My husband is from India where there is a very relaxed approach to toileting and potty training in general. Babies and infants are often naked (or mostly naked) since India is a very hot country. You can often see naked babies in the rural areas. One time we visited a house and the 2-year-old boy peed on the floor in the living room because he was naked. (Indian homes have concrete or tiled floors – no carpets – and open windows all day due to the heat.) My husband’s 3-year-old niece would simply pee outside in the dirt in the backyard. Waste cleanup is a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about carpets! They often don’t go through a formal potty-training process because of this relaxed, gradual approach.
In the US, some people have emphasized a somewhat similar approach to infant waste. Elimination Communication (EC) is NOT early potty training in the conventional sense. Rather, EC is simply understanding your infant’s potty cues and helping him eliminate in the toilet (as opposed to the diaper). This is EC in a nutshell.
Before my oldest daughter was born, I discovered EC and noticed the similarities with Indian customs. With my oldest daughter, we practiced Elimination Communication mostly full-time since she was a few months old. I paid close attention to her cues and caught many pees and poops in the training potty. EC has many benefits, but the biggest one for us was that over 90% of her poops were caught in a potty instead of a diaper. I cannot tell you how nice and simple this made clean up. Here are a few simple tips to help you easily practice EC with your baby.
Plan a potty trip at times when babies pee
In other words, plan to put your baby on the potty at the times when most babies pee. For example, when waking up first thing in the morning (did you know that there is a hormone that suppresses our need to pee at night – which is why most people have to pee shortly after waking in the morning); after naps; shortly after eating (although some, like my daughter, pee while eating). If you set your baby on the potty at these times, he or she will most likely have to go.
As you get a feel for when your baby needs to pee or poop, you may also notice that she gives signs that she has to go. These little signs are the “communication” part of Elimination Communication and are opportunities for you to help your baby eliminate in the toilet vs. a diaper. (For example, the infamous grunting “sign” – and face – that many babies make when they have to poop.)
Have a small potty available
I really like our little Baby Bjorn potty. I used this since my 1st daughter was 3 months old. This works well with small babies who can sit (or even before sitting by themselves if you can help them) on their own. Simple and easy – also great for car trips.
Don’t be afraid of naked time
If you have carpet this is hard, but with a waterproof mat, you can still have naked time with your baby. When you have naked time you can watch your baby and look for signs that she makes before she pees or poops. These clues help you understand your baby and signs she makes before she eliminates. This is also a great way to clear up diaper rash. Because we practiced EC, my daughter rarely had diaper rash. When she did we would let her be naked for several hours and this would heal her rash very quickly.
This is not a competition to see who can potty train the fastest. Rather, it’s a way to communicate and develop a rapport with your baby and save a few diapers. With my first daughter, I helped her poop in the potty at every opportunity. I could count on 1 hand how many times I had changed a poopy diaper from when she was 6 months old until she was completely potty trained. This was worth it to me. Another big benefit is that my daughter never freaked out about using the potty. She was never scared of it and never felt attached to her diaper and only want to poop in it. The transition to using the toilet full-time was effortless and smooth.
You can take these very simple, easy steps to try EC for yourself. I’d love to hear your experiences with Elimination Communication or answer any questions you might have.