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Observation + Intuition = Success: Make Observation and Intuition Bookends to Support your EC Practice

Observation Intuition Success Make Observation and Intuition Bookends to Support your EC Practice

This is a guest post from Kate Falk, our certified coach in Jackson, Wyoming. Enjoy! xx Andrea

Here’s something I have learned from personal experience and coaching families who practice EC: two aspects of the EC practice - observation and intuition - are very supportive and informative when used in conjunction. I’ve found that individuals tend to rely upon and believe in the value of one of the two aspects, either observation or intuition, rather than using them together as bookends to support the practice and give it cohesion. 

Observation Intuition Success - Feeding baby

Observation is a routine that provides very concrete and clear information, such as baby almost always poops within minutes of feeding or baby pees two to three times in 30 minutes after waking. When you practice observation consistently, as Go Diaper Free recommends, you will see patterns in baby’s elimination. Like any science-based study, you need to have some consistency in your observation: do observation for two weeks every day, do observation at the same time every day, record notes and eliminate distractions. 

Observation Intuition Success - sleeping baby

Observation is a must at the start of your EC practice. It is time set aside from the busyness of your day when baby can communicate/show you what he does right before and during elimination. Then, during the rest of the day, you will see the same behavior or sounds and know that pee or poop time is near. During observation, you will see how pee and poop are synced with the rhythms of the day, such as feeding or waking. You will be able to take the evidence gathered during observation and use it to decide when it makes sense to offer pottytunities. Observation allows you to be responsive to your baby’s communication, even when it’s subtle and without words. 

Observation Intuition Success - baby ec

Observation is a must when things change. And things are always changing. That’s about the only reliable thing in the first 18 months of your baby’s life. So you do observation when baby hits a developmental milestone or his sleeping or eating habits change or when something shifts in your or your family’s life, like work, sleep, living space, relationships, etc. Everything in our world and lives are connected, so when one thing shifts, it sets in motion many other shifts, which likely includes your EC practice. EC’s philosophy honors a baby’s desire to be clean and his ability to communicate this desire. If this philosophy resonates with you, then it makes sense that baby is going to change his elimination patterns, positions and rhythms when there’s change present in his world. What to do? How to stay connected with your baby’s ever-evolving world? Do observation. 

Families rarely challenge the importance of observation. Without it, an EC practice is unstructured, consequently messy and typically frustrating. You, as a parent, really don’t have anything concrete to rely upon or structure the practice around. Without structure, the baby isn’t going to be able to communicate his needs effectively. Communication is a two-way street. You set the structure by knowing what to look and listen for. 

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But what about intuition? Wooo-eeey. The topic of intuition makes a lot of families squirm. Unlike the information that comes forth through observation, which feels concrete or black and white, intuitive knowing is very fluid and in the gray zone. I didn’t tap into intuition as much when I practiced EC with my first child. But when I practiced EC with my second child, intuition was a cornerstone of the practice. I knew about intuition the first go around, as it is one of the four roads to potty time, but since it was the last of the four roads described, I considered it bonus material. Yet, I know Andrea has said again and again that an EC practice can be informed by any combination of the four roads. You can rely solely on one road or utilize all four. In my practice, however, I want to share that relying upon intuition made EC more relaxed AND I caught a lot more pees and poops. Intuition is real. 

In our western cultures, we are taught to see black and white. The majority of our learning is institutionalized. Science trumps all. Therefore, for most of us, it is likely easier to start with observation and trust the black and white evidence it provides. However, for half of the world, who trusts that babies have body awareness, the ability to communicate and the ability to control their bladder and sphincter and consequently have babies who are toilet independent by one year of age, practicing EC is culturally-typical and second nature. It’s the norm. Parents feel supported in the process. Everyone’s doing it. You know it works. You know how to see baby’s signals, cues and squirms without ever doing formal observation. Baby’s elimination rhythms become clear because you intuitively know what to look for. No record log required!

