Cloth or disposable? Just one of the many choices a new parent faces. Recently, however, a different diapering option (or more appropriately, a non-diapering option) has gotten the attention of many green parents. It’s called Elimination Communication, or E.C. Also referred to as Natural Infant Hygiene (and less accurately as infant potty training), E.C. is a way of drastically reducing the number of diapers your baby will use until your baby is using the potty independently. What is E.C.?
E.C. is a new term given to an age old practice. It involves a parent recognizing a baby’s potty cues and putting him or her on an appropriate potty place. Modern parents may use a child size potty or the regular toilet, or a sink. Many ancient peoples all over the world (in places like Africa, Asia and even the Americas) used and continue to use a similar method. E.C. means tuning in to your baby and helping him eliminate in a socially appropriate place instead of his clothing or diaper.
Some modern parents, especially those who practice attachment parenting, have the view that children should show signs of readiness to potty train and then be helped by their parents to meet this developmental milestone. Yet our Grandmothers routinely potty trained their toddlers at around one year of age without harsh practices. They simply placed the baby or toddler on the potty after they arose from a nap or after eating (common elimination times) to help the child get into the habit of not soiling their clothing. Perhaps this came about as a way of avoiding having to wash cloth diapers for two or three years, which was not a pleasant chore before modern washing machines!
E.C. is, at its heart, a respectful and gentle way of raising a baby. It shows respect for your baby as a separate individual with their own needs and ability to communicate those needs. It is not a coercive or harsh method.
So how does one start doing E.C.? The website www.diaperfreebaby.org is a great place to start reading if you want to learn how to do E.C. You can start with an infant who is a newborn or you can help a toddler potty train with E.C. principles. E.C. can start as simply as this:
Pick a day when you won’t be leaving the house and remove your baby’s diaper. You may want to keep your activities limited to one room, perhaps one without a carpeted floor. Or place a blanket or towels on the floor. Play with your baby and see if you can identify his potty “cues”. They may be: sudden stopping of activity for older babies, squirming or fussing slightly for younger babies, a look of concentration, or some other sign.
When you notice that cue, try sitting your baby on a potty or holding him out over the toilet and making a “psss” or “ssshhh” sound. He might pee in the potty right then, or he might not. Keep trying and see what happens. Wearing your baby in a sling for much of the day will help you cue in to his signs also. Parents who practice E.C. notice that babies rarely pee on their parents, and if they do, it’s often because the parent has ignored the baby’s signal or their intuition.
Speaking of, intuition and learning to communicate telepathically is one of the greatest rewards of E.C. Parents report that they get a feeling their babies need to eliminate, and if they ignore that they get a wet lap! If they respond they often “catch” a pee in the potty. Communication is the heart of E.C.
E.C. can be done part time and does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. Some parents who E.C. keep their baby in diapers to protect their carpeting, and remove the diaper after naps and meals to use the potty. Keep it fun and just be curious, don’t feel you have to get your baby to “perform” and certainly don’t feel inadequate if your first attempts at E.C. don’t work. E.C. is not about getting stressed out about elimination!
Why not give it a try? You might learn a lot about yourself, your baby and use far fewer diapers in the process.
More information: Diaper Free Baby – The book on natural infant hygiene