Thursday, June 21, 2012

Elimination Communication: Is Diaper Free the Way to Be?

 First, what is Elimination Communication? Basically, instead of waiting for your baby to "eliminate" wasted into their diaper and then cleaning it off of them, you read their cues and signals, or "communication", that they are ready to go and then you hold them over a potty so they can "eliminate" there.  It is NOT potty training, it IS an alternative to diapers.

Second, What can I expect from Elimination Communication? For the answer to this I went to the great EC website ECSimplified.

Here is what they say about what Elimination Communication is NOT:

1. EC is not about your baby…it’s all about you, the parent. Your commitment (whether you do it full-time, part-time, or occasionally), consistency, and potty attitude determines your success. Finding balance within the practice is an art. EC is not “wired-in” to our modern brains. You will have to sit down and learn EC.

2. EC should not be started by “winging it.” You can totally “wing it” off of free information from the internet, mommie blogs, and EC email lists…but be careful. Many of my clients are cleaning up giant messes that have resulted from winging it and wish they had started more solidly. Remember: any small baby will pee when in position and cued….is it EC…or is it beginner’s luck?

3. EC doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a journey – but if you follow my steps your baby WILL be finished with diapers between 6 and 20 months versus the 36-38 month national US potty training average (depending on when you start and whether you follow my methods).

4. EC is not impossible. 1/2 the world is doing it right now! Before I tried it, it was just a dream of doing what indigenous folks do. It wasn’t until I had my baby that I discovered that EC is totally real, it’s totally awesome, and I want every other parent to experience it too.

5. EC is not hovering over your baby all day long, waiting for him to urinate. It is not watching the clock and asking him if he has to pee every 30 minutes! It is, however, responding to your baby’s signals, being aware of his natural timing, and helping him go when the time comes.

6. EC is not coercive. It is not punitive. There should be no shaming, pressure, competition, showing off, or rushing the process. EC is completely in line with babies’ natural interests, needs, capabilities, preferred hygiene, and general well-being.

7. EC is not “training” your baby. EC is listening to the signals your baby is already giving and helping her meet her instinctual needs for cleanliness and dryness.

8. EC is not “parent training.” Little babies express their needs out of the innocence of having them and needing immediate help. Their communication is limited to preverbal means (crying, grunting, flailing). With EC, the parent simply responds to a baby’s primal needs, such as with feeding and sleeping.

9. EC is not a chore…it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a fad…it’s a totally different perspective, established in countless communities across the world for 100’s of thousands of years.

10. EC is not fixing something that’s broken (like diapering seems to be)…it’s about not disturbing the natural process in the first place so that no fixing (conventional potty training) is < necessary later.

Third, why would anyone choose to do this? To find this out I talked to ECing Mama, Chante, about her experience with EC. 
Chante runs the amazing site My Natural Motherhood Journey, where she discusses Natural Parenting topics like natural birth, babywearing, breastfeeding, vaccines, and if course, elimination communication.  She even writes a very informative, and sometimes very funny, EC Journal.. that follows her on the ups and downs of practicing Elimination Communication. 

Here's what she had to say about EC:

1. How did you first hear about EC?
I first heard about EC in a homeschooling forum I was a member of. I thought it was crazy at first but then kept hearing mothers talk of all the success they were having with it. They seemed so excited to be having a way to communication with their baby. I wanted what they had. =)

2. Why did you choose to practice EC?
I chose it because I knew I wanted to keep my baby out of diapers as much as possible. I also wanted to avoid the power struggle that comes with waiting till a later age and potty training your child. Even though I had the desire, however, I didn't have the fortitude. I was a chicken! I thought I'd have messes all over the place so I backed down. After another baby went the traditional potty training route, I was finally determined enough to overcome my fears and jump in to EC'ing. One other thing I wanted to avoid was dealing with huge poops squished to my baby's bottom when they got older.

3. What resources did you use to learn how to get started with EC?
I relied heavily on the internet. I knew there were books out there I could read about it, but I didn't start with those. I chose to focus on the anecdotal accounts and testimonies of other parents. I joined a group of EC'ers online and used that as my support system. I didn't even entertain the thought of watching how to do it through the many EC videos on YouTube. That might have made things easier for me to learn.

