This will be the first in a series of posts specifically about using Elimination Communication (EC) to facilitate our baby Todd’s early potty “training.”
(Technically, I started writing about this topic in my post, “Diapering Todd (and Early Potty Use).” As of that post, Todd was 3 months old and he’d peed in the plastic baby potty 3 times. We were just starting out.)
Elimination Communication (EC) is something that I’d originally heard about from a podcast that I listened to while I was pregnant (BBL: 003 and BBL: 013). I was immediately intrigued by the idea that potty “training” could begin basically from birth. It makes sense to me that babies would have the innate desire to stay clean and dry. It’s obvious to me that babies communicate in a number of non-verbal ways. Babies start learning from birth, and probably even before that.
EC starts with simple parental observation. Todd is my baby and I know him better than anyone else. I’m the one who spends the most time with him. We’re in constant communication with each other.
I observe how often Todd soils his diapers. I can estimate how many times he’s urinated based on the degree of saturation. I recognize that he has a bowel movement after eating. I pick up on subtle and/or blatant cues that tell me that his movements are imminent or already happening.
Before December 1st, I tried, off and on, to potty Todd using the Baby Bjorn potty on top of his changing table. I used it intermittently, without much success. I found it difficult to position him on it without smashing his penis. He didn’t seem to like it because he would often try to stand up. Eric had a little better luck than I did.
On Monday December 1st, I decided to try holding Todd over the bathroom sink for the first time. I’d been feeding Todd at 5 AM, and I noticed his “poop signs.” I quickly got up and fortunately, there was only a small nugget in his diaper. I held him over the sink and he passed the rest of a large poop. Success! That was much easier than using the baby potty. A short while later that morning, I held Todd over the sink again. He peed. Success again!
December 3rd ended up being our “official” start date for using EC consistently…
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 3–
I decided it was time to dismantle the diaper changing station in our living room. I set it up in Todd’s bedroom instead. There’s a bathroom right across the hall from his room, so it’s convenient to carry him there after removing his diaper. (The second changing station is still located in my bedroom, which is also near a bathroom).
After Todd’s morning nap, he peed in the sink for me. After I fed him, I decided to try holding him over the toilet. He peed for the first time in the toilet. About an hour later, he peed in the toilet again. After a short nap, he peed in the toilet for the 3rd time that day. Finally, later in the afternoon he did his first poop in the toilet. We were off to an amazing start!
When I position Todd over the toilet, I hold him in a forward squatting position by supporting his chest/underarms with my left arm and supporting underneath his flexed knees with my right arm. We’re both facing the toilet. I set his feet on the back of the toilet seat (socks off).
During this time, I make a cue sound, “psss,” and I repeat the word, “pee pee.” If he poops, I say “poo poo.”
If Todd deposits anything in the toilet, I praise him and act very excited. I repeat to him, “Todd peed in the potty!” He lights up in a big smile…so cute!! His extra cool “reward” is standing or sitting while looking in the bathroom mirror, which he LOVES.
If Todd doesn’t go in the toilet, I still talk to him sweetly and I thank him for trying. He gets to stand up a little at the changing table before I put a new diaper on.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 4–
Todd peed in the toilet upon waking and then another 5 x during the day. He pooped in the toilet.
FRIDAY DECEMBER 5–
That day, I did a “test” after Todd drank 6 ounces of formula at 2 PM. I took him to the toilet 4 times within an hour of eating. I observed that Todd peed at least 4 times within that hour. He did 3 pees in the toilet when I offered it in 10-minute intervals. The diaper stayed dry between those intervals. When I took Todd for a fourth time 30 minutes later, Todd’s diaper was already wet and he didn’t pee in the toilet.
That evening, we drove to our condo in Wenatchee, WA. When we got there, Todd demonstrated his power of “skill generalization” by peeing twice in the condo toilet…Yay!
SATURDAY DECEMBER 6–
We were in Wenatchee because we ski there on weekends. Todd peed twice in the toilet before we left the condo to go skiing. He didn’t pee in the public restroom at Mission Ridge that day, but we gave it a shot. Todd did poop for the first time in the condo toilet when we got back.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 7–
We were up at 4:30 AM after we all had a good night of sleep. Between 4:30 AM and ~8 AM, Todd ate 3 times and peed in the toilet 6 times. The really awesome thing was that he had dry diapers at 5 of those instances.
The real shocker was that Todd’s diaper was still dry after he awoke from a 3 hour nap at the ski lodge. Todd then peed in the men’s room toilet for Eric. First public bathroom pee…wahoo!
After I fed him, I tried taking him to the ladies restroom. His diaper was dry but he didn’t pee. Instead of calling it quits, I waited several minutes. Luckily there’s a bench inside the very large handicap stall. I tried to potty him again without success. Then, just moments later, when Todd was still sitting bottomless on his dry diaper, he peed. I stood him up and out popped a small BM. Oh, well- you win some and you lose some! A while later he did end up peeing in the restroom for me.
During the drive home, we actually pulled over to give Todd a potty opportunity. He didn’t go. I think he was fussing because he was tired.
MONDAY DECEMBER 8–
Todd pooped in the toilet shortly after having his first bottle of the day. At first I thought he was all done so I stood him on the counter for his reward time. He started flexing forward and I suspected that he wasn’t yet done. Sure enough, he plopped out another nugget. That day, he peed 5 times in the toilet and had 2 dry diapers.
TUESDAY DECEMBER 9–
Todd peed in the toilet after I got him out of his crib. After he ate, he peed and pooped in the toilet. He ended up peeing 9 times in the toilet and he had 4 dry diapers.
Right now I’m very happy with how things are going. My current goal is simply to teach Todd that the toilet is where he goes for peeing and pooping. Based on the positive results, I believe this is happening.
At this point, I don’t expect Todd to be able to “hold it,” so I do expect wet diapers. I’m tracking when the diapers are dry vs when they are wet so that I can better anticipate his needs. When a diaper is dry I feel great knowing that I got to him “in time.”
Hopefully at some point I’ll be washing fewer diapers. Presently, the benefit is that the diapers that I do wash are not nearly as saturated with urine as before. More often, I’m removing a wet diaper that has only been peed in once instead of multiple times.
So that’s all for now! When things change or when I have more to report, I’ll post another update.
December 3: 1 pee in sink, 3 pees and 1 poop in toilet
December 4: 6 pees and 1 poop in toilet
December 5: 9 pees and 1 poop in toilet
December 6: 4 pees and 1 poop in toilet
December 7: 8 pees in toilet
December 8: 5 pees and 1 poop in toilet
December 9: 9 pees and 1 poop in toilet
(Note that Todd typically poops once a day)
Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene, by Ingrid Bauer