If the budget is tight, or you want to try EC but aren’t sure you’re committed, here are some simple solutions you can try using items you already have at home.
Like many, our family started practicing Elimination Communication with the perspective: “Why not? If it saves a couple of diapers, what do we have to lose by trying?”
Also like many, we were skeptical if it would really work, and we didn’t have the cash to spend on extras to get started.
I googled question after question, read dozens of Andrea’s blog posts, and researched all sorts of DIY options to make EC work with what we already had at home.
Once we were committed, we did invest in some cloth diapers, training pants, a mini potty, and a seat reducer – but the cost has been incredibly low compared to what we *could have* spent if we diapered full-time.
We’ve spent a total of $105 on our EC gear so far (not including the disposable diapers we were gifted from our baby shower – we used them sparingly and saved SO many that we have not spent a single penny on disposables ourselves) ….and we don’t plan to spend a penny more until we need to size-up the training pants.
Today I’m going to share various DIY potty options, diapering choices, information sources, and clothing preferences that will allow you to practice EC in a VERY budget friendly manner.
Here is a quick downloadable PDF I made for you to make this information handy: [DIY EC handout]
The EC Hold - Over Anything!
The EC hold is magical – you can use it practically any time, anywhere....over the sink, toilet, or outdoors. Commonly used for newborn babies, it’s STILL our go-to at nearly 9 months old when our baby isn’t super interested in the potty.
Over the sink is especially easy because the height is just right, and you have the benefit of being able to run a little water over their feet to help encourage a pee.
You can do it over an open diaper, prefold, or a towel, too, if another receptacle isn’t readily available.
The Mixing Bowl, Repurposed
When we first started EC at 3 months old, we used a plastic mixing bowl (with rounded edges so it was comfortable for baby), and a DIY potty cozy using an old t-shirt. We could support our baby in a seated position on it, perfectly.
You can use a large mixing bowl held between your legs while nursing as well. We keep one regularly in the car for pottytunities there. I also recently saw a Facebook comment about using collapsible dog water bowls for a potty on the go – never tried it myself but it may work if you have good aim. ☺
The Mini Potty – A Versatile Investment
A mini potty truly DOES make life easier…a mixing bowl is a little more prone to spilling if it’s set down off-balance (we learned that the hard way). If you were to invest in ONE potty, I would highly highly recommend the baby bjorn smart potty.
We purchased it for $20 after much research. That’s approx 80 diapers at a per diaper cost of 25 cents each – 80 diapers that would last you LESS THAN TWO WEEKS at a rate of 6 diapers per day. We figured once we saved $20 worth of diapers, we’d gotten our money’s worth. The mini potty has paid for itself OVER and OVER and OVER again.
PLUS, the insert can function as a top hat potty for a newborn, and then the mini potty is perfect from 3 months old (or when baby has head control) all the way through potty independence. It’s small enough that it’s sufficient for a little baby, but big enough that even a 2 year old can sit on it without a problem.
The Potty Seat – A “Big Kid” Option
Around 6 months, our baby decided the mini potty wasn’t for her anymore. She would happily use it first thing in the morning, and occasionally after naps, but otherwise? Wasn’t too interested.
After two months of primarily using the EC hold, we purchased the Munchkin Sturdy Potty Seat (check out my review here) for $10 – it is small enough for our 8 month old to use, has a good splash guard, fits securely on the seat with no jiggling, and we can now flush poops straight down the toilet. It’s not soft, as it’s made of hard plastic, but as long as it’s a short pottytunity, that hasn’t been a problem at all.
Our mobile baby LOVES sitting like a big girl on the real toilet, and this seat has also quickly paid for itself in saved diapers.
Sumo Style Diapering - Getting Into the Rhythm
When you’re just getting started with EC, a Sumo Style Diaper (with a cloth and elastic waistband) is perfect for observation at any age. It can work as a temporary diaper backup if you don’t want to waste your precious disposables but don’t have any cloth diapers.
