Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Elimination Communication

Elimination communication (EC) is something that I started looking into long before April was born. I had seen it work for friends of ours and I wanted to know more. EC is the idea that infants can recognize when they need to eliminate and can will cue you. Elimination communication is just that, communication. You learn what your baby's signals are and then you teach them your own signals for when it's time to eliminate.
Starting the EC process actually seemed overwhelming in the first couple weeks. I was barely keeping my head above water so I wasn't ready to take on the extra step. But once I felt comfortable taking on the challenge, I started slowly. At first it was just times during the day that we would take off her diaper and just keep her over a pad. This time helped with her diaper rash and helped me to observe what she did right before she peed or pooped. Then I started teaching her the cues over the open diaper or waterproof pad. Whenever she peed or pooped I would make the "pssss" sound. Then finally we started putting her on the potty and cuing her. It worked so well. April hates diapers in general and is especially unhappy with a wet one so EC has been awesome for us both (yeah, fewer dirty diapers is always fine by me).
The first full day of doing EC, we caught almost all her poops and most of her pees (I think we missed one little poop at night and two pees). The next couple days we had more misses but in general we still did quite well. Now I know almost all her signals and even if she doesn`t signal I know that she generally needs to pee every 20 minutes so I take her to the potty anyways. Misses don`t really bother me because for me EC is about the communication not the number of catches.
I`ve decided we are just going to do EC part-time. I don`t usually potty her when we are out and about. First because she tends to be fussy in general when we go out so it`s really hard to read her signals and second because I can`t always get to a bathroom and I don`t really like just doing it in someones bushes. I do have a little container with a lid that I keep in the car and sometimes before I put her in the car seat I will potty her. So I`ll do it when I can but usually when we go out I just stick to diapers.
Also, we don`t do much of the EC at night. April sleeps with me in our bed at night and although I have her close and I can recognize her signals better, getting her up and taking her to the potty at night is a little to stimulating and it`s often hard to get her to go back to sleep. Instead, I keep extra diapers in the bedroom and just change them right there.
We have a couple potties around the house. I prefer to use the potties rather than squatting over the toilet with her or holding her over the sink. We use the infant potty and the Beco potty. We have a Bjorn potty but it is a little big so we will use it more when she is bigger. If you use the infant potty I recommend getting the cover because April hated the cold plastic so would often refuse to go on the potty. Things are much better with the cover.
Ok, so there is my EC story. Wondering if it would work for you? I can almost guarantee that it would. You can start EC at any age and do it casually, part-time or full-time. My recommendation is to read The Diaper Free Baby and visit Diaper Free Baby for resources and support. The best thing is just to be open to the other level of communication you can have with your baby. Even if you choose not to follow through with EC, just the knowledge is beneficial. You will be amazed at all the little hints your baby is giving you.


  1. Nat, you are such an interesting and dedicated person. I applaud any approach that challenges the 'norm' or the trap. -- JB

  2. Great post Natalie! Glad it's working so well for you. We didn't do EC overnight with Meredith and she still was dry overnight around the time she was during the day. She was a lot like April and had a hard time falling back asleep after being pottied. (She is actually back in diapers again, but it was originally allergy related and I don't consider it to have anything to do with EC not working for us.)

    I do do it overnight most nights with Fiona, because she is really squirmy and falls asleep much easier in a dry diaper. We were pretty casual with Meredith and she was out of diapers the first time at 22 months. We're not really changing how we do things with Fiona and she's already out of diapers most days around the house and often dry the whole time we're out. For us it's about communication too though, not really about early potty training. That would be a nice bonus but certainly isn't my goal.