I rolled my eyes and laughed when I opened the package and read the title of the book that came in the mail from Italy: The Diaper Free Baby. My friend across the big pond was determined to make a believer out of me concerning this take-your-baby-to-the-toilet thing. I wasn’t so sure, however!
Way to begin Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at an early age, I thought to myself sarcastically. Besides, who in the world has time to take their baby to the toilet?
Nevertheless, since I am a person who likes to read books and educate myself on things I don’t agree with, I settled in one afternoon to read and laugh my way through the book. But I expected an afternoon of entertainment, not an afternoon of education and enlightenment.
As I began to read I was immediately intrigued; the emphasis in the opening pages drew me in quickly and unexpectedly. By way of introduction, the author explained that Elimination Communication (EC) was not toilet training your baby.
She said it repeatedly throughout the book – EC is not toilet training your baby.
EC is, instead, becoming so intuitively connected to your baby that you can recognize his or her cues and signals when they begin to go to the bathroom and respond by taking them to the toilet.
The purpose? So they don’t have to sit in a wet or soiled diaper.
A light began to dawn in my head; but I still wasn’t convinced.
The author then went on to point out that newborns are famous for urinating when their diapers are off. How many new parents, down through the years, have been caught off guard in those first few weeks as the baby seemingly waited until after the diaper was off to go to the bathroom? This, she argued, was a very obvious indicator that we as humans are created to not soil ourselves. However, here in this Western culture we quickly train our babies to go against their nature by quickly covering them up with a towel or diaper as soon as they begin to pee (or poop) and within a few short weeks, we have them trained to eliminate into a diaper.
The irony of it all is that once they turn two years old, we then being the process of training them to not go in their diaper.
The light grew brighter in my head.
As I read on, the author stated that all babies give obvious signs when they are going to the bathroom, and an in-tune parent can catch those signs and take their baby to the toilet so they can do their business there instead of having to wet or soil themselves.
Half-way through the book I looked over to my daughter, who was in her bouncy seat. She was approximately three months old. I saw her eyes getting red and that familiar strained look on her face.
“Are you pooping?” I asked. “As soon as you’re done. . .”
I just stared at her for a minute.
“As soon as you’re done, I’ll change you,” I finished weakly.
That’s when the light grew to its brightest wattage. I knew my baby was going to the bathroom and I knew that as soon as she was done she would want to be changed. All of a sudden it made total sense to take her to the toilet so she could do what she needed to there.
Later that day, when I noticed she had gotten very still on her blanket on the floor, I wondered if she was beginning to urinate and quickly took her to the bathroom. I was shocked when she proceeded to pee into the toilet within 30 seconds of me holding her over it! I tried several more times that day and each time, except one, I caught all her pees.
I was hooked!
There are some basic Elimination Communication concepts as listed here.
EC is not toilet training.
EC is not expecting your baby to tell you when they need to go to the bathroom. It is not up to them to communicate with you that they need to go.
EC is not expecting your baby to hold it until you can take them to the bathroom.
EC is recognizing your baby’s cues when they eliminate and taking them to the toilet so they can go to the bathroom there instead of in a diaper.
EC keeps your baby from having to sit in wet or soiled diapers. This is especially beneficial if you cloth diaper since cloth diapered babies are much more aware of when they are wet and usually want to be changed immediately.
EC saves on diaper costs (or laundry if you cloth diaper).
EC can be done full-time or part-time. Most people go part-time, catching their baby whenever they can and allowing diapers to catch anything else the rest of the time.
Recognizing your baby’s cues and taking them to the toilet is called a catch.
Missing the cue and having the baby go in their diaper is called a miss.
Misses are not failures on either the parents’ or the baby’s part. They are simply misses. They happen and it’s ok.
Just as a baby can go between breast and bottle, so a baby can go between diaper and toilet.
Cues might include a distant, spacey look, looking off to one side, a ceasing of activity, a strained look, and/or grunting noises.
You can use an adult toilet for EC or, even easier, buy a baby toilet like the Baby Bjorn potty.
There will be times when EC seems to be on indefinite hold. Teething, illness, and changes in routine may alter baby’s elimination cues and you may have weeks of all misses. That’s ok. Catch what you can and don’t worry about the rest.
Even when in a period of time of misses, offer “potty-tunities.” Take the baby to the toilet after certain times, such as when they first wake up or right after they eat. This will help keep you and baby on track when the time comes that EC is back in full swing.
EC can be aided by Baby Sign.
EC’d babies usually potty train much sooner than non-EC’d babies. They learn that it’s nicer to go on the potty than it is in their diaper.
These are just the fundamental basics of Elimination Communication. For a more comprehensive approach I would recommend The Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh, as well as checking out an Elimination Communication forum on a website such as DiaperSwappers.com.
Remember, EC is not for purposes of potty training your baby. The core reasons for EC are keeping your baby from having to sit in soiled and wet diapers and enhanced communication with and understanding of your infant. If you decide EC is for you, approach it with those two key principles in mind and enjoy the experience!