Diaper free, baby!: Lydia’s Adventure

When we were first introduced to EC, I had no interest in pursuing it at all. My reaction was probably akin to what you felt when you read my last post: “Really? You just hover over your baby all day, and then do…what exactly?” It wasn’t until I stumbled across a copy of Christine Gross-Loh’s Diaper Free Baby at the library that we decided to give it a try. From the way she described EC, it sounded not only manageable, but fabulous.

Fewer diapers? Earlier potty-training? Great! An additional way to communicate with my baby about her needs? Well, it sounds new-agey when you say it that way, but I’m in!

I was pregnant with Lydia then, so we had the advantage of beginning EC right away with her. I had nothing to do with it at first: between learning to nurse and recovering from a cesarean birth, I hardly left my glider, let alone shuffled down to the bathroom just to see if the baby needed to pee, so for the first few months Mitch was the King of EC. And that man was committed.

We had a tiny kitchen but a spacious bathroom, so most of the pottying happened in there: Mitch held her over the sink or over the toilet, and occasionally over our Baby Bjorn potty (if you do EC, this will be the best $11 you spend, unless you spend $11 on Gross-Loh’s book. Come to think of it, they’re both worthy purchases). When Lydia did go pee in the potty, he cued her, by saying “psssst” and using the ASL sign for “potty.”

Later, when we moved into a house with a spacious kitchen and tiny bathroom, we began to rely more and more on the little red potty, which took up residence under the coffee table. Lydia still wore diapers full-time: we didn’t mess with EC when we were out and about or at night,  and, though Gross-Loh encourages diaper free time (a period of time where the baby is allowed to go bare bottom for a while), I never got the hang of that with Lydia.

Maybe I was too concerned about messes, I don’t know, but we worked a lot more with her cues: if she was obviously getting ready to do some business in her diaper, one of us whisked her off to the potty. Or we sat her on the potty for a minute when we changed her diaper, just in case. For the most part, we focused on catching her poops in the potty (which is not nearly as athletic as it sounds), and an amazing  thing happened: by 6 or 7 months, poopy diapers became a rarity.

(And there was much rejoicing!)

We learned when to offer the potty, and she learned to go in the potty, not in her diaper. It was kind of a teamwork thing.

And she loved potty time: we sat face to face and played and sang silly songs that leaned pretty heavily on the words “potty” and “baby booty,” and she took care of business. It became a very ordinary part of our day.

When Lydia was 8 months old, we started putting her in training pants while we were at home. (She was a big girl, so the cheap Gerber trainers in the 18-month size worked for her, but I know that there are some infant trainers available online.) Despite some puddles on the floor, I got to the point that I just knew when it was time for her to go, either because she gave me a cue (for example, she suddenly got quiet while playing or she shivered) or simply because enough time had passed since she last went that it was time to put her on the potty and see what happened.

I’d be in the other room sometimes, and I’d just know, in this Mama-voodoo sort of way, that she needed to pee. (I’m not going to lie – that was pretty cool.)

There were setbacks, of course. Sickness, travel or teething could throw her off, as could growth spurts and milestones: at one point, everything was just out of sync for a few months – she was waking up at night, chatting through naps, and peeing on the floor, not in the potty – when finally, Lydia began to walk. Within a week or two, everything resolved, and she was back to sleeping, eating and pottying like a pro.

(And the people cried, “Hallelujah!”)

By the time Lydia was 20 months old, I noticed that, if we went out, she more often than not came home in a dry diaper. So I took a deep breath and stopped putting her in diapers when we left the house. She only had one miss after that.

(But boy, did she make that miss count: one day she peed three times while we shopped at Fred Meyer. I had to purchase a third outfit when she messed up the spare, and when she peed in the new one, we were – mercifully – on our way out the door, so I told her “tough luck!” and left her in her damp clothes. I wiped that cart down really well when we left.

But you remember that this was the only miss we had after I stopped putting her in diapers, right? So, just laugh! Don’t let it discourage you.)

Eventually, naps went the same way: she woke up dry often enough that I just stopped putting her in diapers, and after two or three days, she was dry all the way through her nap. Now, I think that nighttime is close: she wakes up dry three or four times a week, so if we could muster up the enthusiasm for a few nights of extra wakings, we might be done with diapers completely for her. We’ll see.

So, you could ask me if we would do it all again and I would say, emphatically, “Yes.” But you don’t need to ask me, really, because I’m going to tell you anyway: stay tuned for Part III, in which I tell you about Sarah’s adventures with EC!

(Cue suspenseful music)


5 thoughts on “Diaper free, baby!: Lydia’s Adventure

  1. Pingback: Diaper free, baby!: An introduction « the little bird

  2. Katie

    yay for EC! we researched it when rusty was a more settled baby, thanks to your recommendation way back when. we read diaper free baby and diaper free and tried it out. wow — it worked so well!!!! the cues and everything worked great! in just a few days, we were way more in sync with rusty’s signals. and for a few months, almost all his poops were caught in the potty!

    and then …. rusty got active. and decided that he did NOT want to take take potty-tunities if he was busy playing!!!! also, he got uncomfortable being held over the toilet once he was bigger, and he never caught on to the bjorn potty (it’s a toy right now). so, we’re in a very long potty pause i suppose. it’s been a few months since we stopped trying at all. we quit because rusty made it clear he wasn’t into it anymore, which is guess is part of the elimination “communication” aspect.

    interestingly, i’ve had other friends with boys who quit at right around the same age.

    we’ll definitely give it another go with a future child. i really do think it works, but i also think it requires a LOT of diligence for the parents. and appropriate pants and diapers (we were using snappis and prefolds with soakers, which are a pain to put on and take off quickly!).

    anyhow, enough from me!

    here are things i’d love to read about someday:

    * your vbac
    * your thoughts/experiences with babies and sleep (sleep is a big topic in our household!!!!) … i realize this CAN be a controversial topic, but i’m always look for new insights. : )

  3. Thea

    Mobility was definitely one of the setbacks we encountered, and I think Lydia went back into diapers for part of it. One thing we did to keep going was to continue cueing her when we knew she was going potty, even if she was in a diaper at the time. That way you’re at least communicating about it, even if you’re not catching it.

    So don’t give up hope! Even if he doesn’t go back to full-on EC, what you have done will be a big help when potty-training rolls around, I’m sure.

    And prefolds are a challenge: we didn’t use them much around the house (mostly doubled, for naps), but instead used snapped fitted diapers without a cover, if she wasn’t in trainers.

    I’ll try and fire off an email to you soon about the other topics! I’m so glad that you guys gave EC a go, though.

  4. Pingback: Diaper Free, Baby!: And lastly, Sarah. « the little bird

  5. eliminationcommunication

    Thanks for the condensed version. They do make long over due misses count don’t they?

    We are 21 months into EC and one thing I seem to think differently about is the “potty pauses”. I guess looking back it is no different than when they need to hold your hand even though they can walk. Know what I mean? Sometimes they just need help to get across uneven terrain, up that extra high step, down a steep incline, or just lean on your when they are tired.

    Part III is my next stop 🙂


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