|In other words....
Maria tells of her difficult birth and subsequent journey to EC
My son Hugo has a story of peeing on people… But let us start from the beginning. Me and my husband, Leif, now 31 and 35 years old, wanted for a long time to have a baby. In fact it took several years to “produce” our son Hugo.
Finally pregnant, I looked forward to Hugo’s birth (I was sure it was a boy, Leif was equally sure it was a girl, so we knew at least one of us was right!). I was pretty sure that when it comes to these things heredity is strong on the mother’s side. Both my brother and I were born a couple of weeks early. So two weeks before my due date I started waiting. Nothing happened until 15 days over-due!!! My mother also had quick easy deliveries. 5 hours for me and 3 for my brother. Heredity? Nope! C-sec after 20 hours of labour… And that was the only thing I feared for during my pregnancy. That and epidural, which I also had to take… The story was, nothing happened, sort of. When I got to the hospital I was 1 cm dilated , after 5 hours 1 cm, after 10 hours 1 cm. After 10 hours the doctor suggested c-sec, I said not if there is a chance I don’t have to. I’m pretty scared when it comes to doctors and knives… After 15 hours she suggested an epidural. I’m pretty scared when it comes to doctors and needles that want to stick me in my spine, so I said no. She said it’s either that or the knife, so I said OK. Well it didn’t work, 20 hours, 1 cm, baby’s heart-rate went down, emergency c-sec.
While I was still sleeping from the narcotics Hugo peed on his daddy and the nurse who examined him and helped daddy clean and clothe him. When I woke up, still crying from fear of the doctor with the knife, daddy came and put Hugo on my chest. Nursing, happy, sleeping, lots of blood, messy, could not get out of bed by myself for two days and so on.
The day after Hugo’s birth it was time for routine exam by doctor. I couldn’t get out of bed, so Leif took Hugo to the doctor, whom he peed on…
After 4 days we were ready to go home. New doctor’s exam, with a new doctor and nurse, to pee on…
I had decided long ago to use cloth-diapers, but since I still had mobility problems after surgery, I decided to wait a few weeks. I know disposables are not so good for the baby, so to prevent his little butt from becoming red, I wanted to keep it naked for a little while every time I changed the diaper. So Hugo peed on me. Almost every time. And after peeing he looked really pleased with himself, sometimes smiling, I thought “first he pees on me, than laughs at me!” My husband became very fast at changing, so he didn’t get wet quite so often.
After a month I started using cloth diapers. Since I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning we sometimes had poop leakage. Sometimes I could tell he was going to poop soon (he said something like hmmmmm, hmmmmm, hmmmmm, then started grunting), so I quickly put a disposable on him to prevent leakage.
After another month of being peed on, I noticed that just before peeing he seemed a little uncomfortable, then made a funny sound, like “grumpfh”. Then pee, than happy look. I thought “he definitely knows what he’s doing!!!”
I talked to my nurse about this, but she told me it’s only reflexes. Talked to my husband and my mother, they agreed with the nurse. Did some more thinking. “Maybe if I try to hold him over a bucket right after he makes the noise, I will get the pee in the bucket instead of on me” I thought. Well, he did pee over the bucket, but then there was the aiming problem… More pee outside than inside.
Potty was the solution to this problem. Since we had to get one sooner or later it was not an extra cost. By now Hugo was 3 mos. The lady in the store knew that Hugo was my only child and how old he was. She looked strangely at me when I wanted a potty, but didn’t say anything (after all she wanted to sell).
Of cause he could not sit on the potty without support, but when I held him it went just fine. He peed on the potty the first time I put him on it! Victory!!! Baby’s butt doesn’t have to be wet, and less laundry for me. The second time he peed on the potty he started doing his poop-sound and then grunted and pooped on the potty!!! I felt really stupid when I thought I used to put him in disposables when I knew he was going to poop… It’s really a big difference not having to clean the entire baby-butt from poo.
