How to Start Elimination Communication: A Beginner’s Guide to EC Gear and Techniques
Starting Elimination Communication but not sure exactly *how* to start? This week’s episode of the Go Diaper Free podcast is here to help! Whether you're a first-timer or an experienced parent, our beginner's guide will take you through all the gear and techniques you need to get started on this natural approach to infant hygiene.
You Will Hear:
- What gear you will need to get started with EC
- How to hold your baby during EC
- Back-up options
- EC-friendly clothing suggestions
- What to pack in you diaper (free) bag
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- EC from scratch - Podcast #108
- Tiny Undies Store
- Top Hat Potty
- Mini Potty
- Mini Potty Cozy
- Waterproof Pad
- Waterproof Pad
- Go Diaper Free Book
- YouTube Playlist - Real Babies pottied from birth
- The Premium Course Pack for EC
- “The Golden Window” Newborn EC Program
- Blog post - How to hold a newborn baby over the potty
- Tiny Chaps split pants
- Dressing baby for cold weather pottying - Podcast #114
- EC-friendly snow suit - @ecinthecity
- Tiny Undies small baby underwear
- Tiny Trainers
- Tiny Boxers
- WoolUps wool soakers
- TinyUps cloth pull-up covers
- The Ultimate Guide to EC Back-ups - Podcast #53
- Tiny Wet/Dry Bag
- Potette Plus 2-in-1 Potty Seat
- Gimars No Slip Folding Potty Seat
- Disposable diaper bag roll
- EC While Out + About MiniCourse
- Easy Start Guide for EC - Free Download
- 3-day Primer for Starting Potty Training - Email Series
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- Go Diaper Free Store
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 to Start Elimination Communication: A Beginner's Guide to EC Gear and Techniques
EPISODE 233: How to Start Elimination Communication: A Beginner's Guide to EC Gear and Techniques
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.
Hey there, everyone. Welcome back. Thanks so much for tuning into the podcast again this week. This week's episode is 233, How to Start Elimination Communication: A Beginner's Guide to EC Gear and Techniques.
Before we get started, I want to remind everyone that it is Go Diaper Free Week, our 11th annual Go Diaper Free Week. If you haven't already joined the challenge or checked out the page, go to godiaperfree.com/week and you can see everything we have going on there. We've got sales, we've got free classes, we've got contests you can enter, and just lots of great stuff going on. Especially, make sure you put in that email address because you will get five easy-to-digest, super-duper simple tips on starting EC or potty training, or to just get you wrapped up if you're already in the midst of it. Head on over there, godiaperfree.com/week. And don't worry if you are listening to this after Go Diaper Free Week has already ended, hang out to the end of the episode and I will let you know how you can still stay in touch with us and take advantage of some of our other events and challenges throughout the year.
This is episode 233. When you're done listening, you can also head to godiaperfree.com/233. You can leave us comments there, ask us questions, get all the show notes. I will be talking about a lot of gear today. All of the links to everything I mentioned will be over there in the show notes. Make sure you check that out after you're done listening here.
Last week we talked about how simple EC can be, how it can really be just as easy as taking the diaper off, and some tips on how to tell when your baby needs to go potty, a couple of challenges you might encounter. Today, I want to give you some more of the technical side of it. You might be thinking, “Okay, great Nicole, you told me how to tell when my baby needs to pee, but how do I actually do it?” That's what we're doing today. We're talking about how to practice EC with your baby.
Of course, the biggest shift is going to be mindset, so if you missed episode 232, head on back to godiaper free.com/232 and you can listen, watch or read the transcript there. But one of the biggest takeaways, really, is shifting that mindset, that the diaper is not a full-time, wearable toilet. It is a back-up. It's a tool we're going to use to help us for when we can't get to baby right away. And of course, because we have things like floors and vehicles, and public places where an accident (or what we call a miss) would be inconvenient or possibly embarrassing. We will use our back-ups when we need them, how we need them, but we don't use the diaper anymore as a full-time, 24/7 wearable toilet.
Let's start out with some gear, because not only do we have the diaper as a tool, we have a lot of other tools at our disposal to be able to practice EC in a way that is really simple for our families. I want to start out though by saying that you don't have to buy any of this. Literally, all you need to practice EC is a baby. That's it! And somewhere to put their pee or poop, which we all usually have in our homes, like a sink and/or a toilet. But I will link episode 108 here, and this is DIY EC: Doing EC On a Budget, where you can make some of your own supplies or use some of the things you already have around the house. It was a guest post from one of our community. In there she does mention a couple of things that she thinks are really helpful to have. That's some of what I'm going to go over here today. But in general, you don't really need a ton to start EC. These are just things that might be helpful along the way.
