Thursday, March 5, 2009

Elimination Communication (EC)--Our personal experience

Morris 4 1/2 monts old

You may have heard of people potty training their infants. Sounds crazy, yes?
People throughout the world practice this infant potty learning otherwise known as Elimination Communication or EC.

As a cloth diapering mama, I thought EC sounded great as it would cut down on wash loads. I documented the beginning of our journey on my personal blog HERE and HERE. (I also talk a bit about how I got interested in cloth diapering).
Since these posts, we have continued to enjoy EC. From 12 to 14 months Morris was completely potty trained in that every time I took him to the commode, he would relieve himself---and if I stayed on top of it, he would go the entire day without "using" his diaper. He was not walking at that point, so he wasn't taking himself to the bathroom, but he would go on a cue sound that we gave him. He did this with us and babysitters alike. I will admit it is not as clockwork now that he has started walking and learning more skills--like jumping out of his crib. Toddlers tend to get distracted and are not as predictable--but at 17 months he started taking himself to the potty and we still use a lot less diapers than I believe we would have otherwise.

Now, some may say that in the beginning it was the parents that were potty trained--not our son. I have to disagree. EC is nothing more than acting on a baby's needs just as we would when we know they are hungry or need sleep. Babies are smart enough to tell us when they want to nurse or when they need a nap---why would they not do that with the other basic need of relieving themselves? I figure if a 3 week old kitten can learn to use a cat box, a 3 week old human can learn to go in the toilet. Are we not the most intelligent of species?
Enough of my rant.

The Idea
behind EC is to help the child retain their ability to recognize when they are about to go. The reason I think it is perfect for cloth diaper mamas to try is because cloth diapers help the child keep that awareness. They feel the wetness as opposed to disposable diapers that wick moisture away, essentially teaching them to use the diaper as a toilet.

The basics:
I started at 6 weeks, although now that I'm not nervous about it, I would be excited to start at birth. Experts say that you can start as late as 10-12 months--although slightly longer of a learning curve, but still worth it.
All you do is put the baby over the potty at certain points during the day and give the cue ("Pssss"-#1 or a grunt-#2).
Examples of opportunities include:

1. Upon first waking in the morning

2. Before and after nursing/eating

3. Anytime baby is looking like they are going (grunting, wiggling, kicking legs...)

I could go on and on all day about how fabulous I think it is--but at this point you may just be wondering how to get started.
Click HERE
for a post that I think does a great job explaining the How-To.
Enjoy the process.
The goal is not potty training necessarily--but rather meeting your child's needs from moment to moment and strengthening that relationship by building trust.

I will touch on this subject again next week, as I hope some of you will comment or email any questions or tips you may have.

In the next weeks I will act on some great topics sent by Mary, Sarah & Jillian. Thanks ladies: )
Coming up...
The effects of BPA
Nutrition and recipe ideas
(great for pregnant or nursing mothers and healthy food for kids)
natural remedies for colds/coughs/cradle cap/diaper rashes/eczema
Cloth diaper laundry tips
and alternatives to Vaccinations.


Beth said...

I've been fascinated learning about EC. I definitely think that it is good for both the child and the parent. I can see how it would help you be more connected with him on a communicative level. I'm not sure if I would be consistent enough, especially with the other kids running around splitting my attention. But I've loved learning about it. :) ANd I'm looking forward to the vaccinations posts.

Megan said...

I'm excited to hear more about the vaccinations! That is the number one thing that people just DON'T get about our family and I find it hard to defend myself sometimes! And yes, I saw the EC book when I was pregnant with my first daughter and I thought "those hippies..." ha ha! There's more to it though and I loved learning about it, thanks!