How I learned about Elimination Communication
Today I share the story behind it all! How I learned about elimination communication as a natural alternative to diapers and toilet training...BEFORE I was pregnant with my first baby.
You will hear:
- about the super-mom mentor who thought EC was too complicated
- What the inspirational example of my “friend of a friend”
- how learning about diaper freedom gave me freedom to parent
- the galvanizing moment that birthed Go Diaper Free
- my heart for the Go Diaper Free community
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Easy Start Guide for EC
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- book ownners' resources for The Go Diaper Free Book
- connect with a Coach for more support
- Laurie Boucke's interviews on Go Diaper Free
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
Transcript download: How I Learned About Elimination Communication
This is episode 168, How I Found Out About EC. You can look at the show notes and read the full transcript of this episode and also leave a comment or question over at godiaperfree.com/168.
Hey there, welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast. I'm Andrea Olson, your host, author, and mom of five babies, all EC'd from birth, all out of diapers by walking.
Today, I'm going to share with you the story about how I found out about EC. The reason I want to share this story with you is because there are some nuggets in it that I think will be very helpful for some of you to hear and also to understand how I came him to EC, all five of my children from birth, get all of them out of diapers by walking, and not have to potty train anybody. I avoided most poopy diapers. I only had probably a handful for each child and I probably saved about $10,000 in diapers
So, how it all began. When I was younger, I babysat when I was 11 or years old and then I kind of didn't want kids after that for a while until my twenties, then there was like a year where I wanted kids again. Then for a really long time, like 10 years, I didn't want children at all. I was staying with a friend of a friend, who became my good friend, and she put me up in her house for a one weekend a month because I was in this dance therapy program. I was becoming a dance therapist. I got my Master's in psychology. Then once a month, for 10 months, I went up there to Marin County in California, and I was learning expressive arts therapy and she was in my class.
She lived in this beautiful home and it was totally Montessoried out. She had a 14-month old child at the time. I learned so much about parenting and mothering from this woman. She is completely amazing. How many of you have somebody in your life like that, that you can really model yourself after? Almost like a little mentor, a mommy mentor.
So, she was definitely my mentor and she had this 14-month old who could speak in full sentences and I was just floored. I wonder if at any point she'll hear this live stream at all, or hear this on my podcast or whatever, but I just want to tell you guys how much I respect and love this woman. She's amazing and something felt off from about the first or second month, staying there for me and this had nothing to do with the mom. This had to do with the baby.
Since baby was speaking in full sentences and totally articulate, doing baby sign language. I mean, making jokes, making little... I remember she made a train out of raisins one time on the table and told me a story about them at 15-months old. I mean, this child was brilliant.
This child was also telling her mom, "Hey, I'm poopy. I need you to change my diaper." Then they would go in and change the diaper and her mom, bless her, did a really good job of making this feel like a normal experience and talking about it, and "Oh, okay, we're going to change your diaper now. This is what this is. This is what that is." It didn't feel right to me. What also didn't feel right to me was judging her.
I absolutely, I mean, knew nothing at all about parenting. Didn't even really want to have a kid and was just like, why is this happening? This doesn't make sense. Like on a gut instinct, you know what I mean? Have you ever felt that way before? Before you had kids, you saw a child in diapers who was walking, talking, articulate, and yet pooping in the diaper. And then their parent would clean them up maybe an hour later and it would stay for a while until everybody would smell it and go, please change the child. So, that's what happened.
So around a couple months into staying a with her every month, I was, I don't know how this happened - It was a total God moment. The universe blessing me with "Hello, this is your path." And I met, or I heard of, I just heard of it. This friend of a friend in California, who potted their baby in the sink and did not use to diapers at all. I was like, "Cool. Whatever that is compared to what I'm seeing here, I'm totally doing that." Right?
