We started elimination communication (EC) with Dash when he was 2.5 months (11 weeks) old. He pees or poops in a regular adult toilet (with a toilet seat reducer) 2-4 times a day almost every day. After he poops in the toilet, I just blot his butt with two squares of toilet paper, flush the toilet, diaper him, and I’m done! He is diapered 24/7.
What is EC?
EC refers to potty training an infant, including from birth. It involves making a pssst sound and holding the baby in a potty/toilet position whenever the baby pees or poops, thereby helping the baby associate that sound and that posture with bodily elimination. That way, when you hold the baby over the potty/toilet and make that sound, the baby will eliminate.
How Do I EC?
I seat Dash on a miniature infant potty or a toilet seat reducer and make the pssst sound a few times. I also make the sound when he actually starts peeing or pooping into the potty/toilet. After about 4-5 minutes on the potty/toilet, regardless of whether he went or not, I give him the ASL sign for “all done” and take him off the potty/toilet and diaper him.
What Got Me Into EC?
I first learned about EC when I read online that Gisele Bündchen potty trained her kids to be diaper-free by the time they were each six months old. At that time, I was skeptical and had assumed that EC would take much money and time to practice.
But I was wrong. I was able to EC with success, at least part time, using half-hearted effort and no nannies or money being poured into EC.
Thank you Gisele. I like that you worry about landfills. I do too.
How Did I Start EC’ing?
I read an EC book, then I ordered online a miniature infant potty (TinyUndies infant potty), which is somewhat difficult to find in this country. Then I just started seating him on the potty at the times that are known to be “easy catch” EC times, such as during diaper changes, during or after feeding, and before and after placing him in a car seat or a baby carrier.
I caught three pees and poops on his first day of EC’ing. On his fourth day of EC’ing, I caught 12! That was the most I’ve caught so far. EC was a smooth sailing success right from the beginning.
After a few days of doing EC and realizing that EC is completely doable, I ordered online a toilet seat reducer (Prince Lionheart weePOD), and that is what Care Bear and I primarily use for EC’ing. Much easier than cleaning up the potty.
I skipped the “observation” stage of EC, where you keep the baby diaper-free and half-naked for a few hours to learn what bodily and facial expressions the baby makes when the baby pees or poops. I didn’t want to deal with the clean up. It turns out the observation stage was not needed for Dash. He started peeing/pooping multiple times on the potty on his first day of EC’ing anyways.
How Do I Clean the Potty?
We dump the contents into the toilet, spray water into the potty over the toilet to get the remaining content out, spray the inside of the potty with a disinfectant, slush the disinfectant around with some water and discard, run the potty under hot water for a few seconds, and shake the water off the potty.
Suffice to say that we rarely use the infant potty any more, because flushing the toilet is less work than washing out the potty.
How Do I Know When to Take Him to the Potty?
The known “easy catch” times include: 1) During feeding or about 10 min after feeding. 2) During diaper changes. You take the diaper off, wipe him with a wet wipe if needed, then seat him on the toilet. 3) Before and after bath time. 4) Before and after Dash is in the car seat or the baby carrier, because babies don’t like to eliminate in that bucket seat or carrier position. 5) After waking in the morning and before bed time.
I usually don’t bother looking for whether Dash signals for potty. I focus on making “easy catches”, whenever I have time and energy, regardless of whether he signals. Signal reading is difficult because you are often not looking at him, for example, when you cook or do laundry. EC’ing using the “easy catch” times is simpler and more stress-free.
An exception is, during feeding, he sometimes signals for toilet. He pops off the nipple and looks at me with an “I need you” alarmed look. An easy and tell tale sign that he needs to poop, and I’m right much of the time (i.e., he poops when I potty him). Another potty signal I learned that Dash makes is going from quiet and not moving to loud and flailing around, or vice versa.
After starting EC for a few days, I’ve come to learn his poop pattern. His first or second poop in the morning is usually the largest (“poop storm”). It happens anywhere from 10 am to noon, though he once did not make his first big poop until 2:30 pm. The first big poop happens usually after eating two or three feedings.
By three months old, he was pooping only 3-5 times a day. The last one can be anywhere from 4:40 pm to 10 pm. But usually, his last poop is in the early evening.
I think doing EC helped me figure out his poop pattern pretty quickly. If I catch that first big poop in the morning, then I’m off to a good EC day start and feel happy and accomplished.
How Do I Know When Dash Is Done at the Potty?
