I haven’t written much lately about our adventures in Elimination Communication (EC), probably because all the travel Leone and I have been doing, the polemical issues in the news, and the joy of cloth diapering have sidetracked me. But we’ve been continuing to do EC with Leone, which we started when she was about seven weeks old.
“I wish I had known how much time it saved with my oldest,” my friend Shannon said the other day. “It just seemed like too much trouble. But then when we started doing it with our second, I realized it actually saved us time.”
What is EC? If you’ve been checking in on the blog or if you read this month’s Mothering magazine, you already know that Elimination Communication is when parents respond to a baby’s innate signals about when they need to pee or poop. You “catch” the pee or poop in a potty or chamber pot and you simultaneously make a sound (a cueing sound) so the baby starts to associate eliminating with the sound that you make every time she goes.
How Does EC Save Time? If you get in the habit of offering your baby a “Pottytunity” (I love that word, coined, I think, by my friend and colleague, Christine Gross-Loh, who wrote the article in this month’s Mothering and who has EC’ed all four of her children!) after diaper changes, before baths, and any time he or she would be diaperless, you’ll be changing many fewer diapers in no time at all.
Since you have to take the time to change them anyway, it makes sense to give them a chance to pee or poop without a diaper on.
You’ll also be especially surprised to realize that the baby will often wake up dry from naps. You save money by not needing as many diapers (if you’re using spousies) and time and money by not needing to wash as many cloth diapers (if you’re using cloth).
So How Has it Been Going with Baby Leone? Baby Leone is six and a half months old. She babbles and talks all the time now, she sits up and plays with toys, she can move herself backwards in a crawl-like way but not forwards, and she has started waving. It’s more of a hand up and then flopped down than a wave but it’s a wave.
She’s sturdy enough now that she can sit by herself on our little green Baby Bjorn potty, which she loves. The problem is that I can’t ever cue her when she’s on it and going pee because I have no idea that she’s actually peeing. But I’d say 9 times out of 10 she goes when she’s on the potty so I think she has been starting to associate the potty with peeing.
Our EC adventures are anything but consistent. Sometimes I catch all the morning pees (I find this hard to do as Leone, like most babies, pees copiously and often in the morning) and sometimes I change a lot of diapers and miss all of her signals until after she has already gone. This morning, unlike yesterday, she did all of her pee on the potty.
She also did a poop in the chamber pot. She started having little farts right before I thought she was going to take a nap. She got very still, like she does when she has to pee or poop, and seemed to be paying attention to her own internal signals. On a hunch I held her over the chamber pot. She did a huge poop, gave me a toothy joyful smile, and then finally conked out. She’s sleeping on my back as I write this post.
Last night she did not wet a single diaper. She fidgets and bicycles her legs when she needs to pee and she’s asleep. Each time she did that, I woke up and held her to my breast with her tush over the chamber pot. She peed in it without waking up, nursed a bit without enthusiasm, and settled down to sleep.
I definitely don’t have the nighttime EC’ing thing down but last night was an exception. I’ve heard from dozens of EC’ing parents that their babies tend to stay dry at night very early on. Leone has gone seven hours without wetting a diaper at night. But then the next night she’ll be peeing every hour. The only constant with babies is change.
A Word of Caution: We’ve several times knocked over a full chamber pot in the middle of the night. Either I trip over it on the way to the bathroom or Etani comes barreling in the room in the morning and kicks it by mistake. This. Does. Not. Make. Mommy. Happy. There was another unfortunate chamber pot incident when Hesperus was watching the baby and brought her to me in my office to nurse. I told her to grab the chamber pot. She did but did not empty out the contents, which ended up all over me and my office couch. There’s nothing like cold pee to put a writer on deadline into a seriously bad mood. Poor Hesperus, who noticed the pot was full but didn’t think to empty it, got an earful that time.
“EC is messier than some people make it out to be,” one reader emailed me. I think that’s true. I don’t think you can do full-time EC if you’re uptight about getting baby pee on the floor or on your clothes, but you can still do it very successfully part-time.
Now please pardon me while I go clean the poop out of the chamber pot.
If you did EC with your children or are doing it now, do you have any words of wisdom or practical advice to share? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.