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Our Journey to Elimination Communication

by Shirley
(South Africa)

If I look back, I have to admit that at the beginning of our elimination communication story, I was an EC skeptic!

First Encounter

Infant Potty TrainingMore than twelve years ago, when my first baby was a mere 4 months old, I witnessed my nephew of the same age, practicing EC with his Chinese grandmother. This was my first 'encounter' with elimination communication.

One morning, I witnessed her placing a small bowl under my nephew and giving a two-tone whistle and voila! he performed by emptying his bowel into the bowl.

I was astounded as I had never before witnessed anything like this. A few months later, they visited us in our home, and again I saw her remove his diaper, give the whistle cue and he urinated into the toilet bowl.


I was still under the misinformed impression that babies have no awareness of their bodily function and so I decided that this must be a reflex reaction when the diaper is removed.

I considered myself very well-read about babycare - and for a first time mom, I still think I was well-informed - but like most western mothers, I had never seen, heard of or encountered anyone practicing elimination communication.

I know that at some point I definitely had thoughts along the lines of "Oh, please, just let babies be babies!"

I had witnessed too many parents trying to rush their children to achieve milestones, especially with regards to homeschooling, so I was still skeptical. I thought they were rushing a process that would come naturally when the toddler was developmentally ready for potty training.

However, I was told that EC is widely practiced in China...could all the babies in China just have good reflexes?

At some point I became informed. I read extensively about EC on the internet and I discovered that babies are aware of their body functions, but that by using diapers, they are conditioned to ignore them. By the time my fourth baby was born, I decided to try elimination-communication.

My First Elimination Communication Story

When my 4th baby was 2 weeks old, my husband and I visited China on a business trip and he came along. There I saw lots of toddlers in split crotch pants, all diaper free.

A few weeks later, back home again, I started trying elimination communication with relative success. By three months of age, I found that if I removed my baby's diaper first thing in the morning and put him on the potty, he'd do a poo and that would save me a dirty diaper!

I mostly let him be diaper free during the day, and we had quite a few 'catches' but probably equally as many, or more 'misses' and eventually, I found myself having to change his clothes and mine too many times a day. We were heading into the winter months and so the volumes of laundry were becoming a problem and I resorted back to diapering.

However, I still encouraged him to use the potty in the morning and at bathtime...but that was the extent of EC with him.

Second Elimination Communication Story

infant potty trainingWhen my next baby arrived, also a baby born in the fall, going into winter, I decided not to go diaper free, but to keep her as clean and dry as possible, use the potty frequently, and teach her hand signs, and make a verbal cue each time she went on the potty.

Again, I'd place her on the potty in the mornings, at bath-time and some other times and praise her if she performed...but that was all. Surprisingly, this child was fully potty trained the earliest of all my children so far. She was diaper free day and night by 18 months.

...and now we're doing it again!

With my 6th baby, Jason, I have decided to practice part-time EC diligently from birth. This involves using cloth diapers as back up, but frequently offering him opportunities to eliminate without a diaper.

I believe that cloth diapers are a good choice as he can feel when he is wet better than with disposables.

I am learning his timing, cues and using verbal cues and praise to re-enforce his body functions.

I have finally realized that the goal is not to be diaper free and have a 100% catch rate every day, but rather to practice healthy infant hygiene and build this area of communication with my son.

I have been very pleased with our progress.

25 September 2010

Today he is 16 days old. We have an average of about 4 catches per day, with the maximum so far being 6. Today, we caught his first real poo when we held him over the toilet. Whoo-hoo - excitement over poo!!!

Even my two eldest children, Lucy (12) and Jon-Jon (10) have had successful catches, so the family is joining in with EC.

Yesterday, at one time when Jason woke up and I knew he'd need to wee, the tiled passage floor was wet from being mopped, so we couldn't get to the bathroom, so he had his first wee in the flowerbed outside! Isn't that cute?

03 October 2010

EC Success

At 20 days old we captured a picture of our EC success at the bidet in the bathroom.

Jason is 24 days old and I am so pleased with how well our EC is going. We are all starting to recognize his protest-like behavior/body language when he needs 'to go'.

We are catching more and it is especially nice to 'catch' the poos and flush them away, rather than have to clean all the crevices between his legs.

I think he is also starting to use body language to indicate when he DOESN'T need to wee, when we hold him in position to do so. He seems to kick and try to bring his legs closer together.

When he does need to go, he often seems to quieten and lean back a little as if to relax. It is so amusing to see him startle himself with the noise of passing 'wind'!

Yesterday we had our first full day out, practicing EC, as I attended a seminar in Cape Town. I was pleased that even though we used a few disposables, we had a good few catches and avoided some dirty diapers.

Our growing success is really encouraging.

14 October 2010

Jason is five weeks today. We've had some 'bad' days where we hardly caught anything, because we were too focused on other activities than on him...and then we've had other days where we've done really well and caught a lot.

I say 'we' because my three older children, age 12, 10 and 8 are helping me too. They also take him to the bathroom to change him and offer him an opportunity to relieve himself.

I am using disposables at night with a fleece lining so he feels dry, even when wet, as he sleeps so well that I don't want to disturb him by opening his clothing and making him cold.

17 October 2010

This was at last a day that was warm enough for me to let Jason go nappy-free (diaper-free).

I had been feeling like he has been in diapers so much that he might be getting used to misses in a nappy.

Well, at 3pm I took off his diaper and after a catch and a feed, he fell asleep on my chest. A while later when he awoke, I had forgotten that he was diaper free! I quickly gave him an opportunity to go outside and he did!

Later he behaved like a text-book EC baby - when he needed to eliminate he fussed and only defecated when I held him in the right place and right position in the bathroom. I was delighted.

We continued the rest of the day, catching both #1's and another #2 until bedtime at 11pm. I was really delighted by our successful nappy-free day and my husband was suitably impressed with his son's performance too. Being a week-end, we had a quiet day home and I was not distracted by other happenings and remained aware of my baby's needs.

I tried it again the next day, but being a week day, there were homeschool lessons, chores and other distractions and we had about 3 misses before I opted back to diapers again.

31 October 2010

I can't believe it. This morning at 07h00 Jason's nappy was still dry. I checked it and re-checked it in case I had missed a wet spot. I even smelled it to check if it has perhaps dried out during the night... it was perfectly clean and dry!

He is just past 7 weeks old.

I then held him over the bidet to wee, as I usually do and - nothing. I waited a bit and then tried again, still nothing. I knew he had to go first thing in the morning after a dry night, so I then placed him on the plastic potty and he did.

This dry night was very encouraging as we have been having a lot of misses in the day lately. We have had family visiting and so have not been so tuned in to Jason.

Our Journey to Elimination Communication - continued>>

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May 27, 2015
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