Monday, May 24, 2010

Elimination communication....

What is Elimination communication (also called infant potty training, natural infant hygiene, and diaper free)? 

ECing is observing/following your baby's signs & signals - and/or identifying his/her natural timing & patterns of elimination - and using cues, and intuition to address the baby's need to eliminate waste.
KB - 9½ mos old
ECing is actually a modern adaption of an ancient method of childcare. Traditionally this method was practiced by the whole community, therefore being taught/learned naturally over a lifetime. But sadly, ECing has now become more of an lost art in our western culture. Contrarily,  ECing is still practiced in many other parts of the world - esp those that are tribal, or less industrialized than the US.

Believe it or not, babies are aware of their elimination needs from birth, and within the first few months of life, have actually have the ability to consciously release their bladders and bowels.   Like animals, their natural instinct is to not soil their "nest" (the place in which they reside).  Yet due to the current age-of-convenience in which our society resides- rather than  taking our babies to appropriate elimination places to do what comes naturally to them,  we literally "retrain" them to eliminate in a diaper... only to  have to train them again, as they get older....  ??  How much sense does this make?  

But while it is true (after some time), the babe will come to realize the sensation equals elimination., and start purposefully signaling you.... the idea that ECing is synonymous with potty training is very incorrect!  Yes, the goal is to partially or completely avoid the use of diapers  - treating them as a tool, rather than a necessity when you do use them - but unlike most potty training efforts, ECing is a gentle, non-coercive & responsive technique. It  is a way to promptly give loving attention to the baby's present needs,  while becoming attuned to the baby's innate rhythms, temperaments. signals and control of  the eliminations. It should focus solely on building a strong communication between caregiver & baby, therefore enhancing attachment & strong baby-parent bonds. So really-  in essence -  ECing is ever as much parent training than anything else. :-)

ECing can be used full time or part time.... and cloth diapers (with or without covers) can be used as a vital  tool for times off.  We started ECing a little later in our journey (6 mos), as even though I had heard of EC prior to KB's birth....  I was not well versed enough in the concept to jump on board, or commit from the beginning. Now in retrospect, and through some further study, I realize that it's best to start from day one, and EC consistently.... rather than part-time,. I love the idea of EC, and being so in tune with my baby, but I will admit, I still don't know more than a drop in the bucket... and still find it a little intimidating.

The few times I did try to figure out KB's signals (which can be anything from a facial expression or particular cry, to squirming, sudden unexplained fussiness, hand motion, etc), I always came up empty.   Once she got a little older, and we had a little more of a rhythm going in our daily routine... I had more time/patience/willingness to commit.  But it wasn't until I became consistant - surrendering the rest to my instincts... that her patterns became clear to me.
Of course, while potty training is not the goal when ECing....   due to the practice, it did make graduation out of diapers, and into independent restroom visits, come pretty naturally to her!  With about 80%  of her eliminations being catches, by the time she was 10mos... working her way to being exclusively in panties (with only a few missed opportunities a week) by the time she was 18-20 mos.... and now she is fully graduated. She independently goes to the potty,with little to no reminder, and is fully self-sufficient (incl. wiping).   She also became completely diaperless at night, since last July!!  Of course she still has the rare, occasional miss... but they are very few & far between - and usually come with temperament changes (extremely tired/hungry), distractions and developmental milestones. ~ Completely understandable & to be expected, in my opinion!

Wikipedia: Elimination_communication 
Diaper Free Baby!
Tribal Baby
YahooGroups: elimination communication
The EC store (great tools for the ECing family) 
# Natural Infant Hygiene - Ingrid Bauer's article summarizing EC EC board

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