A day in the life: ECing a mobile baby – What it looks like in our home
Today we’re going to stroll through a day of doing Elimination Communication with a mobile baby.
Is your baby starting to pull up, rock on all fours, or show other signs that full-on mobility is just around the corner? Are you wondering how EC might change once your baby is mobile...or what a full day (that includes pottying your baby) might look like?
Well, you aren't alone in wondering. And yes, things will change! In some ways EC becomes easier, and in others there are new challenges to tackle. Today I’m going to give you another little peek into my home, and how we do EC all day long with our mobile baby, Twyla.
This is the second in a three-part series where I’ll share what a typical day of EC in my household looks like...newborn, mobile, and toddler. Stay tuned for next week where we’ll look at a day with a young toddler in our home...specifically, Branson. (In case you missed them, here are the newborn and young toddler episodes.)
You will learn:
- What I do first thing in the morning
- How I incorporate pottytunities into our routine
- What we do during outings
- What receptacles we use with our mobile baby
- A few tips from our listeners
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- Free Observation Log
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- EC Classic Hold
- Ergo Baby Carrier
- Episode 39 - Moving from in-arms to a potty
- Episode 40 - Transitioning to the Big Toilet
- Bringing Up Bebe Book
- Easy Catch #1
- Easy Catch #2
- Easy Catch #3
- Easy Catch #4
- Kushies Waterproof Pad
- Biodegradable Diaper Backup
- Top Hat Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Mini Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Easy Start Guide for EC (Free Download)
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast, where we're all about helping you potty your baby as early as birth with elimination communication. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five EC’d babies. This is episode 55, A day in the life: ECing a mobile baby, what it looks like in our home.
So last week, in episode 54, we covered what a day in the life of ECing a newborn baby looks like, and I gave you some idea of what the cycle could be, and what your day might look like, and how it could possibly go. This week, we're going to talk about the same thing with a mobile baby, and it is vastly different. So let's dive right in.
Lucky for me, I currently have a mobile baby. She is almost eight months old, Twyla, and she is my last baby. And through helping all of the people in our community all over the world, hundreds of thousands of parents, start EC, what our experience is that I'm about to share is pretty similar to a lot of parents' experience. Except that I'm not doing EC just part-time, I'm doing EC with a full-time awareness, but I'm not trying to catch everything, so in that respect, it is part-time. Like, I really go for wakeup pees, and fusses, and clear signals, and the rest of them, we kind of just let the diaper get it because she's still working on stuff developmentally. So you can do EC part-time, and it doesn't have to look like the way we do it, but this can give you an idea of what it could look like.
So when Twyla wakes up, she's in the other room now. As I mentioned in the last episode, when we realized we were on the futon and she had the whole queen bed to herself after co-sleeping for three or four months, we moved her to her own crib, and that helped because we were waking her up when we put ourselves to bed, and it just felt like a good move, and it was great. So now she wakes up, she's in the other room now. We have a baby monitor that's right by my head. I can hear her, and actually, before she wakes up in the middle of the night, I get this intuition about five minutes before and I wake up and I go to the bathroom, and I kind of expect her to wake up, so it's kind of a neat connection even through this whole other floor of the house that I can feel and sense when my babies are shifting and waking up. Sometimes I'll even have a dream that the baby's peeing, and then I'll wake up, and then she'll cry out because she needs to pee.
So babies wake up not because they need to pee, but because they've woken up for whatever reason, and then their bladder fills, and then they need to pee and they want to eat for comfort probably, or maybe for nutrition, depending on their age. So all that aside, our personal experience, my baby wakes up, I hear her on the monitor, I go to her immediately. I don't wait. Probably in a few months, definitely in a few months, I will wait to see if she resettles because she won't any longer really need the nutritional benefits of eating at night, she can just handle sleeping at longer lengths, and I do expect that because that's been our experience. And I will give a five minute pause, per the Bringing up Bebe French parenting book that I read. I find that that really helps if I'm wanting them to start sleeping through the night, that five minute pause gives them the chance to settle back to sleep.
But at eight months, five months, six months, seven months, nine months, I would say that I feel comfortable going immediately because I know even if I wait a few minutes, I'm going to go up there and it's going to be a warm wet diaper and I will have just missed it and I feel bad about that. So she wakes, I hear her, I go immediately, I offer the potty. There's a bathroom and a sink because we have a farmhouse, and when we remodeled it, we put a sink in each room, and there's a Jack and Jill bathroom in between that has a corner toilet and a strangely positioned tub because we didn't have a lot of room to work with, but lucky for me, I have a sink right there with a night light.