Then we had a period of me putting him on the potty too often and baby got really tired of clothes off and on. I decided to study him and see how often he actually peed. I put on a flat cloth diaper and thin cotton pants so I could see as soon as he peed, but avoid the sprinkling. I found out it was about one hour between pees, more often after nursing and just after waking up. He doesn’t pee while sleeping! So all those times he woke up from a nap before having slept enough just whining and needed to be cuddled, ha actually had to pee. We thought he woke up, needed comforting, went back to sleep after cuddling. Actually he woke up needed to pee, one of us came and cuddled him, he peed in his diaper and went back to sleep! I was amazed the first time I took him up, had him pee on the potty and the he went back to sleep. I would have thought he’d been wide-awake not wanting to go back to sleep.
After a week or so I tried to have him pee on the toilet, in the sink, shower and so on, because if you go out it’s not likely there is a potty everywhere. It worked just fine, actually we now prefer pooping on the toilet. (No need to clean potty). Hugo sits backwards and I sit behind him holding his legs.
I called my mother and told her. She insisted it’s just luck if you catch something. Well, I got luckier and luckier, sometimes so lucky Hugo was in the same diaper when dad got home from work as I put on him the same morning.
I figured I could not be the only “lucky person” in the world, so I searched the Internet. (Baby infant diaper pee potty and so on). Now I know there are a lot of “lucky people” out there in the world!
Now I know this has a word, EC, and that it’s not just about washing less diapers, but being able to understand one more thing that your child is trying to tell you.
Hugo is currently teaching his father how to do this. They really had a break when I was sick and my husband had to take care of Hugo while I was lying on the couch with a bucket for throwing up in. Hugo refused to sleep with only his dad in the bed until he got to go on the potty… So now Hugo’s father is also turning in to a lucky person!
Imagine how wise babies are. They know what is best for them; you just have to learn the signals, not waiting for them to learn yours.
Hannah tells the story of her "late start" with ds and EC'ing her second since birth.
First Story: A Very Late Start
When my first baby was an infant, I certainly never questioned whether diapers were necessary. I lovingly wrapped him in cloth diapers with waterproof covers, enthusiastically recommending the brand I used as "leakproof" (without once thinking about what that really meant—that the outside stayed dry precisely by keeping all of my baby’s waste pressed up against his skin instead!).
My baby, however, was not so enthusiastic. From a young age, he cried at every diaper change, especially as I was putting the ‘new’ diaper on. I was sad for him, and tried games and singing to help him cope. But of course I never questioned the diapers. After all, I reasoned, diaper changes were a necessity and he and I were just going to have to live with it. And after all, it only took a few minutes each time. It would be easier once he was older. Wow, was I wrong about that! Ben started actively protesting diaper changes at about 6 months, kicking it away and pulling at it once it was on. By the time he was a year old, the approach of the 'new' diaper was met with full-scale resistance: a very clear message of NO! -- running away, crying, flailing limbs, etc. Although improvements in my technique (getting very fast, using velcro diaper wraps, putting on the diaper while he sat or stood up, etc) and giving him the option to delay putting on the diaper worked okay as short-term 'fixes', he continued to clearly communicate how much he hated the diapers. For instance, he knew how to remove them, (and would the minute that it was on, even when I resorted to pinning the diapers under the diaper cover and dressing him in "onesies") One day at a friend’s house, I waited for him to come and get the new diaper on for over 45 minutes. I reminded him that we needed to leave soon to pick up his daddy at work, and he came to me to get the diaper on. But he cried as if his heart would break as he sat down on it, and then, as if he just couldn’t stand it, started to wiggle and pull it off. I felt like crying myself as I decided to "just get it over with" and held him firmly on my lap, screaming, while I put it on. That night, I sat and thought for a long time. Diapering had become something that we both dreaded. It left him tearful and me angry and frustrated with myself, with him, with the whole situation—every single time. As I cuddled and nursed him on my lap, and thought back over our day, I saw that the way diapering constantly punctuated our otherwise pleasant relationship with conflict. Diapers, I concluded, were beginning to build a wall between me and my son! At that point, seeing how unhappy they made him, I decided we were going to try something else. I wish I had considered getting rid of the diapers sooner, but I was still stuck in the mindset that diapers were necessary. Dimly, I remembered reading some comments by a woman named Ingrid Bauer on an email listserv we were both members of about raising her son "diaperless". Well, what about that? Perhaps it was something I could try too. I read some of her archived posts, and decided to try based on the general idea I got from them.
