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How Alicia Silverstone Started Potty Training Her 6-Month-Old Son

04/19/2014 at 10:00 AM ET

Alicia Silverstone and Bear
Ako/Splash News Online

Most mothers greatly anticipate—and then struggle with—getting their toddlers out of diapers. But for Alicia Silverstone and her son Bear, almost 3, the process was a much happier one.

The actress and author, whose second book, The Kind Mama, chronicles her pre and postnatal methods for raising healthy babies, utilized elimination communication: a technique in which parents, using cues from babies as young as newborns, help their children use the toilet from the start.

“Just like your baby tells you it needs to eat or it’s tired, they tell you when they need to go to the bathroom,” Silverstone tells PEOPLE. She started using the method with Bear when he was six months old.

“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.”

Bear would still use diapers on occasion and at night, but quickly adapted to using the toilet as well (with help from mom or dad).

“It’s the most natural, primal thing,” says Silverstone. “That all aside, when I got into it, I was so excited because it was another way to communicate. The joy he experienced in being heard and the teamwork, it was amazing.”

Not to mention very fitting in terms of her passion for a green lifestyle. “You save tons of money on diapers, tons of time because it’s not as messy and you’re also helping the earth!”

For more from our interview with Alicia Silverstone, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

– Aili Nahas

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Showing 52 comments

Catca on

It’s a very common thing for Asian moms and the only reason we don’t do it hear is cultural. Alicia’s right, you definitely can use this method. Having said that, I don’t think the cues are that obvious with all babies. Some babies do not hit a pause button and literally can pee mid run. They don’t give you cues so no matter how much you pay attention, you’ll miss it every time. With those you just gotta wait til their bladders get stronger and they have control, around 2 1/2 to 3 years.

Marky on

Some moms use this technique in South American countries. I know someone from Peru who did this technique, and her children let her know by the time they were one. I never tried it, and my boys acted as if they couldn’t have cared less whether they ever used the potty, toilet, or anything other than their pants! The girls, easy-breezy, about 2 weeks and done at 18 months. Those boys? 3 years old. If it works, great……

Sara on

Fascinating! I love this idea and even moreso I love that there’ve been only kind comments so far. :)

Meghan on

I have done this with my now 4 yr old and my son who’s 6 months old. He could sit around age 4 months and he sits on the potty with us around and he will go pee everytime. He rarely even poops in his diaper which is great! We use cloth and it’s just so easy. My daughter was out of diapers at 18 months in the daytime !

JSnake on

Until and unless a child walks itself to bathroom they are not trained. The mother is.

Rhonda on

Hey, I am not going to knock her style of parenting. If that’s what worked for her son, more power to her. My son was not completely potty trained until age 2. He’s a healthy and happy adult now.

Taylor Girl on

To see a child in diapers past the age of 2….means the parents don’t care enough to give up some of their own time to invest in potty training !!! Whatever method you use, all a child needs is for the parent to be consistent, praise and soon you will have success.

We got so excited even with a few dribbles in the potty. What child doesn’t like to see Mommy or Daddy get excited about something they’ve done ? Both kids were potty trained by 18 months….

Stace on

Not to be a downer, but this would be a successful technique and practice mothers who spend all day with their children. I think it would be a little more difficult for mothers with full time jobs.

Jen on

Yea, stop playiing with your baby and dangle him over the toilet until he urinates or deficates. Lord, people are idiots. Diapers come with the terrority. Don’t like diapers, don’t have kids. She’s also the moron who chewed up her kids food for him and then spit it into his mouth. I bet she does the same for her husband.

KellyGreen on

JSnake, amen ;)

Carden on

That is called Mommy Trained, not toilet trained.

Danielle on

Oh shut up Alicia…

momof2 on

Alicia – Why don’t you stick to being “Clueless”…

lissa832 on

Anyone who actually believes this is effective is an idiot. An infant cannot control his or her bladder. There’s no holding it to make it to the toilet. I can appreciate different parenting styles, but stupidity like this is hard to ignore.

stacey on

This girl is just so far beyond weird!