So I go to her, get her out of her crib, bring her to the sink, hold her in classic EC position over the sink. If she's fussy or distracted, I turn on the water just a little bit. I put my hand down there to see if she starts peeing if I have the water on because I can't hear it, and she usually will pee. And that's in the middle of the night. In the daytime, obviously I can see it. So she wakes up, I go to her immediately, I offer the potty, I run the water, that helps her relax, I put a fresh diaper on if it's already wet, which it usually is a little bit wet in the morning, the final wake up, because she's sleeping lighter. I will nurse her and rock her because the distractions of a busy household with five kids definitely get her to pop off like crazy and she won't get her full feed in in the morning unless I do it privately in the room, so thank goodness for my blessing of a wonderful husband, he's making breakfast and dealing with the other kids while I nurse her.
I bring her downstairs, and we go on with our morning. But however, during this nursing, I have to mention, if she starts to bear down because she didn't poop at 5:30 like she usually does, if she starts to bear down during nursing, I notice and I feel and I wait for her to push again, and if I see she's looking at me and pushing, I stop nursing, and I will take her to the sink and offer her again, and I will let her poop in the sink. It's my preference, but you know what? It's my sink. You can do whatever you want with your sink, I'll do whatever I want with my sink. But I always grab the poop out, put it in the toilet, and sanitize with a bleach wipe afterwards.
What it helps me to do is, in the mirror, I can actually see her sphincter acting, and I can see if she's got poop, if she's constipated, if she's finished pooping or not. It gives me a lot of information to do it in front of the mirror. I guess if you wanted to put a mirror on the back lid of your toilet seat, you could do that if you really prefer using your toilet, and holding her in the classic EC position, with her back leaned up against mine, her hands underneath her thighs. You can see a picture of that on my website or in my book. That allows and puts the baby into a position of a deep squat, helps the poop come out much more easily, and doing it standing up for me is easier on my back, personally.
You can also put a short stool in front of the toilet and sit on it yourself while you hold baby in EC position over the toilet, if you prefer to use a toilet. But I'm okay with that, I'll pause nursing, I'll go and offer, and then I'll come back and finish nursing because even if they don't pop off at this stage, as a newborn, they'll pop off to go to the bathroom. Mobile babies typically will stay latched, and will either bite you or they'll just sort of bear down while nursing. So I stop for that because if I'm eating a meal, I definitely stop to go poop. This is silly to say, but I don't poop in my seat because I don't want to leave the breakfast table. I get up and I go to the bathroom where it goes. So I want to teach that at an early age, and I don't want to clean it up.
So if she bears down, I do that. Then, I bring her downstairs and I set her down with a toy basket with lots of different toys and textures and things that she's allowed to play with, and I put it next to her with a pillow behind her in case she topples over because she's just learned how to sit and she's trying to learn how to crawl. This gives her a lot of play time and crawling time. I don't put her naked over a waterproof pad at this time because she is able to go move a lot, and I don't want my carpet to get wet, but I do put her in a biodegradable diaper backup, typically. Sometimes, I will do a cloth diaper backup as well.
So set her there with her toy basket, go help my husband make breakfast, prepare lunches for the kids for the day for preschool. When she yells out, that means it's potty time. Sometimes we ignore her, which we call part-time EC and she calms back down and she keeps playing and she's going in her diaper. The next time she needs to go, she yells out even louder, or especially if she needs to poop, she starts to scream, and she doesn't get hysterical because she knows we're going to come to her and she looks to us to come to her, so we come to her in the midst of all this chaos of getting five kids ready for the day.
We offer the potty, and then it's her time to eat breakfast usually, so we put her down in her little high chair thingy with her little tray in front of her. But before we do that, we want to make sure we’ve pottied her, so whether she's signaled or not, whether we've caught something or not, we always want to make sure we've done a fresh pottytunity and a fresh diaper before putting her in the high chair to feed her. Then, we feed her her solids and some of her baby food, either pre-made or stuff I made myself. We give her some water, and then when she is getting fussy and she starts turning her face like she doesn't want another bite or she starts throwing things, breakfast time is over. We take her to the potty and offer.
