elimination communication (n.) -a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's need to eliminate waste. EC emphasizes communication between the caregiver and child, helping them both become more attuned to the child's innate rhythms and control of elimination.
Sounds crazy I know. I thought so too when I first heard about it, but after hearing encouragement and success stories from other AP mamas I thought "what can it hurt to try?" So we did.
Typically, EC families start at a very young age, some from birth. Starting at a year, like we are, is considered late, which is obviously very different from typical potty training methods that indicate 2 to 3 years is ideal. The idea behind EC is that babies are born with instinctual awareness of their bodily functions and if the parents encourage use of the potty from an early age, not only are they capable of learning to use it and become diaper free very young, it also prevents having to 'train' them twice: once to use a diaper and a second time to use a potty.
Now I don't know if I buy into all that, but I started my investigation into the method with a book called The Diaper Free Baby and the method was easy enough. You put baby on the potty during times she will likely potty (aka pottytunities) and if/when she goes you make a "sssssss" sound, followed by lots of praise. For poos you can use the same sound or use a different noise of choice. The idea is that once the noise association is made with going potty you will be able to cue baby to go, ie. when I put her on the potty I say "ssss" and she knows that means it's time to go. At the same time she will learn to say "ssss" when she feels the need to go. Even though she is not able to hold it for extended periods of time, she is capable of gaining awareness of the elimination sensation.
For those of you still doubting me, IT'S WORKING! We had our first catch last Saturday. I put her on the potty when we woke up and she went. We've had several more catches since, and this morning when Daddy put her on the potty, she even made the "ssss" sound with him while she went.
We've been trying to let her spend more time sans diaper, especially right after she goes in the potty, and admittedly we have had one miss, but the great thing about EC is that you can do it full time, part time or just every once in a while. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, and it certainly isn't like I originally pictured with a naked baby and a frantic mommy constantly running back and forth to the bathroom because she *thought* baby might have to pee.
It is a little time consuming, but we take advantage of the time on the potty to play with toys and read books -- its no different than if we had been sitting in the living room playing. She is never forced to sit on the potty; when the toys are no longer intriguing and she wants down, we get down whether she went or not.
Right now we are very part-time ECers. We usually have potty time first thing in the morning and before bath or bed. Occasionally during the day when Charlie or I are home she will sit on the potty after naps or after we have been wearing her for a while. We just have one Nora-sized seat on the upstairs potty right now, but Nana Buskirk indicated that's what she was planning to get Nora for her birthday, so then we'll have one for the downstairs bathroom too. Call me nutty, but as she gets better at signing she has to go, I'd also like to have one to keep in the trunk of the car so she always has a place to go when we're on the road. It is my understanding that after they make a distinct connection with using the potty, that often becomes the preference and many times early-pottied toddlers will refuse to go in a diaper -- I'd prefer to have our own clean potty for her to use than to have to stick her on a potentially yucky, too big public one. We'll think through that further as it gets closer.
The most important thing to keep in mind about EC is that it is more important to focus on the communication than it is to focus on the elimination. It is very much in line with attachment parenting in that the success is in the journey, not the result -- it is about learning to communicate with a pre-verbal baby, rather than being the first to have a potty-using tot. I look forward to keeping you updated on our EC journey, and hopefully, creating some other believers along the way.
More about EC philosophy
75 Benefits of EC
Find a local EC group
Monday, September 28
Sunday, September 27
Hat Nora came home in from day care on her birthday.
Sorry I've been a slacker lately with the blog updates and photo uploads. It has become apparent that I officially have a toddler... I find that at fairly regular 2 minute intervals I am dragging her away from something she shouldn't be playing with and redirecting her to her toys. I am ramping up the baby-proofing today. I just bought a couple of new baby gates and have been installing latches on the cabinets. She's a smart girl though, I wouldn't be surprised if she quickly figures them out. I tried tying twine on the cabinets I really didn't want her in yesterday and she's already deciphered how to untie a bow...
She also doesn't like to be held as much. Normally, I can knock out my biweekly grocery shopping all in one day -- Aldi, Sam's, then Wal-Mart and occasionally a stop at Hy-Vee (I'm a bargain hunter, what can I say?) -- and Nora is content moving between being carried and riding in the cart. Yesterday, not so much. She just wanted to run and play and had no interest in anything I had to say. We ended up having to stop home to let her burn off steam before finishing our shopping.
I need to get a new video up because she walks everywhere now. We are still breastfeeding but I have quit pumping at work, so any bottles she gets while I'm away are 1/2 breastmilk from our freezer stash and 1/2 whole milk. She seems to be taking the transition really well. Once the freezer stash runs out, she will have one bottle of all whole milk per day. I still haven't set a deadline on weaning. At this point we're both still comfortable with it and it sure is easier, especially at night since we're still co-sleeping.
I did, however, recently convert Nora's crib to a toddler bed. I figure she can get down from our bed fine so maybe the conversion will allow us to start transitioning her to her room for naps and, eventually, nighttime. Good thing we got a convertible crib because she never used it as a crib...at least we're still going to get some use out of it! Right now she mostly enjoys standing on her bed and climbing up and down and up and down and up...
We had her 1 year appointment last Thursday. She was 20lbs 14oz and 28 inches long -- 50th percentile for weight and 25th for height. Doctor said she looked great. Her iron is a little low (which admittedly is probably because my iron is low) so she recommended we try to increase her iron intake through foods like chicken and even adding baby cereal to regular meals.
Mimi came up to babysit while Mama had to go out of town for work. While she was here, she taught Nora to talk on the phone. And yesterday I put Mimi on speaker phone so she could talk to Nora and Nora said "hi" to her. I think it made Mimi's day.
We also got to pick up a birthday present from Nana Shropshire yesterday. She's too cute -- she will walk from the couch all the way to her table, pull out the chair and sit down. Gah where does the time go?!?
And the final update to mark in the list of parenting firsts: I got to call poison control for the first time today. I was changing Nora's diaper and she was playing with a bottle of baby shampoo. Concentrating on not getting any potato-soup-scented-poo on me, I look up to see Nora gulping shampoo from the lidless bottle. It wasn't that the lid just popped open, she actually got it off completely. Now I know it's baby shampoo and they probably think of these things, but I wouldn't have been able to calm down if I hadn't called. So I did and the lady basically said she may have an upset tummy but other than that she will be fine and that there was no need to bring her in. What she failed to mention is that Nora would be burping and spitting up bubbles all day...and laughing about it. What a day -- I'm scared to see what the next diaper I change looks like!
Wednesday, September 16
Wednesday, September 2
Nana and Papa Buskirk came up for a visit over the weekend. It was a short one, but we had fun! Charlie beat me in Greedy for the first time ever (shh don't tell him I let him win -- after all 7/8 of his points came from dice I passed to him!).
Sunday, Nora napped while Nana and Papa went to look for a new bed at American.
Then, we had a nice lunch at Olive Garden before they headed home.
After lunch it was time for Nora to get ready for her 1-year photos with Shawna. No sneak previews, but here she is getting dressed.
For the record, I took more photos than this begining with when we were opening the UPS box, but they mysteriously disappeared from my camera. She was funny -- had to make sure every piece of packing plastic was out of the box before she would even consider opening the wrapped box.