How to Save Money and Diapers With Elimination Communication
For those of you who have never heard the term “elimination communication” before, let’s define it first. Elimination communication (aka infant potty training, natural infant hygiene, and diaper free) is the practice of learning your baby’s potty cues and schedule to teach her that pee and poo go in the toilet, to start the connection early on.
Some of you may be thinking Why would you make a baby use the toilet so young? Just let them be babies! They’ll learn it eventually. And while learning it will come one way or another, the longer you wait to train your child, the harder it will be. As a child gets older, he starts to form opinions, have ideas about how he wants to spend his day, what he wants to wear, etc. As a former preschool teacher to 2-4-year olds, I am very familiar with both the opinions and the struggle. So what happens when your child is two or three-years old and is fighting you every step of the way because he has an opinion about it? What would you say if I told you it doesn’t have to be like that?
Potty training always seems to be the bane of parents’ existences. Every parent I’ve spoken to has given a big sigh and heavy shrug at the mere mention of potty training. It is the most dreaded of all the life skills they must teach their children. The thing about potty training, though, is that it is just another skill that children are going to learn, like walking or talking! In fact, even having your baby pee and poo in a diaper is training! Think about it: by expecting them to go in a diaper, you are teaching them that it is where “it” goes; you are setting the expectation that you will later expect them to break by making the same connection to the foreign concept of a toilet.
Fortunately, you can make the potty training process easier (and most likely to happen sooner) by teaching your infant elimination communication (EC).
Here are some of the many benefits to using EC:
- It’s cleaner for your baby’s bum, not sitting in his filth, which also means less diaper rash and, therefore, less chemicals on your sweet one!
- It’s cheaper because you use fewer diapers, and therefore better for the environment!
- It may explain inexplicable behavior from your baby–maybe she eliminates when she’s trying to fall asleep or when she stops feeding or is generally fussy from being wet.
- It gives your baby the continued awareness of when he needs to eliminate–believe it or not, babies know when they need to go starting from day one. They are aware of the feeling in their bodies and EC grows their confidence and body awareness, making potty training easier because they are attentive to their urges.
- It builds your relationship and trust with your baby–just like breastfeeding helps you to cue in to the signs when your baby is hungry, using EC to learn when she needs to go builds your confidence in “listening” to her, as well as her trust that you are in fact listening and there to help.
- Your child will potty train early (most likely). Elimination communication is a means for your child to “tell” you when she needs to go, which then means that she will (likely) start to use the toilet on her own, being that the toilet is where she has been eliminating for the majority of her life.
- It honors your child’s dignity to trust he knows when he has to eliminate and that he is in charge of her body. He can potty train because he is smart and capable, and you respect that he’s the only one who knows what’s happening in his body.
So where do you start with elimination communication? You begin by watching your baby’s cues for when she needs to pee and poo. Does she make a particular face? Or sound? Or does she put her hand in her mouth? These are the kinds of things you will be looking for in the beginning so you can catch the moment later.
Then you assign a sound for both occurrences–like “psss” for pee and “hmmm” for poop. Your baby will associate these sounds with the actions, giving her something to “tell” you when she needs to do either elimination. You can also add the sign language for both eliminations! The more ways she learns to tell you she has to go, the more likely you will both feel successful.
As you start to pick up her cues, you will be able to take her to the toilet to associate the idea that the toilet is where we eliminate. (For an infant sized toilet, check out The Baby Potty. The more you look for her cues and the more that she communicates with you, the more success you both will have! You will both build confidence and benefit from the time spent together.
Of course there are negatives that come with elimination communication, and it’s only fair that you know them:
- It will take more time and dedication, but only in the beginning! But this is just like anything else we learn!
- There will be more messes while you and your baby are starting off in the process. But the same happens when your child starts potty training at two-years old, and those messes are bigger!
- It can feel lonely using elimination communication when no one else around you is. But stay the course! There are thousands of moms that are using this method and online groups you can join for support and encouragement! (And it could be an amazing opportunity for you to share your knowledge and experience with those who think it’s impossible.)
Some EXTRA inspiration!
People in countries all over the world train their child using elimination communication every single day. Only those parents don’t call it elimination communication, because it is just how they do it. There are no diapers and wipes that they buy from the store and roll up to discard in the trash. They start learning their babies’ cues early and take them to the toilet to eliminate. It is possible, and it is freeing, for everyone!
Remember that potty training and elimination communication are learning opportunities for your child, just like walking and talking! If you feel frustrated around your child’s potty training, your child feels it too. When your infant uses the toilet, give a clap, or a cheer, or do a dance in the mirror! Do whatever you want to show your little one that he did an amazing thing–like a first step or first word!
For potty training materials you may need, check out Tiny Undies.
FUN FACT: The “child-oriented approach” to potty training began in 1961 when Proctor and Gamble were test-marketing the first disposable diaper and needed a pediatrician to promote their product. P&C found Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and he began to tell the parents “…not [to] begin potty training before children are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready” (courtesy of Early Start Potty Training). Which means kids are in diapers longer and P&C sells more diapers, making more money. Wow, do they know how to pull at a parent’s heart string or what? You will find, however, that children who use the elimination communication method are physically, mentally, and emotionally strong as a result of it, and do not suffer because of it.
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