10 Tips to Help You Through a Potty Pause

10 Tips to Help You Through a Potty Pause

Was elimination communication going smoothly but now all of a sudden your little one is refusing to use the potty? This potty pause may be very frustrating, but with the right support, you and your little one can get back to pottying.

A potty pause occurs when your baby was using the potty just fine, but suddenly resists. Here are some tips to sail through.

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Potty Pause Tip 1: Take a deep breath.... exhale

Hitting a potty pause is frustrating. But it is also quite common. Potty pauses often occur during major developmental milestones or life changes. Ask yourself, "Is there something happening that is taking all of my child's energy and concentration?". For example, is he learning to crawl or walk, teething, or ill? Remember, the pause won't last forever!

Potty Pause Tip 2: Offer pottytunities less often

Your child may be seeking autonomy in deciding when to potty. Avoid over-prompting. Instead, ask your child to let you know when he needs to go and then back off. Focus on communication, not catches. With a toddler, you may want to stop offering completely for a day or two and see if your toddler starts initiating.

Potty Pause Tip 3: Allow for more independence

Your toddler may be asserting that he is ready for more independence. Prepare the bathroom in a way that allows your toddler to, "do it myself!". A small potty on the floor and a step stool to reach the sink are a good start. Make sure everything he needs is within reach. You can place a basket with wipes and clean training pants on the floor by the potty. And put a small hamper in the bathroom where your toddler can place wet training pants or clothes.

Potty Pause Tip 4: Teach a skill

Your child may be missing a skill that would allow him to potty independently. Teach a necessary skill, like pushing down pants or sitting down on the potty. Having another child demonstrate is ideal, but you can also show a book or video.

Potty Pause Tip 5: Allow for more privacy

Privacy is especially important for toddlers when they need to poop. You can stay in the bathroom, but busy yourself in some way and pretend not to notice what your toddler is doing. Or you could shut the door and leave for a couple minutes and ask your toddler to let you know when he is finished.

Potty Pause Tip 6: Mix it up

Your child may be bored with the status quo and ready for a change. Try a different potty or toilet seat reducer or a more creative receptacle, such as the shower, a urinal, or the great outdoors! Have a different caregiver offer the potty.

Potty Pause Tip 7: Bring a toy or book

Our little ones are so busy exploring the world that it can be difficult for them to stop and take the time to sit on the potty. Try bringing along something to keep your child's interest, such as the toy he was playing with or a book. Even opening and closing a pack of wipes can be an entertaining distraction.

Potty Pause Tip 8: Take the next step

Resistance from a toddler often indicates that he is ready to take the next step. Consider moving from diapers to cloth training pants, which your child can help push down and pull up. Or skip the trainers and let your little one go commando for a couple weeks, followed by wearing real underwear.

Potty Pause Tip 9: Find a Local EC Support Group

Parenting is so much easier with support! Find people who understand what you are going through and who can offer advice. Search for a local EC support group.

Potty Pause Tip 10: Attend a Class about EC

Look for a local class on elimination communication and ask for advice on getting through a potty pause. Or you can get EC back on track with Andrea Olson's online MiniCourse "Potty Pause Resolution". Receive 15% off the Go Diaper Free MiniCourses with coupon code ECPEESY15.


We hope you found these tips for getting through a potty pause helpful! Next we will provide a list of useful Elimination Communication Supplies.

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10 Tips to Help You Through an Elimination Communication Potty Pause

About Heidi Avelino

Heidi is passionate about spreading awareness of elimination communication and natural cloth diapering. She is an environmentalist and strives to live a minimalist and zero-waste lifestyle. Heidi practiced EC with each of her three children. Her eldest son and her daughter have reached potty independence. She is currently practicing EC with and cloth diapering her youngest son.


  1. Tamar Rowe on March 21, 2019 at 4:00 am

    My toddler has started saying “no!” to the question, “do you need to do a poo?” Followed by pooing in the nappy shortly afterwards (though being happy to be whisked off to the toilet to finish off) and I think part of the problem is wanting to do it himself – we’ve just solved that problem with dressing/undressing. Thank you for this! It gives me a few more ideas for things that might help him.

  2. Heidi Avelino on March 21, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I’m glad to have helped! “No” is the favorite toddler answer! Sometimes it works better just to say, “it’s time to go to the toilet now”.

  3. Kari Matadobra on May 28, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    I am going to try some of these tips. My daughter is 13 months, and although we had a great, diaper-free day on Friday, EC still feels like a one way street – I think she might need to pee, so we go to the potty. I need to work on letting her tell me when she needs to go. I plan to put new toys in the bathroom, and I am working on backing off from over-offering and figuring out my cloth diaper situation with EC. Maybe trainers are the next step. Thank you.

  4. Heidi Avelino on June 24, 2019 at 2:03 am

    Hi Kari!
    Sorry, I’m just now checking comments after traveling for the past month. How is it going with your daughter? Have you tried trainers? Has she been letting you know when she needs to go?