What I Love About Elimination Communication (going Diaper Free!!)
Did you know that babies signal their need to eliminate (pee or poop) from birth?! From birth!
Are you as shocked as I was when I first learned that, over four years ago?
I, like many of us, was under the misconception handed down to me through my culture… that babies were neurologically unable to control these bodily functions, much less communicate them until they were about 2 or 3 years old. When a stranger enlightened me, one day, in an Ikea nursing room, I was hesitant to believe her. My 4-week-old baby is communicating to me that he needs to pee? Really?
The truth was, he was. I was able to slow down, attune and respond to his communications by offering him the opportunity to eliminate in hygiene, in the potty. I didn’t always “get it”, I didn’t always try to, and I didn’t always have time or patience to. We had many misses and many catches, all accumulating into an basically consistent understanding between us.
Diapers remained a mainstay, primarily as a backup, until he was 21 months old and graduated from them. But the point was never getting him out of diapers (although it’s a nice bonus). The point was always the attuned communication: the deepening of our mutual understanding and the sensitizing of my desensitized receptors to what my baby was saying to me. And then we did all of this with my second son, too.
I do not think EC (Elimination Communication) is for everyone, all of the time. Many of us are perfectly content with diapering and find the idea of another communication to decipher a burden or a nuisance. And that is just fine. But I do think it’s information we should all have access to so that we realize that full time diapering up until the age of 3 or so is not the only way to go.
It’s especially sobering to consider that diapers are aggressively marketed to us in a way that has increased the potty training age by over a year in the past few decades. It’s upsetting to acknowledge the impact that diapers have on our environment, on our finances, and on our babies skin, health and awareness of their own bodies. Cloth diapers go a long way to alleviate some of these grievances – as do eco-friendly disposables, but the fact remains that in diapering, the communication between caregiver and child is lost, overlooked, ignored.
The beautiful thing about EC is that it is not an all-or-nothing game. Communication can be established just once a day, with only one caregiver or even only on the weekends. These small steps of acknowledgement can go a long way towards an easier and better integrated potty training: where we aren’t suddenly “unteaching” the learned behavior of diaper use, but rather we are continuing and strengthening our communication around pottying.
I’d love to hear from you – have you heard of EC? Have you tried it? What age did you potty train? Have you tried cloth diapers? Let me know in the comments below.