What is Elimination Communication (EC)?
Elimination Communication is a term coined by modern-day Westerners to identify how babies have been pottied over the millennia. Before there were mass-produced diapers, let alone disposables, and washing machines, how did families address a baby’s need to potty? They listened to and watched for the baby’s signals, his natural timing and their own intuition to know when he needed to eliminate. When baby was ready to pee or poop, a family member took him to the “toilet” and cued for him to release. Over time, the baby learned that if he signaled, someone would respond. Communication and trust with his caretakers flourished. With time, sphincter control improved. As baby matured, his caretakers taught him how to potty independently. This meant moving to the potty himself, manipulating clothing, wiping, etc.
I realize this pottying like this might be hard to comprehend, but even today, 50% of babies worldwide are potty trained by 12 months.
Elimination Communication (EC) in modern times offers you the best of both worlds. Your baby will still wear a diaper most of the time, but it will be used as a learning tool, not a waste receptacle. You will learn to identify your baby’s signals and timing and how to get him to a potty to eliminate. In today’s world, there are so many tools to make EC accessible and fun: diapering systems, clothing and gear made for the EC’d baby, how-to books, local classes and online support communities.
You have options too: You can do EC full-time or part-time and with either route move steadily toward potty independence. Part-time EC families may only do it while at home due to child care or may only strive for the easy catches, like upon waking and post-feeding.
Most babies who are EC’d achieve daytime dryness between 10 and 14 months and nighttime dryness between 17 and 26 months.
There are so many benefits to practicing EC. You will reduce diaper consumption dramatically, which will save you money and minimize your environmental impact. You will honor your baby’s desire to be clean. You will promote his independence. You will cultivate a healthy attitude about one’s genitals. Bye, bye diaper rash.
If you’re intrigued to see how to start Elimination Communication, click here.
What is the difference between Elimination Communication and Potty Training?
Elimination Communication and Potty Training really aren’t that different, in theory. You’re recognizing your baby's/child's signals and teaching him how to potty in the toilet. Both processes show the child that eliminating in the toilet is hygienic and the social norm. Naturally, EC and potty training improve communication between the parent and child and increase the child’s self-worth.
With EC, you as a caregiver are going to be doing a lot more of the work up front - noticing your baby’s signals, cueing, transporting to the potty, cleaning up. But the cool thing is that you’re teaching him from the get-go (or shortly after) that waste goes in the potty. You’re establishing your family’s culture around pottying and that elimination outside of the diaper, which can still certainly be used as a back up, is the norm.
If you wait until your child is 2 or 3 years old to potty train, you’re still teaching him the same things, but he’s mobile, has developed long-term memory and a desire for independence. With a toddler, the teaching part, if done well, will go A LOT faster. The downside of waiting to potty train is that your independently-minded 3 year-old may be reluctant or downright unwilling to break his long-time habit of eliminating in diapers.
There’s no one way to potty. It’s a gift that we have all these options - EC or traditional potty training, disposable diapers or cloth diapers - but waiting too long to potty can be detrimental to your child and your family. Pottytunities offers you the opportunity to start potty training today with ample information and resources, as well as support.
Click here for the 5 steps to execute potty training with confidence and grace. If you're child is under 18 months, click here for the 5 steps to start Elimination Communication knowledgeably and with support.
Easy Cloth Diapers for Elimination Communication by EC Peesy
You may already be using cloth diapers, but when you're doing EC, there are a few more angles you might want to consider. This video explains it all...
A Child-Oriented Approach to Toilet Training by T. Berry Brazelton
This is THE article that started the "readiness" debate by in 1962. Okay, maybe you don't want to read every word in this article, published in a medical journal, but it does shed light on why parents' perspective on potty training today often looks so different than it did 2 or 3 generations ago.
The Dangers of Early Potty Training: Do They Really Exist? by Rebecca Mottram
Rebecca is a fellow Go Diaper Free certified coach and the founder of Little Bunny Bear, which makes amazing products for EC. In this article, she rebukes Brazelton's approach, as well as other contemporary advocates for delayed potty training.
Go Diaper Free by Andrea Olson
This podcast just keeps the goods coming. Don't know where to start? Start with the first episode, The Benefits of EC. (Spoiler alert: In listening to this episode, I personally felt like all (like, 17 of them!) of the listed benefits are legit AND profoundly meaningful!