Monday, September 20, 2010

Elimination Communication

Toilets for babies?

I have to confess that I was hugely dismissive of the concept of "Elimination Communication" as a strategy when I first heard about it. In my mind, even occasional, accidental poops and pees around the house seemed pretty awful.

I didn't realize that you could keep your kids in diapers AND try to read their cues and actually train them to use a [baby] toilet as early as day one. Thank you, dear Amy, for being a constant source of inspiration!

I can't wait to get my hands on these books (thanks to the good ol' Houston Public Library!):
  1. Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene
  2. Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative

It seems pretty strategic to start getting children used to toilets early on. It seems like a way to avoid having to provide them with incentives (like M&M's) after they've developed habits of comfort and convenience related to using diapers. I'll let you know how my thoughts evolve as I read the books!

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Nikki Cupcake said...

the diaper free baby is a great book, it's the only EC book i've read and i'm pretty ready to start my 13 month old

(but i keep having excuses why i haven't 1st i was going on vacation then it was we're moving now it's there's a new baby on the way so we'll see if i ever get to it before 16 months old)

Jen said...

Hi Sara, I first heard about this when I saw it in action with my friends in NZ. They still used cloth nappies just in case, but after every feed they would either hold their nine-month old baby over a bucket or off the side of the deck to pee in the garden! We went on an overnight hike and would stop for feeds and a pee, which made hiking without wet, dirty nappies so much more pleasant. I was a sceptic until I saw it in action and even my 67 year old dad now reckons it's a good idea!

Nora said...

One of my good friends used this method with both of their daughters. They paired sign language with reading the girl's signs and the girls would actually sign to them when they needed to go to the bathroom! Their second daughter is just past a year and doesn't even wear cloth diapers anymore. They always held them above the toilet though, just to teach them that this is where they will always be going to the bathroom, rather than a bucket which wouldn't be acceptable after the training phase is over.

Mary C said...

Hi Sara,

Just so you know, a child is not physiologically ready to begin toilet training much earlier than 22 months. They are unable to control their sphincters until 22-30 months of age. So no matter how good your communication is, and how successful you are at reading your child's cues (which is very important!), they will not be able to control their little bladders (etc) until they are around 2.

Of course like Nora mentioned, if the parent is able to recognize the signs, they can step in and have a more dominant role in the 'potty use'. The child being able to actually indicate their need to use the bathroom is another indicator of readiness.

But a lot of things go into toilet readiness - including being able to walk to the potty, sit down on it (all of this being physically able to make these movements), and in terms of fine motor skills, being able to pull their pants down, etc to use the bathroom.

(We just had a big lecture on anticipatory guidelines for toilet training in my nursing class.)
Well, I read both of your blogs daily and figured it was about time I posted to let you know how much I love everything you share!

lisa said...

Since all three of mine were potty-trained well before their second birthday...and 2 out of 3 before 18 months, I say nonsense to the 22 month maturity dating.

I would've tried this with mine if I weren't working, so the only caveat I have is to figure out how your caregiver will do this too.

Carrie said...

Like Lisa said, I wonder how this will work with a caregiver. I would be close to shocked if you could find any daycare that would be willing to do this, so you might have to get a nanny with a philosophy in line with yours. I can't imagine that it is effective if it isn't done consistently.

Davanie said...

My friends did this (starting from birth) with their now 1 1/2 year old. It was great seeing a little child learn to walk without a huge wad of cloth or plastic between their legs to hinder them. They've had a few accidents but so do most children that go through traditional potty training. Overall they've had a great experience and so much less waste and laundry. I hope to hear more of your thoughts about it Sarah.

redfrizzz said...

I share your early feelings. When I first heard about EC I thought it was complete hooey. Now, the more I hear and learn, the more intrigued and convinced I am that it could work, even with a mom who works full-time (unlike the movie stars I first heard about it from).
Please share more as you go...

Alycia said...

I am a nanny for a family that practices this! While they are very consistent with their efforts, they are laid back enough to not make me do it, but I still try once a day and it usually works. I think as long as there is no pressure, it can only be beneficial, no matter how often it's done.

Carrie said...

Sara-Having just potty-trained our 2.5-year-old, I was wondering whether you decided to do the EC method with Henry. Is it working?

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Carrie: We still put Henry on his toilet to help him associate going to the bathroom with using the toilet. I was never able to read his pee cues, so if he does pee on the toilet, it is more accidental. Although it is much easier to identify his poop cues, he is now pooping when he's away from us and doing something independently. We'll keep doing what we're doing with putting him on the toilet as frequently as possible. When he turns 12 months, we will start "Montessori Toilet Learning" in earnest, with the goal of helping Henry be completely independent by 18-24 months. We'll see how it goes. Every kid is different!

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