GammieJo on

The headline is incorrect. This is training the parents to respond to the child’s cues, not potty training the child at six months. There’s nothing wrong with it, just like there’s nothing wrong with not doing it, but the headline proves the author has no idea what the method entails.

Melissa B on

You can maybe guess when they are going to go & stick em’ over a toilet, but you can’t train them at that age. Fking idiot. Their brains haven’t developed the capacity to know when they have to AND to know to hold until mommy comes.

mc on

Hopefully she will “listen” to her kid in that he can chew his own food and doesn’t need her to chew it in her mouth and then spit it into his. I think she comes from a good place but some of her ideas are a bit out there. Breast milk exchange group being #1.

sandy on

Ill stick with doing things slowing and one milestone at a time, thanks.

Mommytoane on

JSnake I think you said it all. :) Its true, its mommy trained. For myself, I don’t consider a kid potty trained unless they can find their own way to the potty and wipe their own bum decently. Until then, they are just tryin or mommy is trained. Its great that Alicia is trained to watch her son tinkle. I let my daughter choose her own time to learn, and it worked out great for us since she was out of diapers/training pants in 48 hours and hasn’t had an accident since. Alicia has some very odd parenting styles and if they work for her great. I don’t think anyone else should feel bad or like worse of a parent because they don’t follow her choices tho. Everyone does things their own way. Every kid is different.

RNmama on

^^ I’m not sure how a breast milk exchange group is “out there.” If you’ve ever been in need of donor milk you’d understand that it’s not.

HISTORY on

Her “methods” are hers, and that’s fine, but what she’s done is NOT potty training… that’s just the child training the parents. Her “parenting style” only works if BOTH parents agree to it and even then some of the methods are ridiculous. To each their own, of course, and she’s lucky that her husband is okay with it… Mayim Bialik ended up getting divorced because of her overbearing ‘parenting style’. If it works for your family, that’s all well and good, but both parents have to be on board. Having your kids sleep in bed with you until they are 10? Chewing their food for them and then spitting it in their mouths? Carrying them around in slings and snuggies ALL day long? Just my opinion, of course, but these parenting styles just seem to put so much pressure on mothers to be PERFECT like if they don’t do it ‘this’ way, then they’re not doing it right. On a side note… she has a child… in what world does that make her any kind of expert enough to write parenting books? End Rant.

Cath on

Wow! Alicia Silverstone has 1 child and she’s all of the sudden an expert on not only feeding your child but potty training. Amazing how that works for celebrities. She’ll probably write a book now on how to raise your child….oh!… she did that already. Narcissism at its best.

Amanda M on

It’s not about “training” and anyone who actually follows the method – myself included – will tell you that.

Ariel on

I LOVE posts on the more natural-lifesytle celebs.

Katie on

Not all parents have the ability to not work or be a celebrity.. It took my son a VERY long time to be potty trained because he was deathly scared of the toilet… even the small ones he just wanted nothing to do with it.. After quite some time he finally was potty trained.. But yes, many Asian families potty train at 18 months or earlier.. A gf of mine’s daughter was completely potty trained at 18 months and their son was completely potty trained by the age of 2.. And yes they’re Asian.. Some kids’ body and bowels cannot be trained earlier.. My son was almost 4 by the time he was pee trained and 4.5 by the time he was #2 trained.. No it wasn’t lack of parenting.. although I was a single mother and still am.. he just couldn’t potty train and it took him a long time.. just like overnights will take him a long time as well..

Maria on

Until a kid can cognitively realize that they need to go potty and that the toilet is the proper receptacle & then can walk themselves to a toilet, they are not potty-trained, plain & simple. It’s mom & dad that are trained to sit them on the potty on a schedule. I waited ’til mine were 3 before I even tried but the earliest I would say that it’s even possible would be 15-18 months and even that’s a stretch.

Donna on

Stop rushing your baby to grow up. Enjoy them at every stage. Making a 6 month old use the toilet is nuts !!!

