My second child was born about 5 weeks ago, and Elimination Communication (EC), or infant potty training, is off to a good, albeit very part-time start! Since the practice of EC changes so much as babies grow and develop, I thought it would be fun to write a month-by-month account of how its going for us... through catches, misses, and full-on potty pauses.
I will also admit, that while I am a coach and EC educator, this is my first time practicing EC from birth. My daughter was about 7 months old before I finally got up the courage to try it, and by then - like most babies - her innate desire not to soil herself was long gone. She did not show any visible signals that she was about to 'go' and in addition, she seemed to pee small amounts every 10-15 minutes; my 5-week old can hold it longer than that already!
My second child, Alek, was born on December 20th, healthy and full-term. While he has peed almost immediately after birth, and again one other time, on his third day of life he was showing the beginning signs of jaundice and had not peed in over 30 hours (eliminating helps to clear the bilirubin that causes jaundice). We were told to take him to the hospital if he did not pee in the next 10 hours. EC to the rescue! I took my 4-day old baby to the bathroom sink, and held him in the "classic EC position"... waiting. I blew some cold air into his genital area, and he began to pee! After that, he began consistently wetting diapers for the rest of the day. I also caught another pee and a poop!
In the first two weeks of his life, I wasn't focusing much on EC. However, I was loving how it helped me to tune into his little being... developing an awareness of his cries and his elimination habits. I did find some unique challenges during this period though, for example, his legs were all curled-up like frogs legs. Each time he peed into the potty or sink, one of those feet or legs was in the way and got soaked! Also, it was nearly impossible to hold him up and hold down his penis with a finger in order to point it towards the sink or potty... it would often spray as high as the mirror above the sink!
Though those two particular challenges eased in the next couple of weeks, there are a few things that generally make EC a bit more challenging with a newborn. For one, they sleep ALL THE TIME, but not necessarily while they are laying down on a waterproof mat! My new baby for example, almost never sleeps unless he's in someone's arms or a carrier, making it tougher to observe his timing an signals while he's asleep. If he happens to be happy and awake - or asleep and not in my arms - it's usually a time I use to shower, make lunch or empty the dishwasher... not to be focusing 100% of my attention on waiting for a pee to come. A further complication for us EC-ers with multiple children is... the other children! There are so many other demands on our time compared to a first-time-mom, from giving the other children our attention, to feeding them, to taking them places etc... its hard to keep your focus on your naked baby for any significant amount of time. Also, my daughter often wants to be in Alek's face when I'm pottying him, and then he just won't go.
I was super-excited to receive my first top hat potty, The Baby Potty when Alek was 3 weeks old. I try to potty him at most diaper-changes, and having a portable potty was a game-changer as I no longer had to walk him all the way to the bathroom. However, with a newborn, you can't predict whether you're going to catch some pee or poop - or both - and I am finding it quite challenging to get both ends pointing into the little opening at the same time!
In the last couple of weeks, Alek has had many DRY diapers when I've checked them.... even after 1-2 hours! This is certainly the exception to the rule, but really cool to see. He definitely has awareness of his elimination, as well as some control. One time, when he was 4-weeks old, I had taken him into the bathroom to potty in the sink. He started to pee, but then stopped because I jostled him a bit when it started coming out. A few seconds later, he pooped, but no more pee came out. I said to him "all done?" then wiped his bum and began to walk away. Alek started screaming - which was really odd. So I took him back to the bathroom sink and held him in position. He quickly got really calm and completed his pee, with no more crying after that!
Although I have talked a lot about the challenges we've faced this month, EC has never been hard. It is, as it should be... fun, rewarding and not stressful. I have not been working terribly hard at it, just pottying when its convenient. Sometimes he "goes" and sometimes he doesn't and that's just fine with me! In the next month my goal is to find more uninterrupted time to do naked observation, and see if I can detect any signals from him at this stage.
Want to learn more about how to start potty learning in your child's first year? Check out the book Go Diaper Free by Andrea Olson to learn more.
Hi! I'm Danielle, your friendly neighbourhood potty specialist.