Clean-up, clean-up, everybody do your share...how do we clean up during observation and after pottying our babies with elimination communication, and are there any tricks? Today we’ll answer this question from one of our readers.
Q: As a first time mom and therefore first timer at this EC stuff; can you please tell me what is the best way to clean up the pee and/or poop when you are just starting out and observing your child for his/her “signals”?
My son is almost 10 months old and we are starting very late but I’m hoping for at least a little bit of success. Thanks for the advice :) ~Anonymous
A: Hey Mama! First off, congrats on starting Elimination Communication with a mobile, older baby.
It is never too late to start EC, so long as you’re still beginning prior to 18 months. (If over 18 months, see my other book for young toddler potty training that’s in line with EC.)
When you, the parent, are ready to ditch the diapers, that age becomes the right age to start potty training your child.
Being that you’ve begun at 10 months, and in the middle of a LOT of developmental changes for dear baby, I do have some tips for cleaning up during naked and “diaper-free” observation time.
But, first, let’s cover:
How to prevent having a big mess in the first place
1. Only do as much naked time as is necessary to gather information (such as your baby’s natural timing and intervals for peeing and pooping [after feeding and after waking], your baby’s signals or peepee dance [if any!], and to check in with your intuition).
Once that info is gathered, STOP doing naked time immediately.
This step is often missed, and is one that will help you lessen the need to clean up.
At the point that naked time becomes defunct/unnecessary, you’ll want to either (a) put your child in 100% cotton trainers (I prefer Gerbers’ 18 mo size, shrunk down with a hot wash/hot dry) and regular pants and clothing, (b) use a Sumo-style diaper back-up so you know right away when your child is wet (this means using a diaper belt around the child’s waist that holds a folded cloth prefold diaper in place, or (c) continue to use the diapers of your choice (cloth is preferred to retain or build sensitivity to wetness) as a tool (a “back-up”) whenever you wish (just be consistent…like: every morning she’s just in pants, but in a diaper the rest of the day).
2. During this range of naked time, do your observation in a “safe” space with a potty in the room/area. This could be a room in the house that has tile or hardwood floors; an outdoor area if the weather is warm enough; or even a carpeted room with towels, blankets, or yoga mats covering a vast majority of the carpet.
This way, any mess will be “contained” in the larger sense. :)
3. Since baby is mobile, I do not recommend just letting him pee wherever. What does that teach? This is a major downfall of how most EC has been done (up until my revised book came out).
Instead, do this: I recommend (gently, like a calm air-lift) transporting him to the potty each time he begins to pee or poop while saying (firmly but gently) “wait” and sitting him on the potty every single time. This teaches him pee goes in the potty and models how to get there himself when the time comes. Do it midstream. Do it when you see the peepee dance or signal come, or when you feel the intuition.
This will lessen your mess to just what drips between where you were sitting and playing, and where the in-the-room-nearby potty is.
4. While you’re observing, resist the urge to be potty-centered. This will save you mess now and in the future! Instead, have a diffuse awareness around pottying, just as you do around eating and sleeping. Do not helicopter! Focus on connecting with your child while noticing the pee and poop patterns without overdoing it all. A fine balance.
The best ways to clean up the pee and poo
- Remember that pee and poop actually come out sterile. It’s when they sit there for a while that they get all bacteria-fied.
- Clean up with a natural cleaner (such as Seventh Generation’s All Surface Cleaner with Thyme) and a rag, sponge, or paper towel. Spray the floor then wipe.
- If it’s your carpet that became blessed with soilage, use a pet mess//carpet cleaner like OUT! (for pet stains – it works!) or Resolve for carpets. (Podcast #64 covers How to clean pee out of a mattress/carpet/couch)
- If there were towels underneath baby, have some clean ones handy before you begin so you can swap ‘em out when the time comes.
- If there’s solid poop, pick it up as you would a dog’s accidental indoor poop and drop it in the toilet, flush, and deal with the carpet or floor as stated above.
Thanks for asking your question!
Definitely grab my book, Go Diaper Free, for more information on how to start and continue EC with a mobile baby, part-time or all the time, diaper or not.
Please leave a comment sharing your top tricks for both doing and cleaning up after naked observation time with a mobile ECed baby!
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)