We've had our ups and downs this month for sure, but overall the first 4 months of EC have been wonderful. In the busyness of family life, especially when you have older children to tend to, it is a gift to practice EC. It is a reminder to pause and give your focused attention on your baby, even for only a few minutes. But these pauses are fairly frequent (compared to the routine of regular, non-EC diapering) - and allow parents to check-in with baby regularly to consider his or her needs beyond hunger, boredom and sleepiness. I have definitely been blessed with a calm and content baby - but I also really believe that a part of his contentedness is because of EC.
Alek is nearly always in a dry diaper (or no diaper at all) and because of that, aside from a bit of redness, he doesn't have a diaper rash, so he is dry and comfortable. Secondly, he is never gassy or constipated - this may not be entirely due to EC - but because I am holding him in a deep squat position (the easiest and best position for humans to poop in) dozen's of times per day, any gas or poop comes out frequently. Finally, when he's crying and there is no "obvious" reason why (ie. he's not hungry, tired, bored or hurt), I know that his diaper is either wet or dirty or he needs to use the potty. Either way, after a change and a potty, he's usually back to his contented self again.
A week after Alek turned 3 months old, I had to strip all my cloth diapers; a lengthy process that involves washing, soaking, sterilizing and the washing them again a few more times. I had just purchased some second-hand diapers and many of my old ones must have had build-up remaining from when my daughter used them, because they were beginning to stink! It took over 12 hours to complete the process, and the diapers weren't quite dry for bed time. I ended-up having my most successful EC day ever, and managed to go a whole day using only 1 large prefold diaper, 1 pair of training pants and 3 disposables (including the one he wore to bed). Considering that both the training pants and 1 disposable were retired because of some drips of runny baby poop (but no pee) in them, I think that's pretty incredible! Amazing what one can accomplish when the need (and challenge) arises.
Despite that super-successful day with lots of catches, we have also had a number of "off" days where it seems that Alek and I are just not in-sync EC-wise. Those days when he begins to pee as I am taking off this diaper, or I catch nothing in the potty but he pees 2 minutes later on the floor, or even some days where almost every diaper was wet and very few pees ended-up in the potty.
Last month I talked a bit about Alek's emerging signals - mainly crying out uncomfortably - and was looking forward to building on that this month. Unfortunately, his signals have retreated for the most part this month, even for poops which I find surprising! I wonder if this could be a natural part of his development, as I have been following the "Wonder Weeks" and these last 5 weeks he has been progressing through mental leap 4. Perhaps as his world rights itself, his signals will return or become more overt. I've also just noticed his two bottom front teeth starting to break through, so its possible he is a little preoccupied at the moment!
A funny example about this lack of signals happened yesterday... I had taken off Alek's poopy diaper, offered him the potty (too hastily perhaps), and then just placed a prefold diaper under his naked bum so that I could carry him to the kitchen. I was standing at the computer that lives on our kitchen island, holding Alek in my left arm, controlling the mouse with my right. Then suddenly, with not a wiggle nor a peep, a huge gush of poop flew out of Alek's bum and onto the floor, completely bypassing the prefold somehow! What the heck???
In another unfortunate turn of events this month, Alek has developed Eczema on his torso and a bit on the sides of his head. When moisturizing didn't help, I decided to get him some baby probiotics which we started one week ago. Ever since his first dose I have noticed a big increase in the number of poops he takes in a day, sometimes he will poop 4-5 times in one morning! With this increase in poops, my catch rate has gone way down. Even if I'm catching several poops per day, several more are ending up in a diaper.
Another interesting development this month is Alek's increased dexterity and ability to move! By his 4-month birthday he can roll both ways and somehow manages to turn in circles as well. Sadly, his grabby little hands have discovered his genitals and every time I have him naked he is grabbing them so hard I am worried that he is going to hurt himself! Therefore, clothing-wise I am trying to keep him in something for the most part. Generally a cloth fitted with no cover, training pants or a cloth prefold with or without a cover.
Alek's dad is finally getting a little more comfortable trying EC and has made a few catches. Although he is not as enthusiastic about it as I am, I know that he sees the value in it and is amazed by our successes!
This week is the 6th Annual Go Diaper Free Week and all about helping you begin a diaper-free reality with your little one - at any age. There are contests, free on-line classes and more being offered by Andrea Olson over at Go Diaper Free, so check it out! In honour of this week, I am also going to hold a contest and the winner will receive a copy of the tiny potty board book (including shipping anywhere in Canada)! All you need to do to enter is to "like" the pinned post on Wee Potty's Facebook Page and comment on this or any one of my blog posts between now and Saturday April 28th, 2018. The winner will be tagged in a Facebook post and sent a personal message on Sunday April 29th, 2018.
