Thanks for letting me guest post about EC! It’s definitely one of my passions and something I can talk or type about for hours! So let me try to break it down into something easy to swallow if this is the first time you’ve ever heard of EC… bear with me!
WHAT is EC?
Elimination Communication. It is a gentle way to help a child use a toilet, often from a very young age. There are lots of names for it, but I think Elimination Communication sums it up the best. It’s a method of communicating with your child – of any age – about their elimination needs. However, in many countries EC isn’t called EC at all – it’s just called “normal!”
What EC is NOT:
Elimination Communication is not an excuse to force an infant to use the toilet “too young”. It’s not a way to get a child potty trained early (although that is often the outcome, it is not the end goal.) EC is not about a parent’s agenda, or a specific time table or using fewer diapers.
WHEN do you start EC?
At any age! At least in my opinion the methodology behind EC can be applied to newborn babies up to children of normal potty training age. It is not a strict bunch of rules you have to follow. There are suggestions and ideas of how to help your child retain (or regain) their bodily awareness and to learn to be on the same page with them about elimination needs – much like how a parent knows when to feed their baby, or put them down for a nap.
I love Elimination Communication for many reasons, but here are a few that make it to the top of the list:
1. You can build a stronger parent/child bond
2. By responding to your child’s pottying needs you are giving them one more reason to trust that you are there listening to and providing for them.
3. EC has been known to avoid the use of catheters in babies because they can just pee in a cup!
4. Increased awareness of your child’s health – diaper rashes are often a thing of the past, and UTI’s can be avoided or discovered much more quickly.
5. Builds a positive atmosphere around elimination and using the bathroom in general.
6. It’s fun! The “catches” are so cool and hard to believe when they’re little – and the face to face time you get with your toddler is priceless (they’re always so busy otherwise!)
7. Disposable diapers contain harmful chemicals and the less that stuff can be next to a baby’s skin, the better. After all, our skin is our largest organ! What goes on our skin goes into our body. There are studies that link infertility issues to the chemicals in disposable diapers.
8. It’s healthier for the environment. Disposable diapers can take hundreds of years (or so the studies estimate) to decompose.
Obviously if you’re using cloth diapers the last two points I mentioned are less of a worry – but then ..
9. EC’d babies often “graduate” earlier than conventionally potty trained children! That is not the goal, and it is not always the case, but I would venture to guess that the instances of a 3 or 4 year old EC’d child still being in diapers is extremely rare.
10. There do not have to be ANY power struggles with EC. You are not forcing your child to do something s/he doesn’t want to do. This method is ALL about the child, and going at his or her own pace – just being there for them when they need and want you.
When I first heard about Elimination Communication I thought it was the craziest thing I’d ever heard! Taking babies to the potty?! But we’re supposed to wait for the signs of “readiness” and not push them, and wait until they magically do it themselves one day. … Right? … Or wait – the more I thought about the philosophy of waiting until they want to do it…. That lines up perfectly with EC! The thing is: babies are born knowing and recognizing their elimination signs and needs. Ever had a changing table pee? Babies don’t want to pee in their diaper (clothes) because then they will be wet. If they pee between changes or during a bath, they know they can get away from the wet uncomfortable feeling! Either mom will change them, or they can roll away, or they’re in the bathtub anyway. So if my baby already knows when she has to go, why let her learn to forget those signs – just to try to reteach them to her in a few years? I can help her do now what she already wants to do! She’s already “ready!”
So, after thinking about EC, and trying to ignore it, considering it some more, and then finally giving in … We tried it! We started when our daughter, Q, was 4 months old – there were times of great communication and times we just tried to keep our sanity, but by 14 months old she was out of diapers 100% of the time! And she has a very positive outlook on pottying. What more could I ask for? In my opinion, you’re going to have to potty train/learn at some point anyway, so why not now? Dealing with baby “misses” was a lot easier than toddler diapers or hidden poops.
While we were ECing Q, we were also involved with potty training her step-sister. It’s definitely possible with more than one child! And it made potty learning so much easier on “E” as well because there wasn’t any comparison or wishing to be little like the new baby, etc. It was just normal. The whole family used the toilet! As they got older they would help each other and sometimes even sit back to back on the same toilet! Talk about cute!
I wanted to go into details of how to actually go about this – but there is just too much! I could type for hours! So let me leave you with some references. My ultimate favorite book about EC is called Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gros-Loh. It is an easy read, and broken up into bite size chapters depending on what age and stage of the process you and your baby are in.
If you are interested in discussing EC with other moms, the best resource I found was on www.diaperswappers.com/eliminationcommunication – the ladies there are incredibly helpful and honest and inspiring.
There are also a couple groups on Facebook, as well as www.diaperfreebaby.org and http://www.tribalbaby.org/ECindex.html I have also heard that there’s a yahoo EC group, but I don’t know of that one personally.
Enjoy!! You may feel all alone (when you’re offline) and like you’ve lost your mind some days – but trust me… the payoff is SO worth it! Always feel free to email me with any questions or stories! I can talk about EC all day long!
Karli is the author behind Curly Hairdo Ideas – a website dedicated to Natural Hair Care and Styles for Kids. She has also just launched a new website devoted entirely to Elimination Communication! For more information and in depth ideas, please visit www.ECisfun.com