Here's some optional gear. Of course, the one thing that's not optional is the baby. If you're watching the YouTube version, this is my baby I stole from one of my daughters to use as an example here today. The baby needs something to go in. If you're not always going to be using the sink or the toilet, sometimes you're out and about and it's not convenient, or you want something that's a little easier to get to, or can be right nearby at all times, at tinyundies.com we have Top Hat potties. These are great because they fit right between your thighs or your knees when you're sitting, and baby can go right on top. You can use this in a variety of positions and it comes with the non-slip band to put around the middle and the cozy that goes around the top.
Once baby gains neck control, the Mini Potty is really helpful. It's a super short potty, so even the tiniest babies, when they're walking or crawling, can mount this potty on their own. It comes either bundled with the cozy, or you can get the cozy separately, but I always recommend getting the cozy because this seat can feel a little bit chilly sometimes. The Mini Potty is great because it's small. I have one in every single one of my vehicles that I drive with the kids in it. For a long time when my baby was smaller, I had it right on the countertop in my bathroom, so when I was going in there to potty her, I wasn't having to hunch over the toilet or the sink. I could just sit her right on it, either facing me or facing the mirror, and that was a lot easier on my back. Baby can sit right on it as soon as they have neck control. Even if they're not independently sitting, you can hold them on it, and that's very helpful.
Another thing that's great to have is a diaper-free play mat. Especially when they're not mobile yet and you're doing some diaper-free observation time, you want something to protect your floors. At Tiny Undies we also have a waterproof mat. It's really soft on the one side and waterproof on the other. If you're just listening, the long side is about as long as my outstretched arm, so it's a pretty good size here. It's a rectangular shape and it's got a little bit of plushness to it. It's got a little bit of thickness, so it's nice and comfy for baby. You could use that either on carpet or a hard floor and it would still be comfortable for a baby. That's helpful to protect your floors when baby's not moving.
We also have a number of other gear, back-ups that I'll go over in just a little bit here for if your baby is mobile and you still want to protect your floors. But those are the other things you're going to want to have, is some kind of easy, friendly clothing and some kind of back-up. Many of us still use the diaper as a back-up in some form or another. Like I talked about last week, you don't have to go completely diaper free in order to be practicing EC. That's just the end goal. We want to break away from full-time dependence on diapers. That's really it. But, you still need a back-up of some kind.
That's the minimum of what you're going to need, as far as gear goes. Again, check out the post that I'll link if you're looking for more of a DIY and things you could utilize that you might already have on hand. Next, you're going to need to hold your baby. Part of getting your baby into position, of course, is getting the back-up and the clothing out of the way. It really depends on your comfort level with your baby, and holding them, and maybe holding them in an awkward position. With my youngest, we started her at 10 days old. I still used a lot of the snap crotch clothing, either with legs like the footed sleepers or even those without feet that had the long pants on them, or onesies. What I would do is just snap the center snap when we were home. If she wasn't in the car seat or we weren't out and about, I would only have the one center snap done so that I could easily pop it open and get her diaper off.
There are a couple of videos I will link from YouTube that Andrea's got of her pottying babies that are teeny tiny. A lot of times it's just a matter of holding them really close to your body with one hand and supporting them fully, including their neck. Then using the other hand to remove the diaper, and then getting them into position. When you have the Go Diaper Free book, you're going to have access to the library of positions. There are photos and videos to show you every single which way to hold your baby. And if you have any of our digital courses, the programs, especially The Golden Window Newborn EC Program, has the catalog of all of the different holds, all of the different positions for baby. It's not unlike nursing or bottle feeding, where you really just have to find what works for you and what works for baby. And that is probably going to evolve and change as they grow, as you get more comfortable, as they learn new skills and develop more control over their body.
But to start out, the classic EC hold is really simple. You're going to hold baby facing away from you in a seated position. You're going to hold them with two hands securely under the thighs, in a little bit of a squat position, with their back, head and neck resting against your chest. You can even lean back a little bit. This is the classic EC hold. If you have a boy, you just take a free finger, and point the penis down in the right direction, whether it's into the Top Hat Potty or the sink. That's a classic hold. And there's a lot of variations of this. You can hold baby over the toilet, the sink, the Top Hat Potty, the grass. Really, you can do the classic hold with you standing, sitting, squatting, in a variety of different locations and scenarios.
