Elimini-what-a-ma-bob? Isn’t there an easier way to say whatever you’re saying? Well, yes, there is infant potty training, or ECing for short. But I think it’s important to define terms, especially when charting unfamiliar territories. Elimination communication is a mouthful, and no it does not mean eliminating communication, just the opposite! (Sorry that was my token lame joke attempt for the day…)
Infant potty training is probably the easiest way to describe what ECing is; I am teaching my baby how to use the potty instead of training her to go potty in her diaper. However, although infant potty training is a convenient term, I don’t particularly like using it, and here’s why: The main purpose and goal of having Evangeline use the potty is not so that I won’t have to change diapers anymore. Yes, yes… that is a very nice perk… but it’s not the main goal! The goal is communicating with my baby and strengthening those bonds. And what Evie and I are learning to communicate to one another about is elimination.
How does it work? Well, there are many different ways to do elimination communication, and really you tailor it to what works best for you and your family. Some families prefer to use a timing or schedule based method, offering the potty at specific intervals (this is working well for us), where others simply just don’t introduce diapers at all! If you would like to learn more this is a great place to start. For today I will just tell you a little about how I was introduced to ECing, and what our journey has looked like thus far.
When I was still pregnant with Evangeline, my good friend and I, were talking about all kinds of natural, crunchy, sorts of things. She mentioned elimination communication off-hand; I had never heard about it, and it was crunchy so, naturally I wanted to learn more! I went online and started my research. You mean babies don’t need diapers?! *Gasp!* And, of course, my next thought was… You mean I don’t have to change diapers? Yes! Haha… just kidding… but really, it is a nice perk.
It seemed logical to me that I would not like sitting in my poopiness all day… so my baby probably would not enjoy it either. I also recalled my poor husband’s stories of changing his nephew’s diapers when diaper rash reared its ugly head and I was hoping to avoid that as much as possible. Plus, getting potty training out of the way instead of battling toddlers, who are usually much too busy to be concerned with such things? It didn’t sound like a half-bad idea. So, we went out and got a little mini baby potty (as you can see Evangeline so graciously modeling on the right) and decided to give it a go!
My first few weeks postpartum I was not at all interested in trying something new. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and really… just not interested. So I stuck with the familiarity of changing diapers, and that worked for us. (Which is what’s beautiful about ECing; it is so easily tailored to you! There are no hard and fast rules about when to start or how much time you have to spend on it!)
Then when Evie was about a month old, I decided to give ECing a try. Every time I noticed her eliminating I would make a “ssssssss” sound, so that she would start connecting that sound with elimination. Then, after a few days of observation, I realized that she almost always eliminated while nursing. So, whenever we nursed I would hold her over the little potty bowl without a diaper and voila! She would go in the potty! I tried getting her to go in the potty at other times, but it just frustrated her. And I also began working during the week, which made it more difficult, so I put EC on the back burner for a few months.
After my summer job was over, and we were home together all day again, I decided to try it out. We started out the same way, making the “ssssssss” sound, and observing her elimination cues. Evangeline was no longer eliminating while nursing, but normally right after nursing and upon waking up. For a couple of days I offered her the potty after waking up. I was able to catch her off and on, but not very consistently. I hadn’t had any luck catching her pooping, which is what I was trying for, as I had heard that once babies learn they don’t have to poop in their diapers, they won’t anymore! I figured that was my key to motivating her, but I simply was not fast enough to catch her.
The third day I decided to put towels all over the living room and let her be naked. I watched her intently; (I was so determined to catch her going!) it was actually quite exhausting. But I finally caught her, that evening, going #2 and put her over the potty making the sound. She went in the potty! And, honestly, I think I saw a light bulb go off in her head! She figured out that she did not have to sit in her poopiness! After that, she would poop in her potty on command when I made the “sssssssss” sound. I was so proud of my little girl. :)
The only times we miss #2 now is usually when she has looser stools, like the week she was sick. She will pee on command, but I have not been offering her the potty frequently enough to catch most of those. And, I think because the disposable diapers pull moisture away from her bottom, she doesn’t mind going in her diaper as much. I am hoping that next week I will have a better schedule set up to try and catch all of her eliminations.