What is EC?
EC stands for Elimination Communication, the name widely given to the natural way of responding to your baby’s elimination needs, which is still practiced in most parts of the world today. Since nappies – especially disposables – came along this method has been widely forgotten in the Western world.
How does it work?
It’s very simple to be honest. You respond to your baby’s signs and cues that they need to eliminate, much in the same way you respond to their signs and cues that they are tired, hungry, bored or overstimulated. Parents learn their baby’s signs that they need to go, and offer their baby/child the opportunity to urinate or defecate away from their body, into a potty, toilet, bowl or elsewhere.
When your baby was newborn, did you notice that s/he would go as soon as you took their nappy off? This is because babies are born with the instinct to not soil themselves. When this instinct is recognised and encouraged the baby will soon associate the position they are held in/where they are placed with relieving themselves. When babies are put in nappies full time they are effectively trained to go in them, thus losing their natural instinct around 6 months of age.
Remember, it is about communication and teamwork. You are not training your baby – it is not something your baby can do without you – s/he relies on the communication between you both to meet his/her needs.
A bit on “potty pauses”……….
“Potty pauses” or “potty strikes” are a supposed phenomenon that occurs in Western countries. You will find many sites advising to put the baby back in nappies, to “back off” and leave it a few days, weeks or months and then start up again. The common misconception here is that the parent is putting too much pressure on the baby/child (when EC is about communication, not coercion), therefore should leave them be for a bit. This is the advice I read when my son appeared to be going through a potty pause, and it was only when I questioned my acceptance of this contradictory advice that I discovered other information out there saying that these are not as they seem.
This article made perfect sense to me, and once we followed the advice there (getting rid of the nappies altogether and making sure he was 100% in control) amazing changes happened. From him refusing to go near a potty/toilet (the “strike” – or him asking for independence!), to asking to sit on them again but not going, to sitting on and going, to choosing he prefers the toilet only (!), to the confidence that he is in control of his body and that we will take him to the toilet when he asks. It has been eye-opening, and I have vowed to spread this article far and wide, to dispel the myth of the “potty pause” (or the common reasoning behind it). Why do they not have “potty pauses” in countries where EC is the norm? Because they carry on as normal, changing a few more pairs of pants/trousers and know it’s just a developmental phase, not a regression.
Find out more:
Here are some sites with a wealth of information about EC……..
And here are some groups for parents practicing EC:
Yahoo EC Group – UK group
Suffolk Nappy-Free Babies – For parents in Suffolk (this group has monthly meets)
We stock a small, but growing, selection of EC related products. If there’s anything you’d like us to stock, please let us know!