This is the Go Diaper Free Podcast with Andrea Olson, session 9 - mythology!
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast, where we're all about teaching you how to stop changing diapers, starting at birth. And now your host...she was Captain of her High School dance team...Andrea Olson.
Yes, this is true. I was Captain of the Trinity Troy-Anns in Euless, Texas, which, in Texas, is a pretty big deal! Just another little personal tidbit about me. In today’s session of the Go Diaper Free Podcast we are going to talk about things that are not true...Myths & Misconceptions in the Elimination Communication realm.
Not surprisingly, many people feel cynical when they hear about EC. It’s not what they grew up knowing. Their lack of knowledge or experience leaves them creating myths and spreading them.
You (or your partner/mother/friends) may not have heard much about EC, if anything. Reactions may include: There’s so much new stuff to learn with a new baby that why would you want to complicate things further? A baby using a toilet? Miniature-sized training pants? Babies wear diapers. We don’t live in the wilderness. Etcetera. Comments come from those far and wide.
There are indeed some rumors runnin’ round town about EC that I’d like to dispel. After each Myth you’ll find the clear truth about EC. We will cover about 5 of them in this first episode of a series about EC Myths.
I (the parent) will be trained by my baby, not the other way around.
If you’ve chosen to have a baby, you’re pretty much going to have to provide what your baby needs, 24/7. If any, the training lies in those loud baby cries and is necessary for the propagation of our species.
Just as a parent feeds a baby food because she can’t feed herself, so does a parent potty a baby because she can’t do it herself. If a parent feels “used” or “manipulated” because of this, the parent should seek help. Babies need us. Plain and simple. We gladly provide for them because they are helpless, and because we love them.
If that means we’re trained, then willingly so!
Potty learning, no matter what age you begin, is just plain inconvenient. Disposable diapers are very convenient yet are proven to delay potty training. Potty training a toddler is extremely inconvenient. Constantly feeding a newborn is inconvenient, too, but every baby needs feeding. Being a responsive parent is certainly not convenient, but it reaps the highest rewards.
Slowing down around life is key in our bustling society...and realizing that nothing about pottying (or having) a baby is convenient. With pottying, it’s just a matter of when you choose to begin.
EC is certainly less convenient in the beginning but results in more convenience earlier than conventional potty training.
I don’t have time.
With EC, taking your baby to the bathroom is generally a quicker process than letting baby pee/poo in her pants and then cleaning that off her skin, tending to any related diaper rash, and replacing a full-on diaper set-up (especially if it’s a cloth diaper with pins and a cover).
EC takes no more time than any full-time diapering method and often takes substantially less time. Also, you don’t have to practice EC 24/7...you can successfully do it part-time (as so many parents do).
EC is definitely more demanding, time- and energy-wise, in the beginning months, but then tapers off over the coming months, often completing sooner than conventional methods.
It will take way longer to potty train my child this way than the conventional way.
Many ECing parents report that potty independence happens years earlier by using EC than by doing conventional potty training. Depending on your definition of what completed potty training looks like, it can range from 6 to 24 months. This is compared to the current average of about 36-38 months for conventional toilet training independence in the US.
However, please keep in mind that finishing potty independence is not the goal of EC...every baby is different and develops at a different pace. This should be respected and an environment of non-coercion, grounded in trusting communication, should be the focus.
It will psychologically damage my baby to start this early.
First of all, Elimination Communication is a natural process from start to finish, taking baby’s hygienic instincts into account. It is not training. Although at times people (and I) refer to EC as “Infant Potty Training,” this is only to suit the needs of conversation - many people get what you’re talking about if you use the more common vernacular.
Regarding potty training, child psychology experts insist that parents will harm their baby’s psyche and cause irreparable emotional damage by potty training early. If you’re talking about “Early Potty Training,” a method which from the early 20th century which incorporated coercion (and anal suppositories), you are correct! If you are talking about doing conventional potty training on a 1- or 3- day boot-camp schedule, you are correct!
However, given that families across the world have been doing this over the course of human history, naturally and non-forcibly, it is unlikely that doing EC will harm your baby in any way. If you follow these instructions and proceed in a gentle way, responding to baby’s natural cues, you will be helping baby’s psychological and emotional well-being, building trust between you...not hindering it.
Per Wikipedia, “Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton...warns that enforced toilet training can cause serious longterm problems, and that it is the child's decision when to stop wearing diapers, not the parents'.”
I totally agree that “enforced toilet training can cause serious longterm problems,” and EC shines in this light in that it is non- coercive, gentle, and natural. However, I don’t agree with what Brazelton infers next...that it’s the child’s decision when to stop diaper and begin using the toilet. We, as parents, train our children to go against their instinctual aversion to wetness and thus teach them to use the diaper as a potty. They trust that this is where we want them to go, and become confused and resistant when we try to train them out of the diaper habit. (I’d be unhappy too!)
If it were up to babies, they’d have us help them not potty in their pants from day one, as per their instincts.
If they could “decide when to stop wearing diapers,” I guarantee you they would choose to NOT wear them at all!
And quite the contrary, delaying potty training til 3 or 4 years old is what’s damaging to our children! Still living in diapers at 4 years old may reap serious psychological consequences on our children. I’ve heard countless stories of “diaper trauma,” such as one toddler who poos in his diaper then reaches his hand in, grabs the poo, and smears it everywhere. This story came from a daycare worker here in America. There are many more diaper trauma stories where that came from, but I’ll stop there.
The long term psychological effects of wearing your toilet and deeming your private parts “yucky” are somewhat unknown, but being a therapist myself, I can tell you that forcing a child to poo or pee on herself (against her innate instincts) is one of the most confusing, trust-hindering, shame-invoking things one can do to a baby’s psyche.
As a culture, we need to honestly assess this “civilized” practice and realize that just because it’s convenient it doesn’t make it right.
So that brings me to the end of the 5 myths and misconceptions that I’d like to share in this episode of the Go Diaper Free Podcast. You can get the show notes at godiaperfree.com/09.
And if you are curious about EC and how to start...and how to support your practice in the best, most specific, most simplified, dummy-proof form ever, that’s why I created godiaperfree.com.
Come pay us a visit.
Right now, I offer a book. In the future I will be offering a full-on community where you can learn and get support on the website - godiaperfree.com. Please come visit. I’ll teach you everything I know.
Until then, have a wonderful time exploring EC and the other options besides full-time diapering. Take care.
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