T-shirts or prefolds also work great for a sumo style diaper, as a cost-friendly option, but pee definitely leaks, so it wasn’t a good full-time solution for us.
After probably two weeks of sumo style diapering, we went ahead and purchased cloth diapers.
Cloth Diapering – Way Cute and Saves Money
You can use ANY kind of diaper backup for EC. However, the most cost-friendly option is cloth diapering. I know lots of mamas love their fancy cloth diaper stash, but you don’t need much - we purchased 3 cloth diaper covers, and 1 dozen prefolds.
If you get prefolds, buy newborn size. I cannot preach this loud enough – the regular-sized ones are huge and bulky, and unnecessary if you’re changing after a single pee.
We cut up one old tshirt to make cloth wipes, and we also used about 24 old-t-shirts as backup prefolds. I appreciated that they were more lean than our prefolds (since we bought too large a prefold size) and since they can be unfolded like flats, they dry way faster.
For the 3 one-size covers, 12 prefolds, and the bonus of 6 training pants that were on clearance, we spent a total of $75 on our cloth diapering.
They wouldn’t have worked for the newborn stage, but this stash has been completely sufficient for our needs between 3-8 months and will certainly fit for many more months (although…I’m hoping to ditch diapers by 1 year, so we hopefully won’t need them for too much longer).
Disposable diapers – A Convenient Tool
Disposables certainly are the least budget-friendly, but they are SO convenient, requiring no washing at all. If money is tight, you can put the diaper back on after a pee catch, even if it’s wet, for a couple of pees before throwing away.
I personally throw the diaper away after every pee when we do use disposables because my baby gets a rash if she sits in pee too long, and it’s not as good for her health – but it’s also not the end of the world if she does.
After one single pee miss, the diaper is still pretty dry – touching the inside I can’t feel much of a difference. So putting it back on to catch a second miss isn’t a big deal, as long as it doesn’t cause a rash.
Go Diaper Free – Your One Stop Shop
Andrea is amazing, y’all. I cannot be more grateful for all the information she has gathered from her experience and research and shared with all of us, free of charge.
We relied primarily on the blog for the first few months of EC, and then got her book. (We would have avoided some hiccups had we gotten the book from the get-go - like the newborn prefolds. That’s one thing I definitely wish I’d done differently.)
Her resources on YouTube, live classes/ Q&As on Facebook, and the blog and podcast are incredible, and the additional EC information created and shared by other Go Diaper Free Coaches on their own platforms are super helpful as well.
I’m working on my own – ASL Pottyventures – which would absolutely not be possible without the depth of knowledge I’ve learned from the book, the coaching program, and directly from Andrea, herself.
Invest in the Book – Trust Me, It’s Worth It
Support groups are great, but they’re not the ideal place for finding robust information about the ins and outs of EC.
Your EC practice changes so much throughout the baby’s developmental stages, and there’s no reason to wing it when all the wisdom is right in front of you.
That’s why - even when going DIY for EC - I still recommend her book – all the information you will need in ONE place. It’s worth it, I promise.
We learned very quickly when we started EC that onesies are not your friends. We switched to using tops and bottoms. We have never used any EC-specific gear, like split crotch pants, legwarmers, etc., but we do look for dresses, shirts, pants, and shorts that are easy to use in an EC setting.
Clothing with snaps beneath the diaper simply hindered the process and either caused a missed pottytunity OR more often, ended up hanging around unsnapped, which isn’t very sightly.
We are grateful to friends who have passed down clothing to us, as well as grandparents who enjoy thrift shopping for our baby, so we have not spent anything ourselves on clothing either, but if we did, garage sales and thrift stores would absolutely be our go-tos.
I’m not much of a seamstress, but I’ve also seen some great DIY EC gear patterns, and may be trying out a fleece soaker pattern soon.
My Question for You...
Which of these cost-saving options have you used in your elimination communication practice? Are there any other budget-friendly diapering or pottying ideas you can share with us? Comment below!
Thanks so much to Natalie for this wonderful guest post! xx Andrea
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)