What is Elimination Communication? (Imagine a world without diapers…)

You’ve heard about women walking for hours to get water for their families. Do you think they are washing diapers in it when they get home? No way. And Lord knows they aren’t heading down to their local IGA to drop a month’s salary on a $12.00 pack of Pampers.

The world outside of North America and Europe (and the other wealthy nations of the world) deal with their babies elimination needs differently than we do: not a diaper in sight.

When I traveled in India and Nepal, I noticed babies hanging out with bare bums. More than once I saw a mother casually holding their infant facing away from them at the side of the road while whispering ‘sssssssssssss’. Moments later a little stream of pee would shoot away.

Now that I have a child, it seems this ancient practice is becoming more popular. It is being picked up by moms and dads as a way to both be sensitive to their child’s needs and as a natural, no-conflict means of helping their child control their bladder and bowels. When the child is old enough they are taught to go to the bathroom on their own instead of being held by mommy. EC makes the often monumental struggle of “potty-training” essentially a thing of the past.

Elimination communication

Elimination Communication (AKA EC or Diaper-Free) is the fancy phrase used to describe what the majority of mothers practice with their infants globally.

It is against animal nature and evolution to eliminate on ourselves being neither hygienic nor comfortable.

EC can start at any age and many mothers begin at birth. Basically, every baby has one or more signs that they need to go: a particular wiggle, a certain cry, a facial expression or a combination of the three. Elimination Communication involves being sensitive to what your baby’s sign is and taking your baby to the bathroom or the potty.

EC is another way for you and your child to build trust and the intimate understanding that you will listen to their needs and be there for them. As with any sort of Attachment Parenting (breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping) that you might do, it will likely be more work in the short term and much less work over time. Remember that a child that trusts you now, will trust you as they grow into young adults.

EC should never be done with consequences or negative feelings. Never get frustrated with your child due to your lack of understanding. It takes time and patience and practice as you learn his signs and he learns to hold his pee in for longer periods.

My son’s signs are usually an arched back and a certain vocalization. Sometimes a pause at the breast or not latching on when I know he is hungry. Practicing EC with my baby I now notice many cries I thought were for no reason were actually him needing to go to the bathroom. I feel sad that I was ignoring this important need due to not watching his (sometimes) obvious cues.

Wanna try?

Try it for fun. Take your baby to the potty holding him facing away from you with your hands hooked under his upper legs. Then whisper ‘sssssssss’ in his or her ear (the sound of water…something we all know helps us urinate).

You will improve your chances if you take your baby after a nap or when their diaper has been dry for a bit. My little one went the very first time within a few seconds at two months old. We have been working towards being full-time diaper free family ever since.

Many moms know when their baby is going to poo. The brilliance of EC is every poo coated bum and dirty diaper I don’t have to throw in the trash. *flush* 😀

More on EC in days to come.


6 Responses to “What is Elimination Communication? (Imagine a world without diapers…)”
  1. Nicole says:

    We started just before Cael was 6 months. We noticed that he would pee shortly after taking his diaper off, as if he was holding it because he didn’t want his diaper to be any more wet than it already was. So, eventually we got wise and as we would open the diaper and say “pee pee” and he would go. We caught it all in the already wet diaper. After doing this for a while, we knew he completely understood, so we started taking him to the toilet. He goes – he even has poops sometimes. It is so gratifying.

    • Theresa Gerritsen says:

      Do you think it got easier as he got older because he understood you? I am looking very forward to the six month age when understanding baby signing is supposed to kick in.

  2. It has been a fantastic learning experience and very successful for us.

  3. splitpants says:

    I so much agree with you that one of the great things of EC is that the poo is in the potty in stead of on your baby’s bum! 🙂

    • Theresa Gerritsen says:

      I know right? My son, who is 13 months, really gets it now. He loves to poo in the potty. I see folks with three year olds getting so angry their baby keeps pooing in their pants. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for everyone. Great website BTW!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] The more I get to know Bodhi, the more I realize he rarely cries for no reason. His basic needs to sleep, eat, learn, pee, poo, be clean and a good temperature, exercise, and connect are not too much to ask. Here are some things I learned about him this week, many of them related to strides taken with Elimination Communication: […]

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