This is part one of a two part post. Tomorrow stay tuned for a Q&A with Christine Gross-Loh about her book.
My journey to Elimination Communication has only just begun, and since I came to it knowing little, to nothing about how EC works, I decided internet research alone could only go so far. The internet did lead me to an excellent book to read which has helped my journey tremendously. The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative, authored by Christine Gross-Loh, is an invaluable tool to anyone hoping to practice EC. The most important thing that the book hopes to get across is this: EC is not an all or nothing endeavor. When my friends find out about my son using a potty at 6 months old, I can only imagine what images run through their minds. Do they picture me holding him captive on a potty while he screams and squirms to be released from my icy grasp? Or, do they imagine my son naked, spraying his urine wildly in the air like a fire house, with no control over his bodily functions? Maybe they think I am constantly scrubbing my carpet? I honestly don’t know what they think, nor do I care. I only wish they would all read this book! Christine breaks EC into categories, or tracks, based upon the time and effort you wish to put into it. You can practice EC on a full time basis. A full time ECer would aim to catch (a term ECers use when referring to their child peeing on a potty, or into a diaper) virtually all of their child’s eliminations. A part-time ECer wants to practice when they can, but probably won’t let their child be completely diaper free. They would also probably not practice EC out of the home. They may also only catch bowel movements, which for most children are the easiest to predict. An occasional ECer may only catch 1 pee or poop a day, if that. They may be working parents who have only evenings and weekends to attempt. Or, they might just offer a potty break during prime times like in the morning or at a diaper change. Between the three tracks there is tons of wiggle room. That is what I love about EC! My first day I caught 7 pees! I was extremely intent on my new hobby. But, life gets hectic. If I am running errands I fall back to diapers and only attempt potty time 1-3 times that day.
The book is laid out based on these tracks, and also the time at which you have decided to start trying EC with your child. I found it extremely helpful that the book was organized as a reference tool. If you didn’t start until your child was in middle infancy, you could turn to that section. She went over the basics all over again, briefly, and then offered suggestions on the best ways to begin EC with a baby at that age. And, if you started from birth, you could skip to how to practice at that moment, without reading the introductions. I had no idea there were so many ways to practice EC. If you began from birth, she discussed the different holds you could use to position a newborn over a toilet or sink. As the baby ages and potties can be used, there are tricks on how to make potty time fun. All of these things will help in my journey.
When I had just barely read the introduction, I started my first “half” day of EC. I had just gone to Babies R Us and purchased my little potty, and was ecstatic to begin using it. I knew that day my son needed to have a BM. I had him sitting on his potty, but he wanted to stand. He kept his legs straight, and his knees locked. This is not conducive to being a boy, and peeing. When he did pee, he peed on me. This, my friends, is what you call a “miss”. Except, instead of not knowing he had to go, and letting it happen in a diaper or on the floor, it happened on me. While I focused on the fact that he must have some more pee coming… he was focused on something else. He secretly, and very quietly, with no facial expressions or grunts, crapped on the front of the potty, and on the floor. I had no clue until I felt the crap- with my foot.
A few nights later I finally got the time to read more of my book. I was feeling pretty bad about my only experience with EC. My hopes were high that The Diaper Free Baby could give me some miracle answer to save my EC attempts in the future. I wouldn’t call it a magic answer, but I did learn things that saved our EC journey, and put it back on track. First, it suggested to try offering the potty at certain times of the day, when babies are most likely to pee. Of course! I offered the potty to my son the morning after I read this. He peed! Oh how exciting, I cannot even express how cool that was! I continued offering him the potty after he awoke from naps, and after nursing. By just offering at those times I caught 7 pees. I missed about 4 in diapers which were placed on him, or under him. The next tip: use “cues” to help baby understand when to potty. Basically, every time your baby pees, even if it is in a diaper, you should make a “psst” noise, or say pee. And for poops, a grunting noise, or say poop, or whatever you want. Eventually, your baby will associate the noise to the action, and can then be “cued” to do it by the noise! If you think that is crazy, it isn’t. My son has a pavlovian response to the click of my nursing bra. His mouth opens, and he gets into position! Maybe I am imagining things, but after a few pees with the “psst” noise, I noticed he began contracting his stomach muscles and forced himself to pee when I cued him on the potty. It wasn’t always like that, but it happens sometimes.
The book also lays out some essential tools you will need for practicing EC, and some not so essential, but helpful, items. I remember my uncle telling me how odd it was to see babies and toddlers walking around China wearing crotchless pants. Of course now I realize these babies were ECing, and the parents decided to make life easier by letting them be diaper free, but decided to keep their legs warm! I already owned Baby Legs, which make diaper changing easy; they also make diaper free time easy as well! Potties are mentioned as well. I purchased the Baby Bjorn Little Potty. She even gives a mini introduction to cloth diapers, and outlines the types and functions of the diapers available.
To anyone even slightly curious about Elimination Communication, go to your library and check out The Diaper Free Baby. Or, purchase your own copy. It is an invaluable resource for someone starting EC, and a good read for anyone just curious! By reading the book, you aren’t guaranteed success, and it won’t impart to you the perfect way to EC. Every child is different, and so far I have been very lucky. We may hit a potty pause, which is also addressed in the book. For now, I am enjoying keeping my son comfortable and dry, and saving myself some diaper laundry. The book also notes that just because you EC, if doesn’t guarantee that your child will be potty TRAINED at an earlier age than other children. Your chances of that are very high, but not guaranteed. So, if you are intrigued, please give EC a chance in your home. Just try putting your child over your own toilet once, just once, first thing in the morning. You may catch a pee, and be hooked!
If you want to purchase a copy you can find it on amazon.com