Let’s walk through a day of doing Elimination Communication with a newborn baby.
Maybe you are pregnant and are considering elimination communication, but just can't picture what your routine might look like. Not to worry! I've practiced EC with five babies from birth, and I am going to let you know what to expect.
This is the first in a three-part series where I’ll share what a typical day of EC in my household looks like...newborn, mobile, and toddler. Consider it a peek into our home! (In case you missed them, here are the mobile baby and young toddler episodes.)
You will learn:
- What to expect upon waking
- How pottying fits into the day
- How I incorporate baths and babywearing into my routine
- How to use whatever receptacle is closest for pottying
- How to integrate baby, and EC, into your pre-baby life
- Where siblings can fit in to the potty process
- Tips from a few of our readers
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- Free Observation Log
- EC Classic Hold
- Baby Gym
- Mother's Special Blend Oil
- Footed Pants
- Top Hat Potty Cozy
- Moby Wrap Baby Carrier
- Beco Gemini Baby Carrier
- Babywise(This book has some good tips. Please note I do not advocate cry-it-out/CIO)
- Kushies Waterproof Pad
- Biodegradable Diaper Backup
- Episode 51: How to play with a baby
- Episode 52: The Baby Care Cycle
- Episode 53: The Ultimate Guide to EC Back-ups
- 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 stop depending on diapers as early as birth. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five EC’d babies. This is episode 54, A day in the life: ECing a newborn baby, what it looks like in our home.
So, hi. Welcome, you guys. Good to see you again. We have a new three-episode series right now that starts today. I'm going to cover what it looks like, a day in our life ECing a newborn. Next week will be a mobile baby, and the week after that will be a young toddler. Just to show you what their rhythm and the whole day looks like in our house, as we've done EC with five babies from birth.
So, let's start with a newborn today. Hopefully, you can take away some stuff from today's episode and feel encouraged if you are pregnant or if you've got a newborn. This basically includes babies that are pre-mobile. Mobile babies, we'll talk about next week. Each phase and age is special, and wonderful, and doable, so here goes.
In our home, we like to co-sleep. With my first baby, I co-slept all night for two years and was really worn out. So with my second, third, fourth, and fifth babies, I chose to co-sleep just until I felt safe that the baby was well enough in their body and able to really move their head from side to side really well that I felt safe putting them in their own crib with the monitor in their own room.
Also, when I would start to come into our room… Oh, it's funny. In our house lately, we've been calling it quiet parenting, trying to do a quiet road trip or quiet movie night or something. I mean, it's really hard to be so quiet all the time because somebody's always sleeping in our house. But when I would tiptoe into the room and wake up the baby just trying to get into my own bed... Or how about when my baby took up my entire queen size bed and my husband and I were sleeping on the full-sized futon in the living room? That's when we knew it was time to transition our baby into her own bed because we were like, "What has happened here? We've gotten kicked out, and she's got the best bed in the house," which she deserves, don't get me wrong. But, she actually slept much better once we moved her in her crib. But before this time as a newborn, we co-slept.
You can do your research. Research yourself. Do what feels safe. I'm not recommending anything that you should or shouldn't do with regards to sharing a bed with your baby. But if you're going to do it, research it and do it safely, all right?
So in our life in our home, baby wakes up. My newborn baby wakes up in the morning. I know from experience, I know that I need to pee when I wake up. I know that the antidiuretic hormone wears off. Our bladders fill. All humans, and in fact all mammals, are like this. So I know that the wake-up pee is always a pretty satisfying thing that also helps us to get a really nice, long breastfeeding session. So, baby wakes up. I offer the potty by holding her over the top hat potty in my bed and holding her in classic EC position, I say “pssss” and she, 9 times out of 10, will just go in it.