So we started with EC at the ripe old age of 12+ months. Actually, at the very first, I hadn't done any reading on the subject, except for those archived posts, and it's more accurate to say that I just took the diapers off. I started with a rough version of "timing": when we were at home, I would put a diaper on, without a cover, only if I thought it had been a long time since he had peed.. Then he would take it off :). But sometimes it was wet by that time. Within a week, he was always peeing within seconds of me putting the diaper on, so that he was spending more and more time diaper-free.
At the same time I started paying attention to his nighttime diapers. His diaper was always so wet and cold in the morning: I felt awful that he had been lying in it who-knew-how-long. I started checking his diaper every time he nursed at night and making myself wake up enough to change it if he was wet. I quickly noticed that he had a pattern of three pees at night, two during the night and one on waking. So I moved to leaving him diaperless after the second pee and taking him to the toilet for that waking pee, so he was diaperless from about 2 am to 6 or 7 am. I wanted to get even better at changing the diapers immediately, so I started using diapers without a cover. (I didn't want to be sleeping on a wet spot though, so I would make up the bed with a waterproof matress cover, fitted sheet, a remnant of nylon I had lying around over that in the vicinity of where his bottom was likely to be, a layer of towels over that, and a polartec blanket over the top. (polartec wicks, so we would all stay dry.)
He would have a diaper from bedtime to about midnight, be diaperless, I'd put a diaper on the next time I woke, he would almost immediately pee, I'd take it off and he'd be diaperless again the rest of the night. Within a month or so he was only having one pee during the night, and one on waking up followed by a couple more in the first hour after he woke up. I really attribute this to the diaperlessness getting him used to dryness!
I decided to take the plunge and get rid of diapers during the day at home. If I noticed he had started to pee I would toss a prefold on the floor in front of him. Around that time, Ingrid’s book, Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygeine became available. I ordered it and read it. A lot of things I had been struggling with suddenly got much clearer to me! In particular I had ‘missed’ the whole idea of cueing and had been relying solely on careful observation—watching for signs that my son was about to pee and a rough sort of timing. He was 14 months old when I read Ingrid’s book. Reading it helped me to understand better the kind of communicating he and I were trying to do together. Even as I soaked in all the helpful information, my heart sank a little since he was so much older than the typical starting age. But I decided to be hopeful that he and I could do this together. I was now very committed to helping him get out of diapers altogether. Even our reduced use of diapers had already been so rewarding.
As parents, my husband and I hold the philosophy that baby care should be biologically appropriate. Throughout his life, my son had been cuddled close to mom or dad in a sling, comforted and nourished at my breast, and had one or both of his parents next to him as he slept. My recent decision to be more aware of his elimination had shown me that, despite my respect for his needs in other areas, in regard to diapering, I had not been a very responsive parent. It would never have occurred to me to make him wait to nurse, but I had early on slipped into a thought pattern about his elimination that allowed me to think "I’ll change his diaper in a minute… after I finish this….. when he wakes up…." My new take on things reminded me: not in a minute….NOW! The deepening of trust between us was a wonderful thing to feel.
From the moment I had contemplated the idea of going diaperless, my focus had really shifted. It wasn't so much about him eventually gaining toilet independence ( I knew he would regardless)-- it was about starting to keep him clean and dry *right then*. I knew that it was ridiculous to expect my one year old, who had been diapered all his life, and thus systematically shown to ignore his elimination, to be as 'successful' at giving cues that he was about to pee or poop, or to respond to a cue from me to release, as a baby who had been diaperless from the start. I was very relaxed about the times that pee hit the floor, not wanting to upset him.