Our EC practice is still going really well! At 3 months I am beginning to see/sense more 2-way communication than I was in previous months, which gives me a lot of hope for the future! The first thing I did this month was to download and try two (free) baby-care apps, Feed Baby and Baby Manager. Neither of these apps are specifically intended for EC, but can be super-helpful and more convenient than pen and paper for tracking your baby's elimination in relation to when she is eating or sleeping and the intervals thereafter. Personally, I preferred the interface on Baby Manager, but Feed Baby has the option of recording a "dry diaper" which can be helpful too. I used Baby Manager for 3 days at the beginning of this month to track Alek's habits and it definitely gave me more confidence to know when its time to "go". I would NOT however, recommend obsessively tracking every feed and diaper every day of your EC practice. Its best used for short-term information gathering and not to evaluate your "success".
Regarding communication, I have still not recognized any standard signals from Alek, but there have certainly been times when I heard a little cry from the other room and ran in to see that he had just peed, or a certain look or stillness that I acted upon and made a successful catch! On the other-hand, there have also been plenty of times that I took him to the sink or potty but nothing came out, only to have him pee on himself, the change table, floor or on me (!) minutes later. I do find that misses like those come in waves though, so who knows what was really going on. For about a week last month, each time I held Alek in the "classic EC position" to potty, he would stretch out his legs and hold them there (so much for the deep squat position!). So I tried holding him in a standing position next to the sink (with his feet resting on the bathroom counter but holding him so he wasn't supporting his weight on them), and cueing him to pee. No success. Next I tried holding him in the classic position and singing (usually the Itsy Bitsy Spider), this typically calms and relaxes him and sometimes results in a pee! I have also found this month that he can get very distracted by his own adorable reflection in the bathroom mirror, so I have been pottying in other environments more and more (including the shower, toilet, or potty in the livingroom or bedrooms).
Case in point: A couple of weeks ago I tried to potty Alek but no pee or poop came. So I returned with him to the bedroom and laid him on the change table. As my bookshelf is right there, I took out my copy of Go Diaper Free to look up some EC information. As I was perusing my book, Alek began to pee all over the change table! I made the cue noise, changed the wet pad under him, and continued reading. Then I noticed him making a funny cry/squawk noise, so I looked at him and he was staring straight at me. I got the overwhelming feeling that he needed to poop, put him on the potty right there, and he did!
We've been out-and-about A LOT since Alek was born, and I am trying as often as I can to potty him in public places. Unfortunately, despite major success at home, we have a dismal success rate when we're out. Partly this is because pottying on-the-go is not as convenient as it is at home. I think that the biggest barrier to our success is that he doesn't feel comfortable in the way that I am holding him over public toilets... I just cannot support his body the way I can when I am standing and holding him over a sink. And besides that, I tried pottying him over a public sink last week and he still wouldn't go. I have noticed in the last week or so that he is getting a lot more engaged with his environment and therefore a lot more distracted, so that is likely becoming an additional challenge to public bathroom pottying. I am itching for warm Spring and Summer temperatures that will make pottying in the car or outdoors a viable alternative!
Nighttime EC is not something that I am really interested in at this point, but I am willing to do anything to get more sleep! There were a few nights at the beginning of last month where Alek had a big poop in his diaper while I was nursing him in the middle of the night. One of these resulted in poop on his clothing and I had to change everything he was wearing. This was, of course, very disturbing to his sleep. The next night, I pottyied him before nursing and caught a big poop and a pee! After that, he has started holding his poop all night and he usually does a big poop in the potty first thing in the morning. Score!
My biggest takeaway this month has been that the more I offer the potty, the more Alek seems to save his elimination for the potty. Catches lead to more catches! But also that clothing (or lack thereof) matters. If Alek does signal (squawk.... ---- just as I wrote that, I clued in to the fact that Alek was indeed making an uncomfortable sort of squawk noise. I went into the living room where he was sitting with his dad, checked his diaper (dry), and put him on the potty where I caught a huge pee! He is definitely starting to signal more and it is SO COOL. ---- as I was about to say... it seems that he is more likely to alert us to his need to eliminate when he is either naked, or in training pants or a cloth diaper with no waterproof cover. Then again, it is also likely that I am just more aware of his signals or sounds at those times because there is a bigger chance of a mess if I miss it!
Are you practicing EC with your baby or toddler? If so, I'd love to know how its been going for you. Be sure to leave me a comment on this post to let me know :)
We're getting into a good groove with EC now. At the beginning of this month I really wanted to focus on doing more diaper-free time, and figuring out Alek's signals (of an impending pee or poop), so I was pushing myself to have him naked at any opportunity - typically first thing in the morning or for the couple hours in the afternoon when my daughter is at school. After many hours of observation, I still have no clue what his signals might be - it all still seems pretty random to me - but I did have a key realization that has made this last week a big success.
