Elimination Communication aka Infant Potty Learning

A friend graciously accepted when I asked her to write this post for me about Elimination Communication. I am so excited to share about her positive experience with her son!

-Dr. T

When I was pregnant with my now 1.5-year-old, I learned about something called “Elimination Communication” or EC. I had read an article about it years earlier, and thought it sounded ridiculous, but this time, something clicked. I was planning on using cloth diapers, and the thought that there may be fewer dirty diapers (and bottoms) to clean sounded especially wonderful! If you’ve never heard of EC, it is giving your child an alternative place to eliminate, rather than using their diaper. It can begin with that first meconium poo or any time before 18 months (after 18 months its early potty training, which is also totally possible and great, just different). 

The goal for most people who practice EC is to be able to communicate with their child about their elimination needs - so often when an infant is crying and there seems to be no reason, they need to go! Babies are not naturally inclined to soil themselves, so they have to be trained to use their diaper, which we do by not giving them another option. EC simply strives to give them another option. As early as 3-4 months old, I would see my child cue, sometimes just *a look*, and I would quickly respond by saying that I saw he needed to go potty and take him to it, where he would immediately go! It felt incredible to be able to understand him that well. We used a diaper backup until about 15 months old, and we definitely didn’t catch everything, and sometimes nothing. We also had days in a row with no wet or dirty diapers.

At 17 months we switched to underwear and using diapers only at night, and while we often have a miss or two each week, we keep getting to know his needs better and misses continue to decrease. While early potty training is never the goal of EC, it is often the result. My absolute favorite part about EC, and what I hear from a lot of EC parents, is that you really feel like you understand your infant’s needs. You learn their patterns, which change quickly sometimes, and have so much connection with them. Most babies are so happy to have somewhere to eliminate other than their diaper! We also really enjoyed the face-to-face connection during potty time. Reading books, singing songs, and being silly has made it so special.

While EC can take a bit more attention, especially in the early days, it has been incredibly rewarding for us. It can be as laid-back as you want it to be, most people use backups and find over-focusing on EC leads to resistance (mostly because we take them potty too often). My favorite resource has been Andrea Olson at GoDiaperFree.com, but there are many other books and websites out there that can help you get started. I’m happy to answer any questions I can and lend support to anyone who would like to try it out!

Happy pottying!

Annette