Alicia Silverstone, If You Believe You Potty-Trained Your Six-Month-Old I Have A Bridge To Sell You

Alicia Silverstone Book Signing - Austin, TXAlicia Silverstone‘s parenting guide The Kind Mama came out last week and is giving us endless eyeroll fodder. She joins the likes of Gisele in attesting she was able to potty train her son Bear Blu by the time he was six months old. I hate to break it to you, but holding your infant over a toilet instead of letting him pee in a diaper isn’t potty training. It’s a mother f-ing waste of time.

This method of potty training is not new. It’s called “elimination communication.” The idea is that your child was born ready to potty train and it’s your lazy Western reliance on environment-destroying disposable diapers that is getting in the way of your six-month-old’s natural inclination to use the actual toilet. In a nutshell.

Basically, a parent or caregiver looks for an infant’s “cues” that they are ready to eliminate something and rushes to hold them over a toilet. Okay. Why do I get the feeling that the only reason parents do this is so they can brag that their six-month-old can pee on a toilet? To each her own and all, but I’m not spending half the day holding my infant over a toilet, just so I can claim that he used the toilet before he could walk. Also, some people have been known  to take this a little too far and hold their infants over public trashcans and between parked cars.

When Bear was an infant, Alicia tweeted, ”saturday bear blu (5 mos old) went poo and pee on toilet 4x throughout the day…we were so proud! Check out book Diaper Free..soo fun!” Yay for Bear, but why would she be “proud” that he shit over a toilet instead of into a diaper? There is literally no difference to a five-month-old. She told People:

“They give you cues, but we’re ignoring those cues. If you pay attention, they actually have a pause button and will give you enough time to get to a place that makes it comfortable for them to go. It’s amazing.”

People are free to toilet train their kids however they see fit. If you want to believe that your infant is “potty-trained” so be it – but I’d like to just point out that holding an infant over a toilet is a very loose definition of potty-trained.

(photo: Getty Images)

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  • Alene

    Otherwise known as the “I am engaged in a day-long staring contest with my infant, willing him to shit” method.

    • allisonjayne

      HA. Yes.

    • bl

      Yes. This method would stress me out to no end. “Dammit! I took my eyes off him to change the laundry. Did I miss a sign? No. I’m good. Wait was that a poop signal?!” I’d be holding my kid over the toilet probably 75% of his waking hours. Speaking of that. Do you have to stare at them while they sleep too to look for unconscious pee signals?

    • whiteroses

      Why am I getting a feeling that the Poop Signal is a lot like the Bat Signal, except it involves grunting?

  • Tinyfaeri

    My kid pees and even sometimes poops like a ninja. Or I’m really unobservant.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      Make sure to avoid diapers that are unabsorbent

    • Tinyfaeri

      I doo!

    • Jallun-Keatres

      lolll my child poops like a ninja every once in a while. I go to change her and… where did this come from?? When did you do this??? The rest of the time it’s head-turning loud hahaha

  • Ashie

    Having to hold your infant over the toilet is NOT potty trained when they cannot do any of those functions on their own! Sounds like a huge waste of time to me!

    • Tinyfaeri

      Well, one of them is trained, anyway.

  • brebay

    Seriously, if I have to “eliminate” and someone comes running toward me, scoops me up, strips me, and dangles me over a bowl of water…I’ll probably be scared shitless…literally.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Well, when you put it that way… lol

    • JulesInFL

      Right? I’m thinking it’s a recipe for a lifetime of “Elimination Issues.” I’d definitely be constipated for a week if someone pulled that nonsense with me.

  • Frances “Librle” Locke

    Wait, if peeing in a trash can is potty training, then I guess A LOT of people potty train in Manhattan during the St. Patty’s Day parade.

    • brebay

      “It’s not public indecency, officer, I’m just potty-training!”

    • Bethany Ramos

      Uromysitisis poisoning! (Seinfeld)

    • brebay

      “I could die!”

    • Bethany Ramos

      I have potty trained on the curb at bar close. Don’t tell.

    • Valerie

      My friend did that in college only she was right in front of “the drunk bus” that took us back to campus and a good 70 people witnessed it. I’m sure she is grateful in her current career as an RN that social media did not exist in 2001. I can still see her lily white butt illuminated by the street light. Lol.

