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An Intro to Elimination Communication: Responding to Your Baby’s Elimination Needs

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Elimination Communication: Did you know there is an alternative to toilet training?

Margo on her potty at 3 1/2 months old.

Who on Earth would bother taking their newborn baby to a bucket every time the baby had to ‘eliminate’, or do a wee or poo?  Well, I did, and here’s the story of how it started.

Like so many parents-to-be, throughout my first pregnancy, I kept having this nagging feeling somewhere in the back of my mind: Was I really going to have to deal with dirty diapers and wiping a kid’s bottom until she was 3 or 4 years old?  How hard would toilet training be?  In the back of my mind, I kept wondering, ‘What did our ancient ancestors do?’ and ‘What do they do in third world countries where there isn’t a pack of disposable diapers around for miles?’ even, ‘What did our grandmothers do to cut down on washing cloth diapers?’.  There had to be some other way!!!  I investigated using cloth diapers, which seemed like a fair enough alternative to using disposables.  Sure, they seemed like more work, but the image I had in my head of the some 8,000-10,000 disposable diapers a single average kid uses before toilet training had been burned into my head.  I could just picture a giant mountain of those soiled plastic stinking waste products produced from only one child and then multiply that by the millions of children born into the first world.  That image was enough to make me think I could happily deal with the hassle of scraping poo off a cloth diaper, for the sake of the planet.

Whilst shopping around for cloth diapers at a beautiful shop called Nature’s Child in Byron Bay, Australia, a woman told me about ‘nappy free’, or responding to your infant’s elimination needs from day number 1.  I couldn’t believe it!  Duh!!!  This had to be it!  This is what the ancestors had been doing all along!!!  What was wrong with our society?  Why were we letting our first world kids sit in their own urine and feces?  For ages before, babies were clean bottomed and free!  And, today, in countries in Africa and Asia, where there are little resources or money for something like disposable diapers, when baby’s gotta go, the mothers just hang that cute little bottom over a bush.  Who, in these poor countries, would waste the money and resources to buy and dispose of a diaper when they hardly have the money to eat?

To put a long story short, I started taking Margo to a bucket when she was 11 days old, and that was the start.  Sure, we used cloth diapers a lot, a few disposables even got used (gasp!).  But, I would say about 85% of everything that came out, especially the #2s, were caught in a bucket, potty, bush or not in a diaper.  By the time she was 12 months old, she was fully daytime potty trained and by 14 months, out of diapers day and night.  People ask me if it’s more work and I just tell them, it’s a different kind of work.  A work that demands that you respond to your baby’s needs.  It’s the same as responding to their need to eat or be held.  It’s a type of extra work that improves your relationship and communication with your child and helps to build a trusting bond.  And, I will tell you, that having a 2 1/2 year old who hasn’t pooed in a diaper in almost 2 years, is NOT extra work!  Toilet training wasn’t even an event, it was a happening that is far in the past and was easier than I ever imagined!

Many more posts to come on Elimination Communication.  Here is a great website if you’re interested to learn more:

Diaper Free Baby

5 Responses »

  1. Nice one Kate : ) your strength far surpasses mine… I love that women like you are in our world : ) when I firs started with my second it was so exciting : ) ashamed to say I never kept up with it… Now baby 2 is 10month and I remember you saying that it needs to be most part done by 8months now that I have moved I was considering letting him go nappy free… I wonder…

    • Hey Beck! How is Daniel already 10 months old!? It’s not too late at all! There are many tips for doing EC with an older baby. Here is a good website, (below) I found, which may be of some use. Remember, it’s all about building awareness of what’s going on ‘down there’. Some babies don’t even really know that they’re going, especially if they’re always wearing super absorbent disposables. Many parents find too that older babies and young toddlers start to get an awareness of the potty but then they think they’re too young to start with toilet training awareness. So then, they miss another window of opportunity! The benefit of Daniel being older is that you can use verbal cues with him much more easily as his language skills are much more developed 🙂

  2. My DD is 2.5 too, and I am so happy not to be starting training at this age. Especially not with the toxic waste that comes out of this gal!

  3. I can’t imagine how a disposable diaper could ever hold the huge amount of poo that comes out of a 2 year old! I don’t want to ever find out how!


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