Tag Archives: Elimination Communication

The Technique of Elimination Communication

As a parent of multiple babies at this point, I feel as though it’s time to make another post about EC. The subject has been coming up in conversation lately, so I decided to put down some thoughts tonight.

Elimination Communication/Natural Infant Hygiene is an effort to use minimal diapering on your baby.  Who knew even a newborn baby can hold it because they prefer the opportunity to go outside of their clothes?!  Believe it or not, it’s a physiological truth! All it takes is the commitment (and opportunity/availability/presence) to regularly take time to “poop and pee your baby” by holding them in a certain position.  If you do this immediately from birth, there forms a routine of communication and trust,  – et voila!  Pretty darn quick you have a tiny person who can manage their own waste.

It is the physiological tendency to eliminate when clothing is removed.

 It feels like some secret I need to tell everyone about.  “Public Service Announcement! You don’t have to let your child fester in a sagging plastic bag of their stinking excrement!  Spare yourself the arduous duty of scraping, wiping, and treating the aftermath of full time diapering, and deal with it like most of the Earth’s population do! Elimination Communicatioooonnn n-n- n- n- n”  (maximum reverb, fade out).

 

In the past I have covered the basics of EC here on my blog (especially in the second one when Fox was 8 months). If you’d like to read my smart-alecky posts from the archives, here they are:
1. When Fox was 2 months
2. When Fox was 8 months

Since then, Fox achieved total diaper freedom by 16 months, which was 4 months after learning to walk. He was able to get around on his own and we were sure to keep a potty option/opportunity close. Currently, Fox is almost 5 years old, and has quite a well-adjusted handle on his elimination needs. There have only been two instances of bed-wetting, and he still needs help to clean his butt, but we’re working on that.

New Baby, Who Dis?

Now I have June Moon, who is 4 months old. We have been pottying her right from when she was born as well, and 95% of the time she eliminates at the time of our given opportunities.  It’s working like a charm!

I know that everyone has different life circumstances and whatnot. I have no judgements on parents for how they choose to do their parenting. It’s just that not many people even know about EC as an option. My goal is to spread the word and let people know that if they’re planning to have a baby in arms for roughly the first year, there is this (way easier/cleaner/less expensive/more hygenic) option for dealing with all the pooing and peeing their tiny human will do.   If you’re interested and want to learn from my experience, read on.

How it works for us, how it can work for you

First and foremost, have an easygoing attitude.  Pee is sterile, so chill out.

Clothes

I have been so fortunate to get free hand-me-down clothes from friends and through a great resource program in my community.  Since babies grow so fast, baby clothes are usually pretty easy to come by.  To me, the biggest variable when deciding on what clothes babe should wear, is ACCESS.  Preferred outfits would look like;

  1. (for little girls) long dresses paired with high-fitting socks
  2. (for boys, also girls) cotton pants that are easy to pull down paired with a separate shirt.

Advice when screening potential clothes;  avoid onesies and overalls.  Socks are a valuable commodity. See how many pairs of cotton pants you can collect! Think – easy off, easy on.

Clothing mods: With my trusty fabric scissors, I have cut the crotch out of pants, the tips off of socks, the legs off of tights, and the snaps off of onesies.  Dont be shy about hacking up some baby clothes to make your life easier.

Supplies

-Get 4 or 5 small waterproof blankets
-Collect an arsenal of cotton nursing blankets. These are used in conjunction with the waterproof blankets, one on top of the other, kept under babe, just in case. Easy to switch out in the event of a miss.
-Put waterproof sheets on all the mattresses in the house. This helps with the whole “keeping an easygoing attitude” when a miss happens.
-Have a comfortable potty available (we have a tophat potty that I got here)
-Diapers of your choice (preferably  cloth, or compostable) for the occasional times its handy, like on a long car ride or some other pressing thing that is keeping your attention.
-toilet paper, obviously.

Other tips

-Really use that cue noise. “PSSSS!” actually works very well, and even a running water faucet works wonders. Especially paired with a big deep breath and a true releasing of tension.

-Any time you would have to go to the bathroom, they would have to go to the bathroom.

-Always respect their decline to remain held for a potty. A squirm, a squeal, disinterested/distracted, just take them out of position immediately, and try again in a few minutes if necessary.

-Avoid interrupting their play as much as possible. Bring a potty to them, or their toy to the potty.

-Don’t be shy about pottying in public. Would it be socially acceptable for a little dog to defecate there?  Then it’s fair game in my opinion.  Grass, parking lot, sink, drain, toilet, flowerbed, gate post, stream, potty, bush, tree trunk, ocean,  etc , I have pottied my kids just about everywhere.  It doesn’t really matter too much, especially before they’re eating solid foods. Do what you’ve got to do.

-Trust your intuition and the intuition of those around you. Did someone just bring up the fact that she’s not wearing a diaper? Or ask when the last time she went? Or just “get the feeling”?  Take that as a sign, and potty ASAP!