I quickly perceived that picking him up and hauling him off to the bathroom when he was in the middle of work or play was also upsetting to him. Trying to move him while he was peeing or pooping was an even worse idea! Also, at first, everything looked like a cue to me, so I felt as if I was pulling him away from his activities constantly. But how to get across the idea, very concretely, that elimination was now something I was helping him with, not something we were both ignoring? Finally I hit upon the idea of scattering pieces of Gladware around the house. When I thought he needed to pee or poop, or noticed he had already started peeing or pooping, I quickly grabbed the container, and held it for him to pee or poop into, while making a cue noise and talking about what was happening. ("You’re peeing/pooping.") If I missed one, I just wiped it up. By watching me always grab a container or a towel, he quickly got the idea that (1) pee and poop were supposed to be contained, not on the floor and (2) that I would help him .
Soon my cueing language to him was well established, and sometimes we used on-the-spot containers and sometimes the toilet or the laundry sink. Spring was coming on and he learned to pee standing up in the yard (or behind a bush in the parking lot!) At 16 months I no longer used diapers for outings, just brought along a change of clothes just in case. Around this time, he started to tell me "pee!" a split second before he peed. Over the next two months, his ability to tell me verbally that he needed to go, in time for me to get him to a suitable potty place, got better and better. As he became more independent, he started being quite resistant to me taking him to the bathroom according to his timing or my intuition,, and I relied mainly on verbal cues from him, using the old body-language signals, like fidgeting, only as backup. I bought some Baby Bjorn little potties when he was 18 months old, and he liked them very much. He enjoyed that he could sit on them whenever he wanted, without needing my help.
He was completely dry at night by this age. I had been keeping a potty or bowl or cup up by the bed and just holding it for him to pee in (I would cue him by saying "pee") while he nursed.. Soon, however, he decided he didn't want any more of this babyish potty-by-the bed stuff. He would wake me up saying "pee! pee! I want big potty! Carry me!"
It was when he was 20 months old that I got the first inklings that he was nearing "graduation". He traveled on an eight-hour transatlantic plane flight to visit his great-grandparents, without diapers. As we started our descent, he told me he needed to pee. I rummaged around in my bag and got my spare shirt, and folded it up and set it under him, just in case. But it wasn’t needed. He waited for 25 minutes until we landed and I could get by the press of people to the airplane bathroom! He was having very few accidents by this point. On our trip we ec’ed all around British cities where public toilets were few and far between, and rarely needed the change of clothes in my bag.
In the next two months he started taking himself to the toilet or potty when he needed to go, only asking for assistance with wiping. After eight months of active ec’ing, at 22 months old, he could take care of his own needs to pee or poop! As he neared his second birthday, I reflected back on our time ec’ing together in the previous year. Toilet independence was the least of what ec had brought us. I thought of all the sleepy morning pees, all the wonderful connection of helping him throughout the day with some of his most basic needs, how happy he and I both were that he was dry and comfortable… all the time. What a contrast from our year of diapering! I gave him a big hug and thanked him, for being patient with me while I was learning, and for his persistence in telling me that diapers were not right for him!
A New Adventure
A year later I started a new adventure: ecing a newborn. When our second son was born, I knew I would be ec’ing him. Even though I had the experience of ecing an older baby, I was nervous. How would this work? How would he understand what I was doing? He was so tiny. And newborns pee a lot! How should I dress him? During my pregnancy, my husband, Mark was also nervous about this new endeavor. He said " I don’t want pee all over the house!" I said "It won’t be, but I’d rather have it all over the house than on the baby!" That reminded us both why we were doing this.
Once he was born, I took a gradual approach, at first just keeping him wrapped in blankets and telling him "ssss" when he peed. At 3 days old, I made my first "catch". At a week and a half old, he peed happily on cue, and I ran to tell anyone who would listen about it! We never looked back. My worries disappeared one by one: yes, newborns pee a lot. This is a good thing, because it gives you lots of practice at first (and lots of guaranteed successes!). I’ve yet to dress him in anything I didn’t have time to remove. And, he definitely understands and approves of what we’re doing! I love to watch him grin a big grin when I bring him to the dishpan or the sink. As I write this, he is three months old, and diaperless and mostly dry at home We haven’t washed a poopy diaper in almost two months! On outings we use a diaper backup, but mostly he stays dry then too. I love the easy rhythm of living with a diaper-free baby. I wash a few dishes, wander by the bathroom sink, coo at my baby a little as he pees, get a snack for my 3 year old, pee the baby, go for a walk, pee the baby.
