Sunday, June 24, 2012

Real Life Elimination Communication: Guest Post by TLD

Guest poster, TLD, shares her real life experience
with elimination Communication
I'm excited to share my Diaper Free life times two with Amanda (and her readers)!   I have two Diaper Free Blogs: Sister Blog: Diaper Free: The Other Side of the Moon (Monthly 2009-present) and Brother Blog: Pottytunities for Two (Daily 2012-present)

I know that when people ask me about how I was able to have my daughter out of diapers before a year, the most common reaction is "that must be a lot of work, I could never do it." No matter what we call it -- Elimination Communication, Diaper Free, Infant Potty Learning, Nappy Free, or Natural Infant Hygiene -- the process is not as complicated as it is to spell! You don't have to live in a tree house, wear recycled tire sandals, and weave your own cloth. Your average busy, working, modern mother with white carpet can do it. If you are as ordinary as I am, work full time or part time, live in the city, suburbs, or country, single or married, have one child or five -- it doesn't matter. The process adapts.

I want what every Mom wants...a housekeeper. Hah! Really, I am not extraordinary, I'm 38, I don't like chores, and I want my house to be clean by wiggling my nose or nodding my head. I married, work part time, I'm on a budget, and I'm the primary caregiver. The best thing about toileting children from the start is that it can be molded to fit any lifetsyle. See, no one says that modern potty training is impossible because they have x responsibilities or live in location Y. Everyone has to attend to the output eventually. Elimination Communication is something you discover and grow with, it isn't some horrible trial set ion some arbitrary date you fear in the future. Nothing is lost in trying, but there is so much to gain in even a half hearted attempt. A fellow blogger from Loving Earth Mama I remember said, "I haven't spoken to an ECer yet who didn't want to share their experience with excitement; not so with a potty training" and another Lulastic wrote, "Once you see it you can't unsee it."

Diaper Free doesn't just mean bare bums and the end of diaper rash, it means freedom from being obligated to use diapers. Diapers become tools rather than toilets. Tools that you can stop using earlier because you won't need them. So, you can EC and use diapers at the same time. I recommend not using them too long or too much for specific reasons, but that's for another blog!

What Do You Need?

All you need to experience being free of the diaper ball and chain is a baby or child 19 months and younger (EC principles can apply to older toddlers but they have diaper unlearning to do also) and a toilet. A very prime learning window is age 3 months to 6 months, but I started at birth and many others start later. Special tools and books are available but not required. The one thing you will eventually purchase is a plain, no frills potty in the style of a Baby Bjorn. It is the most versatile piece of potty gear and a worthwhile purchase whether you EC or not. I strongly discourage anything that makes a game of pottying or makes he potty a toy because that will confuse rather than help. Other than that you can use cloth diaper flats or prefolds like I do, or the thousand and one receiving blankets most parents have lying around the house, towels if you prefer, a suitable sized bowl or other vessel (I use a deli container for my newborn), and some time. If you have an older mobile baby toddler, or boy, cheap cotton training pants can help, but you can EC without them. Use Parental Ingenuity, utilize what you have on hand, and EC is 100% free.

How Do know...Know?

You likely already have an inkling. You might know the "face" just before your baby poops, you might now that when you toddler stands very still they are peeing, or you might notice that first thing in the morning they have several wet diapers in a row, or you might think you smell a poo, check, not see any, and 5 minutes later you are gagging as you clean a squirming tush (phantom poo). If you never experienced any of these, then the easiest pee catches are right after a long nap or long feed. During a diaper change is also a good time for a potty break. Start there and you can expand potty breaks as you gain more confidence. Don't be afraid to go bare for short stretches at first especially with newborns, it is easier to see pee frequency without a diaper, and if necessary with coverless cloth diapers or receiving blankets. Cleaning up a piddle you are prepared for or setting a baby on a wee pad/blanket/towel/prefold is easier than one would think at first! Try it and see for yourself. Make a potty break a part of an ordinary day, just like a routine diaper change. Read blogs from busy moms who EC like one of my favorites In Her Chucks. It takes mere moments to try and see what happens.

What About the Mess?

