This is a guest post from our Certified GDF Coach, Alvana Cundey, of Southern New Jersey. I love her story of how easy it is to do EC, from her unique point of view and the whole idea of "imperfection!" xx Andrea
For those on the fence about Elimination Communication and whether it could work for your second baby (especially if you didn’t use this practice with your first baby or were a late starter your first time), I would like to present a personal story to prove that, yes, Elimination Communication is not as difficult as you may think.
Both my daughter and my son were wearing underwear during the day when they were 17 months old. And when another mom heard me say this she promptly declared, “You must be a potty training guru!”
Uhhh, no. I’m definitely NOT a guru. I’m sure no one would be labeled an expert in anything else if they’d only done it twice.
But I did practice Elimination Communication with my children and would love to help point more people towards this amazing practice.
When my daughter was 12 weeks old I stumbled upon the term “EC” in a blog and was curious enough to Google the initials so I could understand what it meant. I read that “Elimination Communication (EC) is a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues and intuition to address an infant’s need to eliminate waste” and was immediately intrigued.
What?!? You mean I don’t have to use diapers for the next 2.5 years and then begin a long struggle of potty training? Why have I never heard this before? Why is this not popular?! I am the only wimp who gags over a nasty poopy diaper and would therefore like to avoid poopy diapers at all costs?!
Before the day was over I had taken my daughter to the potty twice, amazed that she went both times. But, being the Type A person that I am, I took a step back and decided that I needed more information, much more information, before I could make a huge change like that.
The next 4 months I spent reading and researching online. This amazing resource, Go Diaper Free, wasn’t even created at the time and there wasn’t much to explain how to start. Thankfully I found Andrea's first book about EC when my daughter was less than 1 so our learning curve wasn't too late.
Subconsciously, I think I was trying to figure out how to be perfect at EC prior to even starting on the journey. And after all that time I realized two things:
First, it’s impossible to be perfect at EC (or anything!).
Second, you don’t need to be perfect at EC for it to work. And, in our case, work very well!
I also learned that EC is not what you start out thinking it is. You don’t follow your child around, paranoid that they’re going to pee on the carpet and hover over their every movement looking for cues that they need to use the bathroom.
With practice you relax, you learn to not be fazed by a potty miss (aka the dreaded accident), and best of all, you become more capable at dealing with potty incidents in general, so that potty training (if you want to call it that) is no longer the horrible experience that everyone says it is.
But back to my story.
After all that research, my daughter was 7 months old when I finally decided to put her on the potty again, and she took to it right away. At the end of the first week I realized that we had only changed wet diapers for the past 7 days.
7 days of all the poop going into the potty.
7 days of not having to worry about a diaper fail.
(You know what I’m talking about. When there’s so much poop that it somehow gets half-way up the back of your precious child? Nope, none of that!)
Needless to say, I was hooked.
I’d like to say that the next 10 months were EC bliss and that we never had another potty problem after that first week. But that would be a complete lie.
There were setbacks and times when my daughter downright refused to use the potty (only to pee in her back-up diaper moments after leaving the bathroom, of course).
So why did I do it?
And why did I start EC at an even earlier age with my second child? And, even crazier, why do I think everyone should try this with their children, too?
It’s easy to get started.
Do you have a toilet in your house? Great. I just wanted to make sure, because that’s really all you need. Sure, it’s easier if you have a little potty or a potty seat reducer if your child is sitting up and there’s lots of special clothes to make getting to the potty less of a challenge, but none of that is required. The Go Diaper Free book will show you ways you can hold your child so that they will be comfortable over a large potty.
If you have a hang up with the idea of ECing because you feel overwhelmed with the gear you’ll have to buy, then start first and figure out the gear as you go. And remember, just because a certain item is heavily used doesn’t mean it will be the perfect item for your family. Everyone’s EC journey is going to look different!
Have you ever wondered how much it costs to diaper your child? According to BabyCenter, about $72/month. And for those who cloth diaper and wash the diapers themselves, it’s still about $19/month.
Have you ever wondered how much it costs to flush a potty? A quick search will give you a couple answers, somewhere between 3/10 of a cent and one penny. If you’re looking to save some money while raising your children, this is definitely a no-brainer.
Not every child will start pooping in the potty consistently from the onset, but most will get to the point where 95% of the poop is going directly into the potty.
Take a moment to conjure up the most horrifying diaper blow-out that you’ve ever seen. Then think about the fact that if you had put your baby on the potty instead of strapping them into a diaper to do their business, it’s quite possible you could’ve avoided that entire disaster.
Personally, I think about the time my daughter pooped during her nap while we were camping when she was 6 months old. Poop was all over her and her pack-n-play and we were staying in a rustic cabin with no warm water. Yet had I been willing to start putting her on the potty we may have avoided that catastrophe!
It’s better for our environment.
I’m sure I don’t need to talk about the 27.4 billon disposable diapers that go into US landfills every year, do I? Diapers don’t just disappear when they leave our homes. We all want to pass on a cleaner world to our children and every single person can make a difference!
EC helps our children grow up.
A lot of us love the baby phase, don’t we? It feels good to be so needed, and a helpless baby is one of those things that is completely needy yet perfectly cuddly. But then they start to grow and we are holding them back if we resist their need for independence.
We’ve all witnessed parents treating their very capable toddlers as needy infants when it comes to various difficult situations. Yet pottying is an area where children crave competence, and so often we Westerners hold them back.
And trust me, I understand.
Those of us who were scarred by a disaster diaper-fail generally gawk at the idea of taking away a diaper at an early age...am I right? But you will be amazed at how quickly your child proves to you how competent he or she is! They really are capable of much more than we give them credit for.
It’s more fun.
Picture that instead of cleaning up a toddler who is squirming to get off the changing table, you are sitting next to your baby and making silly faces or reading books while your child takes care of his or her potty business. Imagine the pride you will feel when you can take your child to the bathroom instead of having your kid be the one with the diaper that’s stinking up the situation.
That sounds like more FUN than changing another diaper, doesn't it?
And while we’re on the topic of fun, please realize that this is a situation where the whole family can be involved. Your partner - heck, your whole family - gets to help out. This is one of the few things that will not fall on only one parent’s shoulders!
My daughter was just 3 ½ when I began completing the EC process with my 17 month old son and my daughter helped get her brother to the potty a couple times within the first week of being diaper free during the day. Doesn't it sound fun to share the load (no pun intended) with other members of the family?
These days she’s still practicing, but it’s only by taking her dolls to the potty.
And the most awesome reason to take a leap of faith and begin practicing EC?
It makes you trust more in yourself as a parent.
And don’t we all need a little bit more of that? There are so many choices out there these days and it seems like we are supposed to be pitted against each other when we have different parenting styles. But this is one area where it honestly doesn’t matter what you believe about anything else.
Are you a single parent? A vegan? Have extended family living in your home? You’re having your 1st child? Or maybe your 10th? Live in an apartment? Own your own homestead on the prairie? Doesn’t really matter. If you are capable of changing your child’s diaper you are qualified to teach him or her how to use the potty.
So now you have the humble opinion from a non-guru in the practice of Elimination Communication. And in case it isn’t completely apparent, what I mean to say is that I don’t want to be called a guru because I know you are capable of doing EC, too.
So what’s your story? When did you first take your baby to the potty? Was it today?
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