Brooke on

The best way to “help the earth” is to stop procreating. No offense, but it is absolutely one of the best ways to help the planet. It is really obnoxious to hear people who have kids talk about “being green”. There is nothing green about bringing more humans into a vastly overpopulated planet. Truthfully, at this point in the earth’s history, to be truly “green” would be to live drastically different than even the poorest Americans currently live. I don’t hate kids and I am not anti- having children, but at least be honest with yourself about it, and stop patting yourself on the back for using cloth diapers or recycling. Those well-meaning actions do not amount to anything in the grand scheme of things.

gymluv on

As a mom of grown kids and a peds nurse, here is my opinion. Parenthood can become a very competitive adventure. It not only puts unnecessary pressure on parents but undue pressure on our kids. They are little for such a short bit of time and that time is precious and fleeting. Once the milestones pile up behind you, you wonder what all the rush and all the fuss was about. You may wish you could click the ‘replay’ button. Teach them, encourage them, nurture them and love them. Everything comes in it’s own time. It is not a race or a competition, take a deep breath and inhale every precious moment you can.

Brittany on

While I think her intentions are good and this may (and they is a big may) work on some kids I think this just rubs people the wrong way…the I am going to do it faster and better than you. We all feel enough pressure as it is. I hope moms don’t read this and feel worse about themselves bc parenting is a personal journey…good for her but if you are doing the opposite and that works for you, good for you too!

Angie on

Kudo to her to raise her kid in a nature life style!!

granny sue on

Just a quick observation!
Refering to your child as “it”
is a huge pet peeve.
Years ago the general opinion was
the same, Mom and or Dad are trained, not
their child.
Many countries do not use diapers at all,
rather than green, I’d say that is a brown
outcome.

Silverstein reminds me of Gywneth,
perhaps if they concentrated on
living their lives without becoming
completely obsessed with their
brilliance, we would be more impressed?
Just sayin’

granny sue on

Yes, sorry “Silverstone”, before sensitive readers
become offended!
Oops on typos, I am old…

No one parents the same. Common sense and
respect for one’s own privacy will make for a better
spouse and parent. Keeping a marriage
together is no easy task, how about focusing
on that challenge first. When married 45
years, then give advice freely!!

Carrie on

But she can’t get the kid off a security blanket at almost 3?

guest on

She did overly training her kid in his very young age, she should let her kid grow more normally.

sandy on

She is nuttier than a fruitcake!
I feel for her son because she is using all these freaky techniques she’s read about because she is an artsy, tree hugging, earth loving weirdo!! He is her pawn to experiment all these methods with and most of them are beyond strange. I wonder if she has discovered that she is NOT a bird yet?? Is he still feeding from her mouth??

Mar on

As someone who doesn’t have a child and not even married, i would hate to be friends with some of you. She never stated that her way was better. It worked for HER family. Alot of third world countries do this b/c they don’t have the diapers to use all the time. So judgemental of each other. Does it make you feel better by judging others and calling them names? No wonder we have such a bully epidemic going on right now.

Patricia Smith on

I agree with Mommytoane. She said it all. I will just say you don’t potty train a child that way you are parent training them. Shame on you. From a grandmother of two.

Jacs on

This technique is NOT potty training but Elimination Communication. It allows a baby to keep clean and dry rather than soil themselves. My 9-week-old is aware when he needs to pee/poop and often has a dry diaper when I change him before his night feed (4-5 hours after last diaper change). I don’t force him to hold it nor pee on the potty but he smiles after finishing on the potty. I do miss his cues at times as I also home school my older special needs child and run a household. Babies are more intelligent than we give them credit for. It’s about watching and listening not training.

hotairballoons87 on

It’s not CALLED mommy trained. It’s actually CALLED Elimination Communication.

I suppose the problem is the title of the article. She did not start “potty training” her son at six months old. It is not a competition. The goal is not to have a potty trained child before everyone else. And it isn’t a NORMAL development for someone to be able to pre by themselves at 4 years old. The potty training age only climbed up that high with the availability of disposable diapers, and then they became available in bigger and bigger sizes. Potty training used to be normal at one year old.

