Author Note: I originally wrote this back in March of 2010. It was posted on my Xanga which I now rarely look at. Little Man was nine months when I wrote this so at the bottom, I've updated it with how he's doing now at 14 months.
There has never been anything about parenthood that scares me. I've always really looked forward to all of it, except for one part - potty-training.
I had only ever seen/heard horror stories of parents trying to potty train their kids. Frustration, messes, fights....for every good, successful story it seemed there were hundreds of bad ones.
I did a lot of reading and even though we had already decided to use cloth diapers, I found out that cloth can help a child learn to use the toilet earlier. Unlike a disposable which helps a child feel/stay try, cloth doesn't. Children experience the uncomfortableness of feeling wet earlier and want to do something about it.
My doctor told me she had rarely seen a child in cloth go past the age of two without potty training. This was encouraging but it still wasn't the answer I wanted.
One day a friend commented about how her 18 month old was finally out of diapers. I was intrigued so I asked what she did. She shared the secret of her success with me....a little thing called Elimination Communication, EC for short.
I had NEVER heard of EC. I asked about it and she didn't really have a straight answer. She basically said, "Well, it's potty-training for babies...kinda. It's watching their cues and taking them to the bathroom rather than letting them go in their diaper. But you don't always watch just their cues...a lot of times you just take them to get them use to the idea of the toilet."
"In EC a caregiver simply offers the infant a potty whenever the baby exhibits signs that he or she needs to go to the bathroom. Signs differ for each child but moms and dads closely observe their little ones until they can spot the telltale signals, such as squirming, fussing, passing gas, unexplained crying and a look of concentration." ( http://www.babiestoday.com/articles/potty-training/elimination-communication-6095/)
However, this seems so different from what we are told about children and their bowel/bladder movements. For a long time, it has been believed that babies do not have the muscle control to "hold it" or the maturity to associate the toilet with it's purpose.
"On the medical front, recent European research has found that the current Western views on bladder and bowel control are flawed and that it is often better to start earlier than to delay. Unfortunately, the Western world has been indoctrinated to reject any form of early toilet learning. Even when our own parents or grandparents tell us that they had all of their children potty trained by 12-18 months, we assume they are mistaken. Our doubts stem from "medlore" - maturational readiness theories which are based on opinion and commercialism rather than scientific proof. By changing our attitude from skepticism to recognizing our babies' amazing abilities, we open new doors." (Infant Potty Training and Attachment Parenting - Laura Boucke)
I was incredibly skeptical about the whole thing but figured, hey....what do I have to lose? Nothing. It would either work or it wouldn't, but it wouldn't hurt anything to try it out.
When Little Man was born, we kept him in disposables until the meconium was out of his system. At three weeks we started him in cloth during the day and by five weeks, he was in cloth full time. I had held him over the potty a few times during his first five weeks and he had peed once but did nothing the other times. I decided we would wait till three months to start practicing EC.
The first day of EC, after he had woken up and eaten I held him over the potty and made a "pssss" sound. He immediately peed in the potty. I knew it was just coincidence but it gave me encouragement to keep going. I kept his diaper off of him for the next 30 minutes. When he needed to eat (he ate every 30-45 minutes during the day till he was six months old), I put a diaper on him and we repeated the process for the rest of the day. I was so thrilled to tell Mr. Man when he got home that Little Man had not gone in the diaper at all that day! (I should point out that even though my son was EBF, he rarely pooped. He only pooped once or twice every week...at nine months he still does this.)
Night time was a different story. Little Man began sleeping through the night at six weeks. He slept 11-13 hours at a time and I followed the advice of "Never wake a sleeping baby." To me, him sleeping soundly and me getting sleep was more important than working on keeping his diaper dry.
By 3.5 months, he was regularly peeing in the potty. But then we took a step backwards. He caught rotavirus while we were in Virginia. If you've dealt with a child with rotavirus (basically bad diarrhea, vomiting or both) you know how nasty it is. We put him in disposables till it was over with and I spent the majority of my time nursing him to make sure he didn't get dehydrated. Unfortunately, the rotavirus also caused him to stop sleeping through the night.
It took about a month and half to get back on track but once we were there, he hasn't gone back.
It's been six months since we started EC. Little Man rarely poops while he is awake so that has been something I have not figured out his cues for. But peeing --- it almost always happens in the potty. He has started waking up from naps dry and will immediately go in the potty. We spend a lot of time diaper free and I'm hoping that we will start figuring out his poop schedule so that we can get him out of diapers completely very soon. I would really like for my son to be completely out of diapers before I'm pregnant again.
Ultimately, EC is a personal decision for each family. I have nothing against "modern" potty-training methods, they just do not work for our family and it fits right in with our parenting style.
I can't wait to be done with diapers. I LOVE using cloth diapers (and plan on writing a blog about it as well) but no matter what diapers you use, changing them gets old fast.
That has been our journey with EC. So far I have enjoyed it and I'm definitely not skeptical about it anymore. If you have any questions about it please check out the following websites (diaperfreebaby or bornpottytrained) or, feel free to ask!
Little Man is now 14 months old. He pees in his potty about 85-90% of the time and wakes up from naps dry. He wakes up 3-4 times a week dry from overnight, however, we have STILL not been able to "catch" number 2. He has now changed from pooping while he sleeps to just randomly pooping at various times throughout the day and yes, even still at 14 months he is only going 2-3 times a week.
Thankfully I have a wonderful set of mommy's who have given me some GREAT advice about helping him connect everything and we are going to be spending A LOT more time without his diaper on!
I don't know if I will meet my goal of big boy undies by 18 months but we are on a good start and I don't feel pressure if we do not make it by then! EC has been a wonderful journey and I definitely plan on continuing this method with the rest of my children if possible!