Healthy Kids

Elimination Communication

We have decided to try Elimination Communication in our house. Err…I mean with Penelope (although Peter and I do communicate about our elimination, it goes like this, “I need to PEE! Right NOW! Can you PLEASE hold the baby!?!”)

I never dreamed I would be participating in something like this.  I am about as crunchy and earthy of a mama as it gets, but EC seemed like too much. Too gross for one. I had images in my head of what it would be like, similar to the scene in the recent movie, Babies, where the African mom is wiping poo from her newborn’s butt on her knee, then scraping the poo off with an old corn cob.

Um, no thanks.

I will stick to cloth diapers, thankyouverymuch.

And when my dear friend approached me and said she would be doing it with her daughter. I thought, well good for you, but its not for me.

Insert foot in mouth and today I have done a 180. I am falling in love with EC. Also known as Early Infant Potty training, or Elimination Timing,  or Natural Infant Hygiene. It’s basically learning to communicate with your child about when they need to go. Just like you know their signs for when they are hungry or tired, babies give “tells” or signs that they are about to eliminate. Don’t get me wrong. Its hard work. And requires absolute 100% attention to your child. But just like anything that is hard work, the rewards you reap from it make it worth the while.

What sold me on the idea was idea that doing EC makes you more in tune with your child.  I practice Attachment Parenting (ie, breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping) and I thought I was about as attached and in tune with Penelope as I could be. Once I started doing EC with her, I realized how much I tune her out and become un-aware even when I am sitting on the floor and doing nothing but playing with her. It forces me to practice being in the moment and not think about anything else. Notice, I said practice. Because even though I am yoga teacher and have been using mediation in my life for quite some time, it is still very difficult for me. My mind is constantly racing in a million directions and thinking about what I need to do next.

Instead of being in this. moment. right. now.

So that realization was pretty profound. I realized that I had no idea what Penelope’s “tells” where before she poo’d or peed. I knew when she was pooping, but had no idea what her behavior was just before. I am still learning her tells, but I am finding that she usually farts about a minute before she actually starts pooping or peeing. And she tends to poop about the same time each day. She also gets real quiet and still right before. And I have even noticed a couple of times, she will crawl to the same spot. I don’t have it down pat AT ALL, sometimes she pees while she is getting breast milk (either through a bottle or nursing) sometime she pees 5 minutes after getting milk, sometimes as much as 25 minutes. She seems to pee a whole bunch in the morning, after “sleeping” all night, and not as much in the afternoon.

Since I don’t have her tells down pat yet, that means I am cleaning up a lot of messes. Which doesn’t really bother me, actually. With cloth diapers I need to spray it off in the toilet before putting in the dirty bin, so its almost as much time to do that, than it is to clean up a little puddle on the floor. It also means I have been peed on. But I just throw the clothes or the spill mat in the laundry and go on about my day. It does get frustrating sometimes. I will be on the floor with her, intensely staring at her or constantly putting her on and off the potty and making the “ppppsssssss” sound and NOTHING. Then the second I get up to do something, and I am not 100% paying attention, she pees all over her mat!!! Not only do I have to clean up the mess, but I missed an opportunity to say “pppppsssss” while she was peeing to help her with the word/sound association (which will help her pee on command later).

We have the best success just after she gets up from a nap or in the morning.  I put her on the potty right after she gets up and make the sound. I am usually on the potty as well and saying things like “Mama’s going potty too!” I am also making the sound, and signing the sign for potty at the same time. When she goes on the potty, she gets lots of praise and joy! Then I dump out her little potty in the toilet, spray it down with water and then spray with an all purpose spray to kill any germs.

I am not going to be hard core about it and I don’t have a goal of being diaper free. Instead we will do it part time, when I have engery to do it. We will keep using cloth diapers for when are out and about, during sleep, and anytime during the day when I can not give her my full attention. I think any little bit of EC is good, there are so many benefits to doing EC. It’s less time she is sitting in a pee diaper, and she is learning to be able to tune into her own body and notice her movements. Hopefully, it will set the stage for real potty training and maybe make it easier or happen sooner.  There is no goal for me except to learn more about my daughter, and be more in tune and connected to her. As long as that is happening, I am a happy mama.

You Might Also Like

  • Maureen
    August 17, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    I love your elimination communication style with Peter 🙂 We tried this with Claire, but she was just a few months old, and I think we got discouraged quite quickly. The resources out there for EC are much better than they were four years ago.

  • Stephanie
    August 18, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    LOL. Yup, that's how we roll. I get discouraged sometimes too, but I just figure any little bit I do is going to be helpful and I try not to focus on the outcome, but rather the journey. 🙂

  • Melissa
    August 21, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    I'm so excited to read this! I spoke with your friend after reading a comment she posted on here about EC. I've been EC'ing my LO since he was 6 weeks (now 7 m). It's such a great journey! I too don't stress too much about it, and try to enjoy the successes that we have each day. I don't catch everything, and I still do a ton of diaper laundry, but I'm thankful that my son knows that there is someplace other than his diaper to potty!

    Fun encouraging story… I was in Bagel Bagel today eating lunch and waiting out a rain storm. DS started getting really noisy… not fussy, just playfully noisy. No problem, it was 2pm and pretty empty. Then it transitioned to a bit of fussiness and I look over at him in the carseat (I was alone and hoping to scarf down my salad :-)…) and I see the "poop face". It's this weird look that he gets as he starts pushing. As fast as I could I unstrapped him, grabbed the diaper bag and ran to the potty… all the while saying, "Mommy is taking you to the potty right now". In a restroom with no changing table, a big blowout poop would have been terrible to handle! As it was though, one quick wipe to the bum was all that was needed! I love EC!! Enjoy the journey!

  • Stephanie
    August 21, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    That is a great story, thanks for sharing!

  • Roohi
    May 18, 2011 at 5:19 AM

    We've been trying this as well and its so discouraging! i try to give my 6 month old diaper free time in a designated area covers with foam (so its easy to clean) during the day with his potty seat close by and watch his pee pee closely! still have misses tho!

    how long did it take for your baby to be able to pee on the pssssstt pssssttt que??

    • francisco
      February 6, 2012 at 6:51 PM

      She will let you know when she is ready to start. You will notice the signs, especially since you’ve been through it before. She definitely doesn’t sound as if she’s quite ready yet. My daughter showed interest at 17 months, but still is not completely potty trained at 27 months. She keeps going back and forth. Couple weeks of doing great, then back to a couple of not wanting to go on there at all. Parents can’t force these things. They have to be good and ready. And no, not all girls are easier to train than boys. I’ve seen it both ways with both sexes, so that is just a myth.References :

  • Stephanie
    May 18, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    @Roohi…aw, don't be discouraged, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. and even if you never get any EC "success" just practicing EC has so many benefits. Just the simple act of you paying close attention to your daughter to learn her cues, will help you find a more mindful thought pattern while you are with her, help you tune into her more and connect to her more deeply.