Friday, April 6, 2012
Our Experience with Elimination Communication
Elimination Communication is communication between parent and child in which the parent uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to recognize and respond to child's bodily needs and enable them to eliminate in an appropriate place. Such as, the toilet, a potty or onto a cloth diaper.
EC does not involve coercion or punishing. It is a gentle, natural process of learning to communicate with your child and meet their needs.
EC is begun in infancy, generally before baby is 4 months old. EC can still be practiced if you start later and you can even apply EC principles to potty learning for an older child.
**In the above picture, I am sitting right in front of babygirl. Please don't ever leave a baby unattended or unassisted on the potty. At that stage she was able to sit up, but still wobbly. When pottying, Mr. Crafty or I was always right next to her or holding her.
I previously posted about our experience with cloth diapers and since our EC experience went hand in hand with CD, I thought I would post about it as well. We started ECing with babygirl when she was newborn and she was fully potty learned at 18 months. EC is not a race or contest. It's about following your child's cues and communicating with them. The average time an EC child is fully potty learned is around 2yrs old.
Before becoming pregnant or even trying to conceive, I came across some information about EC. At the time, it was brand new to me. I thought it was an interesting idea and made sense, but would be difficult in my reality.
Fast forward a couple of years to when we started seriously planning to have children and I looked into it further. After researching more and chatting with Moms who EC'd, I knew it would be something we would do with babygirl. We were planning to cloth diaper and have a lot of diaper free time and this seemed like it would go right along with our plans. Have you ever noticed that babies in many developing countries go diaper free? I had always seen that, but didn't really take notice until I started to pay attention. I also noticed mothers in less industrialized nations, frequently carrying their babies with them wherever they went, without diapers. After some more research and reading, I learned that these mothers develop an incredible sensitivity to their babies needs by keeping them close and paying attention to their cues. This is known by us as babywearing and elimination communication.
What I really liked about EC, is that you begin guiding your child in the correct direction right from the start. I always thought it didn't make any sense to never introduce a potty to a child until it was time to "train" them and then expect them to take positively to that. Why not allow them that choice from the very beginning. Another positive for us, was that babygirl's skin would have a lot less contact with waste. Therefore, she would be more comfortable and there would be less chance of rash or other skin issues.
Babygirl was newborn when we started with EC. Right from the start, when she was eliminating we would say the words "pee" or "poop" and tell her it was natural and good that she was doing it. We had a lot of diaper free time and if we could tell by her body language or cues it was time, we would hold her over a cloth diaper.
Once she was 6 months old, we started giving her potty time on a small potty. Sometimes, I would hold her in front of me on the regular toilet, while I sat on the back part(fully clothed, not using it myself). We also tried to incorporate sign language, but she never really took to that. It was probably our inconsistency of using the sign for potty.
We went through short periods of time when we weren't consistent, but we always continued to communicate with her about her pottying needs. We had two potties and would keep one with us in whatever room we were in.
She was around 12 months old, when she began a potty strike. She refused to sit on her potty or the toilet all together. We were fine with that and knew at some point it would pass. We just made sure to still offer. I forget how long the strike was, but it wasn't too long before she was back to pottying.
Just before babygirl turned 16 months, we moved and that was the most inconsistent time for us. In short, it was a bit of a fiasco for a couple weeks. We even forgot about some soiled cloth diapers in our pail and wound up having to scrap those. It was probably about a month before we were back in a rhythm and consistently offering her potty times.
From about 14 until 18 months(minus our moving weeks), babygirl was eliminating in the potty often. That's with us offering and following her rhythm and cues. She would never initiate it herself though. Sometime in her 18th month, she began going to the potty with no prompting. The first time that happened, it was one of the most exciting things I had witnessed in all of my life! She was so proud and so were we! Since that day, she's been pottying all on her own. Of course, if she gets busy, we have to make sure to offer. Otherwise, she will wait too long and start doing the potty dance.
She is now 2 and tells us if she has to do pee or poop as well. This just started, but it's amazing how proud it makes me that she knows those words and what they mean. Pee and Poop never made me so happy :)
Some myths about EC:
You have to be a SAHM to do EC-Not true. I am far from a SAHM and we were able to successfully EC. It took both Mr. Crafty and I to be on the same page about EC, but we were able to do it.
You will have urine and poop all over the house- With EC you pay attention to your child's rhythms, body language and cues, so a lot of the time you can tell when they are going to eliminate. Also, babies can't move much or very fast in the beginning, so this was no problem. We layed down blankets and or large cloth diapers for her to lay on. Once she started moving, we used larger blankets and some EC friendly underwear.
There were still some pees and poops that didn't make it to the potty or in a diaper, but we are okay with that and I figure it's par for the course when raising little ones :)
It's pushing the child before they are ready- EC is in no way about forcing or pushing. It's about paying attention to your child and their needs and allowing them to have another option other than eliminating in their diapers. EC'd children are fully potty learned at all different times. Some earlier, some later. It's not a race to the finish, so there should be no stress for parent or child.
A good resource for all things is EC is DiaperFreeBaby.org
During EC, you may find that there are not many small enough underwear or potties available.
EC Wear is a good resource if you can't find anything locally.