Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Elimination Communication

Bugaboo (4 mos.) on his potty chair

 What is elimination communication?
Elimination communication (EC), also known as infant potty training or the diaper-free method, is teaching infants to recognize when and where to go potty. Although the focus is on potty training, the real goal is to bond with your baby through communication, trust, and respect.

Can infants really be potty trained?
Yes. Babies already know when they have to "go": you can tell when a newborn is going by his or her facial expressions, body language, and sounds. We untrain infants by putting them in diapers and letting them get used to being dirty. Then when they become toddlers, we have to teach them how to recognize their urges, hold it, and relieve themselves once on the toilet.

Is infant potty training easier than toddler potty training?
Not necessarily. You may find traditional methods easier than EC. It takes time, effort, and patience--the last being vital. In fact, it is recommended that if you cannot be patient then stick to traditional potty training. EC is all about being positive; there are no punishments for accidents or not going.

How long does elimination communication take?
The length of time depends on how you define "potty trained." Obviously, an infant will not be potty trained in the same way that a toddler would simply because their capabilities are different. Babies will always need help and may not verbally communicate their need to go. Even so, most infants who start EC end by 18 months to 2 years.

If it takes so long, then why should I try elimination communication?
  • EC is not any more inconvenient than having to change diapers all day.
  • You change less diapers.
  • You save money on diapers.
  • Your child is potty trained sooner.
  • It eliminates the battle you may face with potty training a toddler.
  • Most important, you bond and learn to communicate with your baby.
Where should I start?
  1. For a few days, record when your baby eats, sleeps, and eliminates. Look for a pattern.
  2. Watch for signs your baby makes when he or she is pooping and peeing. Common signs include obvious noises (passing gas, grunting), concentration, tensing, kicking legs, fussiness, crying, look of relief, gestures, and smiling.
  3. Start by putting your baby over the potty--or wherever else you choose: sink, tub, toilet, bowl--at the most obvious times, such as when he or she wakes up in the morning and after feedings. Your baby may or may not go.
  4. Make an association with EC through a cue, such as a noise (sssssssss) or gesture (ASL for potty is shaking your fist with the thumb between the first two fingers).
  5. Next, try to recognize your baby's signs and get your baby on the potty as soon as you catch a sign. Depending on age, your baby may try to tell you by the cue you chose.
What else do I need to know about infant potty training?
  • Newborns should be held in a comfortable position until they are old enough to sit up on their own on a potty chair, though you may choose to hold them for as long as desired, especially if it's working for your baby. For more information on positions, read Infant Potty Training by Laurie Boucke. I got all my information and motivation from this book (and I only browsed through the first few chapters).
  • It may take time for your baby to get used to the potty or being held in certain positions. Distract them with songs or the bathroom mirror. If your baby does not go after a few minutes or gets fussy, stop. You do not want him or her to associate potty time with negative feelings.
  • The best time to start is before your baby is six months old. However, it is never too late to start! The aforementioned book addresses how to adapt EC for late starters.
  • View every caught poo or pee as a success and appreciate every milestone your baby makes. If you focus on the end result too much, you may become discouraged.
  • Although EC takes a lot of effort, it is easier than you think! You can even do it part-time. I just started on Saturday and have already experienced success.
  • Other family members and caregivers can be involved. Just make sure you are all on the same page.
  • EC is harmless, fun, and doable. Others may laugh at you, but you'll be the one laughing in the end when your child is potty trained at 2 and theirs hasn't even started!
Read an update on our journey with infant potty training!


Mrs. Sanchez said...

Thank you for posting the info. We will do this for certain.

Rachel said...

Interesting. I think I might give that a shot on this next one:) I don't like changing diapers especially once the child is eating solids.

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