The point of Elimination Communication is not to hurry your child along. It is to communicate with their child in order to meet their needs. I hardly think it sound healthy to simply IGNORE the fact that my child has to eliminate. I guess you could say that I’m “trained” to feed my son when he’s hungry, that I’m “trained” to put him to sleep when he’s tired, or that I’m “trained” to put more clothing on him when he’s cold. Sure, that is true. By paying attention to my son, I have learned to meet his needs, because he can’t very well cook himself a sweet potato–because he can’t cook for himself and get into his high chair by himself, does that mean he shouldn’t be allowed to eat solid foods? Should he still be exclusively breastfed?

At six months old, I was able to put my son on the toilet and he would use it. I don’t care what you call it, but it was one less diaper I had to deal with! From that age, he c had understood that “tsssss” means pee, and that, if he has to go, he can’t go on the toilet. By a year old, he was telling me when he had to go. That doesn’t mean I bragged that he was potty trained. He’s 19 months And still not potty independent. But that doesn’t mean I should just let him poop in his pants and sit in it. I wouldn’t want to do that. Even animals don’t want to do that.

hotairballoons87 on

He CAN go on the toilet, not can’t… auto correct is killing me today.

hotairballoons87 on

Oh, maybe this is a better explanation of EC… instead of waiting until 3 years old to bring it up, and then embarking in a stressful, several week or month long “training” situation, (which can also he potentially stressful), Alicia decided to make it a slow, gentle process, in which he grows up with the potty being a normal place to eliminate. That way, when he is a toddler, he is not dealing with all the usual toddler frustrations AND also being told about this entirely new way to pee and poop. We train our babies to use diapers, then we suddenly tell them we want them to go somewhere else. EC is about letting them get to know the toilet before they’re suddenly expected to be out of diapers.

HISTORY on

I remember reading about the girl from Blossom who’s parenting style was much like this. Her husband was forced to the couch night after night so she could sleep on a mattress on the floor with her two kids. They re-carpeted entire rooms due to ‘accidents’ while trying to do this very technique with ‘potty training’. These methods are asinine and I would guess only truly effective for those with the option of not working and watching your kids every second of the day for those tiny clues. I guess I just don’t see the point. Is it for bragging rights? So you can write a book and say “I did this faster then you!” Also, having a kid doesn’t make you qualified to write parenting books. There is no such thing as a parenting expert. What works for one will not work for all. What are Silverstone’s (and Blossom’s for that matter) qualifications to dish out parenting advice to the masses?

Yeah on

A vegan that names her kid Bear. Can’t take her seriously at all.

Catherine in Tulsa on

Yeah, she’s simply putting her kid on the pot when he has to go. He’s not “potty trained”, SHE is potty trained. I’m really tired of listening to her run her uneducated mouth.

Niko on

Silverstone is straight-up demented. I get trying to be unconventional, but she’s trying way too hard with the outrageous baby names, parenting methods, etc. Go away, weird woman

hotairballoons87 on

No, the point is not for bragging rights. It’s so that your baby has the gift of not sitting in his or her pee or poo, and so that the whole process is slow and gentle. Not to mention all the diapers we don’t have to change. Babies are born not wanting to soil themselves, but we train them to go into their diaper. Then we suddenly tell them at 3 or 4 years old that we want them NOT to soil their diaper. Gees.

Velouria on

Some of these “natural” moms let their kids poop in the street in cities like NY. Or maybe into a public garbage can. “But how is that different than dogs?” Because it’s a damn human.

Elise on

She’s loony and disgusting; she let’s her brat run around half-naked and going to the bathroom in the backyard–yeah, right. Goooood idea.

Nat on

Good for her to train her child to go natural!!

smartKid on

It really is pretty common. Here’s a whole article about how to do it: http://blog.smartcoos.com/how-to-potty-train-your-infant-in-three-days/ ; and the trial is simply TAUGHT not to ignore the need to use the bathroom. So by the time she can walk, she heads straight to the bathroom when she has to use it.

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