Elimination Communication

So this is not another post on what EC is and how to do it but a little spin on it to show it’s not all about catching wees and poos in pots and getting babies out of nappies as soon as possible.

As a quick explanation Elimation Comunication is learning to read your baby’s cues that let you know a wee or poo is on the way, you hold your baby over a potty or the toilet to ‘catch’ the waste and thus save a nappy. Read more here.

I read about EC before I had my first son and was keen to try it out but with everything else I didn’t do it ‘properly’, was disillusioned by a friend whose daughter had ‘graduated’ at the age of one, and struggled to read my sons signs. I had the first glimpse of a parental ‘fail’ and it made me feel sad.

What I forgot to see was that I had actually been performing the ‘communication’ part of it very well. Knew when to back off, knew when to put a nappy on and allow us to take a break from it all (even though this is not a ‘recommended way of dealing with a ‘potty pause’). Realised that it was necessary for us to work our way through this path rather than just relying on rules.

With my second son who has some serious health issues I hadn’t originally considered it – just getting him home was my main worry. But as he spent a lot of time on me skin to skin I ended up being wee’d and poo’d on quite a bit. To the point where one night when he was 3 weeks old my partner was holding him and he started to fuss and I just said ‘I think he needs a wee’ and he was held over the first pot I grabbed (an old ice cream pot) and there it was a pee in the pot. Well it was great, here was a baby who because of being tube fed didn’t give us any feeding cues, and was pretty sleepy most of the time, BUT he could cue us to let us know he needed a wee. It was exciting. There was communication happening.

Because my partner caught the first wee he was hooked too. It is hard to explain what this meant for us. A baby with a life limiting condition and developmental delays wasn’t just being cared for he was communicating his needs, it gave us all a sense of empowerment. He now communicates hunger and all sorts – I think for me anyway seeing him communicating a basic need influenced me to spend less time watching the clock for feeding times and more time listening to him. – A huge knock on effect, because he now also drinks his milk from a cup rather than just being solely tube fed.

It gives another dimension to your parenting – what could be classed as undiagnosed crying may well be a cue for needing to go to the toilet. Restless in the sling or not settling straight away is often a cue to pee or poo. I have found this an eye opener as my first would often take a while to settle or to pop on and off the breast during a feed – I see now this was him trying to communicate his need to not mess his nappy. (although I have to admit trying to potty little one whilst tube feeding is possible even though a bit of a juggling act).

The purpose of this post is not so much to tell you how to EC but more why to. And not necessarily as a ‘chuck out the nappies’ type of system either – we still use nappies, cloth and disposable, we do go nappy free a lot of the time too.

It’s another way of understanding and getting to know your baby – you always hear the old adage ‘a baby doesn’t come with a manual’ and I would agree with that – a manual is for inanimate objects, babies are far from inanimate! They do communicate their needs and it is just a case of learning their cues. EC’ing doesn’t mean rushing to the toilet every few minutes either – they don’t pee that much once you get into the swing of things and because they tend to cue very early it gives you plenty of time to get to a toilet or pull out a travel potty. Nor is it forcing a baby to do something that they are not ready to do. Many parents are aware of a baby’s cues that they are having a pee or poo in their nappy and EC is just a chance to remove a nappy so it doesn’t get soiled. It’s not something that has to be practiced full time (but you do find that there are more and more instances where you ‘catch’ a motion as you become more in tune and it becomes second nature.

It also doesn’t need lots of expensive, speicialised gear either (something a mum mentioned to me recently – I haven’t EC’d because I couldn’t afford all the special potties and pants and things) – I have only ever used old ice cream pots (the long oval ones – ie carte dior are great for boys as you don’t have that worry of overshooting), open crotch trousers can easily be made and there are patterns easily an d freely available online (just be careful how you word your searching!). Or you can just use normal clothes – there is plenty of time to remove them to catch a wee or poo. And for travel I have found these amazing fold up dog water bowls that fit nicely and neatly into a changing bag.

For more information on EC visit Tribal Baby  , Nappy Free Baby , Diaper Free Baby  and EC Simplified