You want to try EC, but your baby is a sneaky pooper and hates the potty. What do you do? Today Nicole explains how you can still begin EC, and even catch a few poops!
You Will Hear:
- What to expect when starting EC during the newborn phase (0-4 months)
- The difference between a poop miss and “skid marks”
- Other considerations that might be confused for potty resistance
- Alternatives to holding baby on the mini potty
- Strategies to help baby stay on the potty longer (and not hate it)
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Go Diaper Free Book
- What to Expect with EC in the Newborn Phase - Podcast #190
- The Log app for iOS and Android
- How long should I keep baby on the potty? - Podcast #217
- Mini Potty
- Top Hat Potty
- DIY Potty Cozy blog post
- “The Golden Window” EC Program
- 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 219: How to start EC with a stealth-pooping baby
Hello and welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm your host for today's episode, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free Certified Coach and mama of three kiddos who all did EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Welcome back to the Go Diaper Free podcast. This is episode 219, how to start elimination communication with a stealth-pooping Baby. You can find the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/219. Please leave us a comment, ask any questions you have, and as always, find the links to everything that I will mention in today's show. Today we have a call from Louise.
Louise: Hi, I'm Louise from Australia. My baby is three months old and I'm wondering how to start EC with a baby that's a bit of a sneaky pooper and who hates sitting on the mini potty.
Thanks so much, Louise. I'm going to break your very short question down into three parts because there really are three parts there: how to start, what to do when your baby is a sneaky pooper, and how to keep them on the potty. So let's start with how to start. Your baby is three months old. We do at three months, want to start with the easy catches, and they're called that for a reason. They tend to be a little bit easier. One of them usually is poop, but we do have a lot of babies who are sneaky, so we'll get into that in just a minute. But starting with the wake-up pees is going to be very helpful for you. Your goal, really anytime in EC, but especially in this newborn phase, is not to catch 100% of the pees and poops. The goal is to keep your baby clean and dry as much as possible.
Elimination communication aims to keep your baby's sensitivity to their toileting needs. When we full-time diaper, what we end up doing is training our babies into diapers. They're born with this instinct to not soil themselves, or their sleep space, or their caregivers, and we can actually train that out of them by leaving them in the diapers and ignoring the cues that we're giving them. Now, if this was you, if you've ever done this, there's no room for guilt here. You do what you know and then if you know better, you do better. But we do tend to inadvertently train our babies into the diapers, and then two, three, maybe four years later, we have to reverse the process and train them back out.
And our children, just like all of us, have varying levels of sensitivity. Sometimes you have a really chill baby who just isn't bothered by pooping or peeing in their own diaper, and this may be your baby. If he's sneaky about it, it might just be because he's a little bit more on the chill side and he's not really minding pooping in the diaper, so he is not giving you many signals. And then sometimes we have babies who are very physically sensitive and that's when you have a baby that might even be labeled as colicky because they become inconsolable when they're trying to signal that they do not want to wet themselves.
But either way, the goal is not 100% catches. You can listen to Podcast 190, which is what to expect with EC in the newborn phase from zero to four months, and that's going to give you a little bit more of a sense of how often your baby is going to need to go potty and how to handle that with a newborn baby. It does cover poops also, so you can take a listen to that. But really, the main goal is just keeping baby as clean and dry as possible. So when your baby does poop, try to clean it up as quickly as you can so that their diaper and their clothing and everything is as clean and dry as much as possible.
Now, as far as the sneaky pooper, you didn't mention whether or not your baby was breastfed. Exclusively breastfed babies tend to have very runny poops. So is your baby a sneaky pooper or are you just getting little streaks in the diaper? We call them “skid marks.” Sometimes when your baby has gas, a little bit will leak out, especially if they're exclusively breastfed. The poop tends to be a lot more runny. When my baby was less than four months old, we got tons of little streaks in the diapers and you don't have to count that as a miss. Your baby isn't sneaky pooping, they're just leaking out a little bit, which is normal. The sphincter, while they do have some control over it, it does have to grow and get stronger and they will have more control over it as they grow. But for the time being, especially if they have gas and especially if they're breastfed, you are going to get some skid marks there. So if that's what's happening to you, Louise, don't worry about that. That's not sneaky poop. That's just a little bit of leaking.
What you can do for the actual poops, if you don't notice that your baby's bearing down and actually pushing a poop out, when you do open the diaper and notice that there was a poop, you can log that. We have The Log app. We also have the paper log, if you prefer pen and paper, that you can find in the resource center for the Go Diaper Free book. And the Go Diaper Free book is going to cover all of this, too. That's going to be a great way to get you started, no matter what age your baby is, up until 18 months.
With the log, you're going to start either from when your baby's waking or right after you fed him, and you will just mark the time of everything that happens from sleeping, feeding, to poop and pee when you notice it, as soon as you notice that it's happened. What you might find is that your baby has a rhythm, that he's pooping during either a certain time of day or after a certain amount of time following a feeding. We do have babies that sometimes poop during feedings, but most of them grow out of that, usually around this time. And this will give you a little bit more of a guideline. You can start to see, okay, either his poops are always in the morning or he poops three times a day typically, or he poops about half an hour after eating. Whatever it may be, that will give you a guideline to when you can start to pay attention. You can start to notice about half an hour after you feed him whether or not he's pooping, and maybe just that little tuning in, maybe you will catch those signals that were more subtle, and then you will have a better chance of catching the poops in the potty after that.
