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EC (Elimination Communication) Update

LeoneOnThePottyI 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.

Interested in a dad’s point of view about EC? James just wrote this short blog post (and used the same picture, unbeknownst to me) on our Baby Bonding Book For Dads blog.

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.

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Tags: baby potty, baby pottying, catches, chamber pot, EC, elimination communication, how to do EC, how to use Elimination Communication, misses, pottytunities, six and a half months old

Comments (37)

No experience with EC, but whoa, that's one cute baby!
Great work, as always, Jennifer! I think it's awesome that you're so committed to EC -- you're ten times the mother I am! After four kids, including one still in diapers, the keenest insight I seem to have is: "Beware the child suddenly hiding behind the drapes, for he/she is surely about to poop." Beyond that, my greatest potty-related triumphs seem to be FINALLY getting my 8-year-old son to stop peeing "near" the toilet, and getting 2-year-old Elie to refrain from pooping in the tub. If only they gave out medals for this stuff... :0) Leone is a doll, by the way! As one of my writer friends once put it about another baby, "She looks like an edible pixie."
I find this simply amazing! That a baby 6.5 months old can stay dry all night!!!! Of course, Leone looks like on very happy baby, a baby who could do anything. It must be wonderful for her to be able to release that poop without having to endure the old, "load in the diapers". Good job, Leone, in getting a Mom who will work with EC.
Today I was nursing my diaper-less 4 1/2 month old, (we usually use diapers, but also experiment with diaper-free time), while trying to work in my home office. This definitely does not qualify as paying attention to EC signals! Of course I ended up with pee all over my office chair. Hurray to Leone for the dry night!
She is super cute! We used to have a little potty like that for Jake and we encouraged and experimented with EC, although we weren't very consistent. Still, he potty learned early. .-= Lauren Ware´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.
jennifer. i'd never heard of this. can't wait to see what happens! thanks for sharing.
jennifer, Aside from the obvious benefits of EC, I think this might prove to be an early stage exercise in learning commitment and responsibility. Just a thought. Whatever. It is amazing.
I was in China last month and saw the little outfits that they use for EC and saw a few babies just pooping and peeing all over with no care and realized that I think we are kind of hung up in the US about our "Business". LOL. Thank you for this honest article about EC and for admitting how messy it is sometimes.
Jennifer, it's great to read your update! Since my Anna is just a little older than yours it's always fun for me to hear how Leone is doing. For nighttime, have you considered putting a potty (I'm not sure what kind of chamber pot you're using, but a Baby Bjorn potty should not tip over easily - it can, however, slide across the floor and pee can splash out of it if you accidentally kick it in the middle of the night) on top of something that is skid proof? A rubber mat or even upon a towel, which is not skid proof but would soak up any spills. Another trick some people do is to put a washcloth or some bit of cloth inside the potty to soak up nighttime pees. This does though make it hard to tell if your baby has peed. I guess the only other thought I have is that I often empty a potty right after the baby has used it. Most pees go directly in the toilet, though. Oh, and by the way, I didn't coin the word pottytunity! .-= Christine at Origami Mommy´s last blog ..Happy May Day =-.
Jennifer - This is the most practical and honest article I've read about EC. We didn't try it, but I did read about it and consider it. Honestly, I just didn't think I could be consistent about it and didn't know that a person could go about it "part-time." I might've done things differently if I'd known about that. I agree with Alma that we are quite uptight about our "business," but....I must admit that I am, too. Having to deal with the messiness factor of EC would not be a good fit for my temperament. Great reading, though. I look forward to updates (and yes, Leone is freakin' adorable!) .-= Codi´s last blog ..Aaaaand….We’re Back =-.
Thanks for the update! I enjoy hearing about other babies close in age to my daughter. Love the pictures! I can totally see how going diaperless would be messy. For us, doing part-time EC has been much easier and far less messy. It's so much quicker to rinse out the potty than to carefully wipe all baby's creases and folds, then soak the poopy diaper. I'm spoiled- I only have to deal with occasional wet diapers, and I'm fine with that! We're somewhere between full-time ECing with diapers as backup and part-time ECing, but it's a realistic compromise that works for us :) .-= Mama Em´s last blog ..Drop-Side Cribs Legislation =-.
