My mom is always looking out for me. Specifically, she’s always looking out for ideas for columns for me. I get clippings from newspapers and comic strips every week from mom, usually bundled up with coupons from the Sunday paper.
This is proof, my friends, that we will never stop taking care of our kids, by the way.
Recently, mom gave me an article clipped from a newspaper about elimination communication. Parents who use elimination communication, or EC, watch their very young children for cues that they are about to, well, eliminate, and then get them to a potty chair on time.
At one point in the article, it is said that some parents start with babies as young as two weeks old. That’s the sentence my mom underlined, and wrote a capital “NUTS!!” in the margin.
See, mom doesn’t know that the first time Joey was placed upon a potty, she was about 3 weeks old. I had read all about EC when I was pregnant and it just made so much sense to me. Why teach her to eliminate in her pants, when that wasn’t the ultimate goal?
So from the time she was about a month old, Joey spent a vast majority of her time at home naked from the waist down, either in a sling or somewhere else that I could observe her easily. Yes, we had a couple misses, usually when I was playing solitaire on the computer, actually. But we were successful the vast majority of time.
Babies are definitely able to let you know they’re about to go, in their own nonverbal way.
Yet, Joey wasn’t reliably potty “trained” till she was three and a half years old. What happened was, I went back to work. I thought it was really unreasonable to ask my mom (who cared for her while I was working) to watch for that special vacant stare and stillness of body that pointed to the need for the potty chair. Because I wasn’t going to ask her to do it, I just never even brought it up.
So we stopped ECing and it was okay. I enjoyed it while we were able to do it. I was fine with stopping. When Kimmie came around, I didn’t even try. Between chasing around after Joey and going back to work almost immediately (on a part time basis) after she was born, we went straight to diapers with Kimmie.
Kimmie is going to be four in three months. Kimmie is still not even close to being potty “trained.”
I’m starting to wish I had stayed home from work and EC’d with her from birth.
If I let Kimmie run around naked, she never has an accident, she always makes it to the bathroom on time. If she’s wearing anything on her bottom, though, she’ll just let loose wherever, whenever. That’s the case for diapers, pull ups, and underwear. It’s frustrating, but I’m pretty sure she’ll get it soon. I mean, there are very few University students in diapers, right?
Whatever your opinion of elimination communication (and I’ve heard lots of opinions on the subject), it does lead to early independent potty use in most cases. (“Independent potty use” sounds so much better than “potty training.” They’re kids, not dogs. Most of them.) And I can tell you that in my experience it was a beautiful bonding experience that I desperately needed with my infant daughter. It was a special feeling, that I knew her so well that I could tell when she was going to pee. And it made me feel good to know that I was meeting a need she didn’t even know she had.
This tends to be a hotly debated subject, so before I open this one up for comments, I just want to reinforce that EC is not about strapping an infant to a potty until she number ones or number twos. It is about getting to know your baby’s unique signals. It’s not about “training the parents.” It is about NOT teaching your child two completely conflicting ideas-- waste goes in your pants; no, wait, NOW waste goes in this toilet. And I also want to say that I am firmly in the “whatever floats your boat” camp. Unless there is a situation of abuse or neglect, everyone must do what they feel is best for their family and for each of their unique children. EC is definitely not for everyone.
So, the proper disclaimers in place, I’m interested in knowing about your experiences with and knowledge of elimination communication.