Usually, she's already wet. In the high chair, usually they're really relaxed and they just go, and it's okay because that would be considered part-time as well. We're not full on, every single time, I'm going to catch every pee. If you try to do that, you're going to get really disappointed. But she fusses, she's done eating, we offer the potty one more time, and then we put her back next to her basket, maybe a fresh basket of toys that she can play with. The kids start playing music, they say, "Alexa, play nursery rhymes." Or whatever, or Paw Patrol, or whatever they want to play. Sometimes “The Fart Song.” Did you know that there is one? Yes, there is one. If you ask Alexa to play it, she'll play it. But they play music and they start dancing, and the baby dances, and they have a really good time before school starts.
When she's done with the toys, though, and she starts to fuss again, we offer her the potty. We try to put her back down with the toys again. If she doesn't like it, then it's time to go outside, carry her around for a little while, sit with her for a little while, maybe she wants some grownup time with us. When she gets totally fussy where she doesn't want anything and nothing's working any longer, either our morning sitter allows me to work and daddy to work, or daddy himself rocks baby to sleep with a paci in her mouth on our little glider up in her room, and this is after offering a final pee-pee.
Everybody in our house, adults included, everybody does a final pee before any nap or bedtime. Whether they go or not doesn't matter, it's that we've offered. Then, when we hear on the monitor that she wakes up, usually a couple hours later, we repeat, and that's it.
Outings. Every time she wakes up, no matter where we are. Out and about. The gym, Crossfit gym, we're at Target's parking lot, wherever we are, if she wakes up, we go into the store, and she's just woken up, I go straight to the bathroom. I offer a pottytunity every time she wakes up whether we're at home or on an outing. Now, if I'm super busy and I really need to get somewhere, or it's raining, or something is just not really going to work out to offer a pottytunity on an outing, I will have her go in her diaper, but she honestly doesn't like it, and I definitely don't let her poop in her diaper, and she doesn't like that either.
So she will tell me by getting fussy, but 90% of the time on outings, when she wakes up, I potty her first, then I nurse her, wherever we are, and then I put her in the baby carrier or the stroller. Car seat stroller, which I usually prefer because my back, at 40, after five kids, it's kind of like baby-wearing is great and wonderful, but my back sometimes needs a break. The reason I do this on outings is not because I'm trying to be a superhero on EC, but it's because it helps my baby to be more comfortable and to fuss less when we're on an outing, and it helps us to get more done, and I have a really nice time out of the house.
We often go to The Biltmore House, we have a path there, we'll go see the animals, the petting zoo, have ice cream, go on a long walk there. Any time she wakes up, I potty her, then I nurse her. When she gets fussy, I offer the potty. That's usually why she's fussing at that point.
Okay. So at night time, I kind of briefly mentioned this in the beginning, but she'll wake up, I'll offer. She's usually dry. Even going all the way up the stairs to get her after she cries, she's usually still dry, she's waiting for me. Potty her over the sink, nurse her back to sleep, repeat, repeat. Usually lately, and this does change, she has been pooping at 5:30 AM and then she will go back to sleep. If she doesn't want to go back to sleep and it's way early, it's 5:30, 5:45, my husband will go upstairs and help her back to sleep. He is an angel.
Okay, so other kids like to help. My daughter Isadora is almost six years old and going into kindergarten this year, and she loves to get the baby out of her crib in the morning, bring her onto her bed, pull off her pants, take off her diaper, and throw it away. She likes to play mama, she likes to do this whole process. She'll also be like, "Mommy, Daddy, she really needs to pee." And she will lay her down on the ground and take off her pants and diaper and get her ready. Sometimes she'll even put a waterproof pad underneath her if we can't get to her in time. So obviously my kids know that this is the norm, and she even wants to be on the podcast. Maybe I'll interview her soon about tips that she has for you guys on EC-ing your babies.
She is the star of our potty training library, the video library that comes with my potty training book for older kids that shows other three-year-olds and two-year-olds how to pull your pants down and sit on the potty and stuff. This girl is definitely going to know no difference, I hope. When she has kids, I don't think she'll forget, but this is the way we do things in our family. So all of my kids are encouraged to help. And the boys don't seem quite as interested. One of them does. The other two don't really take an interest in caring for the baby so much, I'll say, "Hey, please go get me a diaper." And they will help out as well. Having multiple kids doesn't mean you can't do EC.
