How is EC different?
I once heard a story about a mom sitting in a parent support group with her young baby. The baby began to fuss and fussed for about ten minutes, while the mother wondered what could be the problem: she didn’t want to nurse, her diaper was dry, she was being held. Then another mom suggested that the baby might need to relieve herself and maybe felt uncomfortable going in her diaper. So the mom opened up the diaper, held her baby in a potty position and made a “ssss” sound. The baby peed and stopped fussing afterward. Imagine how that mother felt! She had discovered the source of her baby’s distress and was able to help her.
This is what elimination communication, or EC, is all about. It’s about being in tune with your baby, listening to and acknowledging what she is telling you, and responding positively. It’s similar to feeding a newborn when he roots for the breast, or learning your baby’s cue that she wants to be held. But somehow it’s more than that. Dealing with your child’s elimination needs can be a very intimate affair. It means you are becoming very aware of all of her body, even the stuff that comes out of it. You learn to be okay with poop and pee. In fact, you’ll learn to laugh about it, and even look forward to seeing it!
EC is such a positive way to deal with a baby’s elimination needs. Catching pees and poos can actually give you a rush. Instead of being a chore, this can be one more way to bond with your child. And anything positive you can do for your child helps grow your love for them, and helps them to feel loved.
How is elimination communication different from potty training?
As I’ve recently discovered, the last stages of EC can look a lot like potty-training, as you teach your child independence skills such as pulling up their pants and proper wiping technique, however, these things don’t actually have much to do with EC itself. EC is just what is sounds like: it is communication between caregiver and child about the child’s elimination needs. Baby says he needs to go, caregiver responds. Or caregiver offers the potty, and the baby responds. Or baby wets herself and communicates this to her caregiver. A whole type of relationship is built around this very important function, and everyone does their best to communicate so the baby can be clean and comfortable.
Some people think EC is early potty-training, but it’s not. Potty-training can be incorporated, but it’s beyond the point. Here are some of the ways in which I view elimination communication:
It’s recognizing that most babies do not enjoy wetting or soiling themselves.
It’s not being afraid to let your baby or non-potty-trained toddler go without a diaper (so fun for them!) because you are 95% sure they don’t need to go, and even if they do, it’s no big deal.
It’s allowing your baby to have a voice about her elimination needs. It’s helping him to feel more powerful, knowing that he can get help with this need.
It’s allowing your baby retain their elimination awareness and sphincter control, which they are born with.
It’s allowing your baby a natural progression from relying on caregivers for their elimination needs to doing it themselves as they develop skills for potty independence.
It’s a chance to build more trust into your relationship.
It’s an opportunity to develop your intuition.
It’s being more aware of your child, and giving meaning to the grunts, wiggles, cries and other signs that they need to go.
It’s helping your baby be more comfortable, and decreasing the incidence of diaper rash.
It’s not being afraid of pee and poo.
It’s a way of parenting your child, of responding to their needs.
Everyone has their own reasons for starting EC with their baby, and subsequently learn that there are many more benefits than they realized. In the end, everyone realizes that it is simply another way to give care and love to your child.