When he is about to pee or poop on the potty/toilet, he is usually looking down and concentrating on eliminating. He has a concerned face and avoids my eye contact. When he is done with his pee or poop, he usually becomes talkative or starts making noises, looks around the bathroom, makes eye contact with me, becomes interested in the toilet paper, or smiles at me. A lot of times, we can’t tell if he is done. We usually wait about 4-5 minutes then take him off the potty/toilet.
What About Cloth Diapers or Compostable Diapers?
When Dash was born, we had signed up for a compostable diaper service, where they drop off diapers and pick up dirty diapers weekly. The service takes the dirty diapers to a special facility for composting, and not to landfills. But to my and Care Bear’s great disappointment, the compostable diapers leaked EVERY TIME, even in two different sizes.
As far as cloth diapers, I gave it a try, sort of, once. And got scared (of the clean up) and quit.
I made it a goal to make at least one catch every day. But, even when I don’t try hard, I automatically and easily end up catching one or two if I follow at least some of the “easy catch” times, e.g., during a diaper change or before bath time.
Times when we do not EC are when we have visitors, when we are out and about or traveling (although I caught a pee at an Airbnb in Tahoe yay), and when I am sick or Dash is sick.
What Happens When Dash Goes to Day Care?
We will probably EC him only in the morning and at night at home. That is less than ideal, but EC’ing part time will still help Dash keep in touch with his elimination sensation and help him know that his momma and pappa are there for him at home to tend to his elimination needs.
Once Dash starts crawling and walking, we will probably encourage him to use the infant potty again by himself and, when he is bigger, use toilet steps to use the toilet seat reducer by himself.
Cons of EC
More physical exertion for the parents than exclusively diapering. EC involves lifting the baby up and down to seat him on the toilet and waiting for him to eliminate. EC is #notforlazyparents.
When Care Bear and I are so engrossed on our laptops and are feeling lazy, even when we hear Dash fussing to be pottied, I just tell Dash “go in your diaper” and let him be. My goal is to just catch one catch a day anyways.
Pros of EC
1 – EC is yet another way to meet Dash’s needs.
Pottying Dash is one of the several ways to stop Dash from fussing when he fusses. In other words, sometimes Dash fusses because he wants to pee or poop and need our help in order to do so. Care Bear or I swoop in to meet his elimination needs and take him to the toilet. Dash is happy because he relieved himself, and without smearing dirty poop all over his butt, and parents are happy because we can see that the baby is satisfied with our effort.
We know Dash does not like the feeling of sitting on his poop, because he usually gets cranky 5-10 min after pooping in his diaper. If EC is going well that day and we catch the poops before they happen in his diaper, then the fuss and crankiness are altogether avoided.
2 – EC helps Dash be aware of, and control, his elimination sensation.
I believe Dash knows what is happening because sometimes he holds his pee or poop until we potty him. He has pretty much never peed or pooped during a diaper change since we started EC’ing him. And sometimes, he wakes up in the morning with a completely dry–no poop OR pee!–diaper. When we potty him first thing in the morning after he opens his eyes, he lets out a big, yellow pee into the potty. Again, Dash feels satisfied, and parents feel accomplished.
3 – Dash gets playful during potty time.
Dash smiles and coos a lot when I seat him on the toilet. It is part of our bonding time.
4 – EC just makes sense to us and maintains Dash’s dignity.
Once we started EC’ing, we could not go back. Care Bear was skeptical and did not EC with me the first few days of EC’ing. But he eventually started taking Dash to the potty voluntarily. Blotting Dash’s butt with just a bit of toiler paper is much easier than cleaning the nasty poop out of his reproductive and excretory organs and all the crevices on his thighs. How could we let Dash carry around his toilet in his diaper, when we could help him eliminate in the real toilet?
So, in a way, when we started EC’ing, we sometimes used more diapers than if we had not EC’ed, because we felt so bad about making him sit on his poop. We could not help but change his diaper as soon as he pooped. That still happens these days, when we “miss” (EC term for accidents) those big poops. But, for the most part, I think we use at least one or two less diapers a day on average, as a result of EC’ing part-time effectively.
Changing a blowout poopy diaper sometimes makes me make disgusted facial expressions and sounds even when Dash is looking at me. I don’t want him to think that I think he is disgusting. When I potty him, for the most part, Dash is a happy fella and we are all smiles, especially after a big poop into the toilet. More positive interaction and less negative interaction.