Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Elimination Communication

After a few questions (and a comment telling me to "stop potty training Hana and let her be a baby!") I thought I'd try to give a bit of an explanation of Elimination Communication (EC).

Diapers have not always existed, nor are they used globally. EC is a natural way to deal with infant elimination (bowls and bladder) without diapers. However, most North Americans who EC do use diapers as a back up method, tho generally with baby on the diaper instead of diaper on the baby. This makes it easier to see when there's a "miss" and to better understand the signals.

Babies from birth signal before they eliminate. It could be a grimace or relaxed look on the face, wiggling to a certain position, making a certain noise, whatever. If you catch these signals and hold baby over an appropriate "potty" (bowl, toilet, sink, whatever...), they learn their communication is effective and over time will refine it.

There are different windows where it's recommended to start EC, but it can be done at any time, so long as the care giver is patient and observant. This is NOT the same as "infant potty training" where restraints or punishment are used in order to teach the child when to hold and when to release. It's very gentle and responsive to the baby's own body needs.

With Hana we EC part time. We actually started using a potty when she was almost 6 months old (when she could sit unassisted), but really started doing it when she was about 3 months. Hana had issues with her formula and was very constipated. Every night we would have "naked time" before bed and that's usually when she pooped. After a few weeks, she would not poop in her diaper, but would whine, cry, struggle etc. until we took it off. She trained us pretty well.

About a week before we bought the potty I was talking to a member of my babywearing group, her daughter is only a couple weeks older than Hana and had been ECed since birth. She said they went through only a couple of diapers a day. Less diapers means less wash, so it sounded pretty good to me, especially since we had already learned Hana's signals.

Last month Ben, Hana and I went away for the night to a church retreat, and forgot to bring the potty. Actually, it wasn't so much forgot as we didn't even think to bring it with us because she was so young. She didn't poop at all that weekend and was quite uncomfortable. When we got home we put her on the potty and within 5 minutes she felt MUCH better.

We're a little slack with catching Hana's pees, but she's teaching us to pay more attention. She's gone 3 hours with a dry diaper today, which is amazing considering the ammount of fluids we're filling her with because of the heat. She whines when she needs the potty, and goes within a minute or two of being put on it. It really is amazing that she's picked up on it so quickly. Then again, if you had the option to not sit in your own pee you'd probably learn pretty quick too.

Hana likes her potty. She'll sit there for a few minutes and play with her toys, and we take her off once she's done. There's nothing difficult or harsh about it at all. Every day I'm more amazed at her abilities, her personality and her ability to communicate her needs.


Elliott said...

very interesting. I'll have to read and talk to more people about EC.

As far as other peoples opinions though, forget about em. I don't nec. agree 100% with AP (though I do love the AP inspired Koala Wrap we just got), but that's my desicion, just like you have made yours. As long as our kids end up healthy and with their needs met, who gives a flying fart what other pople think?

So live and let live!

delicatefaun said...

wow steph! i am so glad you posted this! kudos to you and ben for having the patience and eye for all the signs that hana gives. i think it is great that hana is using the potty. hooray for demonstrating what our babes are capable of teaching us!

Richards' said...

I applaud you for doing this! If I was able to stay home with Gabby, I would have done the same.. Chris would rather change diapers.... I get to be Stay at home mommy this time around, so I may try this out! Gabby is in the pre stages of potty training now!