Then, I keep her bottoms off, and I have a waterproof pad that I put on my lap, and I nurse her naked over that on top of a boppy. You really want to watch your posture with a newborn baby. I've learned this from doing it wrong. We don't want to bring our breasts to the baby, but bring our baby to the breast. Yoga teacher taught me that a long time ago. So, I nurse her naked over the pad. The reason why is because sometimes there's more, and babies who are newborns pee and sometimes poop all the time. We can do that over a top hat potty or a pad.
After that, I carry my baby around for a little bit and sometimes use a baby carrier. Moby wraps are really good for super small babies and so is the Beco Gemini. But generally, I just like to carry my newborns around. They're not awake for very long in between feedings at this point. Then, when she drifts off to sleep, I lay her down in a safe place, usually my bed because we co-sleep. When she wakes up, I just repeat it. And really, that becomes the day, you guys. That's the rhythm that I explain in podcast number 52, the baby care cycle. That just repeats over and over.
So as the baby grows and we get into a few weeks old, baby wakes up, I potty the baby just offering a pottytunity, not attached to whether she goes or not, but she usually does. Then, I nurse her. And at this point, I'm having her in a diaper back-up. I covered back-ups in the last podcast, episode 53, extensively. It's extremely long. But basically in a nutshell, I either use cloth or a biodegradable disposable diaper as a back-up.
Nurse the baby after pottying her. Then, she's awake for a little while. In the episode on how to play with a baby, I mentioned a baby play gym. It's like this arched thing that goes over top of a baby who's laid down on a little blanket underneath so they can look up and start to practice batting at a bell or a wooden ring. It's kind of Montessori style. I'll lay the baby under the baby gym when I'm done carrying her around.
And when she first fusses and first gets uncomfortable, like things shift and I have the inclination to go pick up the baby again if I'm... Because I've got four other children, so I'm doing other things. Maybe I'm sitting there, if this is my only child, and we're hanging out and she's having some time, some floor time or tummy time. That first fuss after nursing, I offer the potty again. I usually take her over to the sink, because it's my sink and I could do what I want with my sink. But, baby pee and baby poop that's exclusively breastfed is benign and rinses quite well down. I don't mind doing it. You can make your own choices about what you want to do, but it saves my back to potty over the sink, and I could also see my baby in the sink as I hold her in classic EC position. I say “pssss” and “mm, mm” and she poops and/or pees, does her thing. I also can do this over the top hat potty. I do sell those at tinyundies.com if you don't have one and need one because it's really good for a newborn baby.
Maybe we're going to have a bath next, so I would offer the potty before the bath. Usually at this age, the bath is in the sink. We do it really quickly, dry off the baby, put the oil all over. I like to use Mother's Special Blend oil all over her to keep her skin hydrated and moisturized. Then, I offer the potty again before diapering back up because what I want to do at this stage is keep baby as comfortable as possible and help her to fuss as little as possible. Every fuss or cry at this age, per Dr. Sears — every mom I know can contest to this or attest to this — that it's a signal. It's the communication. It's just the only way they know how to communicate. So, I have my ear out for that. I'm also spending a lot of time skin to skin and really with the baby at this time.
Then, baby gets sleepy again. I lay her down. She goes to sleep. Sometimes I used to nurse to sleep all day every day with my first and second babies, but I no longer did that with my second, third, and fourth babies or third, fourth, and fifth babies because... I actually started to learn that with my second baby. If you don't get them into the habit of nursing to sleep all the time during the day and you just try different ways just a couple of times during the day to vary it, like rocking, or shushing, or just holding until they fall asleep and then putting them down, then at night they actually sleep better because they're not just expecting to be nursed to sleep all the time and waking up to nurse all the time. That's just a little something I read in a book called Babywise. I don't like how it talks about cry it out, but I do like the things it talks about teaching your baby how to sleep in other ways during the day so it helps at nighttime.
