You’ve heard about the popular benefits of Elimination Communication, like saving money on diapers and a deeper bond between you and your baby. But that’s not all! There are over 70 more advantages to practicing EC, and some of them may surprise you. Tune today as we share a handful of the most interesting and unexpected benefits of EC!
You Will Hear:
- A brief overview of the more popular benefits of practicing EC
- Ways in which practicing EC helps to reduce stress in medical situations
- How EC can impact breastfeeding
- How pottying your baby can support your babywearing goals
- Why noticing your baby’s elimination patterns might help you detect illness earlier
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Go Diaper Free Book
- Why parents are going diaper-free - Podcast #1
- The dangers of early potty training - Podcast #203
- Normalization - Podcast #93
- What is a “Potty Pause”? - Podcast #226
- Go Diaper Free Store
- Tiny Undies Store
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 256: Fringe Benefits of Elimination Communication
You've heard about the popular benefits of elimination communication, like saving money on diapers and a deeper bond between you and your baby. But that's not all. There are over 70 more advantages to practicing EC and some of them may surprise you. This is episode 256, Fringe Benefits of Elimination Communication.
Hello and welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm your host, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free certified coach and mama to three kiddos who all went through EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Hello, welcome back. Thanks so much for joining me today. This is the Go Diaper Free podcast and I'm Nicole Cheever. This is episode 256, Fringe Benefits of Elimination Communication. You can find the show notes and links to anything I mention today over at godiaperfree.com/256. Be sure to visit when you're done listening and ask us any questions you have and leave comments. If you are listening on your favorite podcast player or watching on YouTube, please subscribe so you'll be notified about all of our future episodes.
Today we're talking about benefits of EC. There are a ton of them. There are so many benefits to practicing EC, and there's a lot of myths out there as well. Some of these benefits we talk about, we'll kind of double as dispelling some of those myths. Most of these are going to be listed in the Go Diaper Free book. There's a whole section in there on why you should practice EC, the science behind it, philosophy, all of that. And that's really helpful also if you're trying to persuade any family members or ease their fears, you can go to the book and use a lot of that knowledge to help reassure them.
In case you're new to this, I will touch on a few of the popular benefits of elimination communication before we dive into some of the fringe benefits. Most of these are going to be outlined in episode 1 of the podcast, which is an episode about the benefits of EC. So there's a little bit of a deeper dive there as well as in the book. Of course we have: using fewer diapers, which saves you money. It also helps to reduce the environmental impact. A lot of these benefits kind of snowball into each other. It's an early introduction to the potty, which could pave the way for easier potty independence later, and definitely helps to avoid power struggles or diaper changing struggles as your baby gets older. It helps to deepen the connection between you and your baby, which also serves to increase communication and deepen the trust between you. And of course, there's less mess, fewer poopy diapers, less likelihood of blowouts, all the things that a lot of people really, really like EC for.
A few of the lesser known benefits that are also covered in the book and in episode 1 a little bit more in depth are help with breastfeeding. Babies tend to pop off the breast when they need to potty or as they are pottying, and that can be misinterpreted as oversupply, overactive letdown, and other nursing challenges, when really, baby just needs to go. You can avoid diaper rash because of a lot of the diaper-free time. Diaper rash is actually caused by bacteria trapped next to baby's skin. Even if you have a child in diapers full time, often if you have a severe enough rash to need medical attention, that's the first thing your practitioner will recommend, is some diaper-free time. And if you've never done it before, it can send many parents into a panic. But if you've been practicing EC, you're well aware of the logistics of diaper-free time and how to protect your floors and pay attention to your baby's signals. So that really helps.
You can avoid UTIs and constipation. UTIs are typically caused by bacteria, but they can also be caused by withholding, and so can constipation. And this is one of those big myths I'm talking about, that people think EC actually causes more of this. So make sure you check out episode 203, which is “The dangers of early potty training." EC actually teaches babies to let go instead of hold it. So you're really reducing the risk there. Check out that episode for a little bit more on that.