You can hold baby over the Top Hat Potty. You can even modify it a little bit to the cradle hold, where instead of baby in a more upright position, you shift them over to where you're holding them just like you would cradling to rock or feed. And you're just having your hands in that same classic hold position, but with baby's head and neck in the crook of your arm. This is great for babies who don't have neck control yet, aren't sitting up independently yet, and are more willing and wanting to be in this laid-back position. That's another great one that's good for over the Top Hat Potty. You can just sink their bottom right into the potty there.
You can do this while feeding. If you're really coordinated, you can just have the Top Hat Potty in your lap while you're feeding, either nursing or bottle feeding the baby, and have them in that cradle hold. Newborns especially will often poop while feeding. They have a gastrocolic reflex that will inspire them to poop while they're feeding. When something comes in, something else has to go out to make room for it, so often babies will poop while nursing. The Top Hat Potty can be really helpful to have if you're trying to catch those poops.
You can use the Mini Potty for any of these positions, but when baby has neck control, I prefer to just hold them under the arms and sit them on the Mini Potty, either facing toward or away from me. This can go anywhere with you, and both of these potties are top rack dishwasher safe, which is great. If they get old and worn out, cracked, whatever, they are number five recyclable, at least here in the US. I've had this one since, I believe, 2018, and it's in great shape. They're really going to last you a long time.
I'm going to link a blog post that has a lot of pictures in it, how to hold your newborn over a potty. Because that's what most people have difficulty with, is how to get their newborn in position. Most of us understand that when a baby is independently sitting, they're just going to sit on a potty, it just has to be the right size for them. But if you're having trouble figuring out how to hold that baby, in the car, on the go, at home, while feeding, go ahead and check out that post and I will link that in the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/233.
The next thing I want to go over quickly is appropriate clothing for EC. I mentioned that there are a couple different ways that you can make EC a little bit easier for yourself with the clothing. When you have snaps, I only snap a few of them, or try to get those that have the smaller snaps. There's some that have really heavy duty snaps and they can be really tough to undo, especially one-handed if you're already holding the baby.
At Tiny Undies we have the split crotch pants. In many countries where EC is still very commonly practiced, children are put in split crotch pants as soon as they can walk. It simply is pants with no crotch in it, exactly what it sounds like. The one at Tiny Undies has this great little Velcro on it. It's easy to get on and off and they are very soft and cozy. They just have an opening there for baby. You can either have a diaper over this whole thing, you can have them diaper free in this. You wouldn't really use this with undies or trainers because you'd have to get one or the other all the way off, but this is great for either putting a diaper back-up on over it or having them diaper free in the pants when it's a little bit chilly out. The DIY post that I mentioned earlier, I believe, does have some instructions for making your own. Many people just get some secondhand or thrift store baby pants and make their own split crotch pants. It's pretty simple and easy.
I like to put my kids in shirts and just the diaper or the back-up, especially when it's warm out. But if you want to have something on the bottom, you can do pants that are a size up. If you're working with clothing manipulation, your baby's getting towards potty independence and wrapping up EC, the bigger pants, especially the elastic waist pants, are great because that's easier for them to get on and off. You want to avoid the tight, spandex leggings. They're adorable, but when you're around the house and you're wanting your baby to get their pants off by themselves, you're going to be looking for saggier, maybe sweatpants. Something that's really easy to get on and off, and possibly in a size up.
Leg warmers are great, of course, for cold weather. I also will link episode 114, that talks all about pottying in cold weather, and how to bundle baby up and still have easy access. I even saw a post on Instagram by one of our coaches, or at least one of our affiliates, that was talking about what I call a bunny suit. It was a snowsuit that had access to be able to potty in cold weather. In a way it had the split crotch idea, but there was some fastener there, so you just opened it in the bottom and her daughter could sit and potty. If I can find that, I'll also link that in the show notes. That was just an afterthought.
The footed pajamas, what I do is just not snap them all the way. If they don't have feet, I usually leave the snaps done around the ankles and just the one in the middle in the crotch. That way I can unsnap the middle snap and just slip the legs off of the baby's feet. But they also have footed pajamas now that have zippers that are the two-way zippers. Not only does it zip down from the top, it zips up from the bottom and you can get baby's feet out. I would've loved to have those with my first. He was born in December. The zipper only went one way. If you can find those footed pajamas, if you're pregnant and you're asking for clothing from people, tell them if you have footed pajamas with zippers, make sure it's a two-way zipper. Because that's going to be so much easier, even just for diaper changes. And really, that's it for EC-friendly clothing. In the end, there's no rules. It's whatever works best for you, and is easiest for you and your baby to practice EC.
