How I Became an EC Mom

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OK, so for those of you who don’t know, EC stands for elimination communication. Yep, you guessed it; this blog is about peeing and pooping, so if you’re the least bit squeamish on that topic, read no further! A friend of mine asked me to share about our EC journey, so here it is:

The first time I heard about elimination communication it sounded completely insane to me. I heard wild stories of families who NEVER used diapers and I pictured an entire house covered in plastic drop cloths with some pretty gross repercussions. Sure, if we were living outside and could just hold our babies away from our bodies like I read about in “The Continuum Concept,” I could imagine not using diapers. But I live in a house, and it really bothers me when my dogs or cats fail to go in their designated locations, so why would I allow my child to just pee and poop all over the place? At that moment I decided that EC was not for me.

But after my daughter was born, I read a really great article in Mothering magazine (Oh how I wish they were still publishing!) about elimination communication. In the article the author described lots of different ways that families could go about practicing EC to various degrees. Some families used diapers some of the time, and other used them most of the time but also watched for signals from their child that it was time to go. Through the article I was introduced to the idea of “catching” my child’s pee and poop and that’s when it happened. I became an EC mom.

A good friend of mine had given me TONS of great baby gear hand me downs, so I dug out the small Baby Bjorn potty you see in the photo. When my daughter was about a month old I took off her cloth diaper and sat her up on the potty. She didn’t seem to like the feeling of the cold plastic on her toosh, so I grabbed a pre-fold, cut a hole in it and put it between her butt and the potty. That one sacrificed cloth diaper made all the difference! After that, my little one was happy to sit on the potty whenever I thought to try. But, she didn’t actually go in the potty yet. That was OK with me though, I just wanted her to get used to sitting on the potty and wasn’t attached to achieving any specific goals yet. Looking back at my baby calendar I see that she had her first poop on the potty at 8wks and her first pee at 10wks old!

After my little one had some better muscle control and was able to sit in her Bumbo (around 4 months old) I put the potty in front of the mirror in her room and sat with her for up to 10min. at a time. She loved her potty time! We would make faces, look at books, and talk about increasing our intrathecal pressure, complete with grunting. and bearing down together. At that point she would occasionally go during potty time. We were making progress!

I still wasn’t able to see any signs from her or predict when she would need to go, but we just tried a little potty time here and there when the mood struck me. And then we introduced solid foods at 6mo. Whoa! Suddenly my daughter’s poops became solid and then I noticed that she seemed to go at around the same time, during the morning between wake up and her first nap. After some experimentation I narrowed it down and caught a poop! I was so happy not to have to scrub that cloth diaper that I became determined to catch more.

At some point during her sixth month, I realized that I always pee when I wake up in the morning, so she might need to as well. I tried putting her on the potty first thing after we woke up in the morning and magic happened. She peed AND pooped that first morning and has almost every morning since. I was elated! I had suddenly gone from soaking, scrubbing, sunning, washing and drying poopy diapers to simply dumping the poop in the toilet and getting on with our day!

Now we put her on the potty after she wakes from sleep and a couple more times throughout the day and she almost always pees. She clearly knows what the potty is for (and has since around that six month mark) and although she will hang out for up to thirty minutes if needed, she more often goes within five to ten minutes and then waits for me to wipe and re-diaper her. Yesterday, for the very first time, she finished her business and then stood up.

I know that a lot of EC parents talk about the importance of noticing the cues and the deep connection they feel with their child about these important bodily functions, but for us, EC is more about practicality and ease.

I also like the notion that I’ll never have to “potty train” my child. Sitting on the potty is just something we do every day already. And just for the record, I don’t think our version of EC is something we could only do because I’m a work from home mom. We’ve taken our potty to Grammy’s house and even on vacation with us! All of my daugher’s grandparents and babysitters have used the potty with her seamlessly.

The next step in our journey will be to teach my little one how to signal when she needs to go. So, I’ve begun signing “toilet” every time I say the word potty. No luck yet, but given our success so far, I’m not too worried. I’m pretty sure that she’ll put two and two together in no time.

So, how many of you have gone on your own EC journey? I would love to hear how it went or is going. Please share your stories with us!

And have a wonderful week, Shelly

5 comments
Nina Nelson
Nina Nelson

We experimented with EC when my 2nd was a year old and her little sister was 6 weeks old. It was the first time I'd heard of it. We used it inconsistently but found that potty training was much easier than it had been with my oldest son. They knew what the potty was and that they needed to use it.
We didn't use it with out last child (I have no idea why not) but a few months ago we took the potty out of storage and he loves it. He's incredibly eager to use it and will poop and pee on it on his own. I'm going to start putting him on it first thing in the morning - great idea! Thanks for sharing!

Sami
Sami

Shelly, thanks for sharing this. I have been using EC for only about 10 days. I am having some success 'catching' her waste in the toilet, but I do not believe it will necessarily lead to early toilet training. I also don't want to put too much emphasis on it. I read that kids don't have any control until 1 year. And of course you don't want to make any negative associations or punishments with going or not going on the pot.

So it will be really interesting (not to use your kiddo as a guinea pig) to see what age your daughter is when she 'graduates' out of diapers.

My objective is just to help my daughter see that we comprehend her needs. She seems to really appreciate it when she's suffering from gas or a full bladder, and we help her get relief by holding her over the potty.

Shelly
Shelly

Hey Giovanna, Wow! That is so cool! It sure is incredible what these little people can do when we give them the chance, isn't it?

Jaime, So true, consistency is definitely a key here. I'm glad you enjoyed the article even though you haven't gone on an EC journey yourself (I get a little bit worried about sharing too much baby stuff here, but I can hardly help myself, I love writing about my little one!)

Jaime
Jaime

Love it! It just shows what hard work, determination and consistency can do.I personally don't and have not tried, but I find it a intriguing topic, and truly believe children can learn just about anything from an adult, if we give them enough of our own patience, love, understanding and above all that consistency.
Thanks Shelly
Jaime

Giovanna
Giovanna

I have a two week old boy, and so far have caught three pees and all of his poops. The pees were all after he woke from a nap, and the poops... well I sort of lucked out! He is exclusively breast fed but he only poops once every day or two. So it's pretty easy to tell when he's about to go with that big of an amount on the way. I catch the pees in a cup, but for the poops I just lay him on a toddler sized prefold (I would hold him over a potty, but it takes like 20 minutes for him to get 2 days worth of poop out, so it's not comfy for either of us right now).

Trackbacks

  1. [...] And the same thing has happened in lots of areas of our life together. From night weaning to potty training, as soon as I had a goal and a plan, life got considerably [...]

  2. [...] Toilet learning is something that so many parents struggle with, yet somehow I thought I’d make it through unscathed. Julia has been using the potty occasionally since she was just a couple of months old. You can read about our early Elimination Communication journey here. [...]