    • JJ

      “Excuse me officer this isn’t illegal this is how my mom taught me to go”

  • WendyD

    I think she’s full of…it. That kid is definitely more than 5 months and I see the tell tale diaper tale out of those shorts.

    • Katherine Handcock

      Elimination communication is a neat idea, but not something I’d want to pursue! But more typical practitioners admit that it’s not foolproof, and that most of them use diapers when they’re out of the house (and especially if they’re traveling). As always, we get to hear about the ones who are a LITTLE overexcited.

  • Kendra

    You aren’t really potty training the child if you are the one doing the timing, preparation, and holding them over the potty so that they can go. You’re really just confirming that you, as an adult, know how to potty. Good for you!!!

    • rrlo

      You can get your kid to a point where they are more comfortable going in the potty. So they will hold it (to an extent) until they are held upright over a toilet/potty. It’s fairly common practice in some cultures (where diapers are uncomfortable and expensive due to extreme heat). But the baby is not potty trained by any means.

    • ted3553

      exactly. you haven’t trained your child, you’ve trained yourself to watch for any possible cue and react.

  • Megan Zander

    I’ll admit that I’ve considered doing this when one of my kids has a stomach bug, since it seems like it would be less messy and I’m spending so much time in the bathroom already, but I’m worried my arms would give out and the little butt would fall in the cold water.

  • Haradanohime

    Sounds to me more like mommy is the trained one not the baby.

    • Psych Student

      Isn’t that pretty much parenting for at least the first year or so? :)

  • Valerie

    I guess I’m “The Way Harsh, Tai” Mama. Because I think this sounds like a steaming load of poo. Pun intended.

    • momjones

      Yeah, my response was basically that she is full of shit.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      Maybe she’s diaperate for attention?

    • Frances “Librle” Locke

      I wish I could upvote this comment 100 times.

    • Joy

      You win all the Internet Points for that reference.

  • lucie uk

    My health visitor gave me great advice. Basically there are stages, baby has no idea he has gone and no concept of wet, then realise they are wet, then realise something happens that made them wet, then realise its about to happen but cant control – this might be a good idea to go nappyless for a few hours a day, then they actually reach a point where they can tell you been, then they gain some control. This can happen at varying ages. Usually later in boys. There is little point fighting nature unless you want to be on pee and poop duty, love doing laundry, and dont respect your soft furnishings. I took a laid back approach with my son. Ended up pretty much dry during day at 30 month, and out of nappies totally, and through night at 36 month. He only ever had night accidents if overtired

  • allisonjayne

    I know some folks who do this. To each their own – I don’t think it causes any harm to the kid, so whatever floats their boat. And maybe it works super well for some people and I guess you would save some cash on diapers.

    But the folks I’ve seen….well, there’s a lot of claiming their kid has been potty trained since 6 weeks, but every time we visit, there’s lots of accidents or “oh well he’s just wearing a diaper today because [something]“.

  • allisonjayne

    Also, having raised exactly one kid to age 3, I’m pretty sure I’m an
    expert…an expert on that one kid, that is. Anyway, in my extremely
    limited experience from raising my kid and talking to other parents –
    kids are ready when they’re ready and there’s not much you can do about
    it. That thing in the brain that tells you “I need to pee” in enough
    time to get to a toilet is a developmental stage that happens at 18
    months for some kids or 3.5 years for others.

    It’s like, you can rush it and start at 18 months and hey maybe a month (and
    many ruined couches) later your kid will be potty trained. Or you can
    wait until 26 months and the same kid will figure it out in one weekend.
    I prefer the one weekend approach, but hey, we all have different priorities.

    • CMJ

      According to legend, my little brother said – “I will use the potty when I am three.” And he did.

    • momjones

      Unlike you, who at 16 months was sitting on the toilet singing, “Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy boy, Billy boy?” And let it go on record that it was your beloved Grandmother who was singing with you :)

    • brebay

      *CMJ thanking god you didn’t upload this…*

    • CMJ

      There have been waaaay worse stories told about me. :)

    • Paul White

      wait wait, where’s the video!

  • Kay_Sue

    See, this violates my basic parenting tenet of doing as little work as possible. :-P

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      So long as you keep to your belief of letting someone else do it, you’re still cool.

    • Kay_Sue

      *wipes sweat from brow* Good. That was a close one.

