Thinking about trying elimination communication with your infant? In this post, we review what EC is all about, some benefits, and our experience with our daughter. Plus, find some of our top choices for potties.
Baby elimination communication is not to be confused with potty training. This is something I quickly realized and found myself regularly communicating to friends and family who looked at us baffled when we said our baby girl needed to sit on the potty.
But… she’s only [Insert any age from around 4 months old until 14 months].
“True…” we’d say, “but we aren’t technically potty training yet.”
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What is elimination communication?
Elimination communication, also known as baby-led potty training and “going diaper free,” is all the baby learning the association between the potty and their pee and poo. It’s also a time for the parents to observe their signals, timing and cues to assist them with the process until they can use the potty independently. While many don’t go completely diaper free, the purpose is to not have a dependence on them. EC usually starts when a child is an infant.
The truth is that babies don’t LIKE to sit in their own waste. Why would they? It’s uncomfortable, it can lead to rashes, it soils their clothing, and it stinks. What’s enjoyable about that? Nothing.
And, while EC may seem a little odd considering how early many start, it is far more normal than you may think if you consider what the rest of the world does. In many countries, it isn’t uncommon for babies to be out of diapers well before one.
Many think that EC is more time-consuming than full-time diapering and potty training later in a child’s life. But many people who practice elimination communication find that the process is actually quite a bit quicker than regularly changing soiled diapers. This is especially so when potty training isn’t started til 18 months and later. Think about all those saved diapers.
Benefits of elimination communication
There are many benefits of elimination communication. In addition to the following, it was also incredibly fulfilling to see our baby make associations at such an early age.
- You use fewer diapers. We all know that diapers ain’t cheap! And they’re not great for the environment. With EC, you won’t use nearly as many, particularly as your baby becomes more practiced.
- Less diaper rash. It’s simple, if your baby isn’t sitting in their waste, they are cleaner, and therefore less prone to rashes.
- Baby learns essential communication skills. As your baby figures out the connection between the potty and pee and poo, they will naturally start telling you in some way or another when they have to go. This may be in the form of words, sign language, or those cues and signals that they display in the early days.
- It’s more comfortable. Of course, right? Diapers are bulky and retain liquid. If you ever sat in adult diapers postpartum, you know underwear is far more preferable.
Our experience with elimination communication
Our journey with elimination communication was more of a lightweight version. We didn’t go diaper-free all the time. Instead, we simply practiced by sitting our daughter on her potty for a period, and learned from her various cues. If she went, we would encourage her. If she didn’t, no sweat. About four months into the practice, she would pee or poo on the potty 70-80% of the time, if we were good about being on top of it. By 14 months old, she was using sign language to tell us when she had to go.
We started her at about three months old. I’ll be honest, I thought my husband was a little koo-koo when I saw a tiny potty in our Amazon cart, but I went with it. We used it casually at first – a sit here, a sit there. Nothing too serious since she couldn’t exactly sit on the potty without support and her feet didn’t hit the floor. Cute sight, not going to lie.
We didn’t start noting cues until around six months old, and usually those cues were a zoned out, distant look in her eyes. If she was focusing too hard on nothing, we knew she was probably pooping or about to poop.
Pee came relatively easy. Babies wet their diapers so much more throughout the day than many realize. Some might not notice their child peed until the diaper has a weight to it or when they see a blue line. This is likely because they often do several tiny pees over time. Around seven or eight months old, she peed almost every time we sat her down.
As she got more in tune with her body, we started noting other signals. One that we are still working away from is when she stands under my desk and backs out of view just enough so that we can’t see her eyes. Guaranteed poop every time.
Throughout this process, I would allow her to follow me into the bathroom any time she wished (LOL, I know most of us can’t avoid it anyway), and I’d confirm that mama was doing pee pee or poo poo on the potty just like she does.
Elimination Communication Potty
There are many options available for an elimination communication potty, it’s just a matter of determining what will suit your needs and lifestyle. Following are some of our choices.
We started with this potty because it’s versatile. While there are many great options, most are fairly large and take up a lot of space. We wanted something we could easily travel with, even throw in the diaper bag, when we visited family or went out on an excursion. This travel seat is foldable and completely flattens, making it easy to slip into a bag. The bowl also detaches and the legs fold outward so you can place it directly on top of any toilet seat. Bags are included for easy lining and disposal if you’re using it on the go. It worked perfectly and served our purpose.
The BabyBjörn Smart Potty is touted as being compact, practical, sturdy, and comfy to use. It’s also meant to be easy to empty and clean.
The Top Hat Potty can be held between the adult’s thighs for the baby to use from 0–12 months old, sometimes older depending on the size of your newborn. It is made of recyclable, lightweight and BPA-free plastic and made specifically for EC.
EC isn’t for everyone… and that’s fine
One of my biggest (possibly unnecessary) concerns in the early days was coming off like ridiculous millennial parents. I know now that it really doesn’t matter what we do differently from other parents as long as it works for our own family. But in the beginning, I certainly felt some self-consciousness when we would have play dates with kids born just a couple months earlier than our daughter, and my husband would pull out the potty for her to go wherever we were.
But at the end of the day, who really cares? You gotta do what you gotta do with your circumstances. So if that means doing potty in the middle of the living room with company, that’s what it’s going to be. And I think most parents will experience that “it is what it is” mindset shift at some point in their elimination communication or potty training journey.