You can get to know your baby's body better so you're able to better monitor their health. You have more of a concept of how much they're eliminating and how often. So when you're seeing symptoms or hearing them from a medical provider about things like reduced urine output for certain illnesses. Well, your baby might have the same number of wet diapers throughout the day, but how can you really tell the urine output? It all absorbs right into the diaper, even in cloth diapers. Having a finer awareness of that can really help to ease a lot of your anxieties around illnesses.
It keeps baby in touch with their own body. They are able to maintain that brain-body connection to be aware of when they need to go potty instead of being taught to ignore that. It can explain or improve sleep issues. Often when babies wake, they need to pee before returning to sleep, or they can't settle back down in a wet diaper. So this can help explain that and demystify that for parents. Practicing EC can lessen future discipline struggles and help you understand and mitigate some hyperactive behavior. Early potty independence is said to “normalize” behavior. So check out episode 93 on normalization if you're interested in more information about that.
EC also helps increase mobility, motor skills, and the possibility of early self dressing. They have a lot more opportunity with EC to practice these things. And in fact, when your child is of walking age, taking a diaper off immediately changes or corrects their walking gate, the way they walk and move. So that's really exciting and interesting.
And now to the meat of what we're talking about today, the fringe benefits of EC. Probably the most important one is helping you in the ER or medical situations. Of course, nobody hopes to be in this kind of situation with their very, very young baby or child, but it happens. And collecting a sample of urine can be so much easier. Having a baby that you've practiced EC with that you can actually hold over a container and queue and collect a urine sample pretty soon, pretty immediately, is a huge benefit of EC. We've heard from quite a few people that that's really been something that's helped reduce a lot of stress in medical situations and in fact even impressed the medical professionals around them. Because unfortunately, Pampers and other diaper companies tend to fund medical textbooks and research and things like that, so a lot of our nurses and doctors today are still taught that babies are born without sphincter control. Of course if you've been listening for any amount of time or you own the book, you know that's just not true. Being able to collect a urine sample, or even a fecal sample if needed, without any trauma or stress on your child is every parent's dream. So that's a huge benefit.
Another benefit is it reinforces babywearing. This was something that kind of blew my mind because I didn't practice EC right away with my first baby, or even my second. I always just said, "Oh, well, he hates carrier. He doesn't like to be in the carrier." Well, what probably could have been happening (because there were a few times where I was able to get him to settle down in the carrier), I was just putting him in when he needed to go potty, and that's not comfortable. Because of that instinct that our babies are born with to not soil themselves or their caregivers, putting them right up close to your body when they need to go to the bathroom is going to encourage them to push away, to struggle to try and get away. Also with a diaper on, it's just not very comfortable. Being able to have your baby diaper free in a carrier, or even just them having that understanding that if they need to go potty you're going to help them, can help to reinforce that babywearing. If you are babywearing and your baby is doing fine and then starts to struggle, they probably need to go potty. Or if you have one of those wraps or slings where your baby's feet are tucked in, they literally try to stand up in the carrier, and that could be a signal that your baby needs to potty. So practicing elimination communication if you have babywearing goals is going to help you a lot.
Another benefit is it teaches parents how to use their intuition. This is actually one of the roads to potty time that you can find in the book, and it can be really difficult for us in this modern day and age to not only tap into our intuition, but learn to trust it. I can tell you from firsthand experience through doing potty training or EC with all of my babies, especially with elimination communication and especially when I started younger, I really got a hang of my intuition and being able to trust it. There are a couple different phenomena, like “phantom pees,” where you feel like you just got peed on, but you're still dry. That's actually your intuition telling you it's time to potty the baby. You might smell urine, you might think potty, the idea of checking your baby might just suddenly cross your mind. Or if you're sleeping, you might dream that your baby is going potty. We can also call it “potty sense,” or in our family we call it “spidey sense,” but it's just that funny feeling that you probably need to potty the baby or even check their diaper. If you've ever had that feeling that you just need to check the diaper and you find it dry, and then moments later it's wet, that's your potty sense. Being able to tap into that intuition is so valuable not just for pottying, not just for EC, but for caring for your baby in general, and for your daily life. For me, that’s a really huge benefit.