  • AP

    I’ve met these parents.

    They like to insist their baby doesn’t need a swim diaper because “he’s already potty-trained.” Yeah, nope.

    • darras

      hahaaa! Yes :D My nine month old poos in the pool on a 1 in 4 chance basis (into a swim diaper happily). It’s become a bit of a thing for my fellow babyswim parents to bet small sums on if he will poo in the pool this week or not..

  • keetakat

    This feels like another way to make me feel bad because I should have poop-ESP.

  • SA

    I think by using EC you could potty train a child much earlier. Part of the reason it takes a long time to potty train children now is because the disposable diapers allow more comfort in being wet and children tend to not realize how often they are going or feel much discomfort from it. (I mean my kid can have a FULL morning diaper and still be begging to watch Elmo and not want it changed).

    But if you can’t get yourself to the potty or can vocalize that you need to be taken to the potty you are NOT potty-trained. And truthfully, I’d rather spend the money on diapers for a few years than my free time trying to determine what my newborns “pee face” looks like.

  • TngldBlue

    Yeah, just another silly fad that certain moms latched onto as one more way to prove their superiority over other mothers. What a colossal waste of time.

  • Rebecca R

    Calling this system ‘potty-trained’ is a lie, but some babies really do let you know when they’re about to eliminate. My aunt started doing this with my cousin 15+ years ago, not because she was trying to show off, but because my cousin would literally make a certain noise before she pooped that my aunt started catching onto. I like the idea of it in the sense that it would mean fewer diapers to buy and probably less of a mess to clean up since it’s not mushed all over the baby.

  • middleofnowheremom

    When my middle child was just a month old, his big sister was home for the weekend (and at an amazing 6 year old). He’d dropped the mother of all loads in his pants and I asked her if she could sit by him while I grabbed a diaper out of the bag in my bedroom. When I returned to the living room they were nowhere in sight. I ran threw my house to find her holding her 1 month old brother onto the top of the toilet seat telling him, ” NO NO, BAD BABY! YOU POOP IN THE POTTY!!!” I picked him up out of her hands and after controlling my laughter reminded her of the dangers of babies and water. I guess I should have just let her potty train him there on the spot.

  • Armchair Observer

    I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure people used to hardcore do/try this in the 30-50s, maybe even earlier. They’d jam a soap stick up baby’s bum to make the “deposit” happen on schedule and place her over the toilet until it is “made”. Freud would be so proud…not.

    • HoolieB

      I think my grandma used to do this with my dad. She claimed he was potty trained at 6 months old. My mom used to complain that my dad really never knew when he had to go to the bathroom, since even as an adult he’d run in, try to go, then try again later. I’d love to ask them about it but they’ve all been gone for 18+ years now.

    • Armchair Observer

      Wow. I wonder how common such practices were…

      I also once read that during the Medieval Period wealthy European babies would get strapped to a board (to keep their legs straight) all day, and so would only be changed twice. Ewww.

    • Sara610

      Babies used to be very tightly swaddled for a good portion of the day (they would be unwrapped periodically for changing and to let them kick their legs), so that their legs would grow straight.

      Fun fact: wealthy women had a nursemaid who could spend all their time watching the baby, but women who, you know, had actual work to do, not to mention several other children, had to find a way to keep the baby relatively safe and in sight while they went about their business. So they’d swaddle the baby, mummy-style (but leaving the face open), ending with a loop on top of the head, and then hang the baby from a hook attached to the ceiling and baby would just kind of hang out there while Mom did her cooking/washing/chicken plucking/whatever.

    • brebay

      Oh my god! That is beyond…I think they’d send someone to prison for this now!

    • Armchair Observer

      Don’t follow this link if you’re squeamish, but here’s Slate’s take on early 20th Century (and before) elimination practices:

      I’ve heard from friends that the mainland Chinese have some interesting (honestly; not trying to start a flame war here) elimination practices, including baby clothes that keep that area open to the “breeze” and whistling.

    • R Zhao

      This is true! I just gave birth in China and my mother-in-law (who is Chinese) has been having the baby pee over the garbage bin while whistling whenever he wakes up from a nap. It often works and saves the trouble of changing a diaper, but it is still kind of a pain in the a$$. I let her do her own thing when she’s helping take care of him, but I’d personally rather use a diaper.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    I guess people like me who have shit to do throughout the day have to deal with potty training a 3 year old because I’m too busy to anticipate all of his “poo and pee” throughout the day.

