Jan 7, 2011

Elimination Communication

Infant Potty-Training in our home

Elimination Communication is really just an alternative to conventional potty-training and it has it's own philosophy behind it too. Instead of potty training being an event, it's a process, and when children go by themselves independently they "graduate".
Elimination Communication, infant hygiene, infant potty-learning, and diaper-free baby, are all different names for the principle. I call it infant potty-training because if I call it that I don't have to explain as much. This is the website I found; http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/ . This is how I found my local yahoo group, and I'm also in the Facebook group EC-ers corner. I also read "Early Start Potty Training" at the local library. Many people who do EC use cloth diapers for back-up at first. I haven't been as scientific in my approach as they suggest, I've never set a timer or anything like that, but even so Peter usually wakes up dry.
I started when he was 4 weeks, and we've had several days with no misses. He's certainly not potty trained yet though. I just want to give him diaper free time on a waterproof sheet for a few hours a day when I can watch him and let him use training pants so I don't have to fight him with a diaper every time he uses the toilet. I don't necessarily wait for him to push. Common times for potty time are after he wakes up, after he nurses, before I go out, or if I just think he might have to go. He prefers the toilet. He still has still has two-four misses a day, but it's really a fascinating thing for my little family. Cloth diapers make it a lot easier because it helps him be aware of his elimination, and it makes it easier for me to tell when he's gone.

Equipment used for EC

Baby Bjorn Little PottyWe like the BabyBjorn little potty (pictured above) as a potty because it's so small and is one piece. We often will hold him over the toilet (like if I think he needs #2), but we like having the little potty on the bathroom cabinet, because it's a very easy level to hold him, and Peter loves looking at himself in the mirror as he goes. The BabyBjorn is easy cleanup though, even with #2.
Exercise Pants
I've found that those exercise pants, the ones that are kind of shiny and often come with a zip-up jacket, sometimes called windbreakers, are very nice for EC. They are somewhat waterproof, and when Peter wears his training pants under them and he pees, they won't leak through onto the couch or carpet when he's sitting. When he's standing there's the risk it will fall onto the floor, but just like anything else I guess. I used to not have him wear pants, but in this colder weather, this is what I've started using. These pants are common, and I've even picked up a few at the thrift store.
Split Bottom Pants
I haven’t personally used them, but I asked my sister about them when she taught English in China. This is what she said;
Split Bottom Pants!!! I love them!!! I think as far as actually potty training it just kinda happens naturally because they just wear those pants everywhere, almost always without a diaper and they go whenever they need to and they never have to adjust to an actual toilette because they use squatters. The little pants though are so endearing to just see these little children with everything hanging out.
Water-proof pads
We bought a water-proof pad for our bed and are very glad we did. We just bought it at Wal-Mart, so they're not too hard to find. It fits like a fitted sheet. As far as EC goes, We EC too, but I'm not brave enough to go nights without diapers even though he usually wakes up dry. I know there are a lot of water-proof pads out there though. The EC store has some, but I haven't purchased any.
Rubbing Alcohol and Sanitizing Wipes
If you’re going to do infant potty training (or any kind of potty training for that matter!), you’re going to want a game plan for cleaning up the misses! I like rubbing alcohol for the carpet and the couch because it sanitizes, dries quickly, and makes clean-up very easy. When I’ve told them this trick, some people have expressed concern that it would stain. While this is possible, I’ve never had any problems with it. If that’s a concern, try the alcohol first in a small corner where it wouldn’t be noticed. I love sanitizing wipes for misses on the linoleum, the toilet, or any other smooth surface your little one can conjure up.