Practicing EC also exposes parents to the true abilities of their baby and encourages them to give the baby room to flourish. Many what we would consider facts about child development are actually culturally entrenched. If parents believe these facts, it can lead families to limit certain experiences. We start to sort of wrap our babies in bubble wrap, so to speak, because we're not trusting of their abilities, and we don't believe that they are actually capable at younger ages. When you're practicing EC, you see firsthand what your baby is truly capable of, especially if you follow the natural progression of it and start to pass the baton, which is in the book. Check out the passing the baton section for more information on that.
If you start to truly hand over the reins as it's developmentally appropriate, I don't know any parent who's not blown away by that, especially in this day and age when we really are trying to limit babies and protect them and shelter them. Having your child, before your eyes, totally blossom and take control and feel empowered is really amazing. It's so heartwarming. And again, it just builds that trust that they are capable, and so you're able to give them more life experiences and really let them fly.
Another benefit is it gives you a heads-up of upcoming developmental milestones, or even teething or illnesses. You'll notice the changes in the potty patterns and behavior. We talked about this a little bit earlier on in the episode, but if you are tuned into your child's natural rhythm with pottying, you'll start to notice when things change. We even go into “potty pauses" sometimes as they're called, and I'll link one of the episodes on potty pauses for this as well. Potty pauses are usually linked to some kind of developmental milestone. There are changes, hallmark changes, in EC when your child is gearing up for certain big milestones, especially when they're physical. Of course, teething can also change EC and change your child's potting behavior, as well as sleep. These are things that are commonly understood for sleep and eating, but pottying can be another avenue where you get some insight into what's coming.
EC can reduce the chances of older children regressing back to diapers. If you have a child who's out of diapers, and then you plan to practice EC from birth with another child who's coming along, it can actually help to reinforce that older child to continue using the potty, even if they're young. It normalizes it for the whole family that everybody uses the potty. Even though we have a diaper on the baby, the baby still goes in the potty, and the baby still lets us know when they need to go potty as well. You can narrate that as the parent and say, "Oh, look, baby sister's crying. She's telling us she needs to go potty. Let's all go potty together." Things like that help to reinforce and prevent that regression.
The last one I'll touch on is: it encourages parents to consider baby's point of view in more than just pottying. When you're putting yourself in your baby's perspective and making an effort to parents in a very respectful and natural way, it bleeds over into so many other things. The same with intuition and bodily functions, you learn to take your baby's point of view into account when you're making parenting choices. I think that's a big benefit, because when we’re working with our babies and with their development, things tend to go so much smoother than if we're fighting against it. When we fight against it, that's when we run into so many challenges that we need all of these other things that the baby market tells us we need, like special classes and equipment and sleepers and schedules, and all of these other things, when really it's just showing us that we're not in tune with our babies. We're fighting against the natural flow of things.
When we can get back in step with them, a lot of things go so much easier.
And of course, that's not going to be 100% all the time. It's not just going to be easy-breezy, like there's nothing that's ever going to be a challenge. We have an adult brain that's fully developed, even though we can try, we can't fully relate to our babies anymore. And there could be other issues at play aside from whether or not we're in step with our baby's pottying needs. But overall, it really encourages us to take our baby's perspective into account. In my opinion, that's always a good thing.
That's it for today. Thanks so much for joining me. If you have any other benefits you would add to the list, please let us know. Go over to godiaperfree.com/256. Put it in the comments there. We love the conversations we have over on the blog, so please enlighten us if there are any other offshoot, fringe benefits that you've experienced from practicing elimination communication. We would love for you to share with our community. I'm Nicole Cheever with Go Diaper Free. Thanks again so much for listening today, and we'll see you next time.
Want to catch your first pee today? Grab Andrea's free easy start guide and do just that. It's only one page and it will change your world. Get it at godiaperfree.com/start. We'll see you next time.
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 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.)