Elimination Communication for Mainstream Mamas | Andrea Olson | MomCave LIVE

What is elimination communication? Photo of the book "Go Diaper Free" and text saying "No Diapers??? Elimination Communications. It's not just for "crunchy mamas" anymore.

Can you imagine “potty-ing” a newborn? What did people do before diapers? What if you NEVER had to change a diaper again? Elimination Communication (or having babies use the potty from birth!) used to be for the crunchy mamas. But now it’s gone mainstream! Jen talks with Andrea Olson, the “Go Diaper Free” Lady, and learns that even #slackermoms might benefit from this technique.

What IS Elimination Communication?

Jen: Hello, Facebook-land MomCavers, you have caught two moms in their busy day who have 15 minutes to talk about “What is elimination communication?” AND have fun doing it. And I brought you somebody fun to learn from. So this is Andrea Olsen. Hi, Andrea. Andrea. Is that “Go Diaper-Free” lady. I think that’s what we should call you.

Andrea Olson: Yeah, that’s me.

Jen: Everything is godiaperfree.com. Your Instagram is @godiaperfree. All the things. You have a podcast too, I think?

What IS elimination communication? Andrea Olson of Go Diaper Free Explains

Andrea: Yeah, every week.

Jen: Awesome. Amazing. I don’t know how you find time to do all this. But maybe just maybe it’s because you’re not changing diapers?

Andrea Olson: Yeah, completely. Human diapers. Still, technically, I have five from ages two to 10. And they were all out of diapers by walking. None of them had to be potty trained, and hardly any of them ever pooped in their diaper.

Jen: Oh my gosh. Okay, so this is a lot to talk about. I have a lot to ask about. Um, our followers tend not to be like, the “crunchy” mamas or the organic mamas- the Mamas that might already know what elimination communication is. We’re more the #SlackerMoms, and the “you got anything to make our life easier moms.” Um, so for all of us who might not know very much about it, what IS elimination communication?

Andrea Olson: Well, it’s a way to save a lot of time and a lot of money for sure. So if you’re a Slacker Mom, it’s perfect for you. You just have to get over your fear of “Oh my gosh, I can’t possibly do that. And I can’t do that all the time.” Our time, most people do it with a diaper as a backup instead of a full-time toilet. Just imagine that kind of paradigm shift.

Jen: Wow, a lot.

Andrea Olson: I would say we’re kind of veering off from the super-crunchy crowd into the mainstream. It’s out because people are like, “Wait… three, four years in diapers and potty training? This sucks. I don’t want to do this!”

So I’ve saved $10,000 in diapers over my five kids by getting them out of diapers by the time they’re walking. They’re all really independent. I’ll take them out tonight. I’m going to go to a nice dinner after this with them alone because I’m newly single. And they are so well behaved. I swear up and down that it’s easy. And any little bit of it helps.

It’s kind of like crate-training a puppy. Your baby is a mammal. Now, that’s you know, babies are mammals, all mammals too. And we all have hormones that keep us dry and clean when we’re sleeping. And when we wake up, we all need to go to the bathroom.

Babies aren’t incontinent. They need to go, they will cry their heads off and you’ll be like, “What do you want? Do you want to move? Or do you want to sleep? Do I need to rocky push them into peeing themselves?” And we’ll look, “Oh, you’re wet??”

Well, no. If you rewind a few minutes, they were actually crying to get you to take their diaper off. Because they don’t want to go on themselves. Because they’re mammals. Yeah, think about the people in the cave, their cave would have been all disgusting. With disease. If babies were born incontinent. It’s just not true. Right?

So we use a diaper as a backup. We get to know our baby. We take advantage of when they wake up. When they’re pooping, we don’t let them load their diaper, then wait and wait and change it. We go, “Oh, you’re about to poop? Hang on a second. Let’s do that over here.” And that’s basically all it is. That’s the answer to, “What is elimination communication?”

And a lot of people don’t have to potty train at all. And it really just makes everything easier. Like, I’ll be going into a bathroom. Somebody else in there is changing a blowout. I’ve only had to change TWO over five kids! Two. She’s doing the whole outfit change. I go in with my six-month-old, hold them over the toilet. Make the noise. He goes he poops in it. I don’t even have to wipe them. I put his diaper back on and… I’m a little bit bragging but a little bit like, no ANYBODY can do this. You just have to learn how. And then we walk out and she’s still changing the blowout and I felt so bad for this lady. I’ll never forget that day. Like how come you didn’t hear about this too?

