What does it take to implement Elimination Communication (EC), and how practical is this approach for today’s mom? I spoke with Miranda and Bethany, two moms who desired to use EC with their infants.
Miranda is a mother-of-three, a stay at home mom who just birthed her youngest this past December. With a four-year-old, two-year-old and new baby at home, her house is a lively place! Miranda has breastfed all of her children, birthed naturally and enjoys baby-wearing. She discovered cloth diapering with her second baby and researched ECing while pregnant with her third.
When I asked Miranda why she was interested in EC, she said, “I wanted to be free of diapers and also to accomplish potty-training, real potty-training, in an easier way.” As an experienced mother, she knows that potty-training a toddler or preschooler can be VERY difficult, to say the least.
During her pregnancy, Miranda googled “Elimination Communication” and found tons of very helpful info online. Her reading trained her to be able to recognize an infant’s cues for elimination. She learned that the ideal time to begin EC is between 3 weeks and a few months, with early always being better.
But, things didn’t quite work out as she’d hoped when her son was born. Yes, she was able to identify her son’s cues for both urination and bowel movements! Yes, she still wanted to give ECing a try. But, Miranda found that it was just not practical for her to constantly observe her infant for cues and/or act upon her observations, all the while taking care of two other young children. As a result, best intentions aside, Miranda never did try ECing. A good mom knows her limits.
When asked if she might try ECing with her son in the future or with future children, Miranda thought not. With young children always underfoot, she just doesn’t see having the energy to EC. She would say that, for her, ECing would really only make sense with a first or second baby.
Bethany has a 3-year-old at home, along with a her son of 8 months. Like Miranda, Bethany breastfeeds her children and births naturally, but she’s a part-time working mom.
Bethany didn’t expect to EC from the get go. She had converted to cloth diapers during her first child’s toddler years. While pregnant with her second, she purchased beautiful organic cotton and wool diapers for her newborn, excited to pamper him in this way. But, as life has it, things didn’t go as planned. Her little one rashed terribly in any kind of cloth diaper (and we tried several). His little bum seems insistent on wearing those pricey and only relatively eco-friendly 7th Generation disposable diapers. Mom and dad weren’t too happy with the bill!
When she was pregnant, Bethany had read Christine Gross-Loh’s “The Diaper-Free Baby” cover to cover. Bethany is a self-described “slow reader”, but she said the book was easy-to-read and full of common sense. She felt that there wasn’t too much required to get started. She had planned to introduce EC at three months, but the distractions of life kept her preoccupied until her son was 6 months old.
Starting at 6 months, she practiced signing to him about elimination and tried to offer him the potty when possible. Being busy with her preschooler and a working mom too, Bethany found it difficult to recognize and anticipate her son’s need to eliminate. He went once or twice on the potty, but nothing much happened for quite awhile.
But, this past week, things changed! At 8 months old, he’s made huge strides in his ability to communicate in general. Putting two and two together, he’s suddenly using the potty whenever she brings him! Many times Bethany is able to recognize his signs when he’s almost ready to go and take him to the potty in time. She’s just so excited, imagining all the money she’ll save, the waste she’ll avoid and the ease of potty-training when he’s older, as opposed to the struggles most moms experience with sons.
When Bethany’s at work, she hasn’t asked her mom (who cares for her children) to attempt to EC. But, that doesn’t seem to impair her sons ability to pick it up again when she’s home. In fact, it’s a comfortable part-time practice, not an all-or-nothing skill.
When asked if she foresees ECing consistently, Bethany says, “Absolutely! We’re not going backwards from here!” Bethany says they only use about 2 diapers a day now, and even her mom is going to start practicing EC with him when mama’s at work. “I expect that he’s going to be completely potty trained by 12 months,” Bethany shares. Her confidence is bolstered by another friend who introduced EC to her 6-month-old and celebrated the completion of potty training at 12 months.