Tuesday, November 30, 2010

EC the second time around

The following is my own experience with EC. There are many great website explaining the why's and how's of EC, and I will include links to some at the end of my post. I am not attempting to teach people how to practice EC with this post, but I simply want to share my own experience with it here.


With my first son, we practiced elimination communication (EC) from about 3 months old onwards. We used cloth diapers when we went out until about 7 months old, and from then on, we just took him potty wherever we were and stopped putting him in diapers. He was reliably dry (or would wake to potty) from about 7 months onwards, as well. We had carpeted floors at the time (for those wondering).

I wasn't sure how I was going to approach diapering with my second baby. I knew we'd use cloth diapers, and I knew I'd be taking him potty sometimes..I just wasn't sure how I'd manage doing EC full time this time around, since I not only had an another child to care for, but I knew I'd be taking my baby with me to births and appointments for a good part of his first year.

So, my second boy was born. Within the first few days, I started putting him on his potty for bowel movements. It seemed to help him calm down and he was less gassy. (I recall this as well from my first son.) He was still almost always in a diaper, usually a prefold held on with a snappy. I didn't put covers on his diapers when we were home, because I wanted to know right away when his diaper was wet, so I could promptly change it. I would also always talk to him about his pee "Oh, did you just pee? OK, I'll get you a clean diaper. You can pee in the potty, too. That might be nicer for you."

My second son sitting on his potty, 5 months old.

When he was with my during prenatal appointments or births, I always had a diaper and cover on him (or an all-in-one diaper), and wasn't able to pay much attention to his pottying. I'd just try to check frequently to see if he'd peed yet (maybe every 30-60 minutes when he was awake) and then change his diaper. Yes, I went through MANY diapers this way. But, I think it was key in helping him to not get used to the feeling of ignoring that function of his body or the feeling of a wet diaper.

When we were home, I began to let him be diaper free more and more. I found that we 'caught' more pees this way, and it felt like much less work to wipe up a 'missed' pee than to put his diaper on, take it off to offer the potty then put it back on. I also noticed that when he was diaper free, he seemed to empty his bladder more fully. When he would pee in his diaper, it was as if he'd pee a little, then 10 minutes later a little more, etc. When we took him potty and he peed, he wouldn't need to pee again for maybe 30 minutes. The interval between pees has increased as he has grown. (For example, he is now 17 months, and sometimes goes 3-4 hours without needing to pee).

He was in diapers MUCH more than his older brother was during his first year, partly because he was with me at work and partly because I don't feel like I was able to pick up on his cues as well as I could with my older son. In fact, I'd even say that I feel like he wasn't doing any cues for a long while. I mostly relied upon my own intuition that he needed to pee.

In the car, he was in diapers, and around 12 months old or so, I started just setting a diaper in his carseat and then setting him in his car seat. That way, it was there in case he peed, but it wasn't attached to him. If we drover more than 30 minutes or so, he'd usually end up peeing. We also had these nifty waterproof pads in his seat that I really like. In the last month or so, I've stopped putting a diaper in his seat, as he is so reliably dry now. My normal routine when we are driving somewhere is to take him potty just before putting him in his seat, and he usually pees. Then I pull his pants up and sit him in his seat with no diaper.

In the baby carrier, I place him with just pants, not diaper. When he was younger, I would sometimes place a folded prefold between he and I when he was in the carrier, just in case. However, he normally lets me know he has to pee by sort of squeezing his legs when he is in the carrier.

For bowel movements, he has much more reliably let me know since the beginning. The sign that he gives me now is so hard to explain. I can actually even hear it in his step if he is running to me from another room to tell me he has to poop. It is so interesting to see how I have learned that cue so well.

At night, we have been sleeping with him diaper free since about 4 months old. It was just easier to keep his diaper off and take him potty than changing his diaper. I keep a little potty (or two) by the bed on the floor, and have gotten to know his nighttime elimination habits. He normally won't pee until he has nursed when he wakes in the middle of the night. When he starts to sort of move around and not able to focus on nursing anymore, I know he needs to pee. When he empties his bladder in his potty, I know he won't need to pee for a few more hours, so we sleep deeply in peace. And, now that he is 17 months, he usually only needs to pee once in the night (even though he wakes to nurse 2-5 times during the night), and occasionally, he won't pee at all and will hold it all night. We he wakes in the morning or from naps, the first thing we do is take him pee. He will then pee almost all of the time. I do keep a large over sized waterproof pad that I made underneath the sheet in out part of bed, just to help protect the bed. I also have 2 smaller waterproof pads that I place a prefold on top of and then lay that underneath him. When he was younger, I would regularly miss pees every few nights, and this was a nice and easy way to keep the bed clean. Now it rarely gets used. Nighttimes are actually pretty easy. This is no doubt due to the fact that babies don't pee when sleeping deeply. They will always rouse to pee (though it may seem that they are sleeping...they are likely just in a light sleep cycle). They also tend to produce less urine at night, thanks to the antidiruetic hormone.

The aspect that I love about EC so much is the simplicity. It feels so normal and seamless to me. There is no 'potty training' time, it just sort of morphs into a baby/toddler who knows what their body is doing. I don't think it is the "best" way to approach diapering and pottying, but it is certainly a real option and one that some people will really come to enjoy. However, I do acknowledge that the vast majority of people in our culture do not want to fuss with taking their baby potty.

I hope from this post you gleamed a small insight into what it is like to EC. It might sound like a lot of work, and indeed, there have been times where I feel crazy for doing this, and I wish I could just stick a diaper on my baby and not think about it for a few hours. But, those feelings of exasperation are short-lived, and I truly love the connection that EC'ing has given me with my babies as they have grown.

I always tell people that I don't view EC as easier or harder than traditional diapering potty training. I figure that it may really be about the same amount of work overall, but simply expended in a different manner.

I could talk and write so much about EC. However, I already feel like this post is a bit scattered, so I will stop here. Maybe I will write more another day.


Here are some links if you would like to learn more about EC:

Diaper Free Baby groups

The EC Store

What is EC?

What is EC? (a different article)

Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Hygiene

Born Potty Trained