What in the world is elimination communication? Part 1: let’s wrap our heads around this infant potty training thing
In this session of The Go Diaper Free Podcast, I answer the question "What is Elimination Communication?"
I've included one of the fun radio interviews I gave during the 1st Annual Go Diaper Free Week in 2013 to give you a clear understanding of what EC is, in a tiny amount of time.
In today’s episode, you’ll also hear me explain 10 things that EC is not. Sometimes it's easier to understand what something isn't prior to learning what it is...so we'll start there.
In this episode, you'll learn:
- The many ways you can integrate EC into your busy lifestyle
- The nature of gentle EC as a natural alternative to potty training
- Some of the major misconceptions...and what's really true about infant pottying
- Why EC simply works
- Plus much more...
Right click here to download the MP3
Items mentioned in this session:
- The Tad Show on Star 99.9 in Southern Connecticut
- The Go Diaper Free private members' area (comes with my book) and the Go Diaper Free book by Andrea Olson
Download the transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
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’s pregnant with her second baby...Andrea Olson.
Welcome back to the Go Diaper Free Podcast! I’m Andrea, and I am going to dive right into Part 1 of What is EC.
I recently did an interview for the 1st Annual Go Diaper Free Week that I spearheaded to spread news of EC across the world. Radio hosts force you to squeeze volumes of information into 3-5 minute spots. And I had to wake up at 6am to do the show. Luckily, what came of it is a very concise and brief overview of “diaper-free” and EC for folks tuned into a pop music morning show! Here goes:
The Tad Show Podcast Star 99.9
Tad: So we were talking about this craziness of [Go] Diaper Free Week yesterday and we asked for anybody that was doing it to call and nobody did. Shocking.
Anna: I wonder why.
Tad: I know. This is kind of a... it’s not really a new trend. It’s actually been happening for maybe hundreds of years in other countries but this is the first year I’ve heard about it...thanks to the Huffington Post. Diaper-free meaning that when your child is born you basically look at it and it will tell you when it needs to go and then you bring to it a proper - hopefully proper - receptacle for the child to do their business and this is... we’re talking about infants.
Anna: Right, babies.
Tad: We just thought we had to get Andrea Olson on here...Andrea is an author; she’s an Elimination Communication Mentor; she’s the owner of godiaperfree.com, where you can learn more about this...to kinda explain this to us.
Andrea: Over half the world’s children are potty-trained by one and in the US, our average is 3, so it’s not a new thing, but it’s definitely something new for Americans.
Anna: So you just hold children over garbage cans and bushes?
Tad: Yeah, that’s what I picture.
Andrea: (Laughter) That’s what they do in China. Here in the US, not so much. We have a different society so we do it a little bit differently. Diaper free does not mean naked peeing everywhere, all over your house or in the street. It means not being dependent on diapers full-time and you’re trusting the baby’s instinct that they’re born with that they don’t want to pee on themselves, the bed, or you. And you train them into a potty instead of a diaper.
Tad: How do you...what signs do you look for? Like a baby is non-verbal, what does it do? I mean, just like a big smile and you’re like, “Oh, I think it’s about to happen. She’s about to blow.”
Andrea: Well, that’s true about poops actually, which is the one of the biggest benefits of doing EC is you don’t have to scrape poop off of a bottom. If you’ve ever seen a baby try to poop in a diaper, you can tell when it’s happening, so that is one way to know that they need to go to the bathroom. And if you start taking them, and they start to trust that you’re going to take them, they will hold it until they get that diaper off and you put them on a potty.
Tad: How quickly can you train your kid to do this?
Andrea: For me, my son, I started at birth with him. Not everybody does this, but it took about two weeks for him to start controlling his sphincters, so to speak.
Tad: We were talking yesterday and she was talking about this and I was like, you know this is the first time I’ve ever heard the word “sphincter” used outside of a joke.
Anna: That’s hilarious.
Tad: My inner 12-year old came out.
Andrea: Oh yeah. (Laughter)
Anna: I mean my daughter would poop in corners when I was trying [to potty train her]. I just can’t imagine that from birth she would just be able to be like, “Oh, yup this is my signal. I’m gonna pee now, or I’m gonna poop now.” I just find it so hard to believe.
Andrea: Well, you know, one generation ago in the US, we were potty training at half the age that we are now. So the advent of disposable diapers was one thing that probably held you back a little. But EC starts anywhere from 0-18 months. With EC, you’ll never get to the “hide behind the couch” thing that you were talking about. You avoid potty training altogether, and there’s a method to starting EC where you don’t get to this ridiculous “3 years I’m starting potty training and it’s hell.” You skip that whole thing like half of the world who are done by 1. In America, you can finish by about 20 months with the whole process.
Tad: Andrea Olson, author, elimination communication mentor. Godiaperfree.com - you can get all the details on the Tad Show page at star999.com.
Here’s the next segment of their show where they interview a gal in their Southern Connecticut community who had unknowingly been doing EC with her daughter and then her Twins:
Tad: And Maria you've tried this.
Maria: Actually, I have twins and I have a 3 year-old and my mom used to watch my 3 year old and she would, you know, take her to the toilet when she was 4 months old. And growing up in the US, I was completely against it. I was like, “Ma, what are you doing?”, you know, and I didn’t believe her until I noticed my... her doing it with her. And now I have twins, and one of them has a disability. They’re only 7 months old but they have not pooped in their diaper for the past few months.
Anna: I mean, I understand picking up the signals for poop. I get that, I remember that, I see that, but I don't see the pee one. That's what boggles my mind, honestly. It's kind of gross but true.
Maria: I’ll be honest with you, I still don't see the pee signal but what we do is after a feed, like any other, you know, they can't hold their bladder longer so I’ll just take them.