I remember back to when I was 11 years old babysitting in Texas, and I'd babysit all the kids on the street. They were all my charges and I babysit all of them, once for New Years at times. And I had to change a lot of poopy diapers and that was my least favorite part of. I hated... Who else does not love changing poopy diapers if you're listening or watching this? I don't think anybody does. You just get used to it.
Well, I was convinced that whatever this thing is that I heard about, I'm going to do that when I have a baby and then I started to think, "Wow. I could actually have a baby because I really don't like changing poopy diapers." That was one of the biggest thing - is the stink and then the infantilization of having a child who is very, very smart wearing diapers. Then all the time, and being like, it's a lot of time. It's time consuming to be a mom. Right? I do know that it's time consuming to be a mom, because I am one, but it's not what I thought it would be and having done EC from birth with all five of mine, it's made my parenting experience completely different. I don't know anything else. Some of you might not know anything else either.
So, fast forward a couple of years. So oh no, no. Fast forward a year. I'm still staying with my really close friend at this point in California, and I'm staying with her and every month I'm seeing her child a month later, growing, growing, growing, becoming more articulate, just really bonding with this wonderful, beautiful family and this amazing mom and she still wasn't interested in potty training.
I told her about my friend of a friend, who was doing EC and I didn't know what it was called. I said, "Hey, have you heard of this?" And she's like, "Oh yeah, I heard of it. Not going to do it. I'm fine with what we're doing." And I was like, "Oh, but it doesn't seem that hard. Don't you think that your child would like that?" She's like, "Nope, we're just going to keep doing what we're doing." She really shut me down and I don't know if you've had that experience before, but it hurt my feelings and I definitely felt like, "Okay. I'm so sorry. I overstepped. This is none of my business."
But in that moment, I vowed that if I ever had a kid, which now I was convinced I could, I would never, ever, ever put my child through the suffering that this mom unknowingly put her child through. Again, she's an amazing mom and she never would've harmed her child, but she chose not to try something that I felt like was just the golden ticket. It just made sense on so many levels
I also watched her go through potty training. She started at two years old. It lasted almost a year and it was very traumatic for both of them. They both suffered through the process, so I vowed to never let that happen, if I should ever be blessed with the child.
Fast forward four years, I was blessed with my first child. He was a total surprise and when I became pregnant, after I got over... okay, I never got over morning sickness. I had it with all, well, four of my five, like 24/7 food aversion. It was terrible. But as this child was growing within me, I was like, "Oh yeah. That thing I need to Google it and find out what it was."
So I found out it was elimination communication, or EC, for short. I ordered all three books on the topic; The Diaper Free Baby: Infant Body Training by Laurie Boucke, who has been on my podcast before and Ingrid Bauer's book, Diaper Free. So I ordered all of those. I read them cover-to-cover. I read the Diaper Free Baby, twice, and I was like, oh my gosh. You guys huge light bulb moment. This is why nobody, or this is why my best friend did not do EC. Because when I dipped into that world and started learning about it, I was like, "Whoa. This doesn't make any sense. I don't know what to do. This is so complicated." And I thought, "Wow, we're humans, we're mammals. We're born wanting to use the potty, not our diapers and not have to... Diapers are unnatural. Potty training's unnatural. Like why is this simple thing so complicated?"
So I got it instantly. I'm glad I finally got why she didn't do it because it was baffling me. I just decided, when my child is born, I'm going to make it happen and I'm going to make it happen like you wouldn't believe. I'm going to master this thing. I'm going to systematize it. I'm going to make... I'm going to just blow it out of the water. If you've ever done the Clifton Strengths Finder Test, my number one is maximizer, so I like to take something good and make it even better. That's just who I am.
So, my baby came and we kind of fumbled through the first couple weeks of EC. Mostly just had him naked on a pad and would cue along with him for pee or for poop and then finally at two weeks old, I got up the guts to hold him over the potty for an actual pee.
Well, before that, actually the very first day of his birth, my partner at the time handed me a potty and I caught the meconium in the potty. So, that was a really cool start. You know what I mean, right? When you catch that first one, you're just like, "Whoa, I'm hooked. I'm never going to not do this."
