Let it be known: I make a conscious effort to steer clear of hot-button parenting issues on this blog. Thanks to the internet, you have plenty information available to you on all of them, and I take it for granted that you’ve done your homework. Besides, I’m sure that you’ve had plenty of input from grandmas and in-laws, so you don’t need me to tell you whether or not to vaccinate, breastfeed or co-sleep.
And that’s lucky for you, because I’m not an authority on any of it.
There is one matter, though, that tends to be a little under-represented, to the point that I’m not sure if we personally know another family that practices this, and so I thought I would share a bit of our experience with it.
By “it,” I mean “elimination communication,” or “EC,” or “Diaper Free Baby.” True, those are all awkward and cumbersome names, but every one of them is better than “natural infant hygiene.” That just sounds gross.
Here’s what it’s all about:
Babies don’t want to soil themselves. (Can you blame them?) Newborns will instinctively pee the minute you take the diaper off to change them, as any exhausted new parent has probably noticed, and it takes a sort of training to get them accustomed to the idea of going potty in a diaper all of the time.
EC is a way for parents to tune into their baby’s cues and timing in order to help babies retain that instinct. This means, more or less, learning to tell when your baby needs to go potty in much the same way that you learn to recognize when she’s hungry or tired. Once you grow accustomed to her cues, you can hold her over a potty, a container, a cloth diaper, the sink, etc. and let her go potty there, thus retaining her awareness of what it feels like to “eliminate,” if you will.
This makes it so, so, so much easier when you begin to transition away from diapers completely, because – in our experience – you hardly have to potty-train at all. Plus, you’ve had all that extra time to communicate with your baby in a way that turns out to be pretty fun (we have some seriously silly songs that we still sing in the bathroom).
For now, though, I’m less interested in telling you why you should practice EC than I am in telling you how we did it. Hearing about specific experiences was the thing that I found most helpful when we were still working our way through it with Lydia, but we didn’t have many people to talk to about EC. It didn’t help that I am more than a little afraid of parenting message boards (so many strong opinions!), so we did a fair bit of improvising. And improvising is difficult for a girl who likes to have a concrete plan laid out before she tackles anything new.