EC Humor

I can be pretty shy about telling people about what we do. I've learned to find family restrooms because they have a toilet and a changing table in the same place. Also, many handicapped stalls have changing tables too. My worst example was when I was at Wal-mart and noone was in the restroom. Wonderful! I left Peter's stuff in a bag under the table, took him pee (If anyone asked, I could have told them), and came out less than a minute later. Someone was changing their toddler. Also a large line had come up from nowhere, so I couldn't go back. So I held my baby bottomless, trying to preserve his modesty and my dignity without having to explain. One woman gave me a weird look until I made eye-contact and she told me my baby was cute and I said thank you. I wish it was a world where I could have said "My baby just peed in the toilet!", but oh well. I'll never see any of them again anyway, and I'm optimistic that when someone hears about ec, they'll say "That's what that lady was doing!"The unwanted receptacle
For a time, Peter seemed to think that the heater vents were a good place to pee. He walked to them, looked down, and did his business, very deliberately, so I had to keep a close eye on him. For a time, I was compelled to diminishe his diaper-free time. It's sad, really, because other then the heater vent, there was no reason why he couldn't have been diaper free in the kitchen. Really, I didn’t blame him. It's white, with a hole in it, just like the sink and the toilet. There's a part of me that's glad that he's aware of his elimination, but this was a problem. Fortunately it soon passed…
Feeding the toilet
We have a play-group that recently went to the lake to feed ducks. We tore off little pieces of bread and dropped them into the water. Peter thought this was a lot of fun. That was a week ago, and almost immediately afterwords we had a potty pause (This was also partially due to using disposables over conference weekend traveling, it really set us back!). He wouldn't have anything to do with the toilet, or potty, and we had a lot of misses. Then I realized what he wanted to do. He wanted toilet paper. He tears it into small pieces and drops it into the toilet! So now I grab a few squares and hold him over the toilet and as he does his business, he tears small pieces off the paper I'm holding and drops them into the toilet. Michael (my husband) told me that while he was watching him, he reached the toilet paper and unrolled quite a bit, but then just tore a small piece off the end to put in the toilet. Knock on wood, I'll count my blessings while they last!

Adventures in Potty Land

Infant Potty-training on the go.
It becomes easier to share ec with others after you've been doing it for awhile, but at least with a 16 month old it's not as radical as taking an infant. And it's never too late to start. I liked the book "Early Start Potty-Training", it has suggestions for starting the potty-training process at any age. It has a good history of potty-traning in the USA too. When I first started ecing, I preferred changing diapers to taking Peter potty because I was so nervous about it. As my confidence grew I started doing it in public, and to tell you the truth, I was surprised at how little people seemed to notice. We were at our neighbors house, and I took off his diaper and took him into the bathroom and then came back and got him dressed again, and our neighbors didn't seem to react at all, so I didn't say anything about it. Later we were at their house and I did it again and they did ask about it, and thought it was a neat thing. But at church noone has given me a second look let alone asked about it. Maybe its because our congregation is mostly of the older generation, so it doesn't seem to be so weird to them. But I get a lot of comments about using cloth diapers! They are surprised people even still use them, let alone how convenient they are now, with snap-on covers and snappies. If only they could see the new all-in-ones! Around family, I've been very bold to tell them what we're doing, and then I do it, and that's all there is to it. In public, I know some people bring their own potties with them, I just have him go in the toilet. If we're outside in an appropriate environment I let him go outside. I do travel with the potty and if I think he has to go #2, I put a grocery bag in the potty and then throw it away.
Refusing the receptacle
I have found that Peter would sometimes simply be refusing the receptacle. We've tried to be creative, using the potty, the sink, the toilet, the bathtub, and sometimes outside when that was most convenient. Sometimes he would refuse the potty, so I would try to sound silly and say, "Do you want to go in the toilet?" If not, I would then offer somewhere else. I always thought it was funny that people let their kids go potty in the bathtub, and now I'm having some humble pie. Sometimes that's about the only place Peter will go! He loves the bathtub. Truthfully, I now keep our bathtub cleaner then I ever have before!
Nighttime EC
My experience with nighttime pottytime was that my son didn't like it very much if he was hungry, so I fed him first. Then he isn't mad that he's not being fed. After I fed him, I could take him potty without him fussing as much, and he went to sleep a lot better. If he peed during feeding, I simply changed him, but at least he wasn't angry, and I could usually get him to go back to sleep a lot easier. I learned what my son's priority was is I guess, and I would rather have him be wet for a few minutes then be upset. He usually didn't pee until he's done eating though. When I ec'd at night he mostly woke up dry. Now he's 24 months and sleeps all night, and he wakes up dry about half the time. He still wakes up sometimes and wants to go potty. My daughter usually wakes up dry, and I will only take her potty after she nurses if she fusses. If she’s wet, I’ll change her and take her potty before nursing. I’m much more relaxed about it this second time around!
EC-ing the second time
We gave birth to a new baby in March, and she was very healthy. We switched to cloth diapers when she was a week old and her chord was healing better. We have a little potty bowl we took out of a bigger potty and give her "potty-tunities" with most diaper changes and cue her when she eliminates during those changes. It's a fairly laid back approach, and is working for us. Her first catch was at 2 days old! It's cute that Peter hands me her potty when I change her diaper. He hasn't regressed with this baby, but sadly my attention to his progress has. Next week I'll put him back in underwear. I've been letting him wear one pair a day then switch to diapers.

