I shared with you earlier this week my experiences with potty training our three children and I hope they were helpful to you. Today I want to include a post about Elimination Communication (EC) in our Bye-Bye Diaper event because I feel it's something that some readers may be interested in pursuing with their baby. As you will read shortly, EC is usually started from birth, whereas potty training usually comes much later.
I do not have any experience with EC. To be honest, I'd never even heard of it before until my friend Bethany told me about it! I asked her to share her experience with EC with you. I realize it's not for everybody, but I will say, it seems like Bethany has had a very positive experience with it!
Here is what she writes:
"According to DiaperFreeBaby.org, 'Elimination Communication (EC) is NOT potty training. It is a gentle, natural, non-coercive process by which a baby, preferably beginning in early infancy, learns with the loving assistance of parents and caregivers to communicate about and address his or her elimination needs. This practice makes conventional potty training unnecessary.'"
The first time I heard about EC, I thought those mothers were NUTS!
I thought they were overachievers and were forcing their babies to potty train early. “How cruel and unnatural to potty train so early!” I had thought.
Then years later, after reading Ingrid Bauer’s "Diaper Free", I realized that I had it backwards. Babies are born with the ability to communicate their elimination needs, just like they can communicate when they are hungry, tired, cold, etc. And we, in America, train them to eliminate in a diaper and get used to that feeling of soiling themselves regularly and their signals of elimination disappear because they are never responded to. This made so much sense to me, but honestly I was still skeptical as to how it could really work.
So when my daughter was born, we weren’t resolved to DO Elimination Communication (or Natural Infant Hygiene as Ingrid Bauer calls it). Some people go sans diapers from the very beginning. We weren’t that ambitious.
We simply just communicated with our daughter when we noticed she was eliminating. When she pooped, we made eye contact with her and grunted and said “pooooop.” When she peed during a diaper change, we made the “sssss” sound. Then after a few weeks, when we noticed her passing gas or bearing down, we would put her on the potty and cue her to poop and she would go on her little potty – much to our surprise and thrill! Peeing on the potty might have been mere coincidence in the beginning. Babies pee SO frequently, so it was harder to pick up on her pee cues. But she seemed to understand the “ssss” cue and would pee on the potty several times a day.
Sadie at 5 weeks going #2 on the potty
When she was around 3 months old, something clicked. We noticed that she got loud and vocalized frequently throughout the day (not crying or fussing – just loud). When she got loud, we would check her diaper and she would be dry. 5 minutes later, we would check her again and she was WET. I don’t know why it took us awhile to figure out she was communicating that she had to pee! (I should mention that we used prefolds and covers in the beginning, so she felt her wetness immediately with cloth diapering.)
I am so thankful for EC because I really think it helped us understand what would have been “unexplained fussiness.” We knew she was screaming in her car seat, for example, because she needed to go to the bathroom. Or she was having a hard time falling asleep at night or waking up during the night, because she had to go to the bathroom!
By 4 months, all of her poops were on the potty. Around 6 months, we were SO thankful we didn’t have to rinse her poops out of her cloth diapers when she started solids. That seems like a messy job!
Potty Break on the Go
At 10 months, she hadn’t pooped in her diaper in months and months. She gained our attention by fussing or crawling over to us and making eye contact. We knew she was communicating that she had to go by the look she gave us.
As far as peeing goes, we had good days and not so good days. We’ve started going “diaper free” more often and catching a lot more pees. Maybe we’d been giving her mixed and/or confusing signals by putting her in a diaper and not always responding to cues or being available to respond to her cues.
It’s easy to get distracted with a phone call or making dinner when we’re at home. When we are in public, we were, and are, in total “kahoots” with each other and she NEVER wets her diaper. I love that feeling of closeness and that she TRUSTS me enough to hold her urine, knowing that I will respond to her and take her immediately to relieve herself.
Sadie just turned a year this weekend! She is now totally diaper free at home and on most outings. She wears cute little gerber undies or just pants. When she has to pee or poop, she gains our attention and usually does the sign for potty/toilet.
Honestly, Natural Infant Hygiene/EC requires more effort and attention, but you can’t think of it that way.
And you can’t think of it as potty training or looking for an end result or doing less cloth diapering laundry or saving money on diapers or being able to brag about your 6 month old not wearing a diaper – if any of those things are your goal, then you lose sight of what EC is all about. I’ve had to remind myself of this often!
EC is about communicating with your baby, pure and simple. It’s an instinctual and natural process. It’s about respecting your baby and responding to your baby’s needs to the best of your ability. I like to think of it as God created our babies with the ability to communicate their elimination needs; He didn’t create babies with Pampers and Huggies in mind! And he gave us as mothers and parents the ability to respond to and meet the needs of our smart babies!
I think diaperfreebaby.org is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to learn more about EC. I highly recommend it!
Bethany shared a cute little video of Sadie here if you're interested. =)
Thank you so much Bethany for sharing your experience with EC. You are doing a great job as a mommy!!! I hope this post was helpful to any readers who might be interested in pursuing EC. If you have any questions I'm sure Bethany would be more than happy to help. (For example, where in the world did you find such teeny tiny potty for Sadie?? I've never seen anything like it before!) =)