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Infant Potty Training Diaper Free Baby

Infant Potty Training Diaper Free Baby — How to practice elimination communication with an infant and potty train them before they begin to rely on diapers. Is is considered disgusting in China for a person to piss or shit in their pants. By “person” they also include babies. Children in China do not need to [...]

Infant Potty Training Diaper Free Baby —

How to practice elimination communication with an infant and potty train them before they begin to rely on diapers.

Is is considered disgusting in China for a person to piss or shit in their pants.

By “person” they also include babies.

Children in China do not need to go through the rigors of potty training, because they never grow accustom to crapping themselves: they never wear diapers.

Infants in China come potty trained.

All infants do.

Chinese baby with pants that are open in the back to eliminate the need for diapers

Chinese baby with pants that are open in the back to eliminate the need for diapers

Photo from Chinese style points

The Diaper Free Baby

Diapers are expensive. It is a good thing that they are are, essentially, a luxury. And like most luxuries, I do my best to subvert them — even if that means taking the long way around.

In China, babies — even newborns — wear little clothes that have little slits cut out of butt parts. You can see babies all over the country being held by parents and grandparents over bushes, ditches, and sewer grates revealing themselves to their heart’s delight. They seldom go to the bathroom in their clothes because they don’t need to — they have attentive care givers who pay attention to their schedules and they learn quickly that when they are held with their bottoms hanging out over something it means that they are suppose to expel their waste.

Chinese baby peeing in the street

Chinese baby peeing in the street

Photo from Zhongguo photos

Babies come potty trained. In the West, it is convention to train babies to crap themselves and then retrain them to not crap themselves only a handful of months later. I did not want to send Petra through this round.

So Chaya and I sought an alternative, we sought the route of the diaper free baby.

I made my mother cringe when I told her that I was going to just cut a slit in Petra’s pants and let her crap out it diaper free.

“Like they do in China,” I said proudly.

Though thoughts of being perpetually pooped and peed upon roved through my mind.

“She is going to poop all over you!” my mother replied with a laugh.

Yes, I have seen potty trained babies in China pooping on demand, but I had very little clue how the parents were able to get them to do so.


“Have you ever thought about doing elimination communication?” the midwife asked us at one of Petra’s post-natal visits.

“What is elimination?” I asked.

“Pooping and peeing.”

She then explained how babies in China are potty trained by . . .

Yes, I know, I have nearly gotten pissed on by them in the streets on numerous occasions — yes, one of the main things a traveler needs to watch out for in China are pooping and peeing babies shooting overzealous streams of noxious baby waste all over the streets.

Such events need to be sidestepped. (It is not ok in China to poop your pants, but it seems to be perfectly fine to poop in the streets.)

The midwife then explained how her daughter got her child to “eliminate” out of his diapers from the time he was three weeks of age. Apparently, when the time seemed right for the kid to poop or pee — like when waking up in the morning or right after a feeding — his parents would rush him over to a sink, a toilet, a pale, a rock — to anything that could be pooped on without much regret — and made pee and pooping sounds until he would “eliminate” on his own.

The midwife then demonstrated what her daughter’s pooping and peeing sounds were:

She made a fart noise with her lips and then a pee noise that sounded like “psssssttttt.”

Apparently, you are suppose to alternate these noises until the baby does one, the other, or both.

This “elimination communication” seems to work: the midwife’s grandson has been completely potty trained for over a year. He is now 22 months old.

Infant potty training seems works on the premise that babies are inherently programed with the ability to hold and release their own bowels at times of their choosing. This is evident as changing time very often becomes peeing all over times for babies that wear diapers. Infants know how to use their equipment.

But the midwife’s daughter did not go about diaper freeing her son cold turkey — to do so would have been messy. Rather, she kept him in diapers when he was an infant and took the diaper off when it was time to eliminate. Eventually, he ceased eliminating in his diaper all together and would only go when prompted by one of his parents as he was held over the sink or toilet.

The kid now runs all over the house without a diaper — I have seen him go naked butt all over the midwife’s home without any accidents — and he makes a poop or pee sound to indicate to his parents when he needs to go. His parents still watch for signs that their son needs to eliminate and they still take an active roll in his bowel movements.

The midwife’s daughter told me that she still keeps her kid in diapers at night — for who wants to get up during the night and make poop noises? — but they are very rarely ever used. They also put their child in diapers for long car rides or any other time when they may not be able to readily find something for him to eliminate all over.

I asked when the last time was that he soiled a diaper, and the answer was, “three weeks ago in a car.”

The 22 month old kid soiled only a single diaper in three weeks. Not bad.

So my wife Chaya and I sought to do the same with our child, Petra, who was only three weeks old. We plan on traveling with our baby and we do not want to have to buy diapers at every turn — the less often we lay waste to a diaper the better. The less often our daughter craps herself, the better off we figure she will be as well.

Neither Chaya nor I like soiling our own pants, and we assume that Petra would also enjoy this activity with an equivalent amount of dissatisfaction. In fact, when Petra poops her diaper, she gets really pissed off and angry: this reaction is perhaps instinctual.

So we began diaper freeing Petra.

Petra becoming a diaper free baby

Petra becoming a diaper free baby

I must admit that I now write this piece with a good deal of pomp, but the first time I held my three week old daughter over our bathroom sink, I harbored many doubts — deep down, I did not think it would work. But as I made those first tentative fart noises as my wife picked up the chorus with pee sounds something odd began happening: Petra seemed to be concentrating, she put on her pre-poop face that looks sort of like a body builder who is about lift a heavy set of weights. I watched Petra concentrate in the mirror as her bare butt hung over the sink.

We waited. Nothing.

We waited some more. Nothing.

I ceased my song of fart sounds and nearly called it quits — perhaps our daughter was not cut out to be a diaper free . . .

“She’s going!” Chaya exclaimed.

I looked down at the bundle I was holding and it was true: she was leaking a big stream of pee into the sink. She followed this up with an explosive cluster splatter of turds.

Chaya and I rejoiced. We were surprised: it really worked.

We now take Petra to the sink at regular intervals throughout the day as well as each time we suspect she may need to go. We try to implant the association that the fart and pssssstttt sounds mean “it is time to eliminate.” The associations works. One week into the training, Petra seems to know that when she is slung up with her naked butt hanging over the sink and the two big people who are always messing with her start making funny noises, it is time to squeeze out whatever she has to “eliminate.”

Elimination communication is much like house breaking a new puppy. You rely on place associations — newspapers laid out in a corner of a room/ a bathroom sink — as indicators of where it is ok to go, as well as sound associations — “go potty, go potty, good dog!”/ fart sounds pee sounds — to signal the appropriate time. You also need to concentrate and pay attention to your baby as though it was a puppy. When you see a puppy walking around in circles sniffing the ground it means that it is going to go, just the same as when a baby puts on a smushed up, squirmy sort of face when it is about ready to crap.

Parents seem to know when their baby is about ready to go to the bathroom. It is not drastically difficult to discern. So parents in China (and other places) learn to read these signs and take action, and their babies respond by never needing diapers. This seems to be a matter of communication between the baby and its parents, and all incidences of successful communication between the two has the potential for making lifelong bonds.

. . . or at least this is what I am told.

Walk Slow,

Wade, a four week father

Raising a traveling baby series
[seriesposts orderby=date]
Books on how to diaper free an infant

The diaper free baby
We consulted this book on how to initiate elimination communication with our baby, Petra
Infant Potty Training
Another book on how to free a baby from diapers
Filed under: Petra Hendele Adara Shepard, Travel With Family

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 85 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3319 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Sofia, BulgariaMap