It is especially important for my little guy to stay dry as he has been in toe-to-groin plaster casts for two of the three months of his life, as part of a non-surgical treatment for clubfoot, and the plaster must stay dry. When the first cast went on, I was worried! Would I have to start using diaper backup all the time? Instead, I found that sticking to our ec practice actally helped keep the top of the cast dry, since the pee went away from his body instead of being held next to it. I have been so grateful for ec as another way to connect with my baby and help keep him comfortable despite the medical procedures he is going through in his babyhood.
When he was eight weeks old, my husband dropped me off at my midwife’s house, who had invited me over for some tea. As I got my 3 year old out of the car, I grabbed his activity bag, but forgot to grab the bag of extra baby clothes and diapers! But baby and I were able to sit back, relax, and enjoy ourselves, knowing it would be ok. We managed a stay of four hours without having to borrow any tea towels!
He was reluctant at first, but Mark soon found how easy and fun it was to take the baby to pee. Now it’s often he who says to me "do you think he might need to pee?" He even gets "psychic" cues like feeling a sensation of spreading warmth before the baby pees, and he and the baby have their own cueing sound (he whistles to him).
It’s now hard for me to imagine that I ever cared for a baby any other way. Starting from birth has been a real joy for our whole family.
Kelly M shares this parallel that she used to explain EC to her husband.
I've had several conversations with dh about changing the diapers more frequently. What finally changed his viewpoint was when I gave the following example:
What if your mother was in a nursing home, and she called and told you about a policy change at the home. The nursing home decided that due to a staff shortage, all the residents who can not go to the bathroom without assistance must wear Depends. They will be changed on a two hour schedule. Your mother complains that she sometimes goes to the bathroom a few minutes after her Depends has been changed but must sit in it for the next two hours because the staff refuses to give her a
clean one, even if she requests it. Wouldn't you be appalled at that treatment? Why? Because human beings should not have to sit in their own waste. Now isn't your baby as much of a human being as your mother?
That really had an impact on him. Although I would like to note that
the situation was entirely theoretical as dh's mom is only 50 and still
Here is a wonderful article written by my dear friend Jen, on her experience with learning about, and then trying EC.
When my friend first sent me the email, "did you know there are people who don't diaper their babies?" I didn't take much note. I was feeling pretty alternative already, having decided to cloth diaper my baby, and anyway, the reality of a baby was still six months into the future...I was more concerned with keeping my dinner from polluting my immediate environment than I was in keeping diapers from polluting landfills. I thought the concept was cleverly-couched "early potty training"--you know, the behavior that causes people to become anal retentive later in their adult lives, and provides fodder for psychotherapists all over the place.
Six months later, when I gave birth to my son, I had my cloth diaper depot all set up, ready for action. Almost a month later, when my friend gave birth to her son, we exchanged info and stories about cloth diapering. I thought that was that, until a few weeks later, she emailed me to tell me she was going to EC her son. I thought, "Girl, you're nuts. You're adding a lot of work to the already exhaustive schedule of caring for a newborn, and now you want to take on the task of cleaning baby pee off your floors, too?" Then she called me with her triumph. "I caught a pee!" she said, excitement and pride evident in her voice. She told me about her goals for ECing her son. "We're just trying to catch one poop or one pee a day," she said. My curiosity was finally piqued as she described how she and her husband were trying to catch the golden pee of the day. "It's about observation at first," she said. "I stick a finger in his diaper a lot, to find out when he pees. We hold him over the sink or the bathtub after we change his diaper, and usually, he pees that last little bit."