Let's cover back-ups quickly. Back-ups are just what you're going to have on your baby's bottom when you don't have a diaper on. The diaper is a back-up when you're practicing EC because you've shifted that mindset. There are a variety of different styles that we have at Tiny Undies. We have just the regular undies. This is the learned style with the bear on it, and this is great because it's got the orange patches, where you can show baby to grab to push pants down or pull them up. The bear is upside down so it's facing them, so it makes it a little bit easier for them to understand which way is up, and the leg holes are different colors. Those are great. We have them not only in the undies, but in the trainers as well. They have this padded area in the crotch. That is going to, like a cloth diaper, as you wash them, fluff up and be a little bit more absorbent. They're going to be absorbent the first time, but it's usually a good idea to prep them a little bit. These are going to hold, usually, a medium-sized pee.
Tiny Undies really is a niche. You could get just undies and trainers from the store, the generic ones, but usually they're gigantic. Especially if you've either got a slimmer or more petite kiddo, or if you're starting at six months or 12 months with undies and trainers. Often, especially the leg holes on the store-bought brands are really big and the padding in the crotch tends to be more synthetic, and so the pee doesn't really absorb into it very quickly. It'll just leak right out the leg hole. With my oldest, we got store-bought trainers and we had an incident where the poop totally skipped the undies and went straight out his leg hole when he was just wearing the trainers. These are a lot better, at Tiny Undies, if you want to keep everything contained and actually protect your flooring.
If you have a child that has a little bit more thickness to their thighs, because those leg holes can be small, you can go with the tiny boxers. These are fantastic. The leg holes are a little more generous. They don't have that same elastic around them. These are unisex, they don't have the weird little pocket in the front for boys, because almost every boy just pushes their undies down. They don't use the little pocket to try and get through. That's usually pretty difficult, especially when they're young. So these are unisex, they don't have any hole whatsoever, and these are a pretty generous size. My five-year-old is still in the 3T. He is more slim and I'm trying to convince him to trade up to the next size, but he just loves them too much, he doesn't want to let go. They come in four colors, and they're really nice and cozy and soft as well.
For a more waterproof option, you can layer either the WoolUps. Wool is naturally water resistant. Or the TinyUps, which are the cloth diaper cover that are waterproof. They're fleece-lined with these great little snaps on the side. If you have a poop miss, they're a lot easier to get off. You can layer either of these over undies or trainers, or just use them independently. A lot of people like to use the WoolUps for nighttime.
In the resources, in the Go Diaper Free book, in the appendices, there is a list of all of the different back-ups, in order of most absorbent to least absorbent. At the end of the day, what you want to choose for you and your baby is, number one, what helps your baby stay dry the longest, so something that they are not too comfortable peeing and pooping in. Although, take a look at the book and some of our other resources to find out what phases they're probably going to be fine sitting in their own pee. They go through some developmental leaps where they're willing to ignore it. In general, you're looking for something that they're going to avoid peeing in most, and is going to encourage them to give the strongest signals, to give off or try to communicate with you that they need to go pee or poop. Almost all babies will continue poop signals through any of the potty pauses or the other developmental leaps. But, here and there you do have a baby that is a little bit of a stealth pooper. That's just the rule in general, is to try to find something that works for keeping your baby as dry as possible and helping them to signal the strongest and the most often. As with everything, it's going to ebb and flow as you continue through on your journey, as they develop, as they learn new skills, and as they get more independent with the potty process.
Episode 53 is The Ultimate Guide to back-ups. I will link that as well. And that's everything that Andrea had used with all of her first either four or five children, both day and night, from birth until they were potty independent. Those are some great examples on how she shifted as needed with their needs and with their development.
Last, I want to touch on packing the diaper bag. An EC diaper bag looks really similar to a non-EC diaper bag, except you might have a potty in there. While the Top Hat Potty and the Mini Potty are both great and fit in a diaper bag, there are a variety of other seats out there, some of them that are combo seats, they can double as both a Mini Potty and a seat reducer for a big potty. A popular one is the Potette Plus. You can get reusable or disposable liners for that one as well. I'll link that.
