was appropriate with naked time, since my son for a while did seem to pee more frequently on the floor. now he’s 20 months and he does do better with a cloth diaper back up and i ask him if he needs to pee every couple of hours. whereas if i leave him naked, and i forget to ask him to pee, 50% of the time he will go himself and 50% of the time he’ll pee on the floor.

    however, those difficult months of beginning mobility, crawling and beginning walking, i did find that having him naked for most of the day (and yes, cleaning up a fair amount of pee) probably did keep him aware of his peeing and did aid EC.

    but back to current: i am a bit conflicted about naked time vs not. because although he pees more frequently on the floor while naked, he also is much more inclined to go pee by himself in the bathroom. and if he is wearing cloth and i forget to ask, he’ll pee in his clothing or diaper.

    basically, i do a combination of both, since there are pros and cons to both, depending on where we are at.

    • Andrea Olson
      Andrea Olson says:

      Hey Jessie! At 20 months I’d go ahead and ditch the diapers altogether and use just clothing, no more naked time either. If you need help wrapping up EC go ahead and get my friend Jamie’s book at http://jamieglowacki.com where she has written a chapter on how to potty train (non-coercively) if you’ve done some EC in the past. Good luck! xx Andrea

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