As if doing EC isn't (at times) tricky enough for Western parents while at home...taking it on the road can add a-whole-nother dimension.
Have you ever had the joy of changing a diaper in an airplane lavatory?
How about a sitting amidst a giant poopie diaper blow-out while you're on a bus (with no bathroom for miles)?
Or lugging around a huge diaper bag while sightseeing, including the subsequent tricky diaper changes in a cacophony of interesting, non-Koala-changing-table-equipped locales?
Pottying your baby while you travel can save you mess, money, frustration, and time.
(To the inexperienced ECer, it can also be terrifying to imagine...or plan.)
Yet it can also turn out to be much more successful than your in-home EC practice. (Go figure!)
By following some simple guidelines (scroll to the end of this post for the summary of my tips), you can EC abroad with ease.
The photo journey and suggestions I'm about to share might even help the general experience of traveling with your baby or toddler be much more joyous and stress-free.
Planes, trains, automobiles...and baby potties
We started Elimination Communication at birth, went to our first camping festival when our son was 1 month old, I flew out of state (solo) with our son at age 3 months, we did some more extensive camping and festival-going at 10-12 months, and at 14 months we did a 3 month traveling tour of Thailand...ECing all the while.
You could say I've got a tiny bit of personal experience on the subject. And loads more helping my readers in my private support group.
Airports, international flights, buses, tuk-tuks, cabs, cars, camping...you name it, I've done it.
Smack in the midst of transit. Safely. Bungalows, the beach, hiking, camping....
All discreetly, respectfully, and efficiently. And you can too.
A Photo Journey of ECing During Travel
The following series of photos and instructional commentary will hopefully simplify the whole matter of ECing on-the-go and ECing abroad for you...making travel with your baby a diaper-free or diaper-independent endeavor.
Whether you're just doing a 2 hour road trip or a year-long, world-wide tour, I hope that I can help set an example for some of you...and perhaps inspire others to give it a whirl in the first place.
Like I mentioned earlier, I'll end this whole post with a concise list of tips for traveling abroad while maintaining your EC practice with your baby...pottying all the way.
Without further ado, here is the Infant Potty Training -related photo collection from our Thailand trip, 2011-2012, with our (then) 14-16 month old son:
13 Tips for Pottying Your Baby During Travel
1. Any time you enter a building, including airports, bus depots, a store, your new hotel, a bar in the jungle...spot the public restroom and offer a pottytunity FIRST. If your baby or toddler doesn't want or need to go at that time, at least you'll know where the facilities are when the time does come.
2. Wear your baby. I can not say enough about this. Not only is it easier to pack (and travel with) only your Ergo or Moby Wrap instead of a stroller, you'll find that you're in deep contact with your child's every need. EC signals are most easily felt when you wear your baby...and how about those "phantom pees" where you feel wet but aren't (when really what's going on is that the baby actually has a full bladder and needs to pee)? Well, those are pretty hard to feel when your baby is far away from your body in a stroller.
3. Travel with a mini potty. This can be a Baby Bjorn Smart or Little Potty, a bEcoPotty (my favorite for the size, style, and compostability), a top hat potty, or a folding toilet seat reducer to use on most toilets worldwide. You'll generally want a mini potty with you to set up a "potty station" near the bathroom of your temporary home(s)...if you typically use mini potties at home. And when the airplane lavatory is full and your child signals a need to poo, you'll be glad to have your little potty with you in your carry-on! (Remember, diaper bags count as a free extra carry-on...stick your little potty in there [inside a plastic bag] with whatever clothing or diaper back-up you use, your wipees, and your butt balm).
4. Be discreet, respectful, and clean up after yourself. Try to find a public restroom first. If that fails, do not just EC out in the open. Find a very secluded place to do the deed. Bring doggie poo bags or have a plastic bag handy at all times...and use it to scoop up and dispose of poop when it's deposited anywhere in city or nature. If you don't have that and you're on a remote trail, you can bury it, cover it with earth matter, or scoop it out of the main path.