Now I'd been rambling to anyone who would listen about my frustrations at my son's seemingly conscious effort to save a little pee or poop for the fresh diaper, and had just entertained my friend with the story of that morning's poop escapade. How my son pooped in his diaper at about ten am, like normal for the past two weeks (my friend later pointed out that I'd been practicing part of EC already, because I was aware that my son pooped at ten am and eleven am every day). Only this time, I put a fresh diaper on him, and he immediately filled it again. I laughed, because that's what you do with a six week-old who fills the fresh diaper, then changed the diaper. I hadn't even gotten the third diaper on his little bum before he drew his little legs up, grunted, and sent a spray of poop all over diaper, sleeper, and changing table. At this point, it stopped being funny, and I started to feel like the little bugger was doing it on purpose. So the idea of my friend holding her son over the sink after she changed him made me think...could I outsmart my ornery little baby by catching rounds two and sometimes three in the sink instead of spending a good twenty minutes changing diapers and wiping his bottom?
I thought a lot after that phone call. I didn't want to start something that might be good, then backslide (to coin a phrase) into something that took less effort but seemed less in line with my attachment parenting goals, especially since I'd been seeing it in other new mothers--a commitment to breastfeeding abandoned after less than a year, a commitment to cloth diapering left by the wayside due to the lure of tuck'n'toss disposable diapers--I didn't want to work on the road crew that was paving the proverbial road to hell. I took three days to work up the courage to give it a shot. I was sure that I'd either drop the baby in the sink, get pee all over myself, or generally just look like a jackass, expecting a baby to pee on command. So early on a Saturday morning, while my husband was in bed, but the little guy was needing the rocker downstairs, I decided, what the hell, nobody's watching. I said to my son, "Okay, we're going to try something weird. If it works, I'll take it as a sign that this EC stuff might be worth a closer look. And if it doesn't work, then we'll just pretend that it never happened and never speak of this again."
I took off his diaper, straining my ears to listen and make sure that my dear hubby wasn't creeping down the stairs to catch me in this particular act of weirdness. I took my naked son in my arms and tiptoed to the bathroom. We spent a few minutes with me awkwardly trying to hold him under his legs somehow, point his little willie in the general direction of the sink, and keep his head from wobbling around too much. At that moment, a third arm would have been worth something. Then came the moment of truth. "Psss, psss," I said softly, remembering my friend's words. "Psss, psss," I said again. My wide-eyed son stared at me blankly in the bathroom mirror.
I thought, he thinks I'm nuts. Then, I noticed a soft tinkling. I looked down and was astounded to see a good-sized little fountain sprinkling into the sink. "Well, I'll be damned," I said out loud to my son, who was by now smiling beatifically in the mirror, as if he'd been holding the secrets of the universe there all day long and I'd just finally caught on. If he could speak, I swear he would've said, "Duh!"
That changed everything. I put the diaper back on my little prince and ushed to the computer. I dashed off a quick email to my friend ("I CAUGHT A PEE!) and ran upstairs, baby bouncing in my sling, and woke up my husband to tell him I'd tried this crazy thing and it worked.
I did not get the warm reception I'd expected. Probably because I went up there without coffee before nine am on a Saturday (a cardinal sin in our house). Yet nothing could dim my inexplicable joy.
I quickly developed a new ritual around changing the baby. Get the dirty diaper off the bum, then take bum, baby, and wipes into the bathroom and do my little "psss, psss" thing over the sink. I kept a mental tally of how many diapers I was "saving."
It was another few days before I tried for a poop. In between, I finally sat down and really read those web sites whose links my friend had sent me so long ago. I found a wealth of information. Practical tips, which I gravitated towards first, included hints such as, "babies generally don't pee in their sleep. Your baby, just like you, will probably have to pee
upon waking in the morning or after a nap," and, "Many babies pee while nursing, or at a set time after finishing a nursing session. Watch your baby for signs of this after you nurse," and, "Babies communicate their elimination needs by signals such as a particular grimace, squirming or fussing, or a certain 'look.' " I pounced eagerly on these hints, searching for the signs in my own baby. Sure enough, once I started looking, I saw signs everywhere. Many of them proved to be false alarms, but I emained enthusiastic about this new thing my son and I were doing.