What I realized is that I don't like naked (observation) time! I love EC, but I'm not loving having my under 2-month old diaperless for extended periods. I think that every book written on the subject will tell you to start EC with several hours of waiting and watching your baby/child to see whether he or she makes any signals before eliminating AND to start making a cue noise while your child is eliminating (in order to be able to use that noise later to prompt him to pee at the appropriate time), but spending hours waiting for your child to eliminate is BORING. I tried to make it work... I watched and waited, waited and watched.
Then my mind wandered... (what are we having for supper tonight? I wonder if the broccoli is still good. Perhaps I should thaw some... ahhhh!!! he's peeing! Make the cue noise!) "Pssssssss" (Crap. What was he doing right before he peed? I have no idea, I was thinking about supper. Argh.) Or... my baby is naked, and I am supposed to be watching him, but the kitchen is a mess/I have bills to pay/he's happy and I would like to shower now etc... There is no purpose of having your baby naked if you're not paying any attention!
Once I couldn't stand passive observation anymore, I decided to change my tactic and try diaper-free on-the-go (while at home, I haven't completely lost my mind!!!). "Diaper-free" doesn't always mean naked, your child is "diaper-free" anytime that he is not wearing a waterproof diaper as a back-up, such as wearing training pants, a diaper-belt with fabric tucked-in, a fitted cloth diaper with no cover, etc... While there are many benefits to this (the ability to see immediately when baby pees in the back-up, to cue during pee or change a diaper right away, heightening your awareness of his signals, lessening mess if you have a miss, easy access for potty-time etc...), unless you already have a good grasp on your child's signals and timing, you're just going to get peed on.
My goal was to do some diaper-free baby-wearing to see if I could get a better grasp on Alek's signals. I first had him wearing a diaper-belt with a prefold (Bummies infant-size). The prefold seemed a bit too short to fit comfortably in the belt, and too bulky. So instead I used a Flapawrap insert (a big square of cotton jersey material) folded like a long pad. This was a much more comfortable fit in the diaper belt. However, when he peed it soaked through easily and got everywhere! The first two times I tried the diaper-belt/baby-wearing combo, Alek took a nice long nap in the carrier, and didn't pee until I took him out of the carrier after the nap. The third time, however, he was fussy going into the carrier and I ended-up getting peed on twice in a row and that was the end of that. And I STILL didn't notice any signals.
Having him "diaper-free" was theoretically a good learning exercise, but I found it really stressful. Here he is, napping peacefully in the carrier and at each squirm I'm wondering, is that a signal? Does he need to pee? Can I potty him while he's sleeping? Will he cry if I try it? etc... etc... At this point in our journey, I think that his sleep and my sanity trump EC. I will give diaper-free babywearing another go, but would like to have a better grasp on his timing (and signals, if possible) before I do. I'm still doing little bits of naked time here and there when its convenient, but most of the time, Alek is diapered and clothed, and I am ok with that!
On to the good parts, and whats working for us right now. Alek doesn't like being in a wet diaper. We're using cloth, so he feels the wetness more than if he were in a disposable and he let's us know about it! On that note, we've gotten into a great routine for changing and pottying that has resulted in a lot of dry diapers! I've noticed that Alek is consistently dry when he naps. Even if his nap is 2+ hours, he is dry upon waking. Once he wakes, I can wait a good ten minutes and find his diaper dry. Sometimes there will be a little dribble of poop, so I know he needs to do that too! Nine times out of ten I'll catch both a pee and a poop if I potty him at that time. Also, each time he eliminates in a receptacle, I have a chance to teach him the cue noises ("psssss, pssss" for pee, a grunting noise for poop) without doing any sustained naked time (bonus!!!).
I also love offering the potty to him before we leave the house and before he takes a nap. I know that if he eliminates at that time, he'll be dry for awhile, and if he's tired he'll be able to sleep comfortably in a dry diaper.
When I offer a place for him to go pee or poop, be it a potty, sink, toilet or other place, it doesn't always happen right away. Sometimes it takes a few minutes before anything happens, so patience is key. However, it also gives me another chance to watch for those elusive signals, and also to teach Alek another key phrase, "All Done?". Basically, if I have been holding him over a receptacle for a couple of minutes and nothing has happened, we'll take a break by holding him in a different position. Then I will offer the receptacle again. If nothing has happened after another minute or so, I will say to him "All Done?" as a signal to him that potty time is almost over. Often he does pee or poop at that time. Other times I begin to walk away and he cries out, so we go back to the receptacle and he will pee or poop. Sometimes he just didn't need to "go", and that's fine too.