  • Paul White

    They tell you? NO. They tell you AFTER they poop, when they laugh hysterically and fall over and grab their feet.


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  • footnotegirl

    If a kid is not asking to go/going to the bathroom, taking off their own clothes, and eliminating on their own, they are NOT ‘potty trained’.

  • jendra_berri

    “sooo fun!” is not how I’d describe holding a baby over a toilet after dropping what I’m doing and making a mad dash to the bathroom.
    People like this, these all-consumed, doing-it-the-hard-way types are not people I could talk to in real life. I just couldn’t.
    And for the record, while I was trying to buy a reusable swim diaper at a local baby store, I asked a woman standing next to me if she wouldn’t mind grabbing me one just out of reach, since the sales staff were all busy unboxing new inventory. She was happy to do it, but mostly because it gave her the opportunity to brag about her 7-month-old daughter who didn’t need stuff like this because she used the toilet. Awesome, lady.

    • Williwaw

      Makes me think of the maternity nurse who bragged about her natural unmedicated childbirth (which apparently took place a year before in the exact birthing room I was laboring in) while I was sucking on the laughing gas. Fortunately, the joy of laughing gas prevented me from saying something very antisocial.

  • JJ

    I feel like I know way to much about this woman’s life and her natural, down to earth new age parenting. First it was chewing food and spitting it into his mouth like a bird, then it was all about his all natural diet, then her anti vaccine stance now this. The rate she’s going she is going to be bragging about expecting this kid to cure cancer by age five using only natural ingredients from earth like soil, water and grass. She reminds of nicer version of Maggie Gylenhals extreme hippie mom character in Away We Go the movie with Mia Rudolph and John Krasinski,

  • rrlo

    Okay, my mother did this (more or less) with my sister – but she didn’t call it elimination communication and it didn’t work for peeing – just pooping. Basically, you get your baby used to having a poop in an upright position over a potty.

    Many people do this in hot, humid countries were diapers are expensive and basically too uncomfortable for babies to wear. Also, floors of the houses are cement or tiles – so clean ups are super easy.

    Seriously – we are the only society (North America that is) where teaching a kid to poop and pee in a toilet is a competitive sport. What is wrong with people!!!!

  • keetakat

    hmmm… who’s potty training who?

  • CJ

    OK so you don’t want to do it. It works. People have been doing it for THOUSANDS of years. If you want to keep filling the landfills with disposable diapers, do it your way. It seems mean to mock someone who is picking up an ancient tradition that goes along with a baby’s natural desire not to soil himself.

    I did EC with two kids and I can count on my hands the number of poopy diapers I changed. Yes, it is MUCH less gross to take a baby to the toilet than to wipe poop off their butt. Not to mention all the money saved. Sure, it takes attention to the baby. But a child “will” give you the signal if you are open to seeing it.

    The western way teaches babies to go in their diapers and then, 2 years later, tries to teach them not to.

    Or just keep making fun of something you know nothing about.

    • 1Hell

      It might not be a bad practice, but I wouldn’t actually call it potty trained. It trains mom, not the baby. Until the kid can realize he/she needs to go, communicate that need, and get there roughly on his or her own, the child isn’t potty trained. It’s just a different place for baby to poop. The baby isn’t telling you they need to go; you are looking for the clues yourself. The child actually isn’t trained to hold it until they make it to the toilet yet.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    Each to her own, but Mini Keatres isn’t potty trained until she can hold her pees and poos, go to the toilet, undress herself, go, wipe, dress herself, flush, wash, and be on her merry way. I’m not expecting anything before about 30 months.

  • Magdalena Jolanta Doerry

    My baby participates in elimination communication. Today, he communicated that he needed to eliminate by taking off his diaper and pissing on the dog.

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  • BeNice

    Why do you guys have to hate on other moms so much? Don’t like the method? Don’t use it. Do your own thing and just be supportive to all other women. This pointless judgmental stuff is just as much of a “mother f-ing waste of time” as her potty training her baby. Let’s all be supportive of all women and stop giving so many shits about how other moms are potty training children that aren’t yours.

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