When I was pregnant, my partner Bubba and I were reading about parenting on various different websites, when we came across the initials EC, and we had no idea what it stood for. After some searching around, we found out it stood for Elimination Communication. [Note from Ariel: this is why I hate the over-acronymification of women’s online communities! All those acronyms can be so alienating.]
We went on to read about how some parents go diaper free, and teach their babies to use the potty. While Bubba was interested, I was more than skeptical. He checked “The Diaper Free Baby Book” by Christine Gross-Loh, out of the library, and I ended up reading it. This was the beginning of me changing my attitude.
I’m not going to teach how to do Elimination Commication here, there are plenty of other venues for that. However, it is impossible to talk about it without a little instruction.
The theory behind Elimination Communication is that babies, like all mammals, are born with the instinct not to soil themselves, their parents, or where they sleep. In Western culture, we teach them to ignore this instinct, and then 2-4 years later have to reconnect them with it. Parents who use this method with their babies maintain this connection by paying attention to what the baby’s signals are when s/he wants to go potty. They then use two sounds (one for pee, the other for poo) that the babies learn to associate with the bodily function. After a while, you can use the sound to cue the baby to go potty.
We bought the book, I took an Elimination Communication class, and by the time Aspen was born, we were pretty committed. OK–Bubba was more committed than me. He put her on the potty as a teeny, tiny, floppy 1 day old baby, and she peed. It really worked!
When our friends came over to meet Aspen, every single one asked if they could watch when we took her to potty. The expression on their faces when they asked was priceless! If Bubba thought Aspen might need to pee, he would hand her over to someone and tell them to take her to the potty. Many of our friends have pottied Aspen, and her grandparents are absolute converts.
We’d heard about the meconium poos, and we caught them all in the potty-no tar to clean off the diapers or her delicate little tush. From day 1, she was a poo in the potty kind of girl. I can almost count the number of times she went in her diaper, and we never had any up-the-back blowouts.
She was much more inconsistent with the pees, but when your bladder is the size of a pea, it’s hard to hold it. When she was awake it was hit or miss, but when she was asleep, it was obvious when she needed to pee. She squirmed–we called them the potty squiggles. When she got the potty squiggles, we would get her on the potty and cue her. She would pee, and we’d put her back to bed. Usually, she slept through the whole thing.
When she got mobile, pottying went out the window for a while. She would get mad at us if we disturbed her playing with going to the potty, and would refuse to go, even if she had to. We didn’t even try pottying her for a few weeks when she was awake. And when we started up again, it took a couple days, but she remembered, and we were back on track.
She’s been through phases. There was when she refused to use the BABYBJÖRN Little Potty, and would only go in the sink. Now she refuses to go in the sink. There was a brief no-pottying-at-night phase that took us by surprise. She will always pee on the curb before we get in the car, because she hates peeing in the car. She went through an only-pooping-in-the-bath phase. Now she’s in an only pooping in the diaper or on the floor phase.
I’ll say here, that every baby is unique, and this is just our experience. One of the things that has made this easier for us is that we have hardwood floors, so we feel comfortable leaving her diaper free, even if it means she may pee or poop on the floor when we’re not paying attention. She grunts when she poops, so I always know if I need to run over to keep her from playing in it!
We might have started this thinking it would help reduce diapers, and therefore laundry. Sometimes this is the case. There have been times when it caused more laundry. We also might have started thinking that it would help us with potty training, and that maybe she would be out of diapers sooner. We still hope that is the case. The thing that is really cool about it though, is that through doing Elimination Communication with Aspen, I’ve gotten to know her needs and behaviors in ways I didn’t expect to.