My Baby Pees in a Sink Sometimes {Elimination Communication – the first 6 months}

“Ohhhh…So you’re a crazy mom.”

“What? No, I’m not – this is what many, many cultures around the world do.”

“Yep, that’s what all the crazy moms say.”

I, of course, think I’m normal. But I do let my baby pee in a sink – which is why this dear friend declared me a “Crazy Mom.”

Ruby gets a "pottytunity" over the sink

Ruby gets a “pottytunity” over the sink

The basic principle of Elimination Communication (or EC) is this: Babies are born with some control of their bladder and bowels and just like they let you know when they are hungry or tired, they also let you know when they have to eliminate. New parents are trained to look for signs of hunger like rooting, but not peeing and pooping. ECers will also tell you that babies are born with a desire to not soil themselves – which is why you may have noticed babies often pee as soon as you take off their diaper. If you keep them in diapers all the time, though, they lose this desire and also lose that control over their eliminating functions.

Many parents say they EC because they love staying in sync with their kiddos, it’s all about deepening their bond. Kudos to them, but I am not that noble.

I was intrigued by EC because I have a bias toward parenting methods that are practiced across many cultures.

I was sold on EC because I’m lazy. Since we were set on using cloth (to save $ and the earth), one of my big motivators was to have a handle on EC before we had gross poop. Baby poop during breastfeeding is no big deal, it just washes out in the washing machine. Solid food poop is another story. Also the average age for potty training in the US is about 2.5 years old…most EC babies seem to be potty trained by 18 months…that’s a whole year earlier. That’s a lot fewer diapers.

EC isn’t less work than changing diapers – at least this first 6 months it wasn’t. Granted I do what is known as “part-time EC.” There are people who are quite dedicated to the cause and don’t use diapers at all. That is more work.

Here’s how it worked for me:

Since she was a few days old, I try to give Ruby some “diaper-free time” every day. This could be when I was nursing (putting a cloth diaper open under her) or while she’s having tummy time or  playing. Whenever works. I’d put her in a shirt or two, legwarmers, and socks.

When I saw her peeing or pooping, I’d make a cueing noise. Different people use different noises. Mine is kind of like “pssssss.” I’d also try to observe to see if there was any  way she signaled before she went. Some babies squirm, some babble, some get quiet, fuss, etc.

The idea is that they begin to associate your cueing noise with eliminating. If you make the noise and they have a full bladder, they will release their bladder.

Ruby’s signals have never been too clear so around 2 months I switched to offering her “pottytunities” at times where babies are more likely to need to pee – like when she wakes up, after I take her out of the baby carrier, after she eats. During a “pottytunity” I take her diaper off, hold her over the sink, toilet, or bowl and make the psssss noise for about 20 seconds. Sometimes she goes, sometimes she doesn’t. She likes the sink the best because she loves to look at herself in the mirror. I usually sing her some sort of song parody like “I’m a potty girl in a potty world” (instead of Barbie) or “We like to Potty” (instead of Party). You get the idea.

At 2 months we were pretty “in sync” – I think I “caught” 9 pees one day – but then came Christmas, going back to work part-time, and traveling, so now we’re at about 3 a day. Even if she has a “miss” and ends up peeing on the changing table, or the floor, or wherever, I still make the psssss noise and tell her “Good girl! You’re going potty!”

I’m not hardcore because, again, I’m lazy. Since she’s only just crawling, I’m still the one that has to take her to the potty all the time. I’ve recently added the sign for “potty” hoping that one day (soon!) she’ll sign it to me when she has to go since I’ve never been able to pick up on her more subtle signals. In the meantime, it’s enough for me to know that she still has some control of her bladder – with the hope that we might have just 1 year (rather than 2) of diapers to go.

 

Want some more info on EC?

Check out this recent NY Times Article

http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/

My favorite book resource – The Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh

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12 thoughts on “My Baby Pees in a Sink Sometimes {Elimination Communication – the first 6 months}

  1. You, my friend, are amazing. I barely have the mind to change Avah’s diaper every couple of hours let alone help her pee. I do believe she is going to be a bit eager to begin using the toilet as her tolerance for having poop in her diaper is in the negatives. P.S. LOVE the picture!

  2. I didn’t do EC (started, but just could read the signals very well), but think it is fascinating. Children in other cultures are toilet trained much earlier than here, so there must be something we can learn. I would love to keep getting updates on how it goes. Sounds like you are close to having her potty trained at 6 months!

    • Thanks, Janet! Absolutely — if other cultures are toilet trained earlier, there must be something to learn. I will post another update maybe when she’s a year old — even if it’s a total flop by then 🙂

  3. This is absolutely the same way that the Filipino minority people we used to live with dealt with their kids. Pssssss and out it comes over by the bush or wherever you are, holding the babe just as you are, no mess, quick and easy, from early months on. The #2 is almost easier–you can gently pinch the cheeks together until you have baby/toddler over the right place, and they DO tend to give signals for that more clearly than the pee. Blessings on you and Ruby! —Jan Allen (ask Micah who I am)

    • So interesting, thanks, Jan! I know your name (I think I’ve heard Micah mention you, as well as Sue). I should try that with #2 – never been successful with that. 🙂

  4. I just posted about my 9 month old’s journey with EC. We are sort of on a hiatus, which is common, I know. Anywho, he is so absorbed in the other things that are going on around him that there has been little success lately. Pair that with teething, and its all down-hill! ;-/ Patience and keep trying is what I am hoping for, and more more success stories like yours! I am anxious to hear more!

    • We actually just took a break for about 6 weeks because we were traveling overseas. It came at a good time because I was feeling discouraged and definitely needed a break. So we had 6 weeks in disposables and I thought she might lose the ability to respond to cueing — so my expectations were pretty low when we got back (last week) but I was pleasantly surprised to find out she still responds at least occasionally. But I still am only catching 3 a day, so just a fraction. I just read your post and enjoyed hearing your journey with it. I’ve heard from others breaks are good for baby and mama!

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  6. Good for you! I might try some of that with the little one. My three year old just finally gave up diapers after watching potty power twice a day for two weeks. :p

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