Jen: You’re right that it is kind of going mainstream. So that I had heard about it. But it sounded like something that would take so much time and energy and be so much harder than just using diapers that I didn’t even really learn about it

Andrea Olson: Diapers are super convenient, like-great invention. Wonderful. And you can also do this super part-time. Like just get the poops and just do the morning. They’re not surprised years later when you’re like, “Oh, here’s a toilet. You need to go in that now.” Right? It changes now. Yeah.

Elimination Communication Throughout History

Jen: Okay, so speaking of caves, and I was wondering, um, I always assumed people just made diapers of like, whatever they had, and that’s how babies wore diapers. But what did people do BEFORE we had the beautiful wonderful disposable diaper?

Andrea Olson: Right? Well, when their child needed to poop. Have you ever seen, Babies, that documentary where they don’t really talk in the whole movie? they compare the different cultures and one part of it the African baby she like rubs its butt on a corn husk so But like basically she felt like it needed to pee. She held it over the side at pooped and peed and then she’d like, wipe its butt with a corn husk.

Basically, those babies are naked because of the climate they live in. Right, right. When a baby can crawl or walk, no matter, the usually temperate climates, they would just crawl outside and go near the hut, or go further. And then eventually, the older kids will show them go over here. And so crawling to one year old, they were good and done, and until then, babies were worn. So typically, if you have a nomadic tribe, they would stuff things like you’re talking about, they would put like moss or animal for something in the Papoose just in case like, we can’t, or it’s too cold.

Jen: But what the people in the Arctic who are in all those furs?

Andrea Olson: Yeah, so the Eskimo people. Another woman, another author, Laurie Bouquet, did all this anthropological research. I mean, her book is super thick. It’s like an encyclopedia about potty training babies. She has stories from all over and then in you, it actually would potty their babies inside, in the igloo, into a little pot or something, when they need to go and then toss it out through the opening, and just keep them in with them to keep them warm. And then when they wrap them up and Papoose them, they would hold it.

Babies hold it when they’re in a baby carrier. If you have any baby-wearers, maybe you don’t in your audience, that’s hit the mainstream too. Yeah, babies start to struggle and hate it and want to get out of it, because they need to go to the bathroom. So they would do that with the Eskimo people. And they would do that with any natives who have a sling with a V, right?

Jen: Like this entire video, if people go back and watch this, my face is just gonna be like, like, they’re gonna think that it’s frozen, because everything you say, it just makes my jaw drop. But awesome. I found this really cute graphic on your website. If I can make everyone get to see it. And it’s an ancient potty from like, what what was it? The sixth century BC? Yeah. So so that was a thing like they were they This is a tiny, tiny potty to hold little babies over.

ancient potty for elimination communication technique for babies
Ancient Greek Baby Potty

Andrea Olson: Yeah. And then like chamber pots in castles, my house in Asheville here was built in 1890, they definitely did not have a toilet here. They had chamber pots. It’s the same thing. I have a top hat potty here. This is what we use for newborns. We hold it between our legs, then we hold the baby over it. And it’s like a little portable chamber pot. So people would, like, catch with those. When there were cloth diapers, which is only been a couple 100 hundred years, they would catch as many poops as possible in a potty of some sort. Because then they didn’t have to wash that thing by hand. Right?

Jen: Yeah, of course.

Andrea Olson: And then half the world right now, everybody’s done with diapers by a year. Or potty independent, rather, they don’t have diapers and a lot of those places, because of instincts and hormones and the way we’re built and just kind of like, get those poops. They can poop train a baby when they’re a couple of days old. It’s so easy. I’m not kidding.

Jen: I’m doing the face. I’m like, whoa, because I’ve never tried this. And the fact that you have had five children?

Andrea Olson: I do. But over eight years.

Jen: Yeah, yeah, FIVE children, and you’ve done this with all of them definitely makes you the expert.

Andrea Olson: And I’m super busy. Like I have two businesses, Tiny Undies and Go Diaper Free. And I’m a pretty bit like, I don’t work all the time. But I’m also homeschooling now, all of a sudden. And I’m like, if I can do it with a busy schedule, you literally can just do it a little bit each day, and it makes a huge impact. And then your kids are like, “Wow. You’re listening to me. I’m gonna communicate more!” And then they get like, they can freely walk and they have good self-esteem. And it’s just it’s so good.

