I just had a question posed to me by one of my fellow “tweeps”.
What IS this EC that you’ve been referring to on Twitter?
There are plenty of great resources out there (which I’ll list below) but here is my take on it. EC is an acronym for Elimination Communication. The other names for this practice include Diaper Free, Infant Potty Training and Natural Infant Hygiene.
I don’t remember the exact time when I first read about it but I am sure it was during my mad research phase when I was pregnant with our first daughter.
These are a couple of the beliefs around practicing EC that struck a chord with me:
- Babies are born knowing when they need to pee and poo; they just don’t communicate it in a “conventional” way (ie say “mama I need to pee”). They communicate it with signals such as body language or sounds.
- Babies can learn to voluntarily “release” their pee or poo when given the opportunity.
And these are a few of the spin offs of EC that struck a chord with me:
- I will develop a keen sense of my child’s needs by becoming aware of her elimination needs and responding to them (just like I learned about when to feed her and when to put her to sleep).
- My child will learn that her efforts at communication are effective when I respond appropriately thus making her a more settled child.
- My child will learn that going pee and poo in the potty is a normal behaviour and may be less likely to “unlearn” that her diaper is her portapotty.
- My child will not be scared of the potty or have any shame/embarrassment about using the potty.
When I potty our children, its about communication, not training and certainly not diaper free. Like most things, EC is not black and white. You do not have to give up diapering your child and live in the bathroom. Far from it. You can use diapers (though you may use less as you become more in tune with your child’s rhythms) and choose to give your child the opportunity to go on the potty as many times a day as reasonably works for you and your family.
So what does it look like for us?
Here is a typical EC day in the New & Green household:
Clare wakes up and I take her to the living room, gathering her clothes for the day, the potty and my MCU. I undress her, take her diaper off and wash her bottom. Then she sits on the potty. Most of the time, she’ll do a reasonable sized pee and a poo. She gets her bottom wiped again, has some airing out time on the floor while I go and rinse and clean the potty.
Time to change the diaper again and have a snack before morning nap. Diaper off, wash, onto the potty, maybe a pee. If no pee, then the diaper stays off while I feed her and when she starts to pull off and on we try the potty again. Usually this is a signal that she needs to pee.
Up from nap, diaper off, wash and potty. Mid-day feeding.
And you get the picture. We typically time our potty time with diaper change time and feeding time. It’s great to capitalize on a phenomenon called the gastro-colic reflex where babies tend to poop after they’ve eaten. We sometimes rely on her behavioural cues, but mostly its an event like feeding or waking that precedes the potty.
I can happily report that we rarely have a poo in her diaper and yesterday, we only used 2 diapers from morning until late afternoon as she did most of her pees and all her poos on the potty.
What is your routine, EC’ing parents?