So, I figured it out and over the next five months, people kept asking me, "Why do you keep taking your baby into the bathroom during yoga, mommy yoga, like every half hour?" And I said, "Oh, I'm pottying him." So they were like, "Oh, well teach me how." So I remember teaching one of my friends and she did it with her son and had huge success. Then I taught another one. Then I taught another one. Then I was like, "Okay, I'm just going to write this into a pamphlet because this is too much trouble to have to explain it every time."
So then I turned this pamphlet into a book because my partner lost his job and I was not going to return to work and leave this sweet little baby that I had no idea how to soothe. He cried all the time and he always was on me and I was doing EC and that was the thing that I knew, that and breastfeeding, we were good at that but everything else was like it was a mystery. I didn't want to leave him.
So I started writing my first book when he was five months old and then when he was 12-months old, I launched it to 74 people that I had on my email list. Maybe some of you watching and listening today were some of my original list. I have some people who listened to, that long.
So anyway, I launched that book and what I wanted to do was make it visual. I did a video library with it. I recorded an audio book because I went on nap walks. How many of you go on nap walks with your baby because your baby won't sleep without you? Without being attached to you? So with my first, Kaiva, I went on a mile and a half walk each direction through Berkeley, every single day for nap time, because I couldn't get him to sleep on his own. I was terrible at sleep. I still am, like all five of them. I never was good at teaching them how to sleep. But I also, during that time, I was so good at EC and I was really, I was getting into writing my I book and everything, but going on these long nap walks was really hard to like, I couldn't read a book anymore and I'm an avid reader.
So when I launched my book when he was 12-months old, I launched an audio book with it, a video library, so you could see what this thing looks like from somebody who knows what they're doing, which was me, because I studied up and I made sure to be good at it. Then I made a downloads library and I developed this hybrid plan, which was a mixture of potty training EC. The most important thing that I wanted people to have that I didn't have, was a support forum.
I don't know how many of you listening or watching today are part of my support group, but you probably have leaned on me or the coaches inside it a lot during the process and maybe some of you have found it invaluable. That is something I didn't have. When I went to my first diaper free baby meeting, it was terrible. There was a naked 39-month old who wasn't finished with EC, running all over the place screaming. It was chaos. Nobody was leading it. I really wanted to share about the gear I'd found and like just kind of connect with people and nobody was with it.
So, I have my coach program. I have all this other stuff. What I wanted to do for you guys, because I found out about EC and because I had experienced a mom whom I loved dearly, who was an amazing mom, not do it because it was too complicated for her, I really wanted to make it all simple for you guys.
So, that's how I found out about EC. That's how my book came about. Now, I've helped hundreds of thousands of parents just like you guys and some of you do have my book. Yay. Thank you so much for that! I really hope to run into you sometime because I always get embarrassed, as somebody's always staring at me or something and it's really awkward and they're like, "I'm sorry for staring at you, but I follow you and we use your book." And David here (in the chat), who did EC for all four of their little ones, that makes me so elated to know that I've helped anyone. I get really embarrassed and sometimes I cry and it just moves me to tears because this changed my life. I never had to put my babies through that suffering that I've seen in the world and that I see in the world and it really triggers me and it's hard for me.
So my goal is to just make everything really easy for you guys. I hope that you found that already. The one action item I want you to take today is to get my Easy Start Guide, if you haven't gotten it already. If you don't have it, get it. It's just a simple one-page PDF and it just goes over the basics and that's all I want you to do today.
If you already have it, I want you to take one thing from that page and just focus on that for the next seven days and in about six or seven days, I'm going to be back on with you, on live, and I want to know how it went. I'm going to hold you accountable and be your accountability partner and I really want to make sure that people like my friend who was so overwhelmed by the complexity of EC, or what was presented to her was so complex, that I can be the one who simplifies that for all of you.
