I heard of elimination communication (EC) and infant potty training (IPT) not long before my second daughter was born. I played with holding my newborn baby over the hand basin in the bathroom and sometimes over the edge of the verandah railing. Frequently her runny breastfed newborn poos went there, rather than all over her bottom in a nappy. Then, when my aunt was staying with us when my baby was about 5 weeks old, she “caught” me holding the baby to poo in the basin.
I was surprised – and delighted – when my aunt told me that she had done something similar with her son more than 35 years ago, because he was such a heavy wetter. Encouraged, I got more serious, and more confident, with EC, putting my baby on the nappy, rather than the nappy on the baby, putting a clean, dry nappy under her as soon as she went, and watching for her subtle signals which preceded her wee and poo.
When I recognised her signs I (or my husband or visiting friends) held her over a bowl or the potty or the toilet or the hand basin or the grass… Sometimes I didn’t see any signal, but just felt that she needed to go – so I held her over an appropriate receptacle and mostly she did release wee or poo. And sometimes there was no signal (that I could see) before she wet.
While holding her I always cued her elimination by saying “chissshhhh”. In the early months we used the same sound for wee and poo. When she was around 7 months or so, and had begun eating some solid foods and her poo became more formed, she used a grunt sound, so I began to use that for her poo.
We started night-time EC when my daughter was about 8 weeks old. At night she wore a cloth nappy (a simple folded terry flat)and I took it off and held her over a bucket at the side of the bed each time she woke to nurse during the night or wriggled in a way that indicated her need to urinate. If the nappy was dry and she didn’t want to go before nursing, I would cue her when she pulled off the nipple part way through the feed or after she had finished. I continued with nappies at night, despite having a wet one only once every 10 days or so.
I made the first OneWet pull on training pants when she was almost 7 months old. She loved wearing panties like her big sister. I loved the ease with which I could pull them down and up easily and the fact that they protected my carpet and other people’s floors from unexpected accidents! As she was walking on her own at 8 months and hated slowing down for anything, I needed clothing that was very easy for quick pottying!
One night while I was out, my husband rocked her (about 9 months old) to sleep in the sling wearing OneWet Pants. After that I never went back to nappies!
When DD was 10 months old, we went to Turkey for several months to visit relatives. I didn’t take any nappies with us. I took 10 pairs of OneWet Pants and washed them as they got wet. We never ran out of pants, but the weather was hot and I searched for cotton undies for DD for coolness and modesty. I found a few pairs, but on my return home to Australia, I began making some as there was nothing available here for an 8.5 kg one year old!
By the time she was 19 months old, my daughter usually used the potty or toilet or piece of grass. Once a day or so, she got caught out, or I didn't notice her signals to me, and she wet on the floor. She wore cotton undies all the time – except when she took them off :-) Her big sister often helped her with her clothes when she needed to use the potty.
I sometimes took her to the potty, though she wouldn't sit if she didn't want to. I asked her if she needed to do a wee, sometimes she nodded and trotted off to where she left a potty last, more often she said “nnnooooo”. If I KNEW for sure that she needed to go, then I brought the potty to her, or took her to a variety of different places to try to find the one that she was happy to use.
When she was almost 23 months old, we set out for another extended trip to Turkey. I took no nappies or OneWet Pants - just little HalfPint Pants (cotton undies). Although we had been averaging a pair of wet pants a day till then, from the time we set foot out the door on that journey, she had no more accidents (except a couple when she was nearly three years old that were attributable to illness).
With EC, I loved the way that I could respond to her needs – not just for food,comfort and sleep but pottying as well; I loved the fact that we were not dependent on nappies; I loved that she was not sitting in a wet or dirty nappy ever; I loved the quick, clean ease of pottying an infant or toddler and I loved our close communication.
In retrospect, I am so glad that I discovered EC and was able to implement it with my daughter. Most people, once they try it, get hooked on the thrill of the catch and the communication and always say that they wished they had learnt of it before.
If you would like to find out more about EC and give it a try yourself, you may be interested in exploring some of the following resources: