Elimination Communication

As we plan out our diapering strategy for baby, I’ve been very taken with the concept of what some call early or infant toilet training, and others refer to as elimination communication. The idea, as described in The Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh, is that babies are born with elimination reflexes comparable to feeding reflexes, and that by honouring these from birth (or at whatever stage you choose to begin using the method) you can make elimination more comfortable for baby and naturally transition to use of a toilet from an early age. She emphasizes that this method focuses on communication, not training, so parents learn to read their children and children know they are able to communicate this need, like others, to their parents. Flexibility is also crucial – you will not catch every elimination moment, so you need to accept that from the start and not pressure yourself OR baby with any expectations of outcome.
Naturally, this idea – trusting baby’s natural instincts! An alternative to common Western parenting practices! – appeals to me tremendously. I hope to pay close attention to baby and make transition to this world as smooth as possible. If I can make him more comfortable by letting him eliminate in a toilet rather than in his pants, I’m all for it! Fringe benefits could include fewer diapers to wash and less diaper rash – also good things.

My grandma told us a few times that she toilet trained her kids from the time they could sit up by providing potty time according to their usual bathroom routines. She said that she didn’t force them to go, she made potty time fun, and she didn’t make a big deal about it if they didn’t use the toilet or wet themselves. The end result, for her, was children who were diaper-free from a young (by Canadian standards) age – maybe 1, though I don’t know the exact age.

I’m quite curious to see what this might look like in practice. Some parents start from birth, creating opportunities for their baby to use the toilet or some other holding container when it seems clear that s/he needs to. Another tip is to “cue” the baby (with a peeing or pooing sound) either when you want them to go or when you see them going, so they will associate this with elimination and eventually respond to the cue by eliminating. Diaper-free time and cloth versus disposable diapers are other common elements of successful EC, as these allow the baby to retain his/her natural instincts, to feel wet when s/he eliminates, and for the parent to learn baby’s cues. Especially if you’re trying this with a newborn, finding comfortable and secure holding positions (there’s an adorable in-arms position in the book – basically baby’s back to your front, your arms supporting under the knees) is crucial. Keeping lots of “toilets” around is also helpful. And finally, not worrying about misses, and being comfortable wherever the baby goes (even over an open diaper with your cue, versus in a closed diaper with you unaware.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this might feel like in practice. It’s great to have a spouse who is also interested in the idea so we can work together on it. Baby, can’t wait to see you pee, and find out if or how this method works for you!

love, your mommy 🙂

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