February 4, 2013

How to: Practice Elimination Communication

I never had any intentions of potty training my child until she was at least two years old. With age three as the average age for potty training amongst Americans, I didn't expect to even consider teaching my child a new way of life, anytime soon. Then I started reading about "Elimination Communication (EC)." This is a practice when you use timing, signals, cues and intuition to address your baby's need to poop/pee, basically in a nut shell. Many other countries and cultures use this technique from a very young age, if not birth. Over half of the world (mainly Asian countries, parts of Africa and Latin America) have their babies potty trained by 1 year, while we stand at 3 years. It's probably because of our huge overuse of diapers and Pull-Ups and the way we have normalized postponing the toilet training age. While many people find it ridiculous to try to have a baby use the potty, I'd like to guess that in other countries they think we are ridiculous for letting our kids sit in their own filth (as they probably see it). And not that it really matters, but because I stay up to date with celebrity news, Giselle Bundchen and Tom Brady's son Benjamin was fully potty trained before a year, which they credit to EC. Mayim Bialik and Alicia Silverstone also practice EC with their kids(s).

Before you start smirking and rolling your eyes, thinking I'm nuts, I'm going to go ahead and tell you that I'm not 100% on the idea. I don't know exactly how I feel about trying to go diaper free (especially in our busy world - maybe if I was a stay at home mom I'd give it a shot) or how comfortable I would be doing EC with a newborn, however I do 100% believe that using EC can help with traditional potty training later on and can probably make it a speedier process as well. EC can get an infant accustomed to the toilet, and eliminates fear of the unknown later. It can also get it set in their minds that the toilet is where you are suppose to go, not in your pants.

Here we are, at 15 months, so Noelle is beyond infancy and doesn't know any better than to go in her diaper, however it's never too late to start trying some new techniques or too early to start giving the potty a shot. The youngest age of potty trained kids is typically 18 months, which is only a few short months away. We've also noticed that she already shows a lot of the typical "readiness" signs. Out of an extensive list, she is successful at almost all of them and will probably be fully ready in a couple months - again we're starting the prep work early! Here's the list if you'd like to check it out yourself.

For the last couple months I've been having Noelle go into the bathroom with me just to get the idea into her head. This may seem a bit graphic, but I think seeing and having me explain what's going on has reinforced the concept into her head. We also got her a potty chair last month, which we didn't make her sit on, but we put it in the bathroom and would point it out every time we were in the bathroom. Like "Here's mommy and daddy's potty! Here is Noelle's potty!"

We also got her a potty doll, which is a doll that comes with her own toilet that flushes and a little voice says "Bye bye poopy! Bye bye pee pee!" It's super weird, (and kind of gross,) but Joey insisted that we get it (at least for the laughs). Noelle has been playing with the doll constantly. The first couple weeks she didn't get it at all. She played with it but nothing registered. She would play with the toilet and the doll separate too. Then, after watching me, she understood that the doll went on the potty, then she would flush. Then she would do it again and again.

After a couple weeks of coming with me into the bathroom, I started having her sit on the potty - in her clothes. She was really freaked out by the potty at first so I thought it would be too scary to put her bare butt on it. So when she got used to the potty, I started sitting her on it and just have her hangout for a minute. I always changed her diaper afterwards too, even if nothing happened, just to get the idea into her head. The most helpful thing here is that I would look for signs/cues that she was about to go, then say "OH! We need to get to the potty!!" and literally drop everything we were doing and rush her to the bathroom. Then she would sit on the potty and just poop in her diaper, but at least she got the point - poop on potty.

After two weeks of sitting on the potty with the diaper on, I took the diaper off. We weren't successful at first, AT ALL. I always was too late and she would have already gone, or peed on the bathroom floor, but I still made her sit on it and "practice." We would wipe after and then toss the contents of her dirty diapers into the toilet and practice flushing. We would say "Bye bye poopy!" then I'd let her flush.

We've had one successful #2 on the potty which thrilled us to no end. I did the same thing as always, grabbing her hand and making her run to the bathroom when I noticed her "poop face" and then set her on the potty. Nothing happened at first and then I thought maybe the sensation was gone. I gave her a book and let her sit on the potty for a few minutes. All of a sudden, voila, we heard music playing from her potty! (The potty we got her plays a song when you have successfully peed/pooped in it.) Joey looked at me and asked "Do I hear music?!" We watched Noelle continue to "work it out" then she got up and YES, she DID it!! We made a VERY big deal about it and cheered and clapped so that she would know it was something to be very proud of. She was all smiles and clapped for herself as we did our normal procedure of dumping the contents into the big toilet and flushed. It was a great first time and we even got pictures!

Noelle has also gone #1 on the potty, which at this young age, I find way harder to catch than #2. She's way too young to tell me when she has to go, especially since she doesn't even know yet how to control it. But it has happened, when I've had her on the potty just for practice. Today she went to the bathroom after I said "Should we go to the potty?" and after sitting on it for about 30 seconds she peed! I was floored, since she's never been dry in a diaper for that long. (3 hours.) Here is a link to an AWESOME site - this specific article addresses "Late EC" which is EC for 12-18 month olds. The article is helping me figure out how to teach Noelle, and myself, to catch her #1s.

We are still working on it a little bit every day, but we are very relaxed and casual about it. This isn't intensive potty training by any means and we know that it might even be a year before she's fully ready to go potty all by herself. What I've learned though, is that there is no harm in trying early and getting the kid used to the potty. It may not be an intense week of potty training with results and underwear, but it may be a slow process that eases her from one stage to the next. We may only catch #2s for a while, but eventually we will start putting her on the potty more to catch #1s. Then eventually let her have some naked afternoons to practice sensing the urgency to pee, and then practice running to the potty alone. It's going to be a few months, but we are super excited. I actually find it kind of fun. (Definitely a first time mom. Ha!)

To keep the idea going I also purchased a few potty books for us to read throughout the day. In fact, today she read her newest potty book and then minutes later she walked into the bathroom. I had missed her "poop face" so she had already done the deed, but she did enter the bathroom -as if to tell me- and we did our normal dump and flush. She loves saying bye bye and waving to her poopies. Yes, I've resorted to poop talk but it's really a great feeling seeing your kid starting to "get it!"

Here is another great article that I read on EC and potty training for young babies. This woman's son is 13 months and she has really helpful tips!

More soon! 

1 comment:

  1. I am so clueless when it comes to all this potty training. I've reached desperation with Elliot. Amelia shows more interest than him. I'm going to check out all your links! Thanks Dinah! I love reading your blog.


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