Elimination Communication (or Infant Potty Training)

I am into doing things the natural way.  That involves listening to my baby to see what he needs.  My philosophy for taking care of my baby is based more on intuition than anything else.  I'm not always sure what he wants, but he can communicate his wants and needs if I listen and trust my intuition about him.  Apparently, infants can even communicate when they need to go to the bathroom.  When I learned about what people call Elimination Communication (EC) from Diaper Free Baby I was interested.

It involves taking your baby to the toilet and praising him when he eliminates in the toilet.  Ewan caught on really fast!

The idea is that we train our babies to ignore the fact that they need to pee (or poop) and just do it while playing, or being held by you, or whenever.  Also, they get used to being in wet (or dirty) diapers all the time.  They then have to re-learn how to be conscious of their bodily functions and the proper place to relieve themselves.  EC keeps them aware of their bodily functions from the beginning, so full potty training is easier and quicker later.

Interestingly, Freud had a theory that potty training issues caused "anal retentive behavior" or "anal expulsive behavior" later in life.  I'm not sure how much stock to place in Freud, but it does seem that EC will help ensure a positive potty training experience.

EC has helped Ewan get over some pooping problems he had.  He would go days without it and his tummy would hurt.  I didn't know what to do and the pediatrician didn't have any ideas except to give him a suppository, which I never did.  I would lay him on his back and rock his legs back and forth, which seemed to help some.  Now that I do EC with him, he poops just fine!  Even multiple times per day!

The first day of EC, I took Ewan's diaper off and put a pair of cotton pants on him.  Then, I laid him down on the floor to play as usual, but made sure he was on a water-proof changing mat.  The goal here was to just watch him and see what he does before he pees.  He's not wearing a diaper so I can tell immediately when it happens.  I had extra pairs of pants next to me to change him when he wet himself.  We played and I watched him.  After going through a few pairs of pants, I noticed that he looked a little distracted from the toys right before he peed.

Then, I started taking him to the toilet when I thought he had to pee, or just periodically.  Now, I've noticed that he will go a while without peeing, especially if I am wearing him in the sling or wrap carrier.  It seems that he knows that he wants to pee in the toilet and waits for me to take him.  He sometimes squirms in the carrier like he is trying to get out.  This seems to mean that he needs to pee.

Because he can't sit up by himself, I have to sit on the toilet with him.  I hold him under the thighs down by his knees and let him lean his back up against my stomach.  I make sure his bottom is pretty much inside the toilet, below the seat, so that pee ends up in the toilet and not on the seat.  I've found that sitting sideways on the toilet works best for me.  I can hang off the edge and put him between my legs.

Knowing when he needs to pee is much harder than knowing when he needs to poop.  Almost always, he will want to stand up and pass some gas before pooping.  But, honestly, most of the time I don't even know that he has to poop--he just does it when I take him to the potty.  He is all doubled over with his bottom slightly below his legs when we sit on the toilet.  This position must just invite him to poop.

I don't give him alot of diaper-free time.  I usually keep him in a cloth diaper and take it off to go potty.  We use gDiapers with him, and they are really easy to take off in a hurry because the velcro closures are on the back.  I can hold him and take off his diaper while walking to the bathroom.  Then, I just put it back on him if it's dry.  He can go all afternoon in the same diaper if I pay attention to him.  I want to get him some infant training pants by babyMISHA sold on Diaper Free Baby.

He has even pottied in public restrooms.  I wore him in the Moby Wrap around the grocery store one day, and while my husband went through the check-out line with our cart, I took Ewan to change his diaper.  I discovered his diaper was dry, so I sat on the toilet with him and he peed.  Then I put his diaper back on.  He also peed in a toddler toilet in the Family Restroom at the mall the other day.

I really recommend trying EC.  I don't do it all the time--just when I can.  The best part is that he rarely poops in diapers anymore.  I keep flushable toddler wipes in the bathroom and just wipe his bottom after he poops.  It's much less mess to clean up than a dirty diaper!