Jen: Yeah, I…. Well, it seems counterintuitive. I would have thought that to do it, you have to like do it totally. And if you use diapers or anything, you know when you go out, that will confuse the baby. But you’re saying it does not?

Andrea: Absolutely not? No.

Jen: Good.

Andrea Olson: You know, hundreds of thousands of people have been doing this under my tutelage. And they’re like, “No, we do it half-assed and we’re great.” How fast can you go? A good way to say it might still be to potty train. But the potty training is like two days long. And it’s a breeze. It’s just, “Hey, let’s just go here to poop.” And hey, we’re officially not using any more diapers! And what would you do if the stores didn’t have diapers? Like last year? What would you do? All of a sudden, you would cry for days? And then you figure it out!

Elimination Communication for Boys vs. Girls

Jen: Right? Do you find any difference? Do you find that there’s a difference between the boys and the girls?

Andrea Olson: Yeah, I think so. Not in timing. Like they always say boys are harder to potty train. I have three boys and two girls. And I would say that the only difference was me and how I interacted with them. Like the boys were way more physical, and would also let a little pee go because just to release the pressure then keep playing. And the girls were a little bit more aware of their own hygiene, although I know lots of baby girls who aren’t so that’s not so clear. Yeah, but it’s generally that way. Boys, they hold a little more pee sometimes and girls are a little bit more like, “I got this.”Responsible about it.

Do you use rewards to teach elimination communication or potty train?

Jen: Oh, like women in general. If you’re watching and you have a question about elimination communication, just pop it in the comments, because we are watching the comments. Do you use any sort of rewards other than not being wet and pooping, sitting in a crappy diaper? Is there any sort of rewarding the child?

Andrea Olson: No, we don’t use rewards. We don’t use sticker charts. We don’t use M&Ms. I mean, we’re doing this in the age range guys, zero to 18 months. And really, when you get to 16 months, if you’re sitting here at that age, you can do potty training now. And it’s so easy between 16 to 18 or 20 months like I would never wait longer than that if I knew about it. Potty Train then.

But elimination communication is at this age where rewards and consequences really don’t matter. As much as distractions matter. You know, like, “Oh, hey, look at that fluffy cloud.” And then they’re like, “Oh” and then that’s discipline, right? So right. We don’t use those. It’s based on their instincts. And yeah, the reward is that they get what they want, which is like, “Hey, I’m crying because I’m hungry. And I’m going to get what I want.” Right? “Hey, I’m crying because I need to go to the bathroom.

And by the way, your child doesn’t have to say, “I need to go to the bathroom” to be potty trained, or even tell you that they need to pee to do elimination communication. Signals are totally optional. There are so many ways to do it. Just like, hey, when they wake up, hey, we’re about to go on a car trip. Like what would you do? Would you go to the bathroom before a car trip?

Jen: Always.

Andrea Olson: Always. Because I don’t want to be in the car having to pee. Neither does your baby. Yeah. Good.

Jen: And what kind of signals do most babies give before they are verbal?

Andrea Olson: Well, with a brand new newborn, they’ll fuss. They just cry for everything. And you’re like, well, how can I know which fuss is which? Well, if you just fed them, like you just nursed him, for example, or bottle-fed him. Yep. And then like 10 minutes later, they fuss out of nowhere. That’s a signal because they just got a full belly. They’ve produced some pee, they need to go to the bathroom. So that first fuss after feeding is always a signal for newborns.

Jen: So most people think that that’s a gas fuss, right?

Andrea Olson: No, it’s more like, I need to take this thing off of me!

Jen: Yeah, it’s amazing.

Andrea Olson: And it works almost every single time. And then also with toddlers. It’s like getting hyperactive. Yeah, that’s their pee-pee dance, because they’re like, “Get this off of me, I can’t do this.” Or they’ll grab their crotch, their diaper, try to pull their pants off, or they’ll run to the bathroom, bang on the door. Try to go outside. There are so many times, if you really pay attention, you’re like, wait, that behavior means you need to go to the bathroom… that’s a pee-pee dance.

So it changes from like, baby all the way up to that. Yeah, in the different stages. They do different things. And once you start taking them, especially for poops, they’ll start to look to you even at like six weeks old. They’ll be like, “Where’s my mom or dad?” You know, like, “I got something coming,” you know.

