Many of you will know by now that we have practiced elimination communication with our son since he was just a few weeks old. EC, or natural infant hygiene as it is also called, is the practice of reading your baby’s signals and aiding them in going to the toilet in a potty, toilet or other appropriate receptacle, rather than relying on a nappy.
In countries where poverty is high, nappies are not readily available or people live closer to nature, EC is the norm. It is in fact how all babies were raised all over the world until the invention of cloth and disposable nappies. However, in current developed countries, it is extremely uncommon. Even amongst my own circle of crunchy mama friends, I am alone in this practice. I have, in the almost two years since my son was born, met a total of two other mothers (in real life) who also EC.
But, for me, it is without a doubt one of the best parenting discoveries I have made. The benefits extend far further than avoiding pooey nappies and cutting down on laundry. In my opinion, the biggest advantage to using elimination communication with my son is that I can feel that I am meeting all of his needs, from feeding and comfort, to hygiene and yes, toileting.
At his age (23 months) we no longer look so strange using the public toilets or shunning nappies, which we stopped using for the majority of the time when he was around 14 months old. People assume that we are potty training him and comment on how advanced he is in being out of nappies already. But this is where EC and potty training differ. Although my son gets the majority of his eliminations in to the potty or toilet, and always tells me “wee wee” or “poo poo” he still has occasional misses. We have been through several different stages with EC – at eight months old, his body was like clockwork, I knew his signals like the back of my hand and he was dry for weeks on end during the day and night. Then a few months later when he began to walk, we began experiencing more and more misses. He was too interested in the world to stop what he was doing, and often waited too long and missed. Then around 14 months we ditched the nappies and bought a few more potty’s, keeping him bare bummed or totally naked whilst at home, and suddenly, he was mostly dry again. But as the months have gone on, what I have learned is that there is no clear end point. When he has been teething, when he has a cold, and when he is overtired, there are likely to be more misses.
As I am quite an oddity in this practice, I often feel as if I am under the watchful eye of others, waiting to see if it really works, and judging me and the whole practice of elimination communication each time we have a miss. But I have to remind myself, being dry is not the goal, it is the by-product. And no one has the right to judge my parenting or my child, but me and his Daddy.
Elimination communication is not a straight path to dryness, but a journey with many twists and turns. In that way, it mirrors many aspects of parenting, as we are constantly adapting and evolving to meet our sons needs.
Although we still get misses, we never have issues that can be associated with long term nappy use such as constipation, hiding or lying about when he is pooing or weeing, or simply not feeling or understanding the sensation of needing to go. The learned incontinence that most babies in our culture experience can take time to undo, and this is one of the benefits of EC, that the baby never looses those feelings.
EC has helped my son to feel confident and open about his body and its functions, and it is definitely something I would encourage all new parents to try.
Have you used elimination communication with your babies? What do you see as the biggest benefits to it?
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