Welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast where we're all about helping you stop depending on diapers as early as birth. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five ECed babies. This is episode 33: When is she done?
So, today we have a question from one of our listeners, Kelly from Florida. But first I want to mention that I have a special surprise for you at the end of today's episode. It is amazing, it's a song about elimination communication by a real band. It's the first I've ever heard on this topic and I think you'll agree that it is completely adorable, totally catchy and especially I love the last four or five seconds of the song but I'll save that for a surprise at the very end. I'll play it in full at the end of today's episode.
All right, now for Kelly's question.
“Hi. My name is Kelly and I'm in Stuart, Florida. My first little one is now eight weeks, almost nine weeks old. My question is we've just started doing a little bit of EC with her, mostly just if she's nursing, and I can tell she's about to go number two, I'll grab the Top Hat Potty and use that for her. What I'm never sure about is when she's done. At this age it kind of just goes for a little while off and on and I'm not sure if I should just wait forever...that's what I've been doing. I just wait ten minutes or so. She tends to get kind of uncomfortable just being held on the potty like that or held over the sink like that, so I'm wondering do I just wait five minutes and say, "Okay, maybe she's gonna end up going in the diaper after this," or...how do I know when she's done? She doesn't seem to be giving me any clear signals. Thank you so much.”
Awesome, Kelly thank you so much for asking your question. So, basically, you're doing part-time EC and starting with just the easy catch of poops while you're nursing with the top hat potty, which is really awesome. You're off to a wonderful start and I hear you loud and clear, you're wondering if you're doing things correctly. Join the crowd. I think a lot of our listeners can relate, am I doing this thing right? Is this at all, I mean, this feels a little bit off, maybe I should ask. So, great. My first answer to your question is to ask your baby. Ask, ask, ask. At the end of when you think they're done say, are you finished or are you all done? And if you're holding them in arms, you'd just say this verbally and say the exact same phrase every time. We always ask the phrase, "all done?" And we say that exactly the same every single time, my husband and I both, and our baby sitter.
So, the other thing if you're holding your baby onto a potty because they're a little bit older, you can also sign all done, which is when you hold your hands out and your fingers are spread out and you wiggle your hands from side to side. You can Google that and figure out what the ASL sign is for all done or all finished. And, yes, it is grammatically correct to say all finished, not all done, but I say all done because it's really easy for them to hear the intonation.
And why do we ask Andrea? Why would we ask a baby who can't even talk? Well, my experience has been that if I say this at the end of every pottytunity or opportunity to go to the bathroom, my baby will actually do their final push and finish up or they will arch back. You know, I've had five babies doing this personally, where they will arch or they will just finish or they will get out their last poo or pee when asked if they're all done. And I am not the only one you guys, lots and lots and lots of parents in our community have reported the exact same thing.
So, my first answer is to ask your baby, are you all done? Repetition and consistency, it really works even at this young age, they're very, very smart even though they can't talk, right? Okay, the other thing I want to mention is that pooping is usually no more than five or six squirts for lack of a better term at this age and sometimes at the end of pooping, they will end with a pee. So just notice what your baby's pattern is. If they usually take about five or six squirts and maybe they like to be bideted in between, mine do, or wash their bottom with a little bit of warm water in between if you're using the sink, and this is only for breastfed babies because their poop is benign. Anyway, sometimes you will notice, well, this is about how often it takes to get everything out of the system and if you're using a top hat potty, then you're just holding them onto it, relaxing them against your body in the EC hold. If you don't know what I'm talking about get my book, it has tons of pictures of all the positions. And that's at godiaperfree.com/thebook.
I will list all the links that I mention and the stuff that I mention, like the potty in the show notes, so if you're interested in those, go to godiaperfree.com/33.
Okay, back to the answer. Sometimes they will end with a pee, sometimes they'll poop, poop, poop, poop, poop and then they'll end with peeing and if you can hear it or see it, then you might know that this is done. Again, it's what is regular for your child and the only way to learn this is through paying attention, observation and being open to learning. And here's my other answer. If it feels like it's been too long, Kelly, and everyone else, then you're probably right, it has been too long. That's your intuition. And I really want you to just trust in that and also know that there is no possibility that you're going to make a mistake that damages your baby at this age or really with anything with potty learning if you have the right sort of demeanor about it.
So, we are interested in learning. Everything is a learning opportunity with elimination communication. So, if you're afraid of diapering her back up and her pooping and you missing something, or her having to be uncomfortable in poop and you didn't understand her signal, it's okay. If that happens it's just more information for the next time and you just learn and revise and learn and revise. So, if you feel like it's been too long, you're probably right. If she ends up pooping in her diaper after you've put her back up back on then you've just learned that's more information for next time, maybe you give it another little second or two.