If you have any friends who have a baby between zero and 18-months, send them to my Easy Start Guide right now and say, "Hey, just check out this possibility. This woman actually makes it really easy to do this." Because it matters. It really matters so much. Like Lisa's saying right here (in the chat), "Your Diaper Free book has been so helpful. We practice EC with our three month old. I gifted your Tiny Potty Book to my sister for my two-year old niece." Thank you.
This is literally my purpose in life. There's no coincidence at all, to the order of events that I just shared with you. Thank you for listening to my story. I wonder if some of you have felt the same kind of guilt, judging other people who have children in diapers, but we can look at that guilt as a signal. Like hey, I feel guilty about judging this person. Instead of criticizing or saying, "Why aren't you doing this?" I could say, "Hey, I'd like to give you this book, this gift. You can do it part-time with diapers as a backup. You can do the poops only, or you can just do the morning pee. But the very least it’s an exposure technique and I hope this helps you connect with your baby more and maybe you can avoid potty training. It's a lot easier." And just leave it at that and see what happens.
I would love that, like Lisa did. That'd be amazing. But yay. Thank you for listening to this story. That's how I found out about EC. So right now, what I want you to do is go over to the show notes at godiaperfree.com/168. 168. I want you to leave a comment with what you put into Google or YouTube or wherever else to find out about EC. Was is elimination communication, or did you not know the term? I didn't know the term and you typed in something else.
I want you to leave that information over in the comments because I'm going to use that to reach more people. I'm going to use that to figure out, okay, where are people looking for me so that I can be there, so that they can experience the joy that EC has brought me as well. So please go over there right now and comment. I really appreciate it so much.
Thanks so much for listening. This is the Go Diaper Free Podcast at godiaperfree.com. 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 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 used EC since birth using your method and it was amazing! I had no idea that EC even existed, but I’m pretty sure “how to use fewer cloth diapers” was the phrase I searched for and that brought me to your site. The store we purchased our diapers from recommended what seemed like an outrageous amount of newborn diapers and I like to be frugal when possible, hence the search.
My son is in daycare full time so we only did EC at home, but he has still been out of diapers since 12 months and fully trained since about 18 months!
Thanks for all your hard work to make this method accessible to everyone!
Such a beautiful story Kim!
Glad you enjoyed the content and accessibility.
I was at a baby shower when I was probably about 10 and the mom to be got a seat reducer as a gift and I heard my mom talking about how the new mom was going teach the baby how to use a toilet right away. My mom even put my infant sister on the potty a few times, but there wasn’t any further detail or support. I thought the concept was awesome and decided I wanted my babies to go on the potty too. I really hate changing diapers, particularly on toddlers. When I became pregnant, I realized I needed to figure out how to potty a baby and bought a book on it. The book was inspiring and made it sound easy. I then proceeded to struggle a lot with EC because it is a little more nuanced and each child is different. Also, I believe my type A personality got in the way. Andrea’s resources have been very helpful in troubleshooting. I still love EC, but there have been times that have been really difficult, which has made sharing it embarrassing. Now that I have 2 children, I’m developing more confidence about it.
Yes perfectionism will get in the way of anyone trying to EC, and it is SO common. I term it becoming potty centered. Glad to hear you are a little more relaxed and becoming an advocate for EC!
I found you only through recommendation by one of your German coaches – cause I was only searching for the German term “windelfrei”. There’s no resource like yours in german – I would love your book to be translated as for some of my friends it’s hard to read everything in English! I just could wrap up EC with my 19mo (with pure EC!) and am so glad I chose this way with her – also because we had so few poop diapers, I totally share your point there! I’m telling all my friends with babys about EC and find myself being disappointed and sorry for them if they don’t try or don’t stick to it.
Thanks so much for your work!
So glad you found GO Diaper Free!
We are in the process of getting the book processed in different languages, so thank you for your support and continued patience while we make this happen.
Wow, that’s good to hear! Looking forward 😉
Thanks for sharing your story!!