But I think that even if you're not practicing EC, you should have a wet/dry bag. You can find these at Tiny Undies as well. If you're not familiar with these, they are waterproof in this larger compartment. This is the wet side. And the larger compartment is where you're going to put anything that's soiled. But you can also keep dry items, and the fresh, clean back-ups or clothing in the dry part, in the smaller pouch. Right now, this is my diaper bag with my 18-month-old. I don't bring a whole thing, I just bring the wet/dry bag with a couple of extra pairs of undies or TinyUps, depending on what we're doing. I actually put our folding toilet seat reducer right in the wet side, because I just feel that's an appropriate spot for it. Always have a wet/dry bag with you, or at the very least, have a roll of those disposable diaper trash bags with you. What's funny is, if you own a dog, you know that those are pretty much identical as the dog poop pickup bags. When I have those around the house, I just use those.
There are some times when you have just a giant mess that you don't want to get close to anything else. Or you can even, just like you would pick up your dog's poop, put your hand in it like a glove, grab the poop out of the Mini Potty or Top Hat Potty, and fold it in on itself, dispose of the poop, and then pour out the pee under a bush, in a sink, wherever you need. If you're having to clean up the Mini Potty from a poop mess, those disposable bags are great to have. And those are really important to have if you don't have a wet/dry bag because at some point you're going to probably have a miss and you're going to want something to keep the wet stuff away and separate from all of the dry stuff.
Obviously, extra clothes and extra back-ups, just like you would if you were packing a diaper bag. And for those of you who have already brought a child through potty training, this probably sounds really similar to that. Once you graduate out of the diapers, your diaper bag is still there. It might have snacks and other things in it, it just looks a little different. You might have a potty seat, you might have some extra clothes, maybe even an extra pair of shoes, if you think your child might have a miss and might need to change their shoes.
You also will want to go to our website and check out the EC While Out + About MiniCourse. If you want to practice EC on the go, which some of us find it a little bit easier, there's not all these distractions as there are at home, and so you can sometimes focus a little bit more on your kiddo. Or if you're planning to travel, that minicourse is great for giving you a primer on how to go about EC while you're out and about, when to offer your pottytunities, what to pack, et cetera.
And that's it, folks, those are the nuts and bolts. Today we've covered what equipment and gear you need to get started, how to hold your baby, clothing, back-ups, and even what to put in your diaper bag. I want to encourage you to try out these tips. Like we talked about last week, just give it a try. Take the diaper off, and there you've started. Start with one of the easy catches that we covered last week. That was godiaperfree.com/232. You can go back to that beginner's guide episode on how to tell your baby needs to potty and when to take them. And the technical side of it that we talked about today will help you figure out how to do that as well.
Now we want to hear from you: what gear or techniques have worked best with you in your EC journey if you're practicing already? And if you aren't or you got some new ideas today, what are you going to try? Is there a gear item that you think might be helpful? Is there a hold that you haven't tried yet, that you think might get you over that hump? I want to encourage everyone to just take whatever they think will work for their family, and leave the rest. EC is so flexible. You can find a way to work it in, even part-time, to any lifestyle. I hope you found some way to do that here.
Thank you so much for tuning in today. We would love to have you subscribe to our newsletter. Go to godiaperfree.com/start. You're going to get an Easy Start Guide there, totally free, to help you on your way getting started with your EC journey. You're going to join our mailing list, and I promise you, we do not believe in spam, so don't worry about that. What that will get you is notices for all of the challenge weeks we have throughout the year. Again, if you're listening to this after Go Diaper Free Week, please sign up for the email list because you will find out about all the sales we have, all of the events we have, and the challenges, and any new resources we come out with. You will be the first to know. Make sure you go to godiaper free.com/start.
If you are potty training or you're getting close to wanting to potty train because your child's almost at that 18-month mark, still go to godiaperfree.com/start. At the bottom of the page you'll see where to click to enter your email for potty training, and we'll make sure you get all of the news on all of the potty training resources there. If you are listening to this during Go Diaper Free Week, I hope you're participating in the challenge and I hope it's been encouraging to you. Go to godiaperfree.com/week and check out everything we have going on there.
Everything I mentioned here today that's available at tinyundies.com is on a sale for this week. Please make sure you head over there and check that out. If it's later than Go Diaper Free Week and you join our mailing list, you will find out about all of the sales we have on this amazing gear. It is really helpful. After three kiddos, I can tell you yes, you can practice EC with nothing, and a lot of this stuff is just so simple, it really helps to simplify the process for you.
Next week we will be talking about Surviving Potty Meltdown. I hope you tune in for that episode too. Go to godiaperfree.com/233 to let us know if you have questions on this episode, on the gear and techniques for EC. Thanks again for tuning in. We will see you next time.
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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