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Elimination Communication

What is Elimination Communication?
Why would I want my baby out of diapers?
How do I get started?
Can I start with an older baby?
Does EC really work?
How is EC different from conventional potty training?
Can EC be done only part-time?

Potty

What is Elimination Communication?

Elimination Communication is a philosophy that says that babies, even newborns, are capable of communicating their needs to us. Most parents have no problem acknowledging that their babies can communicate hunger, discomfort, a need to be held, and other basic needs. But American parents have been conditioned to believe that babies can't communicate - or even be aware of - their elimination needs. EC families, however, believe their babies can communicate about elimination!

Generally speaking, most babies give signals that it's time to eliminate. Some signals are very subtle, but once you're tuned in to them, they become more apparent. (Just like with any communication your baby attempts, though, if these signals are ignored for long enough, your baby will eventually give up and stop signaling.)

EC families watch for these signals, then take their babies somewhere appropriate to eliminate. Most families also make a sound such as "ssss" or "pee" and some choose to make the ASL sign for toilet. The baby eventually associates these vocal or visual cues with toileting, and will eventually be able to purposefully relax the appropriate muscles when given the cue. 

Though it seems strange to most Americans, EC is just a way of life in many more traditional societies. It is even still practiced in urban China today.

Please see Diaper Free Baby for more information!

 

Why would I want my baby out of diapers?

Most EC families believe that it is not healthy or desirable to sit in one's own waste products. Being diaper-free (or wearing only clean, dry diapers as backup and being changed immediately upon wetting) is much healthier for a baby's skin. Babies can move about more freely without diapers between their legs. It's more economical. It's better for the environment. 

 

How do I get started?

Leave your baby naked from the waist down, and watch her for a while. How long after waking or eating does she eliminate? Does she make any obvious signs? (Some babies squirm, squint, hold still, stare off into space, etc.) Does she have a pattern? When you see her eliminating, make your cue sound or talk to her about what she's doing. Even very small babies can understand more than we think. 

Once you have an idea of when your baby will need to go, pick a time to give it a try. For many families, the first pee upon awakening is a good time to start. Take your baby to your potty place (sink, toilet, baby toilet, or other container) and make the cue noise. Give it a few minutes if necessary. Stop immediately if baby wants to get down. If your baby doesn't go on the first try, don't give up. Do something else for a few minutes and try again.

 

Can I start with an older baby?

Yes. EC works best with babies under 6 months, but can be used successfully with babies older than that, as well. Once a baby reaches 18 months-2 years old, EC is much less effective. Consider conventional toilet learning at this point.

 

Does EC really work?

This is a trick question, really. Of course EC "works" because the goal is increased communication between you and your baby. Your baby communicates, you listen. You communicate, your baby listens. The goal is not toilet independence at an early age. The goal is simply giving and receiving respect and communication.

 

How is EC different from conventional potty training?

Well, it starts at a MUCH earlier age. Most EC parents don't use any sort of reward system as is typically done in conventional training. 

 

Can I do EC Part time?

Absolutely! You can EC only for the first pee of the day, or only after work/daycare. You can EC only in the mornings, or only on weekends. Babies might find it a little confusing, and you may find that your baby doesn't want to pee in her diaper after a while, but at that point, telling caregivers to just take her to the potty should do the trick!

This Website is a great reference for part-time EC'ers.

 
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