What about Babies who Go to Daycare?

Jen: Right. Oh, “where’s my mom or dad” reminds me What if this child is in daycare?

Andrea Olson: How do you make that work? Sometimes, a lot of the time, daycares just won’t cooperate. If they allow cloth diapering, they’re usually a little bit better at cooperating. If you convince them that they have to change one less poopy diaper, some of them will cooperate a little bit. But honestly, if Grandma, mother-in-law, caregiver, husband, whatever doesn’t want to do it, then you just do it when you have the baby. And before and after.

Okay, I think it’s okay for your child to not be in diapers, and I’m going to help you, then you can do a little potty training experience and have them completely diaper-free. But you just really can only control what you can control. So you do it at home. And then at the daycare, you can talk to your child and it’d be like, “Hey, we’re not going to do it while you’re with this teacher.”

So I have a whole mini-course on daycares because it’s a really big cookie to crumble. I also have a couple of handouts that are like, okay, parent, this is what you do through daycare who is willing and then this is what to give your teacher. That’s on my blog. It’s free. And it’s just like if you want to learn about that you can just search daycare on my site, but it’s not a reason to not do Elimination Communication. Right and still do it before and after, and have a ton of success.

Jen: I always thought I would have to be a totally homeschooling mom with the kids 24-7 in order to make this elimination communication thing work. So I’m happy to hear that’s not the case. You have a bunch of courses on your website and something really special going on right now. Can you tell everybody about it?

Andrea Olson’s Mini-Courses for Learning Elimination Communication

Andrea Olson: Yeah. So I do have seven mini-courses that are like deep dives into the trouble areas that people are like, “I don’t know what to do with this.” But my book covers everything.

And then there’s like these little drill-downs. This week is our first annual summer training challenge. So I have an annual Go Diaper Free Week, we just started a new year’s challenge. We just need a reason to get our butts in gear. Oh, it’s the summer and a lot of people like to train in the summer and they kind of make huge mistakes, doing it in the summer. Like “I’m gonna leave him naked outside and just like, see how it goes.”

Jen: I did that.

Andrea Olson: To be honest, it’s a normal thing to think that’s going to work. But during the summer training challenge, this week, we have giveaways, we have a huge sale going on at both sites. And we’ve got a five-day challenge where it just kind of gets you in the mindset of, hey, here’s a tiny little thing today that you can do to go towards being diaper-free, which for an infant is free from dependence on diapers. Like you don’t have to use it as a toilet. And for toddlers, it’s how do we just potty train? Let’s just do this.

Yeah, so we taught a couple of classes this week that we have replays posted for– an hour-long class on each Elimination Communications and potty training. And then there are also other ways to participate in this week. It’s all about just like a little nudge in the bottom going, “Alright, if you are interested at all, here’s a little piece. And you could win some fun things.” Because we all like free things!

Jen: Love free things. It’s all at GoDiaperFree.com?


Andrea Olson: Yes. And the challenge is godiaperfree.com/summer, but you can see it there’s a banner.

Jen: Thank you so much for telling us about all of this. And I’m really sorry, I didn’t know this sooner because my kids are older now. But if God grants me another, if The Universe lets it happen… I will definitely try.

Andrea Olson: Yes, please. Please. This was easy.

Jen: Oh, before we go, I found this picture on your Instagram. I hope you don’t mind me showing it. It’s of you potty-ing a newborn? And there you go.

Andrea’s 2 Day Old Baby Being Held Over Baby Potty for Elimination Communication

Andrea Olson: That is yes. With my milk just coming in! Oh my gosh. Yes. It doesn’t look nice.

Jen: Your breasts look amazing! So amazing, man. Celebrate them! But this is just amazing that this tiny little one is learning this life skill.

Andrea Olson: It’s a huge gift. And it’s so precious. And then when they start to look at you like in the mirror while you’re doing it and they smile are like, “Oh, thank you so much” it’s a beautiful thing. She was only hours old there because that is so sweet.

Jen: All right. Well, everybody, go check out GoDiaperFree.com and enter the challenge and try to win all the things. And let’s keep this conversation going. If anyone has questions, put them in the comments and we’ll come back and answer them later when we see them. Alright, thank you so much for talking to me and help me figure out, “What is elimination communication?”

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