So yeah, back to this whole cycle. Baby would then sleep and wake back up, and we would do it all over again. Surprise. A day in the life of ECing a newborn can look kind of mundane and kind of boring. She wakes up. I offer her the potty. I nurse her. I carry her around. Maybe we do some play time under the baby gym. Maybe we go outside and take a walk, and we get in the baby carrier and do that. The first fuss after nursing, I offer. And usually that's when she wants to go back to sleep.
If I notice her bearing down at any time during the day, with a newborn, pre-mobile baby, you have a lot of time to get them to the potty. Gently say wait, go over there, and have them poop in the toilet or on the top hat. At night, we would do the same kind of cycle. She'd wake up in the bed next to me. I'd feel her wriggle. When she wriggles and does not settle back to sleep and really wants to wake up, I would offer her the potty and the top hat potty in the bed, not getting up, dim the light, and then put the diaper back on and sideline nurse her back to sleep. This is a day in the life of...an evening in the life of the baby with doing EC with a newborn.
Now, other things that could happen during the day, outings. We definitely start to get out and about. I mean, I started at the second day. I went to the store, but I just... You know, it's my fifth baby. With my first one, I don't think I left the house for like three weeks. But, things need to happen when you have more babies. Going to the gym, so we started crossfit when I was four weeks postpartum. You have to get the clearance from your doctor if you have one or do the research to figure out when you can start working out. But for me, that was good. I also started physical therapy at the same time for pelvic floor stuff, which I highly recommend to everybody. But going to those places, I would bring the baby with me, obviously. I would go shopping. I have to get groceries, you know, things like that. Life goes on, and we integrate and learn how to do it with a baby.
The key for all these outings — a day in the life — anytime I'd go out with a baby, is every time she wakes up wherever we are I potty first and then I nurse. Then, I put her in a baby carrier or in the stroller, in her car seat in the stroller or back in the car seat and move on with the day. The first fuss after that, I will offer, if I can. If I can't, I would shush. But at this point with five babies and doing this so much, I feel better about offering, so I keep my top hat potty in the stroller or in my diaper-free bag and carry it with me.
So outings, same as at home. Every wake up, I just potty and then nurse. First fuss, I go again. Any bearing down, I definitely pause to potty because I don't want to have to clean that up and I don't want her to be fussy or uncomfortable.
Receptacles I use are the sink, the toilet, and the top hat potty at this point. The clothing I use for EC at this point is just everything that I've had. Hand-me-downs, secondhand stuff from my mother, a few new things that I got, but generally just a onesie with three snaps, with pants, with feet sewn into them, the diaper back-up, cloth or disposable, which is a biodegradable.
Then, I have other kids, and they like to help. So how can they help? Well, they can help by... Baby's waking up, they can help me take off the diaper. They can help by handing me the top hat potty. They can help by putting the hot hat potty on the side table for me. When she's done, some of them can even help by lowering the rim of the potty cozy and dumping the potty for me. Some will help by providing a wet wipe or the balm, or they want to put the balm on them. And if their hands are clean, I'll let them help. They always help by cuing along “pssss” or “mm, mm.”
The other part of the day-to-day with a newborn. With my first, especially, did a lot of observation time because I was new to EC. With my fifth, I did hardly any observation time. I just would go, wake up, potty, nurse, repeat. But during this time, I also, with my most recent baby, would definitely do some observation time, diaper-free time, especially under that baby gym. Just laying her on a PUL backed cotton, sort of waterproof pad and have that diaper-free time in the morning every morning. So after she became about six to seven weeks old, we started regularly doing diaper-free naked time in the mornings. She would fuss before wetting the pad usually, and I would pick her up, and potty her, and put her back under the baby gym. This helped us to prepare breakfast, to get showers, things like that. One of us was always watching her, but...
