Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Elimination Communication: 10 months in!

Our little Piggelin is 10 months old! One of the most rewarding parenting style choices we made was to do elimination communication (EC) with her from birth.

This definitely makes us weirdos. But what normal parents don't know is that this makes us very smart weirdos.

At least 75% of all of our baby's poo has gone in the toilet. That's 75% less poopy nappies we've had to change compared to parents who think it's too weird or annoying to take their baby to the toilet. 

What stops people from trying EC with their babies? Here are the most popular reasons and why they're not good reasons:

1. I don't have the time to sit around staring at my baby to see if she makes "poop" face.

That would be a legitimate concern if that is how EC works. It's not. In the beginning and maybe a couple times again at some point, some parents find it useful to take their kid's nappy off and watch for what kind of facial expressions or body language their kiddo engages in when it pees or poos. For about ONE HOUR. You have to look at your kid for an hour. While it's doing tummy time or whatever. I'm pretty sure most parents spend at least one hour a day looking at their baby anyway. But this is a thing that doesn't really need to be done, it's optional and it only needs to be done a few times. 

So how do you know if your baby needs the loo? "Unexplained" fussiness. Ever heard the expression "baby's just cry for no reason." Horseshit. Not hungry? Not wet already? Not tired? Not gassy? Kiddo needs to let loose and doesn't want to do it in it's clothes. All mammals do their business away from their sleeping space. That's the basis for litter box training cats and crate training dogs. Humans don't like to do their business in their pants either. Not even babies. 

Many babies also make a particular face right BEFORE they're going to poo. It's often even accompanied by some loud farts. You don't need to stare at your baby in order to "catch" the face. If your kid is fussing, farting and making weird faces, chances are pretty good that you're already looking at it. 

You're going to have to take the time to change that imminent poopy nappy anyway! I have changed poopy nappies and I have caught poops over the toilet or the sink and damned if I don't know exactly which is quicker. Take the nappy off and hold the infant over the sink or the toilet and let them poo there. It will happen immediately. Nappy is off and BOOM 30 seconds later you're gonna hear that plop followed by a tinkle. A little rinse under the sink if necessary and the dry nappy goes back on.

2. I don't want to clean pee and poo off my floors.

OK, I get where this misconception comes from. Elimination Communication is often called going "diaper free" and many parents who choose this parenting style also don't put nappies on their babies. With the exception of specified nappy-free time during which she was either on a water-proof cloth or towel or outside, our kiddo always has a nappy on. We take it off her when she needs to go. No pee or poo on the floors.

3. Cleaning poo out of the sink is unsanitary and gross.

Yes. Yes it is. But you know what's grosser? Cleaning poo off every surface and crevice of a baby swing or car seat when the baby's nappy fails to contain a poop explosion. This has never happened to us. 10 months old and we have only ever needed to clean poo from 3 places, not counting her bum: a cloth nappy, a sink or a potty chair. 

We found it easier to let her go over the sink as an infant because holding her over the toilet didn't feel great for our backs. We would wipe the poo out with toilet paper, spritz a bit of disinfectant in the bowl and run a bit of water. After 7 months she was big enough to sit on a cushy baby seat like the Prince Lionheart Weepod or a toddler toilet-training potty.

4. It's too cold where I live to let my baby be naked.

We live in Sweden. We understand. That's why we didn't let our baby be naked. During nappy-free observation time, we put her in a shirt, socks, leg warmers and the smallest size of toddler underwear we could find. Otherwise we kept her in cloth nappies and clothes. Some clothes are more conducive to ECing than others. For a while pants were SUPER annoying as were anything with a ton of snaps  up the legs and all around the crotch. Nightgowns were great when she was tiny. So were onesies (bodies or vests depending on your dialect) paired with leg warmers. Now that's she'd older, pants and t-shirts work just fine. Dresses are even better!

5. I'm too busy with my other children.

The time issue again. I understand. Really, I do. There are periods when EC does require a bit of extra time because sometimes you will take the wee one to the toilet and find out you were wrong, she doesn't need to pee or poo. We found these phases particularly frustrating. But in hindsight, we can comfortably say they were phases that passed within a few days or weeks at the most. But feeding your kid takes time too. So does rocking her to sleep. So does every aspect of parenting. Kids take time. Our daughter has never had a nappy rash. Nappy rashes take time and energy to treat and deal with. Our daughter will naturally learn how to use the toilet gradually and likely much much sooner than a kid who was not EC'd. Mainstream potty-training takes time. Continuing to change diapers for 1, 2 or 3 years longer than an EC'd kid also takes time. We all spend time on our kids, we just vary how and in what ways and when.

6. My baby doesn't give clear signals/ My baby always poos while breastfeeding/ My baby stopped signaling at a certain age so we gave it up/My baby is in daycare/ Enter specific issue here

There are trouble-shooting resources available! I swear we almost quit offering her the toilet at 6 months because we were down to 0 catches a day for a couple days. Turned out she was teething and learning to crawl. A few days later it was back to business as usual! There's this Andrea lady on the internet who has made it her business in life to help parent's help their babies with their business! She's written a great E-book and has a very helpful discussion forum. There are all kinds of solutions possible to all kinds of problems. Same as when you have trouble with breastfeeding or sleeping or teething or whatever. Like with all aspects of parenting, it's okay to seek out some help and advice when you need it!

7. It's just not what people do.

My knee jerk reaction is that that is a stupid reason. But NightDaddy would disagree and point out the significance of social influences and the validity of cultural cohesion blah blah people care about what other people think and that's normal. Everyone we know who thought we were "crazy" for doing this, changed their minds immediately when they witnessed for themselves our kid going pee in the sink, on command at 4 weeks old. It is that impressive. NightDaddy's mother was an instant and emphatic convert after witnessing this for herself and feeling the reward of catching a few of Piggelin's pees in the potty herself. If you can't convert your family and friends, find a pregnant friend or two who also wants to try EC with their baby! Everyone knows some weirdos, ask your local weirdos if they're going to EC their baby and hang out more with them! Encourage each other and support each other. A great way to avoid social ostracization AND enjoy an EC relationship with your baby, is to not be dogmatic about it. If you're over at your non-ECing friend's house, let your baby pee in her toilet but not on her floor. Even if you don't use nappies at home, use them there. Be relaxed about the topic. Normal people have a tendency to feel an adverse reaction to overzealous enthusiasm about activities they don't engage in themselves and don't know anyone else who does. That's partly why they're still normal. Make ECing seem like the most normal everyday whatever thing that just ain't no big thing. Because that is exactly what it is.