Byron Bay parents reveal how they got their newborn daughter to use the toilet at two weeks old


A couple from Byron Bay have almost completely toilet trained their nine-month-old child using a method called ‘elimination communication’ – and say she gives them signs when she wants to use the bathroom.

Montana Lower and her partner Tom Linwood, from northern New South Wales, have been using the ‘EC’ method with their daughter Blue since she was two weeks old, and she hasn’t done a number two in a nappy since.

On August 26 they released a video on their YouTube channel On The Way describing how works and why it has been such a positive experience for their family. 

A Byron Bay couple have almost completely toilet trained their nine-month-old child using ‘elimination communication’ – and say she gives signs when she wants to use the bathroom

What is elimination communication? 

Elimination communication is a gentle way to respond to a baby’s natural hygiene needs, from as early as birth.

Like all mammals, human babies don’t want to soil themselves, their sleep space, and their caregivers, and they clearly communicate about it from birth. 

With EC, we learn the signals and assist them with this process until they naturally gain independence (usually by nine to 18 months of age).

Source: Go Diaper Free 

EC is the art of looking for ‘signs’ your baby needs to go to the toilet and then taking them to a bathroom, without relying on a nappy.

‘Every mum knows when their baby is hungry and they have cues for that and they have the same cues when they need to go to the toilet. It’s just about listening and watching for it,’ Tom said at the start of the footage.

Blue began by making different faces or even yelling if she needed to go, while some children shake their fist, grunt, squirm or frown.

Montana was initially skeptical of EC and the accidents that would ensue, but she believes thinking it was ‘crazy’ came from not being exposed to it in Western countries. 

‘But it is practiced all over the world. It’s a lot cleaner if you just take them to the toilet,’ she said.

The couple believe it’s empowering for their child to know they are being heard and their needs are being met, which is a ‘beautiful theme that leads to connection’.

‘It’s also a positive association for Blue and her private areas. Many women can feel disassociation and shame when it comes to their genitals and we just want Blue to feel like this is a natural thing, going to the toilet,’ Montana said.

Blue began by making different faces or even yelling if she needed to go, while some children shake their fist, grunt, squirm or frown

Blue began by making different faces or even yelling if she needed to go, while some children shake their fist, grunt, squirm or frown

Montana was initially skeptical of EC and the accidents that would ensue, but she believes thinking it was 'crazy' came from not being exposed to it in Western countries

'But it is practiced all over the world. It's a lot cleaner if you just take them to the toilet,' she said

Montana was initially skeptical of EC and the accidents that would ensue, but she believes thinking it was ‘crazy’ came from not being exposed to it in Western countries

They don’t have to go through the process of ‘unteaching’ her to use a nappy in another year’s time and only rely on one when Blue is sleeping overnight. 

It gets a big tick for being environmentally savvy as well. 

‘You’re reducing the amount of nappies you use, whether that’s in terms of washing and washing detergent for cloth nappies or throwing disposable ones away. We have accidents just like everybody but we use them a lot less,’ Tom said.

The couple recommend starting in summer when your baby can wear a dress – or far less clothing – making any potential ‘accidents’ easier to clean up.

They also suggest setting one full day aside to begin the child’s association with number one and twos and the toilet, and investing in a potty for the back of the car when you’re out and about. 

‘The most common question we get is do you have to be stay-at-home parents. Ideally it does work better if someone is home all the time and committed to this practice,’ Montana said.

MONTANA AND TOM’S TIPS TO GET STARTED:

Montana holding Blue over the potty while she 'eliminates'

Montana holding Blue over the potty while she ‘eliminates’

1. It’s much easier to start EC in summer so you can put your baby in dresses or clothing that doesn’t take a long time to remove on the bottom half.

2. Get yourself a potty. It’s good to put in the boot of the car for when you’re out and about. You can pull over at any time and put the baby on the toilet.

3. Set aside one day to just learn with your child. Blue took one day to realise she needed to use the potty and after that it was up to us to read the signs. 

4. Involve friends and family if you want to. It can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. 

They don't have to go through the process of 'unteaching' her to use a nappy in a few years time and only rely on one when Blue is sleeping overnight

They don’t have to go through the process of ‘unteaching’ her to use a nappy in a few years time and only rely on one when Blue is sleeping overnight

'A lot of people in the EC community start their babies as soon as they're out of the womb. We don't think there's such thing as too early. For us personally, we see Blue get so much joy out of knowing she is heard and she doesn't have to go in her nappy,' Montana said

‘A lot of people in the EC community start their babies as soon as they’re out of the womb. We don’t think there’s such thing as too early. For us personally, we see Blue get so much joy out of knowing she is heard and she doesn’t have to go in her nappy,’ Montana said

The couple are currently travelling around Australia in a van, so they’re mostly always around Blue together. 

‘A lot of people in the EC community start their babies as soon as they’re out of the womb. We don’t think there’s such thing as too early. For us personally, we see Blue get so much joy out of knowing she is heard and she doesn’t have to go in her nappy.’

Toward the end of the video Tom demonstrated the position he holds Blue in so she feels safe and comfortable, which looks like a squat. 

‘When we take Blue to the toilet we use word association to actually reinforce what we’re doing. We use “sheshe” for doing a wee and “poopoo” for doing a number two,’ he said.

While it’s not a method that every family will feel confident adopting, Tom and Montana recommend ‘giving it a go’ if you’ve got the time.

Toward the end of the video Tom demonstrated the position he holds Blue in so she feels safe and comfortable, which looks like a squat

Toward the end of the video Tom demonstrated the position he holds Blue in so she feels safe and comfortable, which looks like a squat

'When we take Blue to the toilet we use word association to actually reinforce what we're doing. We use "sheshe" for doing a wee and "poopoo" for doing a number two,' he said

‘When we take Blue to the toilet we use word association to actually reinforce what we’re doing. We use “sheshe” for doing a wee and “poopoo” for doing a number two,’ he said

While it's not a method that every family will feel confident adopting, Tom and Montana recommend 'giving it a go' if you've got the time

While it’s not a method that every family will feel confident adopting, Tom and Montana recommend ‘giving it a go’ if you’ve got the time

Edwina O’Connell, who runs EC workshops on the Gold Coast and in northern New South Wales, told the ABC that she had seen an increase in interest since COVID-19 began.

‘It’s definitely gaining in popularity, some people are saying “we’re in lockdown, let’s do this”,’ she said. 

Edwina was also skeptical before trying the communication method with her two children, but found it worked when both parties are understanding each other.

‘I’m not an Earth mother or anything, and I was working four days a week when I first did it,’ she said.

“This is the opposite of regimented potty training and there are so many benefits: you stop changing nappies, you’re not dragging around a nappy bag, you’re saving money not buying nappies, and you have a really good connection with your child as well.’

You can find Montana, Tom and Blue on their website On The Way. 

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