Receptacles at this age. Day in the life of, what do we use to potty our baby into? I've already mentioned the sink a bunch, we definitely do use a toilet as well. We've introduced the mini potty. I have a very short one on tinyundies.com for babies of this age. She can now sit on the mini potty unassisted, but she doesn't quite go in it yet, and I do have a podcast on transitioning from in-arms to a baby potty, where is it, let's see. Moving from in-arms to potty is episode number 39, so check that out, and also transitioning to the big toilet is episode number 40. This will usually happen somewhere in this time.
As they start to crawl, and she hasn't fully started crawling with her belly off the ground yet, they will usually want to start using the big toilet, and that is a nice time to change and will give your back some relief, right? We don't use a top hat potty anymore right now, except on outings occasionally, but she really prefers to pee on the ground outside right now. So I'll open my car door, parked car, turned it off, open the door to block us from view, squat down with her when we arrive somewhere and she's awake or just woken up, and she will pee on the ground nine times out of 10.
With the sink, we definitely run water. Sometimes we'll pass her foot through the water real quick, and that gets her attention, and then she will pee. It's like a college prank where you put a passed out guy's hand in a bucket of warm water or whatever and it makes them pee themselves, you've seen that joke in movies probably. So that is kind of a similar concept, but we're using lukewarm water, pass her foot through it, and a lot of babies will go, "Whoa." And then they'll pee with that.
Sometimes she's constipated and she really feels terrible pooping because it's so big. I use a mirror. Obviously behind the sink, but also I have a little hand mirror for my other sink that I can see the activity of her sphincter. If she's still working on it, still opening and closing a bunch, that means something's coming down, and I run water or sing, or kind of ignore her by turning my head. I close the door, make sure nobody else is coming in. She likes privacy already at eight months, and we will definitely give a pack of prunes, like we're doing today, to encourage that constipation to go away, the poop to soften, for it not to be painful for her to poop. I can't imagine her laying down on the ground trying to get one of those out or sitting down on the ground trying to get it out into her diaper, so I'm really glad that we're on a good rhythm with poops as well.
That's what it looks like. A day in the life for ECing a mobile baby. As she started crawling and stuff, she has been working on that, she's still communicating her needs very well, which is really wonderful, especially given we have so many kids. So that's a little snippet and a look into our life and how we do it in our home. Here are a few tips from our listeners.
Isabelle B. from Germany started EC with the first one when he was three months old and daughter from birth, and they're three and a half and two now. Her biggest tip is, "It's possible. They do signal, they can hold it, and it's fun. My second biggest EC tip is let go, they can do it. With the first one, I definitely put too much pressure on the whole process. It's so much easier and more peaceful with my daughter because I trust her that she can do it." That is wonderful advice, Isabelle from Germany. Thank you so much.
And, oh yeah, we've got one from Taylor in Hickory, which is near me. Baby's age was 11 months when she wrote this. "Maintain a lighthearted attitude. Don't get caught up in successful potties versus misses. Just chalk it all up to learning and keep trying. If you ever feel like a weirdo, remember how little poop you have to wipe from your kiddo's fanny. The thought cheers me up instantly. And nothing like a Subaru poo. Little guy was six months in these photos." And she's got this picture of her baby in the hatchback of a Subaru, she put a mini potty there, sat him down there, gave him a bottle of water, and let him go to town. Thank you for that tip.
And one last tip from Helen, a listener from the US. "When you start, focus on the easy catches, like after naps. With a few wins under your belt, you'll feel more confident to continue on this journey."
And that's so true. If you're just starting out, especially with a mobile baby, oh my goodness, start with the four easy catches. Definitely look those up on our podcast. They are a really good way to dip your foot into it. After that, you're going to need a little more info, and my book definitely goes into that in depth. Find a link over on the show notes. Or try godiaperfree.com/55, and over there, please leave a comment. Do you have any other tips for mobile babies? Do you have any questions about this? Do you want to know anything else about a day in our life with our mobile baby right now? Please write in the comments over on the show notes. I look forward to hearing from you there.
Subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review. You guys have been leaving lots of reviews lately, and they really help people to find out about EC, period. It's not about me, but it's about the more people who learn about EC, the more people can get their babies feeling comfortable, feeling less fussy, and feeling honored as a human being sooner as opposed to later. So yay for our whole movement.
Thank you guys for being here. I'm Andrea at Go Diaper Free, and I hope you have a wonderful day. I'll see you next week.
