Elimination Communication, also known as EC, Infant Potty Training, or “going diaper-free,” is somewhat new to the Western world but commonplace in undeveloped countries…and over the course of human history.
What did we do before diapers? If you’ve ever considered this question, it might get you Googling to find out some ways to depend on diapers less. And there you would find EC. The good news is that, if you are tired of being dependent upon diapers, are experiencing diaper rash or diapering struggles, are feeling guilty about the number of disposable diapers you send to the landfill, or just want to have your baby potty trained earlier, you’ve got options.
Elimination Communication is most appropriate for babies age 0-18 months and can start immediately upon birth, as babies are born signaling their pottying needs. It can be done part-time, as most parents do, with or without a diaper as a “back-up.” EC can be adapted to any lifestyle, and any amount of it (if done with awareness) will strengthen communication between parents and baby and pave the road to easier potty independence.
The biggest tip to get you started is to do some sort of observation of your baby so you can determine how often she goes pee and poo (natural timing), and what happens right before she goes (this is called a signal). Another tip is to offer the potty at first upon waking and also at every diaper change (known as common or generic timing). By offering at these two times that most babies need to pee, you can dip into the practice without too much stress or confusion.
Lastly, remember that “diaper-free” does not mean “naked, peeing wherever, whenever.” It means freeing yourself from dependence upon diapers. It means that you are tuning into yet another need that your baby was born expressing. In other words, those cries are not necessarily “I’ve got a wet diaper!” They may mean “Get me out of this diaper so I can pee somewhere hygienic.” Just observing your baby from this different point of view is considered “EC.”
If the ideas of using less diapers for less time, meeting more of your baby’s needs, making him more comfortable, and enhancing your connection with each other all sound good to you, then learning more about Elimination Communication may be just the thing you’re seeking.
By Andrea Olson, MA