At first, I skimmed the rationale portions of the web sites and essays. I didn't look too closely at why I had decided to try EC or why I was continuing to do it. Eventually, however, after I'd exhausted the practical tips and tricks, I wanted to know what motivated these moms and dads to swim upstream against all the pressure not only from disposable diaper advertising, but also from the cloth diapering advocates, and even from he child-led potty learning set. I found reasons ranging from the environmentally conscious to the socially conscious--parents who wished to live lightly by not only avoiding landfill contribution but avoiding water waste as well, and parents who embraced adopted or inherited cultural practices from areas a world away from the western world in both thought and action. The more I read, practiced, and shared EC experiences with others, the more I realized something that many of us have in common. While we may have come to EC for divergent reasons, we do share the notion that "once your consciousness has been raised, it cannot be lowered" (the quote is from the sig line of one of the EC mailing list's regular contributors). Like our babies, we are now aware of their elimination needs, and we can't seriously ignore them. In fact, I find it harder to *not* "pee the baby." It's become just something I do, like picking him up when he cries or reaches for me, wiping the drool or spit up off his face, and putting a blanket on him when he's cold.
I don't know how all this will affect him in the years to come. I don't know how he will feel about knowing that he used to laugh while his mommy made faces at him in the bathroom mirror while holding his bare tush over the sink and waiting for him to poop. He is sprouting his first two teeth right now, and his accompanying diarrhea and general malaise has prevented me from "catching" the pees and poops that I used to be so expert at. But I know I will keep trying to read his cues and trust my own intuition, because now that I know he is trying to tell me something, how can I ignore him? And that communciation between us, even more than the saved diapers, the avoidance of diaper rash, the investment now against future toilet learning battles...that communication is the most important part of EC. And I treasure it.
Response to someone on Mothering.com discussion boards:
(Her questions are in brackets, my responses follow)
Re: Who can explain a bit about EC?
"I've seen references to it here, and I'm intrigued. Can someone explain, briefly, how it works?"
Hi! Well, the basic idea is that your baby DOES know when he/she is about to eliminate, and often, will communicate this need to you, much like he/she will tell you about hunger, tiredness, etc.
Mothers all over the world have used these signals and their own intuition for millennia in order to take care of their children's elimination needs. There's nothing special about it, really... we ALL have this ability!
"What do you do when you're out and about?"
We take a little Baby Bjorn potty with us to use in the car or at people's houses. We also hold him above regular toilets, or sit backwards on the seat pointing his little weewee down. We also use sinks... although not so much in public, one does get a few strange looks! :-)
"What if your babe is playing quietly and you aren't looking right at them when they need to go?"
Then you can use your intuition, or you knowledge that, hey, he just ate 10 minutes ago, maybe he is ready to pee... and offer him the chance to go. And sometimes, they pull a stealth pee or poo on you, and you change their diaper (if you keep a dipe on for backup like some of us do) or change their outfit. (or wipe up the floor, if you keep 'em naked like some of us do)
"Is it harder to read pee signs than poop ones?"
For me, they're about the same. I started off just using EC after ds woke up from his naps.. a guaranteed time for peeing if I put him on the potty right after he woke up. Then I started peeing him about 5-15 minutes after a nurse.... now I use both "timing" (the knowledge that he usually will pee/poop at a certain interval) and "intuition" (the *feeling* that he needs to go) as well as "communication" (when he fusses and lets me know he's uncomfortable.. a good sign he wants to eliminate).
You could try this right today with you own child... is there a time that you know he/she usually pees or poops? Then get some toys, sit them on a potty, or hold 'em above your bathroom sink while making funny faces in the mirror, and see what happens. Maybe nothing.... but more often than not, you will be able to catch something the first day you try. Just keep trying!
"Not sure I really want to try this, but I'm interested enough to want to know more."
The names this usually goes by are "Elimination Communication", "Infant Potty Training" "Elimination Timing" and "Natural Infant Hygiene" Try typing some of those into search engines and start reading!
Best of luck,