Elimination Communication

Elimination Communication

Elimination Communication (EC) means using a toilet for all toileting needs from birth without depending on nappies. Whilst this sounds insane or impossible to a lot of people, think about it from a global perspective. It is only the industrialised world that uses nappies on our infants – most of the world still doesn’t! In fact, it is so normal to not use nappies that there is no word for it, just like there is no ‘word’ for nappy-wearing infants in our culture!

For children using EC it is normal to be completely accident-free by 6 months old

Consider this article by Wikipedia:

“Keeping babies clean and dry without diapers is standard practice in many cultures throughout the world. While this practice is only recently becoming known in industrialized societies, it remains the dominant method of baby hygiene in non-industrialized ones.

The terms elimination communication and natural infant hygiene were coined by Ingrid Bauer and are used interchangeably in her book, Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene (2001). Bauer had travelled to India and Africa, where she noticed that while most mothers carried their diaperless babies constantly, she saw no elimination “accidents” as would be expected in industrialized countries where babies wear diapers almost continuously from birth. Subsequently, she raised her own children with minimal use of diapers, and eventually began to share her approach with other mothers and caregivers—initially through Internet-based parenting support groups and eventually through her book and website.

Prior publications introducing Western parents to this practice include the booklet Conscious Toilet Training, by Laurie Boucke (1979), the book Trickle Treat: Diaperless Infant Toilet Training Method, by Laurie Boucke (1991), a pamphlet entitled Elimination Timing, by Natec (1994), and the more extensive Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primaeval Method Adapted to Modern Living, by Laurie Boucke (2000). Boucke was influenced by an Indian friend who taught her how mothers in India care for babies without diapers, and she adapted the method to fit her Western lifestyle. Boucke later co-produced an in-depth DVD entitled Potty Whispering: The Gentle Practice of Infant Potty Training (2006) and co-authored articles for medical journals.

While the terms elimination communication and infant potty training have become synonymous, many caregivers who practice EC do not consider it to be a form of “training”, per se. “Nappyless technique” is a term some mothers in the UK prefer to describe babies who use a potty. EC is viewed primarily as a way to meet the baby’s present needs and to enhance attachment and communication in general. In that sense, EC is often likened to breastfeeding. “Toilet mastery is, of course, an inevitable consequence”, writes Bauer, “Yet it’s no more the goal of Natural Infant Hygiene than weaning is the goal of breastfeeding” (2001, p. 217).”

The midwife who had assisted in my youngest daughter’s birth backed up the theory of EC when she saw us holding our newborn daughter over the sink for her first poos and wees, she said “That’s great that you are doing that. I did volunteer work in Africa and was holding all these nappy free two and three month olds for months but not once did I get weed on or pooed on! It blew my mind!”. 

Many parents argue that EC is too much work, but is it though? What is the difference between witnessing your baby get their ‘poo face’ on and remarking “oh, someone needs to do a poo!”, waiting until they’ve done it in their nappy, then going and changing them – cleaning all that smooshed up poo from in all their bodies vs observing their ‘poo face’ and quickly taking them to the toilet so they can do it on there, doing a quick wipe, then moving on with the day? I’d be inclined to believe that the second option is far less work! My daughter was 7 months old before she did her first ‘accident poo’ that wasn’t on a toilet (she had an upset tummy and looked completely shocked that she’d done one!).

EC is simply observing your baby’s cues that they need to go to the toilet (these are individual of course, but you will pick up on them quickly!) and then holding them on the toilet or over a bucket/potty or doing a bush wee on some inconspicuous grass.

Some parents make a cue sound  like ‘ssssssss’ when the child is doing a wee which they later use to cue the child to ‘going on command’ (like a tactical wee). I personally didn’t do this, but some parents say it works really well.

Another option is teaching your bub to do baby sign and building the connection between the sign, and going to the toilet so they can sign to you when they need to go. Children can do signs way before they can verbalise their needs. 

When my daughter was little I would have her nappy free or in cloth nappies at home and wear disposables when we were out, and at night. However they were only used as backup, not as a primary tool.

Food for thought:

  • Humans are mammals. Mammals never soil where they sleep. They will always go to a separate spot to toilet. Humans are no different. Infants innately do not want to soil themselves. This is why a lot of the time when you take a baby’s nappy off they will start to wee (boys especially), that is this theory in motion. Western society is teaching an infant to soil themselves then spending considerable time and effort training them to NOT do that!
  • EC is way cheaper than full time nappy wearing.
  • Watching people’s faces at your two week old baby going to the toilet over a potty is absolutely hilarious – minds blown!

This was a big module so no homework for you! 

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