Have You Discovered Your Elimination Communication Confidence?

When Baby is Resisting the Potty – Is it a Potty Pause?

When Baby is Resisting the Potty – Is it a Potty Pause?

Adapting to changes – moving from the in-arms stage often means baby starts showing preferences and opinions about toileting!

Here are 10 things to consider as you both learn to adapt (and take it easy – this stage is universal)

For older mobile babies – growing autonomy. These insights and strategies are also useful if you are beginning elimination communication later.

Declining invitations at pee breaks

I have found an interesting challenge in responding successfully to changes in Maven’s behaviour as he grows and develops his personality. Once he became mobile, there have been times, stages in a day, an afternoon, or here and there over a couple of days where he would signal a need to pee – either overtly or by me observing his body language, or by timing, yet when I took him to have a wee, he would arch, complain, or cry out and straighten his limbs. When I put him down to play or explore, he would pee shortly after. It was perplexing and frustrating for me, and he would get upset and cry or grizzle that he wet himself or the floor. Sometimes he wouldn’t, of course!

Adapting to changes

This wasn’t good for either of us. So I had to find ways to adapt. I have come up with a range of strategies over these three months to help us through this stage, so that Maven is happy and dry, is ‘relieved’ when he needs to be, and I am happy as our connection is developing. I have found these strategies are successful at different times – I run through a bunch of them if necessary, which is quite easy as they mainly involve relaxing the baby. The key is working out what CHANGE is required in the routine, location, approach or attitude.

A variety of ‘cues’ helps

Through this stage I have found having a variety of cues has been helpful – the cue sound ‘pss sss’, the position cue, the nonverbal ‘belly crunching’, deep breathing, humming and the sound of the water running from the tap. I have experimented through trial and error, through gentle persistence (and some frustrations) on my part, discussions with Chris, and with a focus on keeping Maven happy and having a commitment not to use nappies once we’d largely stopped using them. Though certain times we did, no worries.

There are two situations I try to work out first:

1. He declined a pee-break because he didn’t have to go at all.

I ask myself these questions:

Is he actually hungry?
I sometimes jumble his hunger cues with his need-to-pee signs. (or perhaps he does) I offer him a quick feed (like I do at night) as this will tell me which, and help relax him.

What is the weather like?
In hot weather he’ll reduce pee frequency to every three hours or even more!

Where are we?
If we are in a new environment – a house he hasn’t been to, a noisy place, somewhere with small kiddies around, in the car, he’ll simply hold it for hours.

Has his pattern changed?
I’ve discovered this can happen almost overnight. So, twice I tracked each pee catch and miss over 24 hours to see if there were general changes. I found I’d been offering a pee-break WAY to often.

Is it just a burp?
Seems dumb I know, but quite a number of times, the squirmy, uncomfortable behaviours that lead me to offer a pee-break only result in a burp (or a fluff) at the sink – being held in position, and jiggled to get there, relieved the pressure. I guess in his mind it is “Something happening inside me – must let Mum know -she’ll sort it out” Then, of course, he has no need to pee, and wants to leave. So, I’ve taken up giving him a good jiggle on the way to see if a burp pops out on the way!

2. He obviously needs to have a pee as he’d signalled with body language, or vocally, yet declines a pee-break.

I use these 7 strategies:


I realised that he’d simply forget why we went to another room, or the change of position had made the ‘urge’ go away. Playing for a bit would help, or coming back later. Gentle persistence so he goes in the bathroom was the aim of the game!

Baby wearing

I hold or wear him until he signals clearly again, and to help him relax. We walk about, have some fun, go outside to calm him, then he’ll happily go. My number one solution to a ‘missy’ day.

Relax the baby first mode

I see his sign, go into ‘relax the baby’ mode first, so that he is happy and giggly before we go to the sink, rather than rushing there.

Wait longer than usual

I realised as his muscles were developing strength, he found it harder to relax them on cue, or in the same amount of time he had in the past. So, I’d do something to help him relax.

Focus on MY breathing ***SO HELPFUL!!***

If I am tense, Maven is. Part of the mother-infant ‘dyad’ connection. If I am concerned he won’t pee, or am distracted, I’ll breathe shallowly or even hold my breath while he is in position. I’ve found that when I focus on slowly breathing deeply, and slowly sighing out loud, this will help him to relax and pee. Breathing on his head has become a steadfast cue.

Distractions to make baby giggle

To calm and relax him I’ll turn him upside-down, tickle him, pull faces at ‘mirror Maven’, play with toys (stretchy ones are good), trickle water, try another location, until he relaxes to pee.

Thinking with clarity

After a sequence of misses (at 11 months) that corresponded with me thinking about him having a pee, I considered our mental connection, intuition or even a telepathic link! It occurred to me that my buzzing brain was perhaps being a hindrance in our communication. So I made a concerted effort to think clearly about what I expected him to do – in my mind I’d visualise him peeing. Guess what? I was surprised at how effective this technique was many times. The trick is to visualise the baby peeing as you offer a pee break in a relaxed way. Stay outwardly calm and still, aiming to have your inner thoughts match or in sync with outer expectations as you breathe slowly and wait gently. Seems crazy, really. Perhaps the real help was to ‘be there’, rather than elsewhere in my mind…There are many more.

Are you experiencing a ‘potty pause’ with your baby? How can you overcome it, or as in cultures traditionally practicing EC, simply not get all worried about it?

Find out more by learning about my guide to ‘reconnecting’ to your EC senses:

Life Happens: Reconnecting Tips



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