Fair warning – I’m talking about pee and poop here.
It has been a year since we decided to try elimination communication with Big C. We started right at 6 months and it was great timing. As we started solid foods, it became more necessary for us to know when he had to go number two. We had started cloth diapering a few months earlier and both Damien and I were pretty nervous for the transition to solid foods. Starting EC at that time was a huge blessing. From 6 months on I think we easily caught (in a potty) 80% of his number 2’s. We never really had to stress about the cloth diapers because we so rarely had a mess to clean up. We also quickly noticed that not only were we way more aware of C’s patterns, but that he was actively holding it until we offered him the potty!
We started out pretty zealously and were catching a lot of pees too. For a few months we lost some of our rhythm and mainly focused on catching poop or obvious pees like right after getting out of the carseat. After his birthday we started being more successful. At 18 months he is now wearing underwear around the house except for naps and night time. In the 6 weeks he’s been in underwear, we have had less than 10 accidents and most of them were our fault for not taking him. He doesn’t actively tell us he has to go (although he has a few times and he’s getting better), but he goes willingly when we ask and he holds it until we take him. We take him roughly every hour and he does great. He tells us all done and more to communicate if he’s finished and he really enjoys wearing his ‘big boy undies.’
With Little C’s arrival I wanted to at least attempt to EC right away. I wasn’t sure how exactly that would work, but I knew I wanted to try and Damien was up for it too. It’s only been two weeks so we’re not doing anything crazy, but every time I change his diaper I give him a chance to go to the bathroom before I put the clean diaper back on. I just hold him over a prefold or flat cloth diaper – I don’t put him over a potty or anything. He goes pee almost every time even though his diaper is normally wet and today, he went poop for the first time (not in a diaper). Maybe I’m imagining it, but he seems to appreciate the times where he doesn’t have to go in the diaper. His whole little body relaxes when he is able to go. I’m not too worried about doing anything more official, but we definitely plan on continuing and I’m excited for him to never lose awareness of when he has to eliminate. It will be interesting to see how things progress since we started from day one.
The most surprising thing about EC is how much communication there really is. I can almost sense when Big C has to go to the bathroom and that’s because I’ve spent the last year really watching him. I’ve been learning his subtle cues like the look in his eyes, the pause when he’s playing, or the change in his demeanor. People ask how I know and it’s hard to describe. I just do even when I’m not sure what cue I actually picked up on. That’s how we have been so successful even though he doesn’t ‘tell’ us that he has to go.
With Little C, that communication has already started. When he fusses I know that it is often because he needs to go to the bathroom. Most of the time, I hear confirmation of that just a few seconds/minutes later. It’s amazing how often the fussing is because he needs to go to the bathroom. Picking up on this (even though I don’t necessarily do anything about it yet), has helped relieve a lot of the stress of calming a newborn. I know why he’s fussing, I try to put him in a position that will help, and then he soon calms down. No more mystery crying.
Even if you don’t do any more than just pay attention, elimination communication is a great way to get to know your kids. Being able to pick up on potty cues helps me be more in tune with them overall. I can definitely tell more about Big C’s moods and attitudes just because I’m used to paying such close attention and I know it helps relieve some of the typical toddler frustration because we are able to communicate that much better. EC doesn’t have to be more work. Just start paying attention and acknowledge when your kid is going to the bathroom no matter how old they are.
One of the coolest things is that Big C likes to watch us change Little C’s diaper. He makes the pee and poop cue sounds (‘pssss’ and a soft grunt) because he knows that his brother has to or is going to the bathroom. I think that is pretty awesome. He doesn’t have any idea that EC is out of the ordinary!
If you’re interested in my post from a year ago, you can find it here.