When my girls were babies, I was too intimidated to try EC. I'm glad there is such a plethora of information nowadays.
I am about to start the whole diapering journey all over again with the birth of boy #2 and have been considering trying EC, along with our cloth diapers. I think I'll be a little to casual about it for it to be fully effective, but maybe we can "catch" a few pees and save some laundry. And yes, that is one cute baby! .-= Nicole J.´s last blog ..GIVE AWAY ALERT! Etsy is a Green Mama's Best Friend =-.
This was so amazing being a 44 mother of a 9 and 8 year old - I did not even know this was out there. I wish I would have doen this with my children- dry all night - love that. Jennifer can not wait to here more and get the offical date that she is out of diapers.
Christine, thanks for the suggestion. The only way Baby Leone will pee at night is if I nurse her with her tush over a bowl. She won't go in any other position (she gets mad and screams if I try) so the little chamber pot actually works well. It does have some skid proofing on the bottom. It's actually a plastic mixing bowl I bought for a dollar. It's just when my six-year-old comes rushing in in the morning that the accidents happen... Who DID coin the term potty-tunity? It's such a great word. This afternoon I had to drop off a contract with an editor on the campus of the college that is five blocks from our house. Leone came with me. Afterwards I offered her a pottytunity: I sat on the bench, peeled off all her layers (it's been cold here) and she very obligingly and happily peed in the grass. EC continues to amaze me, as does my baby girl.
Im glad to see so many people interested in EC!!! little baby Phoenix (5.5 months) has been doing well with it, we just bought her first little bjorn potty which is pretty much the best purchase I have made as a mom, and she is taking to it like a champ :) however it has made me exceptionally lazy because I no longer need to stop what Im doing, get up, grab her and run like hell to the nearest toilet every time she has to go...Another recent acheivement for her is that she has been verbally cueing me so although there are still times that Im distracted and recieve a special present in my lap our EC endeavors continue to delight and enchant me and keep getting easier almost weekly! Thats what I call rewarding
We're ECing our second child. (Our son was potty trained by 18 months after ECing from birth). She's 7 1/2 months old. Some days I can go to town and pee her in public bathrooms and put the same dry diaper back on her multiple times. She does pretty well with pooping in the potty too. It's really more a matter of us paying enough attention to her signals. If I'm busy with my 3 year old, I often miss the opportunity to pee her. It's pretty easy to catch morning pees and the ones right after nursing. Right after she wakes up from a nap is also a good time, as long as she's not too sleepy. I like the idea of holding her over the potty while holding her to the breast when she's tired or sleeping. I love using split crotch pants and a prefold cover at home, or a prefold belt. Continuumfamily.com carries these EC products. They make changing wet diapers really fast and make giving potty opportunities so much easier b/c you don't have to remove all those clothes. Naked time hasn't been a real option in our cold house this winter and spring.
The site is Continuum-family.com
I miss many things about my now-grown babies. This ain't one of them. :)
I did EC with my oldest son who is now 2 and a half starting when he was six weeks old. He was so regular that I didn't have to change a poopy diaper EVER until he began crawling and became disinterested in sitting on the potty-- everything else he could crawl to was too interesting. So I thought it was so much cleaner than spraying out poopy cloth diapers. He learned to pee on cue at about 2 months old (if I remember right). All of this ECing was so nice... but once he started crawling everything changed and he still now at two and a half is not potty trained! It could be that we had to switch to using disposable diapers because in our humid climate he would get a heat/sweat rash. ... but I am really not sure if the early ECing made any difference except to make my life easier with not having to wash poopy diapers and fewer pee diapers. Now with my second child, we did not EC at all and he is showing a little bit of interest for peeing and pooping on the potty. For me, life was just too overwhelming with two babies fifteen months apart, so ECing was out of the question because it does take time to notice body cues and time to stop everything and sit the little butt on the potty. I love the idea of EC, but it just didn't seem to make a difference for us in the long run. That's just my opinion for my family only, so I cheer anyone on who wants to do it.
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