This is Day 98 of the Green in 365 series!
Note from Emily: This is a guest post from my cousin Elizabeth, who I credit with first encouraging me to begin this journey toward green and natural living. She showed me the cloth diapers she used on her second son when I was pregnant with Kaelyn, and gave me a ring sling soon after she was born, spurring my love for both cloth diapers and baby wearing. And she has continued to encourage me over the years to have my baby at home, to live with less stuff and more freedom, and now, to listen to my children’s need to use the bathroom from a young age.
By Elizabeth of Running Family
I’ll admit that I was crazy skeptical when I first heard about Elimination Communication, but my babies have convinced me otherwise. When my daughter was little, she would take herself to sit on the potty and “read” Sports Illustrated with her daddy. We thought she was just smart!
Enter our second child, who would scream in rage to be allowed near the potty at a young 8 months. Trying to prevent a biohazard experience, I told him “no playing in the potty.” Then, I realized he didn’t want to play in it, he wanted to sit on it! I confess I am a little slow.
I had no choice but to listen and help him because he was so determined. Our third and fourth babies have been attended to since newborns through Elimination Communication. Perhaps you have wondered what Elimination Communication is and if it could truly work.
Here are several FAQ regarding EC and practical ideas to try to understand your baby better.
What is Elimination Communication?
Elimination Communication, put simply, is the understanding of babies’ pre-verbal cues for the need to relieve their bodies of waste. Babies will cue prior to their need to use the restroom.
As mammals, babies will not voluntarily wet or soil their environment. We human beings do like to be clean after all, regardless of age! We see this concept across cultures worldwide but somehow, we in the West have forgotten these basic human life patterns.
How do you know what the cues are for your baby to use the restroom?
It is truly simple. You listen and watch and hold the baby. Your baby has unique cues at different stages that show they are uncomfortable and need attending. All babies will communicate in some way before they have a “miss” where they cannot contain their need to eliminate any longer.
Babies will actually wait to eliminate until they are in the correct position if attended to. If you understand what the baby is saying, you can take her to the restroom in plenty of time. Most babies will fuss, stop nursing, change their facial expression, clear their throat, or pause mid-vocalization as a cue that they feel the physical need to use the restroom.
Please note that even as a veteran EC mom, I daily change wet diapers because I miss the cues. This is not about a competition, but a relationship. Sometimes, I understand exactly, and others I completely misunderstand the needs expressed. However, I believe that the bond that comes from attempting to understand and meet human needs is worth the effort.
Isn’t that a lot of work?
It is less work than changing a diaper! And it is greener, cheaper, and leads to a happier baby. I am currently ECing my 4th baby, so I do have some comparisons between my daughter, who EC’d herself, and my progression as a parent understanding each subsequent child’s cues more and more.
Because I am able to understand what they are saying before they get frustrated and scream, I am blessed with much more contented babies. My sweet first child cried a lot because I simply had no clue what she was trying to say (she is 8 and has forgiven me, by the way!).
Taking an infant to the restroom is truly easy with a few minor adjustments:
- Move the changing station to the bathroom. This keeps the elimination where it belongs! I keep diapers, wipes, diaper pail, Baby Bjorn potty, and changing rug all in the bathroom for ease of use.
- Switch outfits to more ease of access for potty breaks or diaper changes. I use babylegs and love them! Most outfits take 15 minutes or more to unsnap but babylegs grow with your baby and there are no snaps. Perfect for fast, easy-on-the-go potty-tunities. I also use cloth diapers, which is helpful but not necessary. It is helpful because the babies will feel the wetness and so can you.
- Watch your baby’s cues and trust that you CAN understand what they need, just like when you know they are tired, hungry, overstimulated, or scared.
How do I even get started?
I recommend starting when your baby wakes up in the morning. Try to pick them up when they are awake but happy and content. They may need a little drink before using the restroom, very similar to an adult. My current 6 month old needs a drink and then will use the restroom.
Offer the potty in an age appropriate position. Usually up until 6 months they sit on the potty insert while I hold them securely against my chest holding the potty bowl securely between my knees. My boys have all decided to stand after about 6-8 months which is convenient.
Two websites that are helpful with discrete photos and info are www.diaperfreebaby.org and www.naturalchild.org. Both have excellent information about the wide range of experiences when learning EC with your infant.
I’m still not convinced. I’m busy and overwhelmed… Why should I even try?
I tell people that it is worth the effort to me because some day I may not be able to speak and I would want someone to at least try to understand and attend to my physical needs. I believe, based on my own childhood issues, that it is always a worthy use of my time to respect the dignity of my children.
This is not coercive in any way. I offer my babies the option of using the restroom and if they don’t need to go, I thank them for trying. I do not sigh or shame them for needing help in this sensitive area. My children are a privilege to love, and love always does the dirty work of caring for human needs with dignity.
Trying just even once per day upon waking will give insight into your child’s natural life rhythms. Small consistent steps to offer relief are better than drastic changes when children are older and have been taught to eliminate in their diapers. Children will use the restroom wherever we teach them to go. Taking a respectful, relaxed road to show babies and young children how to care for their bodies’ needs is what I believe Elimination Communication offers to busy parents.
Be sure to check back the rest of this week for more posts and information about using Elimination Communication with your babies and children!
Read the rest of the series here:
Have you heard of Elimination Communication before this? Would you consider doing it with your baby or young child?
Elizabeth is living her life dream of running, writing, and raising four wild children in a little log home in the woods. She juggles blogging at www.runningfamily.net about healthy living, running, real food, and simple faith-filled living while trying to homeschool and practice Elimination Communication. She fails often at all of this but is trying to learn to live by grace.
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