Tad: You don’t like hit them on the nose with a newspaper, “Don't you do that again.”
Maria: I'll tell you, I have friends and their kids are 3 and my daughter's 3. She was trained by 1 - out of diapers completely. And, you know, their kids are struggling just sitting on the toilet. They don't feel comfortable, but even if they're not training, you get them used to going and sitting on the toilet. I can't tell you the relief that I feel now with 3 of them...and their diapers are expensive.
Tad: Of course you have to hold the child up on the toilet ‘cause they can't hold themselves up.
Anna: It just seems weird.
Maria: I mean of course, you now, it involves work. So I’m thankful that I have my mother because, you know, she is home and she watches them and she does this with them. It takes a lot of time.
Tad: The thing about this that I think is like the missing the link - this is why I think I had a hard time getting it and now I understand - is that the kid is gonna communicate to you. They're gonna work for you. They're gonna hold it eventually because they don't wanna go in their diaper either.
Anna: I think it's so hard to put that kind of pressure on a baby.
Maria: You know, I don't think that it's pressure. I think that they're smart and that they feel, just like, you know, the whole ‘baby can talk.’ It's what effort you put in and you're willing to do. Your kids react. And my daughters are so happy when they don't go in their diaper, and they're comfortable...and you know, actually, I think it makes them smarter. If you think about it, they know how to communicate in that early age.
Anna: Poop smarter. I like that.
Tad: Don't poop harder.
Anna &Tad: Poop smarter.
I just love how, in the end, Tad is a total EC convert. I like to imagine that he’s off telling his friends about EC right now.
Let’s continue chatting about what EC is.
Elimination Communication, commonly known as EC, is also called natural infant hygiene, infant pottying, pottying diaper- free babies, or infant potty training (whew!). We’ll just stick to EC.
Here’s My Simple Definition of Elimination Communication:
EC is a gentle, non-coercive way to respond to a baby’s natural pottying needs, from birth, which enables her to follow her instincts to not soil herself, her caretaker, or her sleep space.
In other words, babies are born ready. We just need to tune into what they’re born asking for, provide it, stay in good communication, and roll with the evolution until our babies are totally potty independent. (Kinda like with eating and sleeping.)
We can do EC part-time (as most do) or full-time, with diapers as a back-up (as most do) or without, and we can teach things toward the end to help our babies fully transition to potty independence. By the way, no one is teaching this right now...the transitioning to independence piece...you will only find this info with me...so stay tuned for more deets or go to godiaperfree.com to learn more about this topic.
In future podcasts I will give you detailed instruction on how to know when your baby needs to pee, and how to potty her, exactly. Before I move on to how you can get started, I want to set some realistic expectations for you up front.
First, let’s take a look at 10 things which EC is NOT.
- EC is not about your baby...it’s all about you, the parent. Your commitment (whether you do it full-time, part-time, or occasionally), consistency, and potty attitude determines your success. Finding balance within the practice is an art. EC is not “wired-in” to our modern brains. You will have to sit down and learn EC.
- EC should not be started by “winging it.”You can totally “wing it” off of free information from the internet, mommie blogs, FB groups, and EC email lists...but be careful. Many of my clients are cleaning up giant messes that have resulted from winging it and wish they had started more solidly. Remember: any small baby will pee when in position and cued....is it EC...or is it beginner’s luck?
EC doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a journey – but if you follow my guidance at GoDiaperFree.com, your baby WILL be finished with diapers between 6 and 20 months versus the 36-38 month national US potty training average (depending on when you start and what you choose to do).
EC is not impossible. 1/2 the world is doing it right now! Before I tried it, it was just a dream of doing what indigenous folks do. It wasn’t until I had my baby that I discovered that EC is totally real, it’s totally awesome, and I want every other interested parent to experience it too.
EC is not hovering over your baby all day long, waiting for him to urinate. It is not watching the clock and asking him if he has to pee every 30 minutes! It is, however, responding to your baby’s signals, being aware of his natural timing, and helping him go when the time comes.
EC is not coercive. It is not punitive. There should be no shaming, pressure, competition, showing off, or rushing the process. EC is completely in line with babies’ natural interests, needs, capabilities, preferred hygiene, and general well-being.
- EC is not “training” your baby. EC is listening to the signals your baby is already giving and helping her meet her instinctual needs for cleanliness and dryness until you can hand off the baton and enable her to do it herself.
EC is not “parent training.” Little babies express their needs out of the innocence of having them and needing immediate help. Their communication is limited to preverbal means (crying, grunting, flailing). With EC, the parent simply responds to a baby’s primal needs, such as with feeding and sleeping.
EC is not a chore...it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a fad...it’s a totally different perspective, established in countless communities across the world for 100’s of thousands of years.
- EC is not fixing something that’s broken (like diapering seems to be)...it’s about not disturbing the natural process in the first place so that no fixing (conventional potty training) is necessary later.
So, that’s it for what EC is NOT. Earlier in this show we briefly covered what EC IS, with the radio clip and my definition. You are a busy, probably underslept, new parent so that’s all I’m going to give you for today’s episode. Go ahead and digest that til we air again next week. In a few more weeks we’ll re-visit “What is EC?” with Part 2.
If you are a visual learner, you can find a full transcript of this episode plus the show notes at GoDiaperFree.com/02. In our next episode, we will cover When to Begin EC...what ages are optimal and when does a child exceed the appropriate age for this particular technique.
Meanwhile, if you’re nto it already and would like to go ahead and start EC today, visit GoDiaperFree.com for more resources created by yours truly. Most of my readers wish they had known about EC sooner, started earlier, and had a good, sound starting point. That’s what we’re here folks...it’s a growing community and you are welcome to join us!
Keep tuning in to gather more practical information about EC for
you and your family.
Til next time, happy pottying everyone!
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 10 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)
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