A lot of people are concerned about "mess". Kids are messy. Even if you diaper full time, every day for 3 years -- there's going to be a mess at some point when you least expect it. It doesn't matter when you start to deal with elimination. There is going to be poop and pee in places you don't want it. On the bright side, the pee and poop when you toilet under a year is pretty small. Newborn poop and pee is even kind of "cute" in the way baby pukey spit up is "cute" but toddler puke is not! By "cute" I mean way smaller and less...odiferious and chunky...than 2 year and 3 year expulsions! A pre-mobile baby also stays where you put them, a small mobile baby doesn't go far, a wobbly toddler tends to stick around the parental orbit, while an autonomous older toddler is quite a bit harder to wrangle. Elimination Communication prepares you! You can EC even if you have carpet. You prepare by buying a cheap waterproof tablecloth or you if you are crafty make a wee-wee surface mat for the carpet. That way you won't be stressed and will be free to observe relaxed.

I Work Full Time/I'm A Single Parent. Can I EC?

Yes. You can start by doing it when you are home during the week and days off. Once you have a good rhythm and understand the process better, if you have an in-home day care/baby minder ask them to try at "key" time like after a nice long nap or if the baby can sign potty or say it have them respect the request. It takes no more time to remove a diaper to put a asking baby on the potty than it does to change a diaper. Regular day care centers are more challenging depending on where you are, but it doesn't hurt to ask -- especially if it is an older toddler who is cueing potty needs on their own. Join the free Diaper Free Baby forum at diaperfreebaby.orgor on facebook and ask women who've done EC full time, they will have the best advice.

I've Got X Number of Kids. Can I EC?

Absolutely. The older the children are the more likely they are to be of assistance once you explain to them what to look for! More eyes really help. I have my 2.5 year old daughter empty her baby brother's potty bowl and she helps me potty him sometimes when she isn't terribly busy doing something interesting like catching "shoe fish" with her daddy's computer mouse.

How Much Time Is This Going to Take?

Less time than it takes to change a diaper, clean the creases and crevices, wrangle the boy attachment, wrap the diaper in the diaper genie or cloth diaper pail, re-diaper, and re-dress. Elimination Communication isn't something "new" you will do every day, it is simply a differemt approach to dealing with the inevitable. EC is proactive, not reactive! Any diaper you save by pottying indtead of diapering is time saved and money in your pocket.

What about out public?

You continue to communicate, treating a diaper as an article of clothing not a portable toilet. It is there to protect property in case of a miss and to accomodate smaller bladders for travel. It's like anything you do daily. It becomes a habit before you leave and/or when you arrive at destination. Dress a baby or toddler the right way and even loos with no changing facilities aren't an issue. It is the same behavior you'd have to do if the child were 3 or 4. They can't go to public facilities unaided either. Clean public facilities are readily availble! I keep a travel potty with me or in my car and there have been many times there was no changing table, or it was in an occupied stall, or there was a queue -- since I could use any stall any where to take care of elimination for both toddler and baby it is not a problem.

Is it that simple?

Mileage varies as with anything, but yes it is that easy. Preparation makes a difference in how you perceive the process. As I wrote this entry, I knew I was not going to be able to respond quickly enough to my baby, so I set up my semi-water resistent picnic blanket outside, put down a few prefolds, and my naked 4 month old son on top. He's a roller and inch-wormer. No worries. I sat in the shade with him and typed. Nothing to clean up but some damp cloth prefolds and a quick swipe because nothing much was on his skin. The other day I had a friend ove and pottied my son as usual and she said, "Wow, that's so simple. It didn't seem that easy to me when I read the book."

I hope I've inspired some readers to take off the diaper even if for a quick potty break. Nothing is quite like the thrill of the first catch when you think it can't possibly work for you.

Thank you to TLD for sharing her experience with the readers here at We appreciate it! If you want to guest blog, please contact me and we can see availability as well as how we can make your topic fit


Momma Jorje said...

One you get that first catch it is absolutely exciting and addictive!

Before getting started I know it can be intimidating, but your comparison to an older child is perfect! I wasn't trying very hard with my son for a bit and I just reminded myself - what if my toddler daughter needed to go? I drop everything and help her go potty. Why should it be any different for my infant son?

Something that amazed me about EC is that it is the ONLY parenting tool I've ever read about that works even on a PART TIME basis. So, when I was working FT and my husband was the primary caregiver, I could EC with her during my "shift" and it worked, even though he wasn't doing it during his shift.

So true that you can't unsee it. It just makes so much sense! Great article!

Anonymous said...

Completely agree! This was wonderfully written article and what really stands out is how EC can be - IS - a normal, matter-of-fact part of the lives of those who choose to do it. :)