A Laid Back Approach
I have a potty bowl I took from a larger potty that we keep by the changing table and with most diaper changes I put the bowl under her and give the cue "pssssss". I like the term "potty-tunity" for it. We've had one of two catches a day this way, but even with the times we don't have catches, it's a good way to air out their bottoms. We switched to cloth diapers when her umbilical chord was healed enough (our covers cover the belly-button), and that helps them keep an awareness of their elimination too. Also, when she "goes" during a diaper change I cue her then too. We started this with Peter when he was a month old and have saved a lot of diaper changes this way. He's not completely potty-trained yet, but he's mostly there. With Peter, he's beginning to tell me when he needs to go and when I put him on the potty he'll immediately go, so he knows what it's for but still has a little ways to go.
Going Diaper Free
The Diaper-Free Baby gave me the incentive to finally start letting my son go diaper free part time. Up until then he'd been in diapers almost 24/7. There was a testimonial in the book about how one mom thought it was easier to change her child then to fight him about putting his diaper on. This resonated with me because Peter is starting to be pretty obstinate about diapers. I bought Gerbers training pants for 18 months from clothdiaper.com (located in Utah), and even though Peter's was only six months and they were a bit big on him, they worked great. I also put a shower curtain from the dollar store with a sheet on it (so he couldn't eat the plastic!) on the floor to make clean-up easier. I think the big thing that motivated me to start was the attitude adjustment that Peter doesn't have to be potty-trained before he gets to enjoy being diaper free. If there is a miss, I'll change him, wash the sheet, and call it part of the learning process. It was exhilarating for me to put on the little training pants and recognize how much more comfortable it must be for him, not to mention how much easier potty trips have been for me. I've also been surprised at how comfortable I feel holding him diaper free. If he pees on me, I'll change my clothes. That's simple enough, and the truth is, he hasn't peed on me yet.
Where we are now
The way I do it now is I let Peter wear underwear until he soils two pair, then he wears a diaper. I used to only let him wear one, but as he is closer to “graduating” now, I feel like giving him a second chance. He was actually almost completely potty-trained for about a month after Helen was born, but has since regressed. At a recent diaper-free meet-up, we talked about how the average age children graduate is around 28 months, and although some children finish much earlier, even as early as a year or less, in practical application it seems to be later. Knowing what to expect, and putting things into perspective makes all the difference. It’s a philosophy, and a different, more gentle approach to more conventional training. Peter, and now Helen, have a very clear understanding of what the toilet is for, ec-ing is more hygienic, and every time they go in the potty we’re having enough success for me. It’s about the journey, not the destination, and if they’re completely potty-trained earlier as a result of taking this path, then that will be an added bonus.


Jess said...

We've been EC'ing for about two months now, (my daughter is almost 9 months old) She seems to have a few favorite spots where she'll crawl to, stand up and pee. she seems to be well aware of the fact that she's eliminating, but has been refusing the potty for the last couple of weeks. Now she completely refuses the potty if she has to poop. Any suggestions on getting her back onto the potty?

Tamsyn Spackman said...

Hmm. I don't have any expert advice. I would just keep trying, and if she doesn't want to use the potty, take a break and come back to it in a few weeks. In the meantime you can cue her if you know that she is "doing her business". EC is more about communication and less about the landing it all in the toilet anyway. Good luck!

Jess said...

I'm starting to think she just gets bored when she sits on the potty. We made tiny undies for her, so we can tell almost right away when she's peed. The rest of the time she's bare bottomed and i can hear it hitting my floor!! She gives me a silly little grin when i cue her, so i think we're at least doing well with that. Thanks for responding!

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