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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: EC... Diaper Free Baby (Updated)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EC... Diaper Free Baby (Updated)

I mentioned Elimination Communication briefly before...

I gave it only passing interest when I first learned of it because, really, it didn't matter much to us. We weren't having anymore babies. Then, several months later, we learned that we are having another baby. Once things slowed down from Christmas, my energy started returning and morning sickness became just that (an occurrence happening in the mornings, and not all day long), I stumbled on Elimination Communication again... this time with more interest. This mommy detailed her journey in EC with each of her children. I still thought it sounded a little crazy, but I was also interested. And my interest was growing. A few weeks later, I looked into it some more. And again a few weeks later. Finally I requested The Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh from our local library.

I have to say... I loved it! I already knew the underlying ideas behind Elimination Communication. I had pieced them together searching around the internet. Here, I want to give you some of the basics as I understand them (I have no personal experience of my own yet, so I'm not an expert by any stretch of the word... just sharing what I've learned from this book and other resources.)

So what is EC?
Elimination Communication (EC) is a method of communicating with your baby about a very simple process... elimination! The basic premise is that everybody poops and God has built in, from birth, a desire and ability to eliminate... without doing it all over ourselves! Author Christine Gross-Loh says, "Believe it or not, your child was not born wanting to go to the bathroom in a diaper. Like other mammals, human babies are born with the instinct not to soil themselves. It is not a natural or pleasant feeling for them to sit in their own waste; they are born aware of the sensation of going to the bathroom." (p. 1-2) (Updated: See comments for discussion on the whole "mammals" idea.) She tells us that even our newborn babies have the ability to give signals of going to the bathroom, before and during elimination. ECing is a process of learning those signals and teaching our babies what to do with them.

This process of EC isn't infant potty training. The goal is not to have a potty trained baby at 5 months, or 8 months or 12 months. The process of EC is exactly that... a process. I can remember a number of people commenting when I was potty training Tornado last year... that I was the one being trained, not him. That by taking him potty every 30 minutes to an hour I was the one being trained. It didn't bother me... we were using less diapers. And now that I think about it, I was making it possible for him to be cleaner... to not sit in his own waste.

It is very much the same thing with ECing your infant, at least in the beginning.

So how does it work?
It all starts with observing your baby. Whether you begin immediately after birth, or wait a couple weeks or months, the first step is to take off that diaper (other options are available too) and pay attention. Pay attention to when your baby potties, and when he poops. Is it right after feedings? During feedings? A half an hour later? Is it every 20 minutes in those early days, or can he hold it in almost an hour now? Pay attention!

Also pay attention to what your baby does right before and during elimination. Is there a concentrated look on his face? A noise she makes? Does she kick her feet around when she was otherwise being still? If he's playing, does he stop everything all of a sudden and get a far away look? The "cues" to look for are as diverse as the babies we have. There are a number of other suggestions of what to look for in the book!

When you do see baby "going", make a cue-ing noise for them. Recommended is a "psss, psss" noise for potty and little grunt noises for pooping, though you can use whatever you are comfortable with. This helps them learn to connect that noise with the elimination. That is supposed to come in handy later!

Then What?
Once you are ready to get started, just do it. The Diaper Free Baby recommends starting simple. Apparently most babies won't eliminate while asleep, so the easiest "catch" (EC speak for getting your baby's potty or poop in a receptacle on purpose) is when they first wake up. While you are changing that diaper anyway (if you are using diapers), hold baby over the toilet (other receptacles mentioned are the bathroom sink, bath tub, a pre-fold cloth diaper, or a "potty bowl"). By holding baby as they describe (numerous holds for different ages, etc.) and "cue-ing" him (with that "psss" noise), he should go if he has to.

Misses and being overwhelmed already
There are two things that I noticed most as I was reading the book. The first is that "misses" (EC speak for accidents) happen and there is nothing wrong with them. Sometimes "misses" happen because we are still learning or because baby is changing her pattern or because other parts of life pulled us away. They happen and we need to relax and take them as part of the learning process to communication with our babies. Clean up the "miss", talk about it with your baby, and get ready for the next time. (Note: "misses" from EC'd babies are supposed to be less of a pain than blow-outs from diapered babies... and I believe it!)

