We've been doing elimination communication for about a year now. EC is a potty training method that suggests you start potty training your baby DAY ONE. . If you’ve followed me on YouTube or have read any of my blogs, you know we do thing a little different. We use a Montessori floor bed, do cloth diapering, do baby led weaning, attachment parenting etc! Well, this is no different. So, here's our review of Elimination Communication (EC) and everything we've learned after a year of doing it.
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You can start from birth!
Seth and I are so glad we started EC but it didn't happen without (quite a bit) of failure and low expectations. I think if we had started from birth we would potentially be even further ahead.
If you want to start from birth there is a top hat potty for infants. The book I read to understand how to EC teaches you a lot of options how to hold your baby over the potty before they can hold themselves.
How we started elimination communication
I was reading a book called Go Diaper Free. If you’re considering starting Elimination Communication I'd highly recommend it. Andrea does a great job of cutting out the fluff and giving you exactly the information you need to know.
The book suggests when you start, you literally go diaper free and observe to learn their cues.
So around 4 months I put our daughter on a waterproof crib sheet and observed. First of all she was CRAWLING so it was challenging. Second, for the life of me could not figure out what her “cues” were. Third, we started during her 4 month sleep regression and I could. not. hang. It was hard to keep up with the million things you have to do with a newborn and running on zero sleep didn't leave much motivation to try something new, especially potty training an infant. So, I quit.
How we found success at 6 months
At 6 months, Seth suggested we try again and we did and I'm so glad we did! She did SO well!
When I read more of the book I found it also suggested trying to potty them during “transition times”. Transition times mean first thing in the morning after they wake up, after a ride in the car seat, high chair, stroller, playing, after a nap etc.
THIS was much easier and much more attainable.
You don't have to do it perfectly for it to be successful. If you're interested, just try it! And find a way that works for you. For us, this means doing EC during transition times, but not all the time.
How we do elimination communication now
I'll get more into our schedule with EC, but we catch 90% of her “potties” first thing in the morning.
At night time, we do not do EC. I was always afraid I would wake her up more by taking her to potty.
When we're out and about, we do not do EC. Unless we're hanging out at a friend or family's home, then I’ll try.
I don’t force anything. If she says she's signs “all done”, I believe her and take her off. If she doesn’t, I leave her on the potty. There’s really no pressure, I’m just excited when she doesn’t poop in a cloth diaper.
Cloth diapering and EC is truly the best combo. Disposables are also great for wicking away the liquid so baby isn’t even bothered by it, so I've heard cloth can further help to potty train them because they feel wet.
We switched to an infant toilet seat as soon as she was big enough and holy game changer. To flush and not have to wipe out a potty is incredible.
Phases. Ugh. She does go through phases! The last few days she's been in a phase. I have not caught one pee in the potty… which is unusual. But, I know that she does this sometimes and then a few days later, she’ll be back at it! So, we'll just keep trying, no pressure.
Not everyone needs to be on board (like babysitters or caregivers), just as long as you and your partner are on board. Like I said, we usually catch her pee first thing in the morning and the rest of the day is hit or miss. But, for me, the important part isn't that we catch every single elimination, it's that she feels comfortable on the potty and knows what to do when she’s on it.
She still doesn’t tell us when she has to go potty, but I just do my best to give her opportunities to go. When she sits down, she says (and signs) “potty”! This is a big win in my book. It already gives us a HUGE amount of progress on her being truly potty trained.
A day in the life
When we started doing EC again, we started catching eliminations first thing in the morning.
I always give her the opportunity to pee right when she wakes up in the morning. That one is still almost a sure deal if we're quick.
After that, since she was about 15 months, I offer the potty frequently throughout the day.
I offer it every hour in the morning before her nap.
Immediately after her nap.
Transition time or between activities in the afternoon – after naps, after carseat, stroller, high chair, etc.
Someday I get 6 potties and other days I literally get zero. Like I said, it doesn't have to be perfect.
What I will do differently next time
I will try from beginning with baby number two. I don’t regret not trying with her because your first baby is overwhelming the way it is. But, as parents we typically know when our babies about to fill their diaper. If we would have started from the beginning, we could have caught those!
My best advice if you want to try elimination communication
Be flexible and do not feel the need to do it perfectly. Any progress towards potty training is good progress.
Encourage but don't force, you don’t want to create a negative association.
“You did it” instead of “good job!” The book states this creates internal pride instead of seeking external
Make it stress free. I give her bath toys or a square of toilet paper when she’s on the potty to relax her. This is a great tip. Keeping them busy and relaxed on the potty is super helpful.
Overall, just give it a try! No harm, no foul!
Andrea, the author of Go Diaper Free also has a podcast with tons of episodes with troubleshooting!