Observation Intuition Success - intuition baby wearing

For me, having done EC with one child, feeling that the process was positive and having a child out of diapers by the age of two provided me with the experience and cultivated the confidence that the second time around EC was just going to happen. Yes, I was going to put in the time. I was going to catch some pees and miss many more. There were going to months of seeming progress to be followed by a month of resistance. Yet my confidence and trust in the process never waned. I knew it worked. I knew EC was beneficial for my sons, the environment, our bank account and our family. It was simply what we did. Ultimately, I was more relaxed and graceful. It is that attitude that allows intuition to shine. 

Observation Intuition Success - intuition baby wearing outdoors

What did intuition look like for me? Just as Andrea describes, I would feel the wet spot while wearing my son, only to remove him from my back and learn that my shirt was in fact dry. I’d offer a pottytunity and voila, he’d go. Interestingly, I have experienced that in recent years while wearing, holding and caring for friends’ children, who do not practice EC. I’d say that about half of the time, the baby would eliminate when given the opportunity, despite not practicing EC. Routinely, I also experienced the flash, out-of-blue thought, “baby needs to go!” Intuition is truly just a feeling. 

Granted, I knew my baby’s signals and rhythms through observation when the intuition rang loudly. Observation and intuition worked together, as bookends, to make EC solid. For me, it was reassuring to have both the science (observation) and the trust (intuition).  

Observation Intuition Success - intuition outdoors

I can tell you exactly how to do observation. It’s in the book Go Diaper Free. Follow the instructions. I can’t tell you exactly how to be intuitive. For me, it was slowing down, being present, engaging with my babies and repeating, “It’s all going to be okay,” as a mantra of sorts. (I repeat that mantra during the rest of the day, as well!) I trust that amidst all the change and chaos that is present in our world, I can care well for my babies and listen to what they are “saying.” 

I’m curious how other EC’ing families have cultivated intuition. What does it look/feel like? Did it come easily? How does it work in conjunction with (or without) observation? Do you believe that intuition correlates with confidence and trust in the EC philosophy and practice? Please share in the comments below!

(And if you’re interested in bringing EC to you town like Kate has, check out our coach program.)

 

PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)

Kate Falk

About Kate Falk

I am a mother and educator who has used Elimination Communication with my two sons. I was thrilled to have an alternative to full-time diapering. The process was different with both of my sons, partly because with my second son, I was more experienced and taking the Certified Coach program. Elimination Communication is accommodating. There is a way to incorporate it into every family structure.In addition to Go Diaper Free coaching, I am a certified Reading Specialist who works in private practice, mostly with children with reading disabilities.I enjoy traveling, climbing, cooking and recreating in nature with my kids. I have lived between Jackson, Wyoming and southwestern Colorado for the past 6 years and am happy to be settling full-time in Jackson.

19 Comments

  1. Avatar AE on July 7, 2020 at 7:07 am

    Do you believe that intuition correlates with confidence and trust in the EC philosophy and practice?

    Yes but also with confidence and trust in oneself. Nearly every time I think “oh, he needs to go” I don’t listen to my intuition, and then regret it. Baby is 9mo and we started from his second week… I’m still not sure why I ignore myself!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 8, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      I think it is really hard to start to listen to your intuition. We are so used to ignoring it. Once you really dive in and have confidence in yourself and your baby, things are so amazing!! xx Andrea

    • Avatar Anna on August 11, 2020 at 9:00 am

      I rely pretty heavily on intuition. I guess it’s that your “fast thinking” brain is doing loads of analysis of past experiences that you’re not aware of, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid.
      I can be in the next room and I’ll get a feeling and shout to my husband “She needs to pee!” And either he’ll take her and she goes or he’ll tell me she’s just peed. He wants me to tell him my intuitive ways but some things can’t be taught like that. Just spend lots of time being mindful (like constant background observation) and your brain will start seeing patterns.

  2. Laura Laura on July 7, 2020 at 8:16 am

    “Things are always changing. That’s about the only reliable thing in the first 18 months of your baby’s life.”