(sorry it’s long, I’m excited to finally comment on a blog)
I too hate changing poopy diapers!!
I cringe at the thought of babysitting and having to change a toddlers diaper. Or a smelly formula diaper.
As soon as I saw another option I knew that’s what I wanted to do too!!!
How I Found Out About EC:
I go to church with a girl my age, that had a baby 14 months before me. By the time my baby was born, this girl never needed to use the nursery to change a diaper! She was already taking her daughter to the bathroom! She told me she started potty training before her daughter was even walking. I was so interested in finding out how I could do the same thing!! so I googled:
“how to potty train early” or
“what’s the earliest I can potty train”
I quickly found out about the term Elimination Communication and then Go Diaper Free and read a few blogs and some of the PDFs.
I bought a mini potty when my baby was 6 months old. Once my daughter was able to sit up on her own and was crawling, so 8 months, I started sitting her on the mini potty. I would signal ‘potty’ to her as I sat across from her and modeled how to use the big potty. I was very relaxed about it and probably only sat her on the potty one time a day most days, and not every time was a catch but it was so effortless I stayed consistently inconsistent. She started signaling back at some point and I was so proud. I started trying the easy catch of the morning with great success. That was my part time EC, the rest of the time she was in a diaper. But I knew she ‘could’ potty on the potty. There were a handful of times I put her on between diaper changes or just at random but we were always very very part time.
My goal was to have her potty trained by at least 18 months. But I think I read something that said the best timing for early potty training was 12-16 months. I didn’t want to waste my efforts at EC by training her to use her diaper. At 14 months I bought the Go Diaper Free Book because I wanted to get serious about it, and discovered the Hybrid Plan. My daughter is 15 months and we are finally ditching daytime diapers. I am confident she is capable and so thankful for all of the amazing resources Andrea has made available through Go Diaper Free. ❤️
And also I owe a great thank you to my friend, “the girl at church” who totally inspired me to “potty train early” and led me into my search of Go Diaper Free.
Thank you for sharing your story, and I am so grateful for the girl at church that inspired you to learn about “early potty training”!
Congratulations on ditching the diapers at 15 months. SO exciting!!
Thank you for this! It’s been really inspiring reading everyone’s experiences!
Similar to you Andrea, I thought there must be another way besides diapers because humans have been around waaay longer than diapers……yeah. :) I actually found out about EC (almost a decade before giving birth and years before I even wanted to have my own biological child :p) from some raw foodists I used to follow online. They started their first born on it from birth, talked about how they set up their bed, the sounds they used, and what they packed in their “diaper bag” for trips instead of diapers, and just made it look doable. I knew from then on, if I somehow changed my mind and wanted a baby, I would do EC.
In 3 days my only baby girl will be 2 months old, and I’ve been doing EC inconsistently with her since about 3 weeks when we got your top hat potty and waterproof pad. With everything that happened immediately after her birth, I didn’t have time for observation or the confidence to hold her over the toilet instead of using all the free diapers we got first. But once they were used up it was EC time! I understand people’s temerity about EC, but I’ve actually been surprised how many catches we’ve had. Baby girl doesn’t really signal but she’s interested in my signals and may be picking up on them, so that’s a start. I went ahead and got a subscription to Dyper but I think we may be able to skip some deliveries. I highly appreciate that suggestion though!
I probably searched YouTube for Elimination Communication or ‘diaper free’ at some point during my pregnancy. Also, Mayim Byolik (sp? the chick who played Blossom back in the day) did EC with her kids, which meshed well with her Attachment Parenting, something else I wanted to practice with my child long before I thought I’d have one.
So that’s my EC story. One last thing I wanna say, I should’ve gotten your book Brave New Birth, then I probly wouldn’t have had to deal with the tornado that going to the hospital turned out to be. Thanks so much for living your passions Andrea, and thanks to everyone who does even a drop of EC for saving our environment even just a little more.