4. What kinds of "tools" do you use to help with EC? (special clothes, training potty, etc.) Where do you find these items?
I actually don't use many tools. We never got a separate potty and I don't even take out a bowl from the kitchen to use. When our baby was in arms, I just used  the sink in the bathroom, but when they got biger we moved to the toilet. I did learn how to sit farther back on the toilet seat and hold my baby with their back to my stomach so they can go. When they got too big for that position, I just held them on the toilet and that was fine.

5. How old were your children when you started?
I started with my baby at 2mos. I wanted to chill out a bit from giving birth and didn't want to have to rush back and forth to the toilet. In hindsight, I could have started at birth while still in bed. Newborns don't eliminate much and a prefold under them can contain the mess quite easily. You also can really study your newborn and start getting acquainted with their cues.

6. What has been your greatest struggle with EC?
My greatest struggle with EC is getting my mind to understand that it's NOTHING like potty training. The focus is on the deepened relationship with your baby, not your baby's performance. It's easy to get caught up in just the results and feel bad about not measuring up to some standard in your head. No one is (or should be) holding your progress to a scale. That's not how EC works. You can practice it as much or as little as you want depending on your lifestyle. Just the fact that you try with your child and have a mind to change your perception of what your baby is capable of is a GREAT thing!

7. What has been your greatest reward from EC?
My greatest reward with EC is the deeper bonding you feel when you connect with such a young baby. EC can start at birth, but EC parents can wait a bit to start. It's still early in your child's development. If you start before your child can smile at you, EC can be a welcomed early connection that other parents don't get to experience. It's a wonderful experience to feel like you and your baby are one and in sync with each other. You feel more like a team than separate entities. The bonding I experienced with my baby just set the stage for deeper interactions and laid the foundation for a more peaceful parenting experience.

8. What are baby's "elimination cues"?
Elimination Cues are two-fold. There are vocal and physical cues that your baby gives you when they need to eliminate (such as grunting, pulling their legs up, or fussing slightly) and there are vocal cues you give your baby when they eliminate so they will associate elimination with your sound (possibly a shhhh sound). As you practice doing this over and over again every time your baby has to eliminate, your baby gets used to going with those sounds. Eventually (it can take a few days or weeks) your baby will hold their waste until you can get them to a proper receptacle. Then you cue them to let loose with your sound.

If you are interested in using Elimination Communication with your child, here are some great resources for you:

My Natural Motherhood Journey


EC Wear


Chante@My Natural Motherhood Journey said...

Wow! Wonderful article! I'm glad I could contribute our experience! Thanks so much for the opportunity!

I'm just about our update our EC blog. It's a little late, but it still fits. =)

Andrea@ECSimplified said...

This is a really great resource for anyone starting their research on what EC is! :) Chante's experiences are a great read too, and is a window to what ECing is like in a home with more than 1 child. Off to share! <3

lovinlavidaloca said...

Hi! This is my first time to read about EC. It's very informative and gets me want to know more. I'll check out the resources you gave. Thanks! From voiceboks here. :) - mommy kristine

The Pepperrific Life said...

This is really interesting. I've never heard of EC before. It's good that we parents have more options when it comes to raising our kids. I will definitely share this with my friends.

Pamela said...

Its my first time ever hearing about this I am the mama of 9 and would have never thought about doing this, but there are so many good things coming out of alot of natural methods, I say whatever works for each family then go for it.

The Blissful Beet said...

This is absolutely fascinating and so informative! I am wondering how soon is too soon to start. I think this is a really great tool for parents who are committed to doing it and better health wise for babies too. It teaches cleanliness as well as communication!

CrazyNutsMom said...

Very interesting. It is not something I would be able to do as I'm a working mom and wouldn't have enough time and dedication to devote to do this. Great information though for those who can and want to do this.

Courtney G said...

This is so interesting! What a great resource of information. You should post more about this:)

Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Melissa, I am currently studying year 12 and for one of my projects i am focusing on Elimination Communication. I was hoping people who use this method, would be able to fill out my short online survey please at
Cheers :)

Elisa said...

I practiced EC hard core with my first. He was potty trained by 18 months. Then we moved, he was back in diapers, then totally day & night potty trained by 2y3mo and not an accident since. I couldn't do it though, with having more children and being a SAHM and moving and staying w/ can do. Was not able to keep up the EC. I think your family life has to be very very very stable (not military) in order for a mom to be able to EC their 2+ children. I really think it is great and makes complete sense to me.

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