    So true, Kate!! I think if we as a culture we taught/modeled to new parents to expect this, there would be a lot less stress in EC and parenting in general!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 8, 2020 at 6:47 pm

      Yes! Even with older kids, they are constantly changing. We always need to take a step back, re-focus, and re-connect to our kids as they grow. xx Andrea

    • Avatar Kate Falk on July 8, 2020 at 9:51 pm

      Most certainly! We (as humans and mamas) SO want things to go the right way and to feel that we are in control. That is simply an impossible goal to attain. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint, Laura!

  3. Avatar Atikah on July 7, 2020 at 9:38 am

    I agree! Most of the time, I have a feeling my daughter needs to go (random thought usually) and she goes! Like 90% of the time and she’s the kind that has really subtle signals. So I have to really rely on the other roads to potty.

    But I am also afraid that I would be over offering potty. Having that balance is really difficult.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 8, 2020 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Atikah! As long as she is happy and not resisting, trust your intuition! If she starts to resist, do observation and see if you can get in sync again. xx Andrea

  4. Avatar Angela on July 7, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Yes, I am convinced there is a correlation. Actually it is very interesting to see intuition in action. It is the very first time I have realized that it is so powerful. And it is also the very first time that I see how parenting skills improve by just having confidence in our children and their abilities. EC teaches more than it is intended to.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 8, 2020 at 6:51 pm

      Intuition is so powerful Angela! It really makes such a difference to have that confidence in yourself and your children. xx Andrea

  5. Avatar Helene on July 7, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    I found really tricky to know the difference between being paranoied and having the intuition she needs to go… but lately I made an observation of … myself😊. All the times when I was unsure, and missed one… how did it feel? And now I feel this push inside me, this feeling she needs to go… it’s hard to describe, it’s like a pressure of some kind…

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 8, 2020 at 6:53 pm

      Yay Helene! Taking that step back to analyze yourself is so key, it’s so awesome you figured it out. xx Andrea

    • Avatar Kate Falk on July 8, 2020 at 9:53 pm

      Your explanation of the feeling of intuition is spot on! It was hard for me to decide how to describe it in the post because I know it’s unique to the individual.

  6. Nechama Wachsman Nechama Wachsman on July 8, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Honestly, observation made me a little nuts. I couldn’t figure out how to observe without it being on my mind all day. Not seeing anything consistent in observation patterns also didn’t help. Maybe I wasn’t doing it correctly. Either way I prefer to rely on my intuition, and if that means more misses, so be it. Eventually we get into a rhythm.. and we all know, there is no feeling like that one- when Mom and baby are in sync around EC…

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 8, 2020 at 6:54 pm

      It’s good that you recognized that Nechama! It can be so easy to hyper focus and then things start to go downhill. You have to figure out what works best for you and your baby. xx Andrea

    • Avatar Kate Falk on July 8, 2020 at 9:44 pm

      We’re fortunate there are so many methods (the four road to potty time) to tune into your baby’s need to eliminate. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. Avatar Elysium Voll on July 8, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    I didn’t listen to my intuition much with my first baby. I thought it was just paranoia and focusing so much in trying to keep a dry diaper. With baby number two, after wrapping up EC with my daughter and realizing the roller coaster that is EC, I vowed to not care about a wet diaper. EC for me is about the connection with my baby, not trying to catch every pee so that I can selfishly feel like *I* am so awesome. Once I let go of that expectation with baby number 2, my intuition kicked in big time!! I catch probably 70% of all pees based on intuition, on the thought that pops in my head, ‘baby needs to pee.’ Although I still haven’t done any formal observation with my 10 week old, our EC practice is strong, and I feel so connected with my baby’s needs.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on July 8, 2020 at 6:56 pm

      Yes! That is absolutely key. You don’t want to try to catch everything, it puts so much pressure on yourself and baby. I’m so happy to hear you were able to take a step back, relax, and let your intuition take over. xx Andrea

    • Avatar Kate Falk on July 8, 2020 at 9:48 pm

      When I would get too focused on making all the catches, I would remind myself that it’s VERY unlikely that mamas in cultures where pottying your baby from birth is the norm are calculating their success rate!! Kudos to you for focusing on the process and connection with your baby!

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