-Once your baby trusts that you will give them enough opportunities, you may notice time patterns. Like how they’ll poop first thing after waking up in the morning, and then pee every 15 minutes until their next nap. And how they will  hold it when in-arms or in their carrier, and in bed at night. There is actually a chemical that gets released in their brain that signals to slow down elimination functions! This is what happens when you dont mess with the natural rhythm of our bodies.

Conclusion (for now)

OK, so you’re generally giving your babe the opportunity to go once every 20 minutes. It is a lot. But think about how you’re spending this time. Mostly you’re just standing or sitting with your love pressed against your body.  If you adhere to a consistent practice, success rates are very high. If a miss happens, just put it in the laundry and move on! The clean up and expense is far less in my opinion, especially if you’re prepared, and willing to bring along 5 tiny pairs of pants.  Even if it’s the same amount of time spent, its just spent doing different things. Compare A to B:

A.) You’re reading a book while your baby grunts away on the potty on your lap. When she’s finished, you use a few squares of toilet paper on her, as you would your own self. Everything gets flushed down the toilet, pants back up. That took 5 minutes. Half hour later you take her to the sink for a quick pee. Quick pants down, cue noise, she pees, pants up,  and that took 2 minutes. A half hour later she squirms out of your partners hands, so you pee her again, 3 minutes.  Half hour later, you notice she peed on the nursing blanket she was lying on. NBD, throw it in the laundry,  put on dry pants, 1 minute.  Half hour later, quick pee off the deck, (1 minute). Half hour later, more grunts and more bearing down, she’s gotta poop. This takes 3 minutes. Total: 15 minutes over 5 hours.

B.) Thanks to the high-absorbancy of the expensive diapers you bought, you have avoided changing a diaper for 5 hours! You walk to the designated changing station and lay down your baby and carefully open the diaper up. Poo is all over her butt, up in her front parts, in every fold, and up her back. Using a few non-flushable wet-wipes you have to wipe off every surface of skin and meticulously inside each fold. You notice things are quite red and irritated so now you treat with one or two  uric rash products. You arrange a new diaper, and snap and zip and button it all back in there for the next 5 hours. Total time: 15 minutes over 5 hours.

The exact same time, just spent doing different things. One way involves buying lots of things in order to avoid a perceived inconvenience of removing your baby’s stored waste,  and the other way involves being present to receive their communication in order to facilitate your baby’s waste leaving the vicinity of their body immediately.

The choice is clear to me! Though I understand my privileged position of being able to carry my baby in arms for the first year of her life, this option may not be available to everyone, for example, a single mom who has to work full time at 4 month postpartum.

Im sure I’ll remember more points to make eventually, but that’s all for now.  Some resources to support your decision to commit to helping your baby eliminate *outside* their clothing from day one:

https://tinyundies.com/ 

https://www.instagram.com/eliminationcommunication/

https://www.ecpeesy.com/elimination-communication-nutshell-infographic/

 

Putting poop where it belongs

I’m going to talk about poo now.

Since my baby was born,  I clean an average of one shitty diaper every couple weeks.   We’ve never used plastic diapers, and in eight months, I’ve used up one package of wet wipes. We’ve never needed any rash cream. We use cotton tri-fold inserts and second-hand shells that make up a small load of laundry every 3 days.  It’s not as difficult as you may think.  If you want to learn the not-so-magical ways of “pooping” your baby, and Elimination Communication, read on.

Eight months ago I gave birth to my son, Fox Buckminster. With the support of my close friend, Cora, and the wisdom in a book she loaned me, Fox and I have been successful at habituating the same “shit outside your pants” technique that all of us grown-ups seem to  prefer.  Cora lent me Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene  when I was about 6 months preggo. Reading it was so fascinating, I devoured it twice. Interestingly, this book was not filled with instructions on how to successfully achieve a harmonious diaper-free life, rather, it was a general philosophical outlook on naturally parenting a baby with emphasis on their elimination needs.  I learned that most of Earth’s population does not rely on conventional diapering methods, instead, moms  just “pee and poo” their babies using some kind of form of EC.  Aside from talking a lot about Elimination Communication, there was so much great advice on gently approaching my new role as a mommy in a flexible and unique-to-the-individual style. I appreciated the attitude that was kind of like  “use a diaper whenever you want, man. There are no rules, just do whatever works for you. Here are the facts about what’s going on, so make your choices based on those, and don’t forget your good intuition, sister.”

Anyhow, eight months later, and Fox pretty much craps in the toilet, the sink, outside, or his potty all the time. I don’t catch every pee, and like I said, I miss a poo a couple times every month,  but he does pee almost every time I take off his diaper. As most diapering moms and dads know,  it is indeed the natural inclination to eliminate when clothing is removed.

DSCF7622

The Nitty Gritty

So if I had to “give instructions” on how to poo your baby, this would be it:  just give them enough opportunity to do it, and they will usually take it. But it has to be under the right conditions.

What are the right conditions? Well think about under what conditions you need in order to pinch a loaf. For me, I have to feel like I’m in a safe environment where I’m not going to be disturbed. I have to have privacy. Be in a calm mood. Things that help, are the feeling of my butt supported in a familiar position, taking a big deep breath or two, and lots of time to just sit and wait for my guts to move things along.  What I’ve just described are all of the things I make sure are in order for Fox, every time I poop him.