So basically, baby would wake up, I'd potty her, I'd nurse her, she would spend some time diaper-free naked from the bottom down, maybe in chaps, underneath the baby gym or the bell and maybe a mobile was above her or something like that. And when she first fussed, even naked or with the diaper back-up on, I would offer. This is the same kind of thing, just integrating that observation time. Then, I could also see how often is she going and does she have any signals, which for her was fussiness. So, definitely caught some information by doing diaper-free time. This was for about one or two hours every morning. Once she was three or four months old, we were at one or two hours of diaper-free time every morning until she started rolling off the observation pad, which is pretty much when we stopped that. But, that's it.
Babywearing definitely helped us in the newborn days. And whenever I didn't know what else to do with the baby, I'd just pop her in the carrier and do other things, take a walk out in nature, stuff like that. Every time she woke up, I'd potty and then nurse. That was our cycle. That was a day in the life for us ECing a newborn. Now that she's mobile... Next week, I'll cover that and tell you what we're doing right now. Then, the next week after that on this show I'm going to tell you about a day in the life of a young toddler, what that looks like, because we also have a 27-month-old who I was there not too long ago with.
Hopefully, today's episode helps you wrap your head around what does it look like to do this. Basically, I feel like EC provides a lot more touch time. You're in contact with your baby a lot more. If you're just diapering and letting the diaper accumulate pee all day, there's not as much opportunity to be with and hold your baby and pick them up generally. I mean, I may be wrong. Maybe some people do. But typically, what my pediatrician has said is that this offers a lot more chances to be touching and in contact with your baby and also understanding and communicating with one another.
Also, towards the end of this newborn phase and before they're mobile, they sort of smile in the mirror and you start to connect. They start to go, "Oh, great, you understood that I need to go to the bathroom. This is excellent." It's a really nice time of bonding. And if you can do it from newborn, I definitely recommend it.
A little tip from our reader before we close up today. L in New York began EC at four months, birth, and birth with her three kids who are now four, two, and three weeks old. This is her tip. "Relax your body and your breathing! Especially when holding a newborn or an infant in EC positions. Even now on my third child, I sometimes wonder why my baby seems so uncomfortable and stiff being held — fully supported — over a potty. Then, I realized how uncomfortable I am! Tense shoulders, tight grip, holding my breath. Sometimes it's because I'm in a hurry, sometimes it's because I'm nervous about pee shooting everywhere, but mostly it's because I'm exhausted from carrying a baby all the time! Tension is my body's state of homeostasis. But once I realize it and let everything soften, baby stops fussing and poop usually follows." That is excellent advice. Thank you so much, L.
Then, Elaine from Atlanta, she started around four months and her baby boy was 12 months when she wrote this. "My biggest tip for EC? I would say, to not second guess yourself and to get started if you are thinking about it! Once we decided this was the way to go, we started and kept it up (with lots and lots of misses along the way), but just making the decision was the biggest thing for us.” So I encourage you, if you're pregnant or you have a newborn, whatever age your baby is up to 18 months, definitely learn how to do EC and do it, even part-time. This is a tip from Andrea. Do it part-time.
Elisabeth from Asheville, who I don't know, she started EC at three months old, was totally out of diapers day and night by 17 months old her son was. Next time she's “definitely starting from birth. What a wonderful thing.” She says, "This may be kind of obvious, but my biggest tip is to just get started. I was kind of intimidated by EC at first and felt like I needed to know more, more, more before I could start." But she did it, you guys.
Just take what I've just said, this little model, and try it out today. You can do EC part-time. You could do it with diapers. You could do it so many different ways. But with a newborn, it's super special if you get that opportunity. I'm jealous that I'm never going to be able to do that again because I'm done having babies. But, hopefully today's episode was helpful for you.
Please subscribe to my channel on iTunes to be notified when the next episode is up. And go join us in the conversation over in this show notes. Those will be found at godiaperfree.com/54. And tell me, what tips do you have for ECing a newborn? How does your cycle vary from mine? Did you learn anything from today's show? Thanks. I look forward to seeing you there. I'm Andrea Olson with Go Diaper Free, and I'll talk to you soon.
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my husband and 5 children (newborn to 8 years old) 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.)