Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Elimination Communi....what?

Elimination communication.

Yeah, sounds complicated and weird huh?  I thought the same thing when I first heard of it.  I have a friend who lived across the big pond who had a baby not too long after I had my first.  She showed me a video of her taking her BABY to the bathroom and getting them to go in the toilet.  My first thought was, "that sounds like way too much work."  I cloth diapered my baby girl, but no way was I going to try to figure out when she had to go to the bathroom and hold her over the toilet.  No. way.

I inherited a potty chair from my aunt and uncle when Roxie was 11 months old.  So, in between diaper changes I wanted to air her bum out a bit so I let her sit on it so she wouldn't accidentally pee all over the floor.  To my utter amazement she went in the potty chair!  That's when I realized that if I *knew* when she was going to the bathroom- why just let her go in a diaper- why not just let her go on the toilet instead? I was hooked.  My friend sent me the book "Diaper Free Baby" which gave me some good tips and background on EC (which is a LOT faster to say and less of a mouthful than Elimination Communication- don't you think?).  I didn't try to catch all of her pees/poos... but when I knew she had to go I would set her on the potty.   I found that she always went right after waking up from a nap or for the day, and also right after eating.  These are actually the times most kids have to go.  I also taught her the ASL sign language sign for "toilet" so she would sign to me when she had to go.  Roxie was completely out of diapers (including nighttime) by 16 months of age... so I think it was worth a little bit of effort!

If you look at other cultures- the babies don't wear diapers.  Their moms wear them in slings and take them out and hold them out when they have to go.  The moms just know.  And there is no big deal with potty training when the children hit a certain age.  Because they never really wear diapers.  Have you ever noticed when you take a diaper off a newborn they instantly pee?  We are born with the ability to know the sensation of when we are eliminating and the desire not to sit in our own excrement.  So EC is just about allowing a baby/child to either not loose that ability, or regain the knowledge of knowing when they have to go.  I guess it just makes sense to me.

I was not sure if I would do it with our son, Jasper.  I mean, it's one thing to do it when they are already semi mobile, but a wee little baby?  I decided to have no plans either way when he was born.  I figured I could wait until he was around the age Roxie was when we started with her.


When he was a few weeks old I knew he had to poo so I held him over the toilet and he went!  Okay, I'm hooked again.  So I started "cueing" him every time he went.  "Pssssssss." is our cue.  Whenever I would notice him going, I would cue him "pssssssst."  That way, he associates that sound with the sensation of eliminating.  It's a lot easier to do when cloth diapering because I just leave him coverless when we're at home so I can immediately tell if he's gone.  And when I first started we did lots of nakey bum time (on a big blanket that I didn't mind washing with a cloth diaper under his bum).

Now, Jasper is 3 1/2 months old and I have to say- it's going great!!  I don't try to catch everything- but he goes in the toilet probably almost a dozen times a day.  Always first thing when he wakes up for the day, and always after he nurses.  And sometimes he gets fussy and his legs get stiff when I'm holding him and that usually means he has to go also.  Every other time is just a random intuition if I catch it.

People say that it's a lot of work- but I don't really think it is.  I mean, I suppose it's a little more work NOW, but I never had to go through the ordeal of potty training since it just kind of flowed so naturally and Roxie was out of diapers before she was one and a half- so I saved a lot of laundry (or money had I used disposables).  But the goal, really, isn't being potty trained earlier, although that is a pretty freaking awesome bonus.  For me, I think, the goal is just being in tune with my baby and responding to them... or some garbly goop answer like that.

Whether or not you EC, it's interesting, is it not?  We all just gotta do it however it works best for us.  And for our family.... EC just works and makes sense.  Maybe for your family potty training the standard American way at 2 or 3 is your cup of tea.  That's cool too.  It is my hope that my blog always comes off as more of a "this is the way I do things, but your way is great too"more than a "this is the best way to do things."  Because I think that our differences is what makes the world a wonderful place.  There is no ONE RIGHT WAY.  END DISCLAIMER


  1. Very cool post. I have a friend who was pregnant with her first about 3 years ago and she was reading a book on ECing. I had never heard of it before then. I should definitely pick up that book too :)

  2. I keep thinking about it, maybe I will give it a try since we will be home a lot more than usual this winter!