 Babies are the same as grown-ups in this regard.

I hold him in the same position, in the same circumstances, every time. When do I know when he has to go? I don’t, really. But I make sure to give him the opportunity at all the times it seems logical: upon waking up in the morning, lunchtime, if I hear a fart, if I notice him grimace or grunt a little, if it’s been a long time since his last elimination, etc.

It’s just a myth that babies, even newborns, cannot control when they eliminate. Peeing and pooing is not like you get so full of it, that it squishes out ’cause there’s no room left inside you, no. Not at all. Instead, it’s like, your mind and body chooses when to squeeze out whatever is in there, no matter how much it is. Even if you don’t necessarily have to pee, if you make it seem to your body like you’re going to go (like the ritual of going into the private bathroom and sitting on the cold toilet seat), chances are you can get some out. Babies bodies function mostly like adult ones. They aren’t creatures from another planet.

Peeing

Peeing is more like, dribble dribble dribble all day long. If you’re not actively peeing them every 15 friggin minutes, they figure no need to hold it and wait for the next available opportunity, hence dribble dribble dribble. So if you’re set on zero diapering,  you’ll have to be okay with having a fairly pee-soaked life. I’m not so down with that, which is why Fox wears a cotton diaper most of the time we’re out of the house.  When we’re at home or outdoors in fair weather, he’s usually bare-bummed. I have some pretty mindful approaches including lots of receiving blankets that do most of the catching for me.  At night, we sleep on a fleece-lined water-proof blanket in case of leaks. Most of the time he sleeps without a diaper, right next to me in our family bed. I don’t try to catch every pee, because, holy jeez…chasing that dribble all the live-long day is not for me. BUT POOING! We catch almost all of them, simply for how less frequently it happens.

Techniques

Here’s how we started out. As soon as he was born, my mom bought him a stand-alone regular potty in which I placed on the changing table next to our bed. Against the wall I placed a mirror in front of the potty, which was facing away from me. I always kept a little water in it, so it wasn’t so nasty to empty. I would hold him over the potty, one thigh in each hand, and using the mirror, could clearly see his butt and balls. Big deep breath, make the cue-noise (“ppsssss!”), flex my ab muscles against his back, maybe make a grunt or two. Monkey see, monkey do.  Every time, either pee or poo,  his testes would shrivel up and his butt would move down. The key here is to give him lots of time.  At the beginning, I would stand there for like ten minutes waiting for his little body to do the deed. If he signaled he didn’t have to go, I would take him away immediately. Do not force him to stay! If you think he still has to go, try again in a few minutes.  When he is done, his testes would loosen and fall, and his anus would tuck back up between his butt-cheeks. Thats-it-thats-all. Easy peasy. Pass the toilet paper squares.

I consistently kept this same ritual. Over time, he began to realize the objective and I wouldn’t have to wait there so long. I was becoming more and more in tune with his elimination, because after all, I knew exactly how much of my milk was going into him at any given time. As Fox was practicing all of this new having-a-body stuff, I was practicing all of this new mommy stuff. We both got better and better at it. I got less reliant on seeing his under-parts, and he needed my cues less and less. He began to sit up on his own, so we made a graduation to the bathroom so he could sit on the toilet with my support. No matter if we’re on the boat, in a park, on a beach, in the woods, or in a bathroom, I make sure the circumstances, conditions and our ritual is the same.

In closing…

To diaper or not to diaper? Or to diaper only sometimes (like me)? Cotton or plastic? The way I see it, it’s all a question of how do you want to spend your time, and how happy is your child going to be? Think of all the time (and money) it takes to buy the diapers and products. The time it takes to change them and wipe all that crap off their skin. Then weigh that time spent against standing there one-on-one with your love, just waiting. Then there’s the well-being of your child. Think about your baby living with their own waste stored in that saggy undercarriage. A plastic barrier of airflow to their skin  and interrupting how they sit and move their legs. All for what? The convenience for you, their parent?  Then there’s the task of having to “train” them one day out of the blue to not eliminate in their pants anymore. You’ve taught them to go in their clothes all this time, and now you have to train them to go in a toilet instead?  Something about that seems unfair to me. Not to get all judgy here, because some parents are faced with making difficult decisions based on circumstances outside their control – such as really sensitive skin. The point is that it’s important to thoroughly understand why it is we choose what we choose.

Some of my friends are having babies, and I wanted to share with them (and others) just how darn easy it is to poo and pee your baby. The list weighing COST vs. BENEFIT is astounding.

If you’re interested in beginning with your little-un, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. Not to mention oddly gratifying. The sense of accomplishment is weirdly compelling.  You can start when your child is any age, but if you begin at birth, I imagine the process and progression to elimination independence is easier for everyone.

If you’d like to read the story about how Fox’s home-birth went, here is the link: http://ashta.ca/thoughts/howfoxwasborn