5. Don't over-pack. I recommend packing what you usually use to EC while you're at home, bring a wet bag to hold any soiled or wet clothing, and only pack as many EC-related clothing items as regular clothing items. Example: if you are packing 7 days worth of clothes to launder during your travels...then only pack 7 days worth of EC gear (back-up, diapers, etc.). Bring a dim nightlight or flashlight to use if you do nighttime EC. You can also pack a wool puddle pad to put over any bed you are sleeping on together (even a yard of 100% wool felt will work - about $25 at a fabric store).
6. Use a back-up as a "tool" ANY time you, the parent, feel like you'll be too stressed to incorporate potty awareness into your schedule. A back-up can be training pants, a cloth diaper, or even a disposable (even if you don't normally use them). Your baby will probably signal anyway, and you will probably potty her anyway, but knowing the back-up is there will help you travel more calmly. Remember, "diaper-free" means free from dependence upon diapers...not necessarily naked (or scantily clad) when other options might make more sense.
7. Sit in the bulkhead/bassinet seats on airplanes. If you have a lap baby on an airplane that is equipped with them, and your child is small enough (in weight) to qualify, reserve the on-plane bassinet and enjoy the hands-free naps AND the vastly larger legroom (where your potty will fit nicely into the decor!). Confirm once, twice, and a third time prior to your trip and at check-in...for some reason there is often confusion about who reserved the seat, the bassinet, and when.
8. When you arrive at your hotel room, bungalow, campground, or relative's house, set up your potty station FIRST and offer a pottytunity to your babe after saying, "This is where your potty will be while we're here." You can decorate the area with removable stickers or a familiar toy to make it inviting. Make it comfortable...but you can also just stick it in the bathroom next to the big toilet and be matter-of-fact about the whole thing. This is where we pee. 'Nuff said.
9. If you do nighttime EC, set up your usual array of tools (potty, dim light or flashlight, etc.) just like you would at home...next to the bed or wherever. Put your wool puddle pad underneath the sheets and use a back-up at night if you usually use that (we do!). If you're using mosquito netting, I recommend wrapping the net around your sleep area while keeping your potty and other tools within the net's inner perimeter to prevent yet another barrier to ECing in the middle of the dark night.
10. When out sightseeing or visiting friends, family, new places...bring your baby to the bathroom with you every time YOU need to go. In addition to any signals received while wearing baby, this sort of timing-based pottying will seem easier to you because you'll be including him in your potty activities. No brainer!
11. If your baby is being passed around to friends and family, put him in a back-up for those hours so everyone else feels comfortable. If you notice a signal during these times, politely ask for your baby and don't go into long explanations. Do the deed and return him to the baby-passing-shuffle. You can also extract him from the crowd based on clock or natural timing, offer a pottytunity, and return him to the oogling faces without a word.
12. Continue to catch the easy ones (after sleeping, a certain amount of time after feeding, using generic and natural timing, upon a diaper change, etc.), pay attention to your intuition, and overall just be consistent. If you're only committed to doing the morning pee, only do that. If you are used to doing full-time EC, step it up and be extra-present (without hovering or being potty-centered) to maintain your practice while abroad. Remember...pottying your baby is just like fulfilling any other of her innate needs, like feeding, sleeping, or play...so if you can handle feeding your baby while abroad, you can probably handle pottying her too! :)
13. If you have a lot of misses in a short period of time...know that this is normal. You are all in flux. Seemingly eternal transition. All of your awareness has expanded to include elephants, busy restaurants, unfamiliar surroundings, and strange noises. Naturally pottying could move to the back of everyone's minds. Just stay consistent, do what you can, and take advantage of the community's laundering services. Don't feel like a failure. Use a back-up if you need to. But do not, I repeat, do not, just give up EC because you're traveling. Your consistency and commitment must stay strong during these times, and no matter your catch rate (shame on you for keeping track! Hehe...:) ) you WILL get back on track when you return home. (And know that our trip actually enhanced our EC practice instead of undermining it. It's all about your mindset.)
I hope this post helps you incorporate EC into your upcoming travel plans. You can always pick up my book where you'll get access to my private support group where I can help you further in case you've got more questions.
In closing, what tricks and techniques have you used to make ECing while abroad possible for you and your family? Do you have any fun stories to share?
Please post them below and, if ya can, please click "Like" below to share this post with your friends!
Thanks! <3 Andrea