Of Potty Pauses

We started using elimination communication (EC) with Leone, who’s almost ten months old, when she was just seven weeks old.

I’d never known anyone who had a diaper-free baby or who practiced elimination communication until my friend Lizzy loaned me Ingrid Bauer’s Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene and told me about some of her friends who successfully raised their children without using diapers.

At the same time, I discovered that the nation’s expert on elimination communication, Christine Gross-Loh (author of The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative), was part of an on-line writing group I belonged to.

Sometimes the universe gives you signs.

James and I are converts and we both wonder why we didn’t learn about this sooner, since EC actually saves you time and money and is an amazing way to connect and bond with your baby.

Everything was going along swimmingly. We were “catching” (that’s the lingo) 95 percent of Leone’s poops, washing far fewer diapers, and feeling very much in sync with our baby. We noticed that we were using less water. And since we make our own laundry detergent and have a healthy stash of raggedy diapers from the older kids, we were spending very little money on laundry.

Catching the pees has been a little trickier since for some reason this baby feels very relaxed and happy on my back (which is how I carry her most of the time, in an Ergo Baby carrier) and often doesn’t give any signal when she needs to urinate but just happily goes. Still, we’ve always been able to catch the (often copious) pees first thing in the morning and usually after naps.

Then Leone went through a potty pause. Kind of like a nursing strike, a potty pause is when a baby absolutely does not want to go on the potty.

Leone’s potty pause meant that she would scream as if being stabbed by a thousand knives if you so much as held her in the potty position.

She continued to happily use the potty first thing in the morning but absolutely refused all other pottytunities (I love that word, it means opportunities to go potty).

At issue was the position. She was busy practicing standing. She was busy pulling up on furniture. She did not want to be bothered staying for one single second with her legs cocked being held over the toilet OR sitting for one single second on her little green potty.

After a couple of trying days I realized that Leone would happily stand in the bathtub. Since we can often tell that she needs to pee based on timing, we started putting her in the tub where she would coo and babble and smile and bounce up and down as she hung onto the side and then obligingly go pee, pausing in her bouncing to look curiously at the yellow stream, when she was good and ready. The standing up pottying worked outside as well, as long as I could find something for her to hold onto.

During the potty pause, Leone had no patience for pooping on the potty. And pooping standing up, as you might imagine, doesn’t really work. So for the first time since she was seven weeks old she started pooping about 50 percent of the time in a diaper.

But just as quickly as it started, the potty pause was over. Now she’s very happy to sit on the potty. She almost always looks at me and makes a sort of strained face when she needs to poop. And I can even sit her directly on the toilet sometimes, which always leaves me gleeful.

We still aren’t completely diaper free because if I put her on my back without a diaper, even if she just went pee, she will often pee on me. I don’t really like being peed on…

Still, I heart elimination communication, potty pauses and all.

If you’re practicing elimination communication, have you experienced any potty pauses? How did you deal with them? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Related posts:
Athena Catches a Pee (Sort of)
EC Update
In Sync, Out of Sync: A Dry Night


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