Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elimination Communication

Elimination Communication. One of my favorite parenting discoveries ever. And most people have probably never even heard of it. I didn't until a couple months ago when I read Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik (aka Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory).  She dedicates one whole chapter in this great attachment parenting book to it, and with good reason. 

Elimination Communication (EC) is not potty training. (I hate using "training" anyway when dealing with human to human interactions. I train my dog, not my baby.) Elimination Communication is, to steal from Wikipedia, "a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's needs to eliminate waste."

At first it sounds crazy...can I really get my infant to go on the potty instead of a diaper? We've been taught that we need to wait until the infant is "ready" to learn how to use the potty, often not until two or three (*shudder*), but here we have this small (but growing) group of mothers saying they get their one month old to pee on cue. It makes sense if you think about it--no animal in the natural world eliminates in the same place it sleeps, and babies don't want to either! That's why newborns like to wait until you are in the middle of a diaper change to pee all over you. That is, until they lose the sense of knowing when they are going, which we then have to re-introduce when learning to potty train.  

You don't need any special equipment, other than a potty (and you'll have to get that eventually anyway) and some cloth diapers if you want and don't have any. Plus, most ECers report that their children are out of diapers by eighteen months. Um yeah, I'll give it a shot.

Lizzie, on the potty at
6 months. I'm including
this picture more for
future blackmail than
anything else. :) 
Lizzie was five months when I started--and she peed on the very first try! What I noticed those first few days was that she was peeing about twice as much as I thought so I was only changing her every other time she needed.  She doesn't pee in her sleep or in the sling, so it was and is really easy to get her to go (with a hiss sound) as soon as she is done with either activity.  I didn't "catch" any poops for almost two weeks as she doesn't really make any noise or signal. I had to learn to rely on intuition and timing before I could catch any. Now, a month and a half later, I am able to catch at least two poops a day and five pees.  And that "catch" count gets higher every week. So that's at 600+ fewer poopy diapers a year. Yeah, I'm not too disappointed about that.

Practicing EC is very, very low stress and you can do it as often as you feel like it. I only do it part time, and keep Lizzie in her cloth diapers the rest of the time. As with any parenting practice, some people get a little more serious about it than I would. For example, I don't plan on squatting my baby over a bush, but that might be your thing.

If you're interested in learning more, there are a couple of other great books to help you get started on ECing. Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene is by Ingrid Bauer and she coined the term "Elimination Communication" some time back, though she now prefers to call it Natural Infant Hygiene. This is a good book if you are interested in learning about how she re-discovered ECing and why it works. The other great book about ECing is The Diaper Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative by Christine Gross-Loh. If you don't car about a detailed how or why to EC and just want to get to the what-do-I-do-and-how-to-do-it this is for you. It show you how practice EC whether it's once a week or full time, how to EC on the go (no bushes!), and even deals with things like "potty pauses." 

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