A quick summary of my journey applying elimination communication 0-12 months.
Did you know kids in other parts of the world learn to use the toilet by age 2 or earlier? I did not know either until I discovered the method of Elimination Communication (EC) through Andrea Olsen. This method has many names such as infant hygiene and diaperless toilet training. I never liked the idea of changing smelly diapers. I’m sure the thought of sitting in your OWN filth squished deep into your private and sensitive genitals doesn’t sound pleasing either for you so why not for your baby? Do we have a choice for our babies? Through my experience applying EC for more than a year, I would say yes and would add that it has made child rearing in the poopy department incredibly easier despite what you may have first thought.
In the late 1950s, 92 percent of children in the U.S. were potty trained by 18 months. Kids today, though, typically stay in diapers until around their third birthday. This is largely due to the use of disposable diapers.Elimination Communication: How to Potty-Train Without Diapers; Parents.com; Leslie Garisto Pfaff
Okay, so the diaper industry is making tons of money because we were not informed or educated or even knew there are other natural alternatives. No big deal. Diapers still do the job they were made for. We can still use them and I definitely did during my application of EC since I received tons of diapers for my baby shower. I was so thankful to have used them during the EC process. Think mommy brain, lack of sleep, baby not signaling to you they want to go to the bathroom, in the middle of driving, etc. You can find the list of books and resources I used during my journey of elimination communication with my daughter here.
I had a weeks worth of cloth diapers, a top hat potty, and several boxes of disposable diapers from my baby shower ready to go before my daughter was born. I was eager to start as soon as my daughter was born because it was natural, exciting and though the first hand experience by other women who have done this, they have had success and have an incredible bond with their children.
My daughter as a new born wore disposable diapers- only as a back-up for her to soil them when I miss the opportunity to potty her. We caught her first miconium poop in the top hat potty the next evening after her birth. After that, I was hooked on proceeding with EC. Easy clean up. Woohoo! As soon as she wakes up from her sleep my husband or I will hold her over the sink and make pee (Pssss) and poo (pig grunt) sounds and watch her genital muscles move in the mirror above the sink and she DOES soil the sink. I know the thought of baby waste sounds gross in the sink, but I see it as, digested breast milk. No harm. It’s easy to wash down the sink since its liquid. It is great for my back because I am upright. I also get to bond with and see her reflection in the mirror. We have a bleach mix water bottle that we spray the sink afterwards, so it’s extra clean. We also potty her after feeding and before putting her down to sleep. Andrea Olsen provides an free Easy Start Guide for us to follow. I also bought her book and once I did, I had access to a community of parents who do EC for support and video tutorials by Andrea Olsen herself with her kids. Note: I am not affiliated with her, I am mother who has applied her method first hand and have had seen amazing results. No diapers rashes. Not ever!
Pottying in the middle of the night
I did not potty my daughter in the middle of the night. Hey, I need my sleep and so does my daughter. I was also a new mom then, and I was navigating through the world of breastfeeding too. That is what makes EC so amazing. You do NOT have to go full on. You can do it part-time or super-part time. According to Andre Olsen’s book, Go Diaper Free, your little one waking up with a dry diaper comes eventually when he or she stays dry throughout the day. I was in no hurry. Although I admire the parents who potty their baby in the middle of the night too. I was content and confident that allowing her to soil her diaper during the night would not hinder the process. Fast forward at 13 months all her poops and pees are in the potty (seat reducer on the toilet) with occasional misses of pee (mostly in the evening). During the first year of her life, we had only changed less than 15 poopy diapers! Bravo.
Pottying during outings
I was anxious about taking her out while continuing with EC. I have not seen my friends who happen to have young children themselves for a couple of months so I was eager to leave the house. Surprisingly, it was easy to apply EC on outings. I gained my confidence by watching Andrea Olsen, Always take your time. I learned the hard way that timing works differently with kids when setting out of the house. It seems my daughter knew what was going on. From 0-8 months we took the top-hat potty with us every time we went out. Even if it was to go to the grocery store for a quick shop. I would potty her before we left the house. Pottied her when we arrived in the top-hat potty in the car before we went inside the store (only when I didn’t know if a washroom was available or located). I then, gave her the top-hat potty opportunity in the car before we drive away from the store. I then gave her the opportunity to potty once we arrived home. Sometimes she goes in the potty, sometimes she doesn’t. It’s about setting up trust and a routine where she knows she will have the opportunity to relieve herself without soiling her diaper. If we decide to hang out at the mall, I would give the opportunity to go when we arrived, before feeding, after feeding, watch her cues and take her, and before nap and then after her nap, then repeat including the opportunity to go before we leave. I would have her sit on the top-hat potty next to the sink or try to hover her over the toilet in the stalls.
Being outdoors on a hike or at a park is the most fun and easy environment to apply EC. I just hold my daughter over the top hat potty in between my lap or hover her over the grass or body of water as I squat down. (Back to nature). No one is none the wiser because your little one just looks like he or she is sitting in your lap. If she poops, I use a wet wipe to clean up as much as I can (digested breastmilk is liquid). Then I put leaves on it or what’s natural nearby to bury it. I always think of how we do not even bat an eye if a dog or animal pees in nature. A baby pee is not going to end the world. I promise you it will become second nature to both you and your little one.
The potty regression
Before my daughter turned 8 months old, she would happily sit on the mini potty and do her business. Since learning to become mobile, she started resisting and not signing so we missed most of her pees. Thankfully no poos. It got so bad that she would squirm, screaming and straightened out with force so we would not be able to sit her on the potty while she peed all over us and herself. She wanted to play, she wanted to practice either standing up, or walking, and she wanted to be left alone to do “her” thing. We purchased tiny trainers at this point because we also wanted her to feel uncomfortable wetting herself. It will keep her sensitive to wetness and empower her that she is a big girl now. She has seen mom and dad do pottying and knows we wear underwear. A big plus is that if she does wet herself in the trainers, they will get damp but you will not have a puddle to clean up and it’s much easier to take it off and on my mobile child. She would stay in diapers at night and sometimes during outings. During the day she would wear the tiny trainers. I tried experimenting with different receptacles and found she prefers to sit on the toilet with a seat reducer. So we stopped holding her in the EC position and minimized the usage of the mini-potty to only outings and in the mornings. I would sit on a small stool in front of her while she sat on the toilet and sang her favorite songs with hand actions, teaching her counting, and body parts. Just having her sit willingly on the potty was a win. Being part of an EC community for support played a major role in my confidence and learning to pivot during the process.
I am persistent and consistent in taking her to go potty after she wakes up regardless of the regression and gradually by 13 months, she willingly sat on the potty, did her business and even wanted to flush the toilet and wipe herself with toilet paper. Of course I had to help her flush since she was not strong enough to pull the lever and had not developed the coordination to wipe herself. Atlas is well on her way to being daiper-free. Hurray!
You may also be interested in…
My tools and resources for elimination communication. This includes the videos and books I have read to educate myself about the topic whilst pregnant and made me really excited to apply the method with Atlas, my daughter.
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