It's also important to have patience for the poops. A lot of babies tend to pee after they poop. So if you are catching a poop in the potty, it will come out in spurts and then they'll pee. But some of them don't. Some of them start out with a pee. So when you're catching a pee in the potty, it might not be that he's sneaky pooping; it might just be that you didn't quite give him enough time to poop after the pee. For a three-month-old, I really like to use the in-arms position. I know you did mention putting him on the potty, and we'll talk about that in just a moment. But I like to use a nice deep squat with them supported against your chest, facing away from you. And if you have either a vanity mirror in your bathroom over your sink, or you can even get one of those little locker room mirrors, not only so the baby can see in the mirror, but then you can also see the baby's sphincter, the anus, and see when it's stopped pulsing. You can hold the baby and when he pees, just kind of gently bounce, or sing, or talk to him and give him time to relax and push that poop out. The sphincter has to be relaxed for the poop to come out.
And with newborns, this sometimes takes a little bit of practice. It's a little bit of a complicated process. We have to both relax our sphincter muscles and push with our abdomen, so we're tensing some muscles and relaxing others in order to get that poop out. Some newborns just kind of squeeze everything, so they're working against themselves. But they will learn, as you give them time and as they grow, how to coordinate those muscles. So what you can do is hold him in arms over the sink, hum, sing gently, speak to him, and let him relax. And if you have either that bathroom mirror or that little locker mirror, you can see the sphincter and you can see it start to relax. So then have a little patience. You can continue to talk to him or sing a song, and it may come out in spurts.
This is also a great opportunity to teach “all done,” and I just recorded a podcast episode the other day about how long to keep baby on the potty. And that goes through a little bit how to teach “all done.” What will happen is as you start to say, "All done," and then move on to something else, your baby learns that sound, the sound of your words, means that that's the end of their opportunity to go potty. So he might let out a few spurts and then you can say, "All done". And you'll either see nothing or you might see him or feel him push again to try and just finish getting it out. So that patience is going to play a key role in helping you actually get the poops out once you figure out that timing. And again, it may just be that you're letting him pee and you're not quite waiting long enough for him to get a poop out on the potty. And so that's just a matter of keeping him on there a little bit longer.
Once you start catching the poops, you may actually find that he does signal stronger in the diaper. Once babies learn that they can poop in the potty or outside of the diaper, oftentimes they will start to resist pooping in the diaper. When my youngest was about a month old, she didn't really have a problem pooping in the diaper. She would fuss afterwards to let us know that she was dirty. But I would say by probably about two or three months old, when we were consistently trying to catch the poops in the potty, as soon as she had to poop, she would get really fussy. She would really prefer not to poop in the diaper. So that may be another big signal that develops once you figure out your poop schedule and the routine, and start catching those poops. You might notice that he signals a lot stronger to try to avoid pooping in the diaper.
The last part was potty resistance. If you look at the Wonder Weeks, which there is a book and now there's also an app for, check out where your baby is in the Wonder Weeks, because this could possibly just be a fussy period for baby. There are so many different leaps that happen within the first year. It depends on where your baby is in that three-month range, but it could just be a fussy period. It also could be that your baby is learning to roll. I've found when my babies learned to roll, what that tends to look like when I'm holding them either sitting on something or in my lap, they tend to look like they're trying to stand a lot. They're really exercising those leg muscles. And so when you put baby on the Mini Potty, if he's fussing, that could just be the fussy period or maybe it's a mis-guess. Maybe baby doesn't have to go potty right now. But if he seems like he's trying to get off of it, like he's trying to stand up, that could be because he's trying to master rolling, and so he's just obsessed with practicing that right now, anywhere and everywhere, including on the potty.
So, there are a few things you can try. You can try the in-arms that I suggested, facing away from you, either over the sink or over the toilet. You could also try in arms in a Top Hat Potty. The Top Hat Potty has a rubber band around the middle that you can put on it, you can fit it between your legs and that will prevent it slipping. So you can just stick it right between your knees and stick baby on it. And you can also still hold him in that deep squat position to help get those poops out, but that could be a little bit more comfortable for him as well. It's also closer to you. Baby's getting comforted by your body because he's being held a little bit closer to you rather than sitting alone out in the cold on a Mini Potty. You can also try a potty cozy. If you're thinking that maybe the cold plastic is a little bit annoying for him. It doesn't feel as comfortable with the cold plastic. You can order the cozy for the Mini Potty. The Top Hat Potties come with the cozy. And I will also link a tutorial to making your own cozy just out of a T-shirt for the Mini Potty. But that could help him stay a little bit longer there on the potty.
There's a few other strategies like the singing and bouncing and just kind of general distraction. But remember too, if he doesn't have to go potty, he's probably going to resist sitting on it more. So that Log app will really help you get his timing down for pees and poops. So you can be a little bit more accurate on when you're offering, and you're not just offering every 10 minutes because you think it might be coming and you don't know when it's coming. Because when we over-offer, we tend to create resistance in the babies.
We do also have the digital program, the Golden Window, the Newborn EC program for zero to four months. That gives you a deeper dive into all of this; into their timing, into developmentally what it looks like in this period, the different strategies you can use for improving your EC or getting back on track with it in this period. So if you want more of a deep dive, I would check out the Golden Window Newborn Program.
And that's pretty much all I have for you today, Louise. I hope that was helpful, and I want to hear from all of you. Have you ever tried EC with a zero to four-month-old baby, and what advice do you have for this age? What strategies worked for you and what things would you avoid? Please head over to the Go Diaper Free blog, godiaperfree.com/219 to leave your comments, ask your questions, and we will see you over there. Thanks everyone.
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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