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Monday, April 18, 2011

Elimination Communication

What is it? Why do it? According to Wikipedia, it is "is a toilet training practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's need to eliminate waste. Caregivers try to recognize and respond to babies' bodily needs and enable them to urinate and defecate in an appropriate place (e.g. a toilet)." Jen Labit of Cotton Babies describes it like this: "Elimination Communication sums up exactly what it is about, communication with our very young children about their elimination needs."

Many EC practicers (Elimination Communication practicers) allow their babies to run around diaper free almost exclusively. This practice reduces common diapering problems such as diaper rash, changing battles, and trouble potty training to name a few. This also allows the baby to begin recognizing the cues of needing to go while not letting them lose sensitivity to being messy (no diapers, remember?) and allows the care giver to know when they've started going so that the child can be put on the toilet should they miss one.

Elimination Communication can be done part time or full time. Like everything else in the parenting world, it's up to the individuals involved to decide how often they want to do it.

Some Benefits:

  1. Because ECing often relies on "free ranging it" (no diapers), you'll use less diapers making it cheaper in the long run.

  2. Many experts agree that one thing that makes potty learning so difficult is that you must un-teach what was previously taught before you can teach the new technique (pottying in the diaper first, then wanting them to use the toilet). With EC, this problem can be basically eliminated since the idea of the toilet isn't a foreign one by the time regular toilet use age is reached. In fact, in an article from Dr. Sears, he actually says the following: "…Toilet-training is so difficult for parents and a battle for toddlers because:

-The infant was encouraged to use the diaper as a toilet, so the toddler has to unlearn what he has previously been taught.

-The child has not yet developed body language to make the connection between feeling and going, since prior to toilet-training, parents were not looking for these cues and the baby did not give them.

-Toddlers, especially boys, are on the go and the last thing they want to do is "sit still" on the potty."

3. Early introduction to the toilet makes potty learning less scary later since it's already a familiar fixture in the home.

How do you get started?

  1. Timing: Lots of babies/children are ready to eliminate upon waking, so one great way to catch a pee is to put them on the potty when they first get up in the morning or after a nap. They also tend to go a lot more often than adults (who already know how to control their bladders) so more frequent trips to the toilet will result in more frequent success.

  2. Signs: Watch for signs from your little one. It's more than likely that they do something when they're about to go. For example, when my youngest is about to poop, he bends a bit at the waist, gets a glazed look in his eye, and turns a little red. There is also a little grunting involved. These are all signs that can be used in elimination communication.

  3. It's not all or nothing: You don't have to just dive into this. You can do it as it works for you and your family. If you're having a great day at home, try it out. If you'll be going out all day and stopping at various places throughout and just aren't sure you'll be able to give undivided attention, then maybe this is a day to let it go or just do it part time.

Remember, elimination communication isn't about potty training. It isn't about getting them out of diapers. It's about encouraging them to continue recognizing that they are going to the bathroom which will ease the transition to potty learning later.

At this point, we don't really do this much at all. We do have the occasional day when Ian will pee on the potty and we catch lots of poops, but still, I haven't taken the plunge into this yet. What about all of you? Anyone do this at home? What do you like about it?


  1. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elimination_communication

  2. Ask Dr. Sears: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/T106600.asp

  3. Cotton Babies Blog: http://clothdiapers.blogspot.com/2008/07/elimination-communication.html

  4. Diaper Swappers: http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum

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