Okay, here is the other thing. After you hear the last poop, or the last time she flexes her sphincters, that's when you want to ask all done. So you want to wait for a few moments after the last push or the last thing you hear then you want to ask "all done?" Wait another few moments to give her a chance to answer with her body by finishing up and that just gives her the signal that, hey, you know it's been a while, let's wrap it up and then put her back up back on. And the diaper is a back up even if you're doing part-time EC, it's a back up for those times that you're not choosing to do EC. It is not a full-time toilet because you've decided to start doing EC. And I think that you'll find it very fulfilling as you keep going with this process.
Speaking of, as your baby grows and when she hits the rolling over phase, which is at around three or four months they start to prepare for that, you'll hit a rhythm and right when you have it all figured out it will change again because when they hit a developmental milestone like rolling over things will change. My advise for you and for everybody listening is to stay with the ebbs and flows of EC and enjoy the learning and the connection it provides and learn, revise, learn, revise. Everything is a learning opportunity. And just remember, with babies, you guys, everything is constantly changing and that is a good sign, we want that. It's a sign of proper development and growth. This is great so if everything's constantly changing and you feel like you're trying hard to catch up and you figure it out and then it changes, that's actually a really good sign. And your baby knows that you're really committed to helping her have good hygiene, so that's great, that's what's important here.
There is no wrong way to do EC, just as long as you're communicating, you're learning and providing what your baby can't do for herself until she's physically able to do it herself and to take over the process, usually beginning with walking we start to hand off that baton and give them full independence which is what they desire with everything. And we usually wrap up EC before 18 months. It's totally doable and again, in 1957 92% of all babies were finished with potty training by 18 months. This was before the invention of disposable diapers. Do the math.
All right, one more thing before we go. Kelly is doing what we call part-time EC, which I talked about in episode five of this podcast so go listen to that if you haven't already. She's also using easy catch number three, which is poop, which I covered in episode 30. I will link to both of these in the show notes, which you'll get at godiaperfree.com/33.
By the way, Kelly also began EC by downloading my free one page easy start guide, which you are also welcome to grab a copy of at godiaperfree.com/start. It'll help you wrap your mind around four of the main areas of starting EC. It's a wonderful way to begin by choosing, you're just choosing one of the easy catches, in her case choosing to do EC part-time in her case, to just dip your little toe in gradually with something that feels doable to you and that's exactly what Kelly's done.
Kelly, I commend you for doing that and starting in a way that feels right to you. Wonderful work you guys. We really hope to hear how it's progressed since you sent in your question, Kelly, so definitely let us know. And as I promised in the beginning of today's show, I'm about to play the track Elimination Communication by Aly Halpert and Friends on their new album, Nipple Confusion, which you can find and purchase your own copy over at godiaperfree.com/nipple. That will take you to their album page where you can preview all the wonderful tracks on their album and support this wonderful independent artist. Listen to the end for my favorite. The last four or five seconds is exactly how to respond to your baby after they've gone to the bathroom without the questionable practice of praising the baby.
All right, so I'm about to play that. Please subscribe to this podcast and I will notify you of future episodes and leave me a review. Reviews help more parents find EC if you're in to more parents learning about EC, then definitely leave a review.
Now for the music, enjoy and I'll see you next week on the Go Diaper Free podcast at godiaperfree.com. Thanks for tuning in and here's that track.
My little man (9 mo) also arches his back or try’s to dive off the toilet when he’s all done. Although, there are many times he does this even though I know he hasn’t gone so I’ll set him down thinking he didn’t have to go, but then he’ll start peeing on the floor. I have noticed that he’ll do that arcing/trying to get off thing when he doesn’t have a object in his hands to distract him.
Yes, July! Quite common. For this, just carry your little guy around for a few minutes, naked-bottomed, and then try again in a moment. Turn your back to give him privacy. And see what happens! Best wishes. xx Andrea
I’m excited to hear about Nicole’s guest post (and vice versa)! Looking forward to seeing what you both have to say. Balancing sleep and EC has always been a challenge for me.
This is so true! Whenever I ask my 10 month old if he’s finished, which I started at birth, he will totally obviously try to be done! I’m glad to hear I’m not just imagining it!
I struggle with this as well! Thanks to you, I will start to be more consistent with my phrasing and timing of “all done” and maybe that will help her to start doing that final push!
That sounds like a great plan Sandy! xx Andrea