The other underlying message I read throughout the book was that any amount of EC still helps your baby. The point of EC, as she would put it, is to help your baby to keep the awareness of his elimination. The author stresses the fact that even part time (as little as an hour a day or a week) can be helpful. If life is too much, and all you can do is talk to your baby about his elimination while you change his diaper, you are still helping him.

I am greatly encouraged by this whole concept of any amount is good, and if fact, it is this whole idea that has me eager (and unafraid) to try this myself. I'm hoping to be able to EC this next baby from birth... to spend time diaper free (though over protected and absorbent blankets, etc.) observing and "pottying" my baby boy. And if nursing is a problem, or my other kids get sick and I just can't handle the extra right then... I can feel guiltless when I put a diaper on him to get us through. No matter what, the next morning when he wakes up, or the very next diaper change if I'm ready, we can try the potty again!

Overall, I highly recommend The Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh! What do you think??? Interested?

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At March 30, 2010 at 9:41 AM , Blogger Kristin said...

I'm never sure what I think about EC. I guess the experts arguments about humans being like other mammals bothers me a bit. Other mammals don't wear clothing, but because of sin, humans do. We don't say, "I'm going to not wear clothes today since that is how mammals were created to be!" Also, other mammals don't eat with forks and spoons or walk on two legs, etc, but we don't think twice about those things.

Believe me, this is not directed at you or your decision. I've considered EC myself, BUT I just struggle with the idea that babies "naturally" don't want to eliminate on themselves just because animals don't want to.

(And feel free not to publish this comments if you feel it sounds too antagonistic!)

At March 30, 2010 at 11:09 AM , Blogger ~Babychaser~ said...

Hi Kristin!

Believe me, I've thought a lot about the "humanistic" side of that whole idea. It just seems so "evolutionary". I suppose I should have spent more time on the concept in the original post (or left out the idea altogether.)

I appreciate you for bringing up the idea of what mammals can and can't do. No, we don't run around naked, just because the monkeys do. And we don't forgo eating with silverware (though they do it in India and it works great) or walking on two legs. But, the way I see it, if a wolf has the capability to eliminate and put it's own toxic waste somewhere away from his sleeping and eating place... then how much more could our babies as specially created and chosen creations of the Living God have that ability! God created us, and His creation is amazing... more so than we realize sometimes!

It seems to me that if He created us more intelligent than the animals... and my babies are capable of eliminating in a more comfortable and sanitary way, then I want to help them do it! Not force away that ability teach them to do it in their diaper.

I hope this didn't come out too strong either (yours didn't!)... and that it's encouragement to see things from the other side.


At March 30, 2010 at 2:33 PM , Blogger Laurie said...

We used infant potty training (elim.communication) with our third child and much preferred it to traditional delayed toilet training. We finished sooner and needed fewer diapers. And now 30 years later, our grandchild is using ipt too.

There are lots of misconceptions about it though. Our son wore a diaper at all times in between potty visits. This is one way to adapt the practice to our Western lifestyle. Also, it can be done part-time. It would be too stressful and time consuming to try to be there for every elimination, so diapers are needed for a while, but you gradually reduce the use over time.

Another term to search for is "infant potty training." Here are some resources for further info:

Book: "Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living"
DVD "Potty Whispering"


At March 30, 2010 at 2:58 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

No, you certainly didn't come across too strong! And I appreciate your explanation. Thank you.

At March 30, 2010 at 4:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

David has been pooping in the toilet for over a month now with only one major accident. He is 17 months and he doesn't talk. I could be trained to take him potty all the time too. He can't pull his pants down, but with some work he could probably lead us to the bathroom when he had to go.
It is pretty busy with three kids. The extra laundry of a naked baby could be overwhelming. The playing with poop is pretty gross too. Jenni B


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