The connection between you and your child is a marvelous thing. Parenthood is filled with primal instincts and intuitions that can almost make you feel superhuman at times. Turns out, there’s a potty training method that’s inspired by this intimate connection. It’s called elimination communication (EC).
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Elimination communication, also referred to as baby-led potty training, involves using timing, signals, cues, and intuition to know when your baby needs to “eliminate waste”. Instead of wearing diapers, babies are held over the potty when it’s time to go. While this diaper-free approach may seem unconventional, it actually has a long history of success.
Origins of Elimination Communication
It can be difficult to wrap your mind around the idea of tossing out the diapers and simply waiting for a “signal” that a poop is on the way. However, when considering the nature and origins of this practice, it starts to make a lot of sense. Ingrid Bauer, who wrote the book Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene and coined the term elimination communication, traveled throughout India and Africa and observed mothers caring for diaper-less babies who weren’t having any “accidents”. She discovered that mothers in non-industrialized countries and hunter-gatherer cultures were connecting with their baby’s innate rhythms, allowing them to predict when it’s time for their babies to use the potty and guiding them to the appropriate places to relieve themselves before any accidents happened. Bauer also concluded that this approach helped babies learn to use the potty significantly sooner than children in Western society.
While most babies in the United States wear diapers from birth and become fully potty trained around ages 2 or 3, babies in cultures that practice elimination communication begin potty training shortly after they’re born. A study conducted in Vietnam of infants trained with the EC method found that these babies began using the potty by 9 months and were fully trained by 2 years. EC is becoming increasingly popular because it helps to save money on diapers, it’s eco-friendly, it prevents diaper rash and urinary tract infections, and most importantly, it helps babies begin using the potty earlier.
How Elimination Communication Works
So how does it all work? Here’s a brief overview of the four basic principles of EC:
Timing: Detecting your baby’s natural peeing and pooping rhythms.
Signals: Looking for physical signs of when nature calls, such as facial expressions or squirming.
Cueing: Communicating a cue with your baby, such as a whistle or a humming sound, while they’re relieving themselves. This is meant to help babies eventually connect the cue with an appropriate time to go potty.
Intuition: Using your instincts to know when it’s poopin’ time!
Of course, like other potty training methods, there are strong supporters and critics of the elimination communication approach. While this practice may work for some, it’s certainly not for everyone. It’s important to find the right method that works for you, your child, and your lifestyle. If you’re gearing up for adventures in potty training with your child, be sure to head over to our ultimate potty training guide!