For those elite few in the know, it's called elimination communication (EC), natural infant hygiene, diaper free or early potty training. Among the ignorant it's called hilarious, ridiculous and a bit too much.
Ha -- okay, not ignorant. Poor choice of words. Let's say 'conventional'. Oh, you don't like that either? No, no, you're right. Conventional is kinda synonymous with another 'c' word right now -- conservative. Let's call those EC naive folks 'unlearned in the ways of EC' and leave it at that.
When I first heard about EC I was a little put off. I shared this fascinating little nugget with The Husband we laughed and laughed and laughed. It seemed very typical of the overachieving mother-type who makes her own organic soap and eats with cutlery handmade from repurposed toilet paper rolls.
Turns out I'm an idiot. And so is everyone that laughed at me when I said I was going to try it. (I heard it all - good luck, yeah right, that's the stupidest things I've ever heard, no way, sorry I couldn't hear you I was laughing too hard.)
Since having The Pea and learning the ways of EC, we've done a rather uncomfortable about face. We now refer to it as nothing less than fantastic, preferable and way less disgusting than the status quo.
Here's our truth: At 6 mos old, our daughter sends most of her organic waste to the municipal water treatment plant and leaves very little of it mama and papa.
How did we master the art of Elimination Communication?
Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer (well worth a read by any new parent). While Ms. Bauer is both an environmental and intensive mothering evangelist (which can be off-putting), the gist was this:
- Look for signs of an impending expulsion (a sound or look);
- Look for patterns to said expulsions (after naps, after eating);
- Start using cues when baby expels (a psss sound for #1 or grunting for #2); and,
- Use cues to aim expulsions into a potty regularly.
At 7 mos pregnant, we were keen to hit the ground running. We bought a potty and proudly added it to our living room decor.
And there is sat, collecting dust until she was 2 mos old. Shame.
But if my mother has taught me anything it's to embrace my hard-headed determination and continually pursue excellence in all that I do. With an overwhelming fear of failure we tried again at 2 mos... and 3 mos... and at 4 mos it finally worked.
One day The Pea peed on cue and the rest is history.
Yeah, not really. Our experience was more like this:
- Looking for signs: At around month 1 we started letting The Pea play au natural for a few hours each day, protecting our floors with large cotton prefold diapers and waterproof mats. More for the prevention and management of diaper rash, we noticed that she'd stop moving and stare into space before wetting the area.
- Look for a pattern: It quickly became apparent that she'd grace us with her gifts after a meal, after sleeping and every 20-30 minutes while playing.
- Start cuing: Around month 2 when we noticed the quiet moments we'd look over. If she was peeing we'd make a noise. First The Husband tried a very mature 'pee pee' or 'poo poo'. Total fail. Then we both tried 'go pee pee' or 'go poo poo'. More fail. Finally, we embraced our parental voice and started going 'psss' or 'urgh'. Success.
- Use the potty: Around month 3 we started hitting the potty after meals, naps and regularly while she was playing. While it was hit or miss, she slowly figured it out. And you already know what happened at month 4.
The fine print...
If you're thinking of trying EC out, I'd highly recommend it. It really didn't take that much time. We didn't obsess or perseverate. It just became part of our day. On a recent visit my mom even mastered it within a few hours.
As anyone who reads this site knows, we use cloth diapers. There's a little wicking in some cloth diapers but not much. For most part, if The Pea wets her diaper she knows it - this probably helped our cause.
Nowadays she knows the drill. She calls out when she has to pee, we pick her up and take her to the potty, we make a noise, she does her business and we all get on with our day. At night, we take her to the potty before bedtime, after her nightime feed and when we get up in the morning.
It's also not all or nothing. When we're out, she just uses her diaper like any other baby or she'll use the toilet if it's available.
All things considered, we're very happy and this approach has been very relaxed - not nearly as time-intensive as it sounds (in case you worry you won't have time for it). We haven't had a diaper rash or a leak in months. The downside is that sometimes she gets a little pissed off when we miss her cues but we're all learning.
For additional information, check out these sites:
- Diaper Free Baby
- Where oh where does the little pee go? By New and Green Baby
- Infant potty training and attachment parenting. By Laurie Boucke at Kellymom.com
Do you have any EC experience? If not, did you ever try or was it too 'out there'?