Since I have not been able to observe any signals from him yet, I am very content to continue basing our EC practice on timing and intuition, as well as using a diaper back-up (with waterproof cover) most of the time - its working well for us so far! My goal for next month is to do a better job of recording his feedings, pees and poops to get a better idea of timing and how many times he "goes" in a day.
Signal: a physical movement, noise or change in behaviour that act as a clue that your baby needs to eliminate
Cue noise: a sound that the caregiver makes while the baby eliminates, later this sound will act as a cue that its potty-time.
Back-up: a diaper or other cloth material on your baby's bottom just in case you don't get to the potty in time.
Miss: when pee or poop end up anywhere other than your intended receptacle.
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.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links below and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for your support.
For most parents these days, some type of childcare is part of their child’s week. Whether its grandma’s house, a dayhome, full or part-time daycare or even a drop-in at the gym… so how do you potty-train while your child is in someone else’s care?
There was a time, not so long ago that daycares took some responsibility over potty-training, or even lead the process completely. Unfortunately, today’s “wait till they’re ready message” and ever larger diaper sizes has given daycares the opportunity to shirk this responsibility, and many now ask parents to keep their child in pull-ups WHILE they work on potty-training. The situation in dayhomes is not necessarily better, each providers own experiences and prejudice’s will certainly effect their willingness to assist. You might believe that your 20 month old is capable of potty-training, but does your daycare provider even think potty-training at that age is possible?
First and foremost, don’t let your daycare’s potty-training policy come as a surprise to you. I hear from SO MANY parents who say, “We potty-trained over the last week, and things have gone well. But I don’t think my daycare will let my child go commando, and he’s due back tomorrow… what should I do?” If this is you, please find a time machine and have a conversation about potty-training with your daycare well before you actually begin. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good communication between yourself and your daycare provider on this. I would go so far as to enquire about their policy as part of your daycare interviews when choosing a provider. The potty-training policy should also be included in the agreement you sign when you register your child, read it carefully and be sure to ask questions about it. Second, if the children at your daycare are segregated into different rooms based on age, be sure to ask whether they can offer the potty in the younger-age room – or at what age your child will be able to move to the older-age room if toilets are only available in that area.
Having just read the Alberta Health Services “Health and Safety Guidelines for Child Care Facilities”, I can tell you that there is nothing in there about potty-training. It does not say that your child needs to be in diapers or pull-ups or even underwear to attend daycare, so any policies to this effect will be those of the individual care center or dayhome. At the same time, daycares are responsible for maintaining a clean and safe facility and may feel that having your child in diapers will minimize the risk of children being in contact with another’s bodily fluids. It’s a fair point, but I think that there are other opportunities for keeping the childcare spaces clean, while maintaining the potty-training progress of the child. For example, having flooring surfaces that are easy to clean, paying special attention to the potty-training child for the first week or two, initiating frequent potty breaks, asking parents to provide many changes of clothes and finally, allowing children to use CLOTH training pants, if that is working well for the child (some kids really need to have nothing but pants on their bums “commando” for the first 2 to 4 weeks of potty-training in order to get the hang of it).
Some children do really well with potty-training at daycare. Others struggle a lot. This is mainly due to their individual personalities, as well as the daycare provider’s commitment to helping. In order to ensure the smoothest transition from at-home potty-training to daycare-training, I generally recommend that parents speak to BOTH their child and the daycare provider about how potty-training should be managed. For example, if there is a caregiver that your child generally responds well to, ask this person to be “in charge” of the potty training responsibilities for your child at daycare, as much as possible. This person should be the one to take your child to the potty each time, should be the one watching for your childs signals, and also paying attention to your child in case there is an accident, then calmly helping your child to potty and get cleaned-up. After your potty-training experience at home, you should have a good idea of the regular intervals that your child needs to pee, as well as any unique signals that your child gives before going. Write these down and give them to the caregiver! Once the caregiver is on-board, let your child know that all the daycare workers are there to help him stay dry, but that if he needs to “go”, he should let “Miss X” know right away, and she will take him to the bathroom. This takes away any confusion about what your child should do in this new situation.
What else can you do to help? Provide your daycare with the tools that will make things easier for your child. For example, a washable waterproof mat that they can use on the nap surface so that your child can stay diaper-free at nap time too. The same potty or toilet seat reducer that your child uses at home, if your child seems to be particular about it. And cloth training pants that will absorb a small pee if there is an accident, as well as several changes of pants and socks, just in case ;)
Here are some of my top recommendations, especially for daycare:
Hi! I'm Danielle, your friendly neighbourhood potty specialist.