I discovered attachment parenting when I was pregnant. Techniques like co-sleeping, breastfeeding and babywearing promised an obvious way to form a stronger bond with my baby.
And then I read about Elimination Communication (EC). It blew my mind. I remember my husband’s raised eyebrows when I told him about it. Was this a step too far? Could a helpless little baby seriously pee in a potty?
But it made sense. And it felt natural. After all we’re the only species in the animal kingdom using diapers. It didn’t take much to convince us. We were intrigued and had to try it.
So, I learned about cues, natural timing and parent’s intuition. I ordered cloth diapers and a baby potty. I had everything I needed to practice EC with my baby.
But something I read didn't make sense. The suggestion was that the most important element of EC isn't actually potty training but, communication.
What were they talking about?, I wondered.
In our fast paced, have-everything-now world, isn’t the purpose of EC to reach potty independence quickly? To reach the finish line, avoid misses, and get out of diapers as soon as humanly possible?
That’s what I assumed. But I was wrong.
It’s The Journey, Not the Destination
When our little man was only two weeks old we started EC. I planned to wait longer but he instigated it. Our baby was actively communicating. Grimacing. Grunting. And preferring to pee in an open diaper. I couldn’t ignore it given I knew he was asking for my help.
And so our journey began.
We’ve had our fair share of misses along the way - babies do pee a lot. And in the early days I sometimes felt like a failure when we had a few consecutive misses. But as time went on I began to appreciate what EC is really about.
Like all attachment parenting approaches, EC is about strengthening and deepening our connection with our children. It’s about letting them know they’re understood. That we’re listening. And their needs matter. It’s another way we can show our unconditional love. The books were right; the most important component of EC is communication.
We’re In No Hurry
I thought I’d like to be able to brag my son was diaper free at 12 months. Or that he’d take himself to the potty by the time he was 2 years old. But like all plans, life has other, better ideas.
Taking the slow and scenic route has been far more rewarding than a quick three-day-get-it-over-with potty training mission. Our son is reaching milestones with his potty habits at his own pace. Using public toilets is the last hurdle we need to tackle and I have faith we'll get there when he's ready.
EC has taken something we were dreading (years of poopy diapers) and transformed it into a unexpected opportunity to bond with our son. All three of us have loved every minute of it.
And while it sounds like an odd thing to say, I have no doubt our baby peeing and pooping in a tiny potty has brought us closer as a family.
This experience will have long-lasting positive effects on my son's attitude towards elimination and on his general health. He takes his sweet time on the potty, reading books and playing with his dinosaurs. It's not a quick on and off process in our bathroom. He enjoys it, often proudly announcing his poops. There's no embarrassment or stigma attached to it.
I'm grateful for what EC has given our family. I'd encourage all parents to try EC whatever age or stage your baby is at. It can seem a little strange at first, but that's only because our perspectives have been heavily skewed by our diapering culture.
Just like breastfeeding isn't only about nutrition and babywearing isn't only about transport, so, too, EC isn't only about elimination.
By showing your baby all communication is valid and acknowledged, you'll strengthen your connection with your child...which is the greatest gift you can give your family.
I look forward to reading your thoughts about your EC goals in the comments below...thank you!