In her book Go Diaper Free, Andrea Olson explains that there are four ways to know that your baby needs to potty: 1) signals, 2) natural timing, 3) generic timing and 4) intuition. The first three are relatively straightforward.
Signals: Your baby signals verbally, nonverbally or energetically. Signals can be overt or subtle. You may notice them or not. They frequently change, as your baby develops.
Natural timing: When does your baby’s natural (unique) rhythms cause her to eliminate? Elimination often syncs up with a specific time in the day or meal time. For example, a lot of babies poop during nursing or feeding.
Generic timing: When do YOU (and most people) go to the bathroom? You go when you wake up, before bathing, before leaving the house, upon arrival to your destination and at the end of a task. As they grow, babies fall into these patterns as well. Transitions are a great time to offer a pottytunity.
Intuition: Hmmm. This is a hard one. People either believe in intuition or not. They either think they have it or not. Or they could be “open” to the possibility of intuition. As it relates to EC, intuition allows you to know or feel that it’s time to potty your baby. There are no tangible signs, just a knowing.
As a Go Diaper Free coach, I often provide clients with a log where they can record baby’s signals and natural timings. I can’t exactly coach a parent to be intuitive. So instead, I share my evolution toward intuition as it relates to EC.
When I started EC with my first son seven years ago, I didn’t dismiss intuition, but I didn’t feel like I had it, nor did I have any clear way to cultivate it. So I relied on the other three roads to potty time, and EC progressed. (While there are four roads to potty time, you really only need one to inform you when your baby needs to potty.) I wasn’t always sure that I was doing the right thing with EC. We definitely experienced a potty pause and there were moments of frustration. However, I felt like EC was most positive for all of us – my son, my husband, myself – when I maintained a super chill attitude toward EC. I would remind myself that in cultures where EC is the norm and babies are potty trained by 12 months, the caretakers are not fretting about their daily success rate (how many catches out of total eliminations) with EC. I would also contemplate how all natural learning is nonlinear, meaning the progression from start to finish does not always consist of direct and steady forward progress.
I started EC at birth with my second son, Donovan, more than three years ago. (In contrast, I had started EC with my first son, Anders, at four months because I needed those first four months to get a handle on motherhood and to really educate myself about EC.) I felt completely confident about EC by the time Donovan was born. I knew what the different stages looked like for both EC and general baby development. I also knew that EC works. I felt elated about the process and how it fostered communication and trust with my son.
Consequently, doing EC with Donovan had a gentle and easy flow to it.
And guess what? Intuition naturally emerged. I had internalized the steps and process of EC while doing it with Anders. Then, with Donovan, EC was second nature. I got to shut off my thinking brain. Instead of seeing everything in black and white, the gray, in between pieces emerged. For me, that is where intuition lives.
Here are a couple examples of what intuition looked like for me while doing EC with Donovan:
1. Wearing Donovan on my back in the Ergo while cooking a meal, I felt a wet, warm spot on my back and thought, “Oh shoot, I forgot to give him a pottytunity before putting him in the Ergo.” But when I took him out of the Ergo and felt my back with my hand, it was dry. I checked Donovan’s pants. They were dry too. He had not peed yet. I put him on the mini potty, and he peed.
2. We were grocery shopping. Donovan is in the grocery cart, sitting upright. I am reading a label for ingredients and suddenly, out of nowhere, I know Donovan has to pee. The thought just popped into my head: Donovan has to pee. I took him to the restroom, held him over the toilet, and he let loose!
These examples might sound simple. They are. Intuition is not rocket science. I am so thankful that the ancient tradition of Elimination Communication reintroduced me to my intuition. Accessing intuition was super helpful during EC because it offered me a fourth road to potty time.
What are your thoughts about intuition and EC? Is it a meaningful aspect of the practice for you? I am interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences, as they really help me to develop a broader perspective for my coaching practice. Thank you!!