How to begin elimination communication: A little recap of how to start EC at each stage and age
Hello hello! Today we are going to address something you may have heard me talk about before, but in a little different way this time: how to begin elimination communication, at each stage and age.
We will go through this quickly and simply so you can get a glimpse of what starting EC can look like, and feel way less intimidated to start if you haven’t already (or have only partially begun, or half-assed it so far - you know who you are!).
Okay, from now on, you will need to shift your culturally-ingrained perspective of diapers as full-time toilets to: the diaper is now back-up for when we miss one another, we aren’t doing EC right now, we are skipping every other pee, or too much is going on.
(Or, if we’re being honest: for when we are being lazy!)
Even if you’re just “testing out” EC to see if it’s for you, please please please re-envision the diaper as a back-up. Even if you end up doing early potty training at 18 months instead, you will have a much easier time if you keep your brain in this new frame of mind.
Now let’s look at some highlights per age and stage, followed by some starting tips.
The secret to success with elimination communication and newborns is to take advantage of the wake-up pee (it is our Easy Catch #1 in case you didn’t know!).
Newborns sleep all the time!
Newborns are mammals, who emit a hormone to stay dry during sleep.
When a newborn wakes up, take her diaper off and hold her over the sink or receptacle (like a newborn top hat potty from tinyundies.com), and make the sound of running water or grunt like a quiet gorilla. Gently support her head and body against your torso with your hands under her thighs in the Classic EC Position:
...or try to the Classic Cradled EC Position if your baby cries or feels uncomfortable in the Classic position:
Then nurse your baby after he’s gotten the chance to relieve himself first. This causes feedings to go much more smoothly, and who wants to be wet or soiled during a feeding? Not me!
Wake - pottytunity - nurse - a tiny bit of awake time - pottytunity before nap - nap - repeat.
That is the Baby Care Cycle and is a great way to insert EC from the get-go with a pre-mobile, newborn baby.
The key with mobile babies is to limit naked diaper-free time unless you have uncarpeted floors!
Use Tiny Trainers to do observation and know instantly when baby is wet. I recommend the aqua blue color for ease of seeing the wetness immediately.
Write down on your log when baby goes after waking or feeding, and keep track for a few hours a day until you see some signals or a rhythm to the whole thing.
Grab my observation log here:
With young toddlers (ie: they are walking now!) you’ll want to keep in mind the tips above about Tiny Trainers and logging their rhythms and signals...but you’ll maybe also want to add “transporting them to the potty” to the mix.
See my book and the excerpt for the Hybrid Plan for more on this, but essentially you’re going to do some naked observation time where you will bring baby to the potty or the potty to the baby every time s/he begins to pee during that time.
Again, grab the log above for each tracking of these events!
Now that we have a few keys under our belts, some first steps I’d like to recommend some...
There are a few things that will help you start easily.
Step One is to download my free Easy Start Guide for EC here:
Then do the following:
- Start with the 4 easy catches if you’re skeptical or want to test this out
- Start with observation to deeply learn your baby and learn the 4 roads to potty time
- Or do one of those first, the other second
- Insert tiny habits into existing routines
- Dress for success
- Get the right potty
Start with the 4 easy catches if you’re skeptical or want to test this out
On my Easy Start Guide you will see the 4 Easy Catches. You will see them everywhere I post content! They are so helpful.
Upon waking, at every diaper change, the poops, and transition times. These are the 4 easiest times to offer a pottytunity to your baby and increase your odds at getting a catch. A catch will build confidence and you will likely continue to explore EC with your baby.
Most importantly, your baby will be thrilled that you finally got what s/he wanted you to do, all along!!
See my YouTube channel for a playlist of the 4 Easy Catches. Or on podcast episodes 28, 29, 30, and 32.
Start with observation to deeply learn your baby and the 4 roads to potty time
You’ll do observation, with or without Tiny Trainers or a sumo style diaper, and see how often from waking or feeding your baby pees or poos. You’ll see if you notice any signals before they go. You’ll get the hang of their rhythm and patterns, hopefully. And you’ll also learn the 4 roads to potty time:
- Baby’s signals
- Baby’s natural timing
- Generic/Common timing
- Your intuition
These are covered more in-depth in my book, but essentially, this is the “learn your baby” stage where you get to discover more and more about your baby’s inner workings by paying attention. Pretty simple!
Now for #3:
Or do one of those first, the other second
After you’ve tried out the 4 Easy Catches, you can follow up with some observation time where you deeply learn your baby.
After you’ve done some deep learning with observation time, you can integrate the 4 Easy Catches into your day-to-day routines to help you find success with the practice, and at the very least establish some very simple rhythms to your day.
