Have you heard the saying "it takes a village" around the postpartum period? Have you then thought: "Well that's cute,...
Note: there are links to some products in this post, but I am not (yet) a paid affiliate!
Photos of us: Erika Matkovich.
First things first… What is Elimination Communication?
Have you heard of Elimination Communication? It’s not very well-known, what with the READY access to diapers.
And don’t get me wrong here– DIAPERS ARE FANTASTIC. I definitely use them. We can talk about diapers ‘till the cows come home. Cloth, disposable, YOU name it! (Future blog post…Hint hint)
But this blog post isn’t about diapers, it’s about Elimination Communication! Sometimes affectionately known as EC.
Elimination Communication is the process of reading your babe’s cues (communication) for needing to eliminate waste (elimination). Then empowering them to eliminate somewhat independently. Most commonly, heading to the toilet, potty, basin, or sink or other location with them to do their doody. When they’re a bit older, they’ll be heading to the potty on their own.
Sounds cool, right?
While my babe was a newborn, I decided the method was NOT for me. For some it is! Which I can definitely appreciate.
Our journey with Elimination Communication naturally and spontaneously started later, around the 6-month mark. More on my story later.
What to look for with Elimination Communication
The biggest piece of the puzzle with a young babe or toddler is reading their cues and patterns and acting accordingly.
This can look like babe standing still, isolating themselves in a corner or secluded place, specific postures, specific voice sounds, facial expressions, after mealtime pattern, or time of day pattern.
How to doo-doo Elimination Communication! Hehe.
First of all, it is important to know that I am NOT an expert on this topic.
From the limited research I’ve done, I can tell you that there are SO MANY WAYS to do Elimination Communication, and that it is COMPLETELY dependent on you and your family. You have a say. It can be flexible.
Know that it is NOT all or nothing.
Whatever image you may have in your head about poop and pee on the carpets– it is not necessarily that.
I’ll tell you what it currently looks like for us.
How we started Elimination Communication
Elimination Communication naturally came up in our lives after we started introducing solid foods to our little one. So maybe around the 6-month mark.
As with so many babes, the transition to solid foods can vastly change the digestive system and flora of the gut, as well as the consistency and contents of the stool. It’s an important life milestone! Hurray for blueberry-stained cheeks!!!
For our little, her stools became a little hard to pass. At some point, she suffered a little fissure (tear) where you definitely WOULDN’T want one. Ouch.
As such, passing became harder for her due to the pain, and the consistency. We felt awful and followed up with our doc and a pediatrician about it as soon as we could.
We naturally came to Elimination Communication…
…when she began to more obviously communicate when she was trying to pass. She was definitely notifying us with her vocal sounds. And her posture.
So, for me especially, it felt instinctual in the moment to take her to the toilet. I had the thought, and I just did it. It felt a little radical, but I thought why NOT try it?
When it worked, I felt really good about it.
FOR ME, it felt like I respected her dignity. Like I acknowledged her communication and acted on it. The thought of letting her go where I go, instead of in her diaper, just felt right to me.
Now please, for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE do not take this as a judgment.
It is not.
It’s my family’s story, and it’s a way to share another perspective and option.
For us, amidst a pandemic, it was– and continues to be– feasible. So we’re just going with it!
Correct me if I’m wrong folks, but is this stuff taught in prenatal classes? Honestly, you can do anything. Let your instincts guide you. If it doesn’t work for you you can always re-assess!
How Elimination Communication is going for us
So we are now part-time ECers. Who woulda thunkit!! I didn’t plan it. But that’s kinda our parenting style… We are very go-with-the-flow. And then we try to stay consistent, until the flow changes again.
This blogpost sponsored by Covid-19, ha. Being at home all the time due to the pandemic just made Elimination Communication a more feasible option and reality for us. It just became what we do. Part of our daily normal.
She notifies us of when she needs to go #2, and we take her to the toilet. Sometimes we make it there, sometimes we don’t and the diaper catches it.
We bought THIS toilet seat adapter for tiny bums, and it supports her well. Not gonna lie, I was kinda terrified of dropping her in before getting this thing!
I’m not sure yet what the next step for us is. Now that she is mobile, we are thinking of making a stool for her to climb up to the toilet on her own. Let’s see if that independence inspires and works for her!
So, why might Elimination Communication be something to consider?
Actual Benefits of Elimination Communication:
It was a natural reality before disposable diapers and delayed potty training vastly changed societal norms. So there is some merit to its effectiveness!
2. Generates no landfill or ocean waste
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s an unfortunate reality right now that disposable diapers end up in landfills and even oceans. I know it sucks, but I gotta tell the truth here!
3. Very cost-effective
In comparison to disposable diapers, it is nearly free. You may opt to purchase training underwear, some cloth diapers, or the like, but the costs are much lower.
Potential Benefits of Elimination Communication:
1. May reduce risk of UTIs
No trapped urine= less risk of bacterial growth and infection.
2. May prevent skin and soft tissue infections
Bender and She (2017) found a correlation between disposable diapers and MRSA skin and soft tissue infections. They recommend one way to prevent these is to avoid disposable diapers. However, these infections ARE treatable (ie. don’t panic).
3. Better communication with your babe
I am a huge proponent of communication. The awareness and responsiveness of babe’s cues is a bonding, nurturing and communicative experience. You are communicating your care of them, and they are communicating their needs with you.
4. Better awareness of bladder, with more complete emptying
This helps on the journey towards toilet independence. If it can help make potty training easier in the future, that’s a win right?
5. Babe may learn to walk more naturally without thick padding between legs
Again, resist your urge to panic here. I am NOT here to cause alarm. Babe will walk just fine. This is just one potential added benefit!
The Pandemic Environment May Make it More Feasible
There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed how we live our lives. MOST of us are home much more than we used to be. (I see you and honour you, essential workers and health care workers to whom this doesn’t apply).
With this shift, attempting Elimination Communication, even if very casually, may be more feasible. You may find yourself needing the convenience of disposable diapers a little less. You may be more okay with some ‘misses’. (If not, that’s totally fine).
If this is you, and you’ve got less to worry about, why not give it a go if you’re interested in it!?
It May Line Up With Your Parenting Values
Especially for my readers who are environmentally-conscious parents, child-centered parents, montessori parents, and attachment parents… Elimination Communication MAY be something you’d consider adding to your arsenal. Your babe’s arse will thank you. HA.
And NEVER forget: as your Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, I will support you no matter what elimination methods you choose!
So, my love, let’s talk: Have you tried it? Will you? HELLZ NO? I want to hear ALL your thoughts about this month’s blog on Elimination Communication. Comment below!!!!
Lots of love,
Bender, J. M., & She, R. C. (2017). Elimination communication: Diaper-Free in America. Pediatrics, 140(1). doi:10.1542/peds.2017-0398
Olson, A. (2020, August 24). Elimination communication 101: A complete introduction to pottying your baby. Retrieved February 14, 2021, from https://godiaperfree.com/elimination-communication/
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