Have you ever heard of Elimination Communication? No, it’s not an app for the iPhone or a way to talk to your distant family members on the computer. It is a new phenomenon in parenting that helps keep your baby in touch with their elimination waste (aka pee pee and poo poo) by keeping them diaper free.
Well, to be honest it’s not a new phenomenon at all. This method has been seen in other countries for ages. But in the United States, our society (for the most part) is so used to keeping babies in diapers until they are “ready to be potty trained”, that this new movement has caught people off guard. And truth be told, had me stunned at first too.
The idea of Elimination Communication (or as the cool people call it “EC”) was presented to me when I first came home from the hospital. I thought it sounded pretty interesting but had no idea how hanging with a naked baby that was peeing and pooping all over the place could be any sort of fun. But the more I read about it and talked to other mommies about it the more it made sense to me.
There are a lot of reasons why people practice EC with their children. This website can tell you all about it. Or feel free to google it. There is tons of information out there. I won’t go into reasons why other people do it but I will talk to you about why our family decided it was right for us.
If you think about it, the second our little ones emerge from the womb we stick a cover on their bottom to “catch” their elimination waste. For at least a year, sometimes more, babies walk around with their diapers on doing their business wherever they like and never give it a second thought. Or maybe at first, they attempt to tell you that they need to be changed, but after a while it seems as if they could go forever in a dirty diaper (not that any parent would ever let that happen!) And then one day, we as parents decide that they are ready for the potty and then put them on a cold white chair with a hole on it and tell them to drop the browns off at the super bowl. If that doesn’t sound traumatic, I don’t know what is…where’s the transition? For years the babies have been doing their business on their schedule and now they have to plan ahead before they answer natures call? Well, what EC does for our family is bridge that gap. EC helps our little one to stay in touch with her bodily functions, so when that day comes that she transitions to the “big girl chair” she knows what to do.
So what does EC look like for us? When Harper was about 2 months old I purchased that adorable pink potty from diapers.com. If you have ever changed a babies diaper, there is a good chance that you have been peed on before. Well, in EC this is actually a learning moment. So, whenever Harper would begin to use the bathroom outside of her diaper, we would give her a verbal cue to help label her behavior. Similar to Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning Theory , a verbal cue is used to help the baby associate the behavior (going to the bathroom) with the appropriate place to exhibit the behavior (the potty). Therefore, once the verbal cue is established, you can then use the verbal cue to elicit the behavior that you desire. In more simple terms, whenever we would catch Harper peeing we would make a sound. When we would put her on the potty we would make that same sound. Very quickly, Harper began responding to that sound and would go pee pee when we would put her on the toilet. Soon, we would put her on the potty and no longer need to use the verbal cue because she would go on her own.
At first, we would just put Harper on the toilet after we changed her diaper, to give her a chance to use it before we put a diaper back on her. We would also offer her the potty when she would wake up, when we got home from an outing and before her bath. The more consistent we were with this type of schedule, the more we noticed that she would wake up with a dry diaper, or come home with a dry diaper. Being a stay at home mom, I would try to keep her naked as much as possible so I could catch the times in between our schedule when she needed to use the restroom and try to get her to the potty in time. Before I knew it, Harper was communicating to me when she had to use it and would successfully make it to the potty before she would eliminate.
It is a pretty incredible feeling to connect with your child in this way. It also empowers Harper to remain in touch with her body so she can be aware of how her body works.
What I like most about EC is that there is no pressure. There are no accidents, there is no reprimanding. It is totally chill. If she wants to use the potty she does, and if she doesn’t that’s ok too.
Six months later, as we approach her 8 month birthday, Harper rarely has a poopy diaper. She prefers to use the toilet and always gives herself a round of applause.
I look forward to answering any questions anyone has about this process. I can’t say its the way for all families, but it worked for us and we are grateful to have been educated about it. What can I say, we’re Potty Animals :)