When I bring up the concept of EC (Elimination Communication) with most Americans they give me quite the puzzled look. The conversation usually goes something like this:
“I like to put my kids on the potty once they can sit up. It is called EC.”
“You mean, like when they are babies?”
“And then they use the bathroom? How do they know when to go?”
“So when do you know when to put them on?”
“You follow their cues or time it to the natural, sensical rhythms, like after a nap.”
“Isn’t that just potty training the parent?”
The concept of introducing the potty to an infant or baby is nothing new. Cultures around the world use some form of EC (under various other names) and have since the beginning of time. Diapers are a relatively new invention, even cloth diapers are “new” to the world in the grand scheme of things.
My personal philosophy on ECing is to make it a fun, part time event. Babies change quickly. With Fletcher, there was a stretch of a few weeks where we had very few wet diapers. I had the timing down and he was responding to my chosen signal of “psssssss.” Then he started crawling and wouldn’t sit still long enough. We still did EC off and on as my schedule and his attitude allowed. There were good weeks, bad weeks, and weeks where we never did it.
When I was hugely pregnant we stopped altogether and he lost a lot of his interest in the potty. I was never set on getting him out of diapers before 1, or 2, but I did have the idea that he wouldn’t wear diapers as long as the American Average age of 30 months. My MIL would have had a fit. She EC’ed her own babies by putting them on the potty every half hour and they were diaper free by 1 year.
How does this relate to flats?!
Frankly, as we are all on Day 5 of Handwashing our flats, I see why mothers would be motivated to speed up the potty training process. I have remarked several times that you hardly ever see an old photograph of a toddler in diapers or plastic pants. Why? Because they weren’t using diapers. You better believe their moms were running them to the potty at that first grunt before they soiled their diaper. Handwashing poopy diapers is certainly motivation to prevent the pooping in the diaper in the first place, would’t you agree? Besides, it has always made sense to me, even if you didn’t know about EC, to run the baby to potty if you KNOW they are about to poop and you have the chance. When I see parents wait for their kid to poop in their diaper and they have plenty of advance notice, they even remark about waiting, I just don’t get it.
This isn’t an option everyone can implement. Working parents can’t ask their care providers to EC their children. However, there is no law against doing it once a day, once a week, or once a month. Even preventing one poop from a diaper is one less to wash (by hand or machine). And wearing flats coverless really gives you a picture of their schedule. By seeing when they pee you and your baby can develop an understanding of their schedule.
For more EC resources follow my Adventures in EC tag (which hasn’t been updated in quite a while). I also HIGHLY recommend reading The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative if you are interested in pursuing EC in earnest.
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