Diaper-Free Magic? What is This Elimination Communication Thing All About?
Molly W, who’s guest posted before on Pregnancy Fitness, joins us again with her thoughts on elimination communication, the training system for young babies and early toddlers to learn to signal their bathroom needs. Her daughter, V, is a little over 5 months old and they are glad they’re trying it out!
What is Elimination Communication?
I’ll admit it. I had to google it after I first heard of it from a friend who’s postpartum doula. I imagined an idyllic world where naked babies were the norm and poopy diapers a thing of the (more barbaric) past. I was already mentally accepting congratulations for having potty trained our daughter V by one year. After 5 months of EC’ing our baby V, we aren’t quite living that dream, but we get closer every day.
As Diaper Free Baby will tell you, EC is not potty training. It’s parent training. Basically, as a parent or care giver, you watch your little ones signs closely and begin to predict when they are going to eliminate. Then you hold them above a receptacle (sink mostly in our case now that she has good head control) (or little bucket as pictured above) and make cueing sounds. Pssst for pee, little grunts for poo. Why these sounds other than the fact they are hilarious? Because they are easy for your baby to associate with the two kinds of elimination. The theory is that eventually, as your baby becomes more self aware and improves their sphincter control, they will hold it until you give them the signal.
Using cloth diapers makes it easier because you can tell immediately when they are doing their biz, and start to connect their signs and timing. Apparently this method has been practiced for centuries in less developed countries where disposable diapers and washing machines are luxuries most mommys don’t have. Often children adopted from these places come “potty-trained” much to the delight of their american parents.
Our experience with EC has created a closer bond with our little V. But at this stage, it’s still a work in progress. We try to give her the opportunity to go upon waking, after nursing, and before and after outings. Plus she seems to pee at least every hour, so I randomly take her to the bathroom every so often when I’m home from work. Her granny and daddy try to EC her too, but with slightly lower success rates than mommy. Probably because mommy is quite used to being peed and pood on and rarely uses a waterproof diaper cover.
Baby V is quite smart, so she will give a sign she’s going to eliminate by fussing a little, it sounds like a whine, then usually go before we can whip off her diaper and race her to the potty. I try anyway, which can result in my slippers getting peed on as we enter the bathroom (happened yesterday). Mostly we won’t catch the pees in time (excepting preemptively), but we do catch almost every poo. This is easier now that she’s not going all the time, just one biggie a day.
When she was tiny, we did EC more for ourselves because it made us pay close attention to our babe. In retrospect, I probably would not start in earnest until your babe can hold her head up, otherwise the holding position is awkward and they go so often you end up with lots of additional laundry.
For us now, it’s starting to pay off as we aren’t wiping huge poos off her delicate skin. And we know it’s only going to get worse with solid foods. Another immediate advantage is that we know if she’s apt to go or not, making diaper free wiggle time more sanitary. And boy does this little one love to be nude . . . she’s so European already!
Read more about EC at Elimination Communication Simplified.