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)