The point is: do both! It will beef up your practice, build your confidence, and help you stick with it.
Insert tiny habits into existing routines
We spoke about this on the last episode, so please circle back and read or listen to it here if you missed it. Basically, we can create the new habit of pottying our babies by inserting tiny little “trigger habits” into existing routines.
We can habit stack - After I get baby out of bed, I will potty her. After I potty her I will put a new diaper on her. After I put a new diaper on her I will nurse her. Etc. - and we can set an Implementation Intention - When X occurs, I will Y. When I see a grimace, I will hold her over the toilet so she can poop.
See that episode, I’m not kidding, do it now! :)
Now for #5:
Dress for success
We want to reduce any friction for starting and keeping up with this new aspect of baby care. Dressing baby appropriately can only help!
We are actually going to talk about The EC Wardrobe next week in episode 76, so come back for that, for sure.
And, lastly, #6:
Get the right potty
We also want to reduce friction for you and your baby, both, by choosing the correct potty for the stage and age your baby is currently in.
You can totally just use the sink or toilet. You can put a low stool in front of the toilet if you want. You can use any mixing bowl.
Or you can use a top hat potty, mini potty, or toilet seat reducer.
We will talk more about the power of the right potty in upcoming episode 77, so come back for that one in two weeks, k?
So that’s about it!
I hope this has helped you wrap your head around how to begin EC, in the smallest nutshell I could fit it.
For more help, start with my free Easy Start Guide, then move on to my popular EC book, Go Diaper Free, to create a pottying routine that you can stick to - and that will bring you and your baby joy and diaper freedom!
Please comment below: what one thing are you going to do this week to start EC (or make it better) from what I’ve mentioned today?
Looking forward to chatting with you there!
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)
Disclosure Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from purchases made through the links on this page.
Hi, Andrea. I’m a mum of twins with no support around me. I do EC with my twins since they were 1mo (adjusted age, they were 7weeks premature) It’s been successful until they were 10 months . I almost caught every poops for a months. Then when they started to able to get off the potty, they started to get off, take a few steps, then pee on carpet area. I got a kiddyseat of big toilet so they can’t get off without my help.Now, they are 14 mo, they can hold on when they are on toilet, cry out for getting off, then do it as soon as I release them. Sometimes is on the floor, sometimes is in diaper. Besides, when one of them is on the toilet, that triggers other ones sensation. So at the moment, I have to “dis”miss one or fight with one of them to keep them on the toilet. Mostly bit a both. Fight with my baby is last thing I wanted to do. This was part of my reason why I do EC.
I’m exhausted physically and mentally, I think I should stop even putting on clothes diapers because I feel annoyed missing by knowing. I try my best not to scream washing their dirty diapers.
Is there any way I can turn this corner?
Hi Sae! It is very normal to see resistance at their age, so don’t worry. If you are really stressed I would do a reset. Two weeks, no potty unless they ask to go or it’s an easy no fuss trip. This will give you all time to de-stress over the potty. Then come back into it once the two weeks are up. I have an article on potty resistance that will help. If you’re feeling really stuck I do have a Potty Pause Resolution course online that will get you through this. xx Andrea
Hi, Andrea. Thank you for your reply. It means a lot to me you telling me the resistance is normal. I tried to reset. I stop even to mention going for wee. And then now they play up more. Tell me they both needing wee at the very same time. So I pick one that’s closer to me putting on toilet ask the other one to wait unless she wants to go on the potty. She refuses potty(neither of them), and end up one who’s on the toilet tell me she’s finished(nothing went on) the other one just had. Thing is, it succeeds every so often like in the morning and when we’re home from outside.
But for now, I have to forget about everything even though they asked me to. We should have made a good base for toilet training in the future. But I have to conclude EC isn’t suitable for twins sadly.
Hi Sae! EC does work for twins, you just have to know there will be misses. And that’s okay, misses are learning experiences for everyone. If it’s feeling overwhelming to do full time EC, do part time. They will get all of the same benefits and you won’t feel so stressed.
It’s unfortunate that they both prefer the toilet. I would try to always sit them both together, family potty trips really help. If one on the toilet and one on a potty doesn’t work, just put both of them on a mini potty. Then use distractions to keep them happy. xx Andrea
Personally, I think you have to do what’s best for you…unfortunately, no one can tell you what that is. Sounds like one of two things…a potty pause (kinda like teen rebellion), or at that age they can get easily distracted, or are so focused that they don’t want to stop what they are doing for the potty. Try not to be goal oriented, and see if you can make it into a game so that it’s fun for you all. If they are boys, put something in the potty for them to pee on…that worked for a while with one of my boys.
thank you for tour advise. Potty pose… make sense. And I think my PMS going worse too. I try to step back and start again.