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 10 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)
We have been trying EC with our 22 month old and she still pees in her underwear as well as poops in it about twice a week. She only tells us when she has to go on occasion but most of the time she says she needs to go when she had already went. Also if she tells us she needs to go it is a race to get her to the potty on time. She is also still peeing in her diaper through the night. We do underwear at home except for naps and at night. We will do diapers when we go out which is only once or twice a week. Please tell us if we can do something different to help her choose to go when she needs to. Thank you for all your wonderful information and support!
Hi Kimberly! First I would stop using diapers for awake time. At her age that is confusing and doesn’t show that you have confidence in her abilities. Just pack extra clothes in case of a miss. You may also try having her commando for a few weeks instead of in undies. It will feel very different and help create awareness. For nights you will likely have to take her to potty 1-2x. Not all kids can hold it all night, or adults for that matter. If things aren’t progressing I’d do potty training with my Tiny Potty Training book. EC isn’t as effective at her age, and potty training will get you better results. xx Andrea
Great podcast! I’ve very casually EC’d both my children, poos only, only to avoid dirty cloth nappies, and I’m very glad I did, so now with my third, still on the way, I want to do it from the beginning, and these podcasts are super useful.
One tip about constipation, use probiotics! There’s stuff you can get from the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist which is the best right one for your child, but you can also try milk kefir, it’s like a thinner yogurt and very effective. My kids love to have berries (I use frozen) with kefir and a bit of maple syrup as dessert. After over a year of constipation, it’s been revolutionary for us.
Sorry for the off-topic, but I wish everyone knew about it!
You’re absolutely right! Probiotics can help so much with constipation. xx Andrea
Hello, Our son has just turned 1 and we’ve been ECing since he was about 6 months old.
He took to the potty pretty easily and we were catching a wee or a poop most times we put him on. After naps were definitely the most successful though we aren’t super strict and he does still wee in his cloth nappy. Lately though he has really gone off the potty all together and kicks and arches his back fighting it so strongly we take him off. He does seem to like to go outside now! So this has become more common , even here in mid winter !
I would however really like to use the potty more , any tips for this please ? I try to offer the potty first but he seems to get upset as soon as he sees it! This has been going on for a few months now. Thanks in advance :-)
Hi Alice! Try putting his potty outside! You can also try a seat reducer instead. Change things up a bit, try new distractions. If you feel stuck I do have a Potty Pause Resolution mini course online that will help you work through it. xx Andrea
Aaagggh I need some help with my mobile baby. We started EC at 10.5 months with a mini potty and your book, Andrea, and at first it was thrilling, we started catching poops immediately and everybody was excited about it. Now at almost 12 months we have the following challenges:
1) Baby boy is crawling and clearly wants to take care of potty himself, so he goes in the corner when I’m not paying attention or as soon as I leave the room. He needs my help to get on and off the potty, though, so if I ask him to wait and take him to the potty he’s clearly feeling his privacy has already been violated and won’t go even if I turn away.
2) He honestly doesn’t seem to care if he’s wet and he doesn’t seem to mind sitting on poop. We used cloth diapers exclusively after three months except when traveling so this confuses me. He can feel when he’s wet.
3) I’ve given up on trying to catch the wakeup pee at either mornings or naps because he interprets it as me putting him down when he wants to be held. He won’t pee while I’m holding him in any position because of his need for privacy.
I’ve been listening through the archives of the podcast and poring over Go Diaper Free and I’ve perceived we need a reset, but here’s what I want to know: At this point, since he’s developing negative feelings toward the potty, am I better off just waiting a little longer and then doing a potty training experience with him? We didn’t find out about EC in time to start him early, and now I’m wondering whether we found out too late for it to be effective with him. Thanks for any help, anybody.
Hi Sylvia! First off, it sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job. It is very normal to see some resistance at this age. They are mobile and potty isn’t a priority for them. 1) Continue to work on teaching him to get on the mini potty on his own. He’s really a great age for this. 2) Some babies don’t mind being wet. If they are left in cloth diapers for a while after peeing they will get desensitized and not notice the wet feeling anymore. Frequent changing will help with this. So will increasing diaper free time. 3) There’s nothing wrong with cutting back right now, that often helps with resistance.
I would absolutely continue EC, even part time is awesome. There’s no need to wait to potty train when he’s older. If you continue to feel stuck I do have a Potty Pause Resolution mini course online that will help you work through this. xx Andrea