Myths of Elimination communication (EC)


Wilhelmina on the potty... 1 day old
I don’t know why I read the comments that come after articles about EC on mainstream sites. The comments are not only full of myths, but they are down right mean, and this is because someone chooses to communicate with their baby, and chooses to help them eliminate in another place than a diaper and the comments are made often just because they have a fear or a misunderstanding of the unknown.

So, I thought that I would touch on some of these myths. A few that I even believed in many moons ago (Xavier was 100% diaper trained and potty-trained)

Also… These are taken from actual discussions.. so they are things that people really do believe.

Myth #1: “Infants don’t have any control or awareness of their elimination and are not psychologically ready until they are around 2-3”. 

This is of course what we are taught right? That potty training happens when kids are ready… most often after 2 and most likely around the age of 3 or even up to 4 or 5. How can a newborn know what a 3-year-old needs to be “trained” to do?

This might be a bit long but the first thing to do it look back about 50 years when our parents were babies; look back 30 years when we were babies and look at the history of diapers and potty training in our culture. (80% of the world uses EC like techniques so this is idea is very culture specific)

Up to about 60 years ago the only choice in diapering was cloth diapers. Not the fancy-schmancy cloth diapers that we have now, but just a piece of cloth held up with a pin… not even a water proof cover. Without a machine operated washing machine, diapers were washed by hand or more-often than not, if it was just urine, were not washed at all, and instead were just hung up to dry. Because of this, parents were motivated to get their babies out of diapers as soon as possible which for most, was before a year of age. The potty training methods of this time were not the child-led ones that we have today, they were at times physiologically damaging and in some cases led to life long problems. I think that this early potty training, is where this myth starts.

In the 40’s/50’s a few things happened: Washing machines evolved in a way that diapers could be washed more easily, and the first waterproof cover was invented. The first disposable diaper was also invented (though were much too expensive to be used by most) and a child-led method of potty training started to be recommended by doctors and by pediatric groups. This meant that Parents started potty-training when the child showed signs of readiness instead of it being the parent’s choice. Disposable diapers became readily available and affordable in the 1970’s and over the next 30 years became the highly absorbable, “dry” diapers that we have today. Not only that, but in the last decade, the cloth industry also started to gain fashion and started mimicking it’s disposable cousin, being easy to use and wicking moisture away from the skin and keeping babies dry and comfortable. But these changes are why we now see potty-training in the way we see it today and why it is often seen as such a milestone that comes later and later.

So, before the 1950’s most babies were trained by a year with a strong push from parents, but by the 1970’s the average crept up to about 18-24 months and now it is at an average of nearly 40 months with some being trained “early” between 18-24 months and with others going up to 60 months (that is 5 years old btw).

Of course, training them to use a diaper and then waiting for them to initiate potty-training in this day and age is something very different from it was even 2-3 decades ago.  As babies are trained to use diapers, they are taught to ignore their bodies and because of that, they lose the ability to control and no longer need to be aware and lose that awareness. Though they do not enjoy being wet or soiled, diapers (disposable and many of the new cloth diapers) have evolved in a way that they do not feel the discomfort. Diapers are designed to stay dry and keep moisture away, the better they work, the longer children will not see the need to do differently. Also, In the 1970’s disposable diapers were bulky and didn’t wick away moisture as they do now and they only came in three sizes. The more absorbent and thin they got, and the more sizes came out, the longer it took for children to be out of diapers.

So that is a very short history of diapers and potty-training, and given this history I can see why the myth is believed, if you equate EC to potty training.

What is missing though is that Elimination Communication is not potty training, it is about communication. Big difference!!

EC has nothing to do with training a child to use the toilet after having trained them to do a diaper, it is about tending to one of their basic needs.

Newborn babies sleep, eat and eliminate. That is what they do. When they communicate that they are hungry, we feed them. When they communicate that they are tired, we help them sleep. When they communicate that they need to eliminate, we help them do so. It is about responding to a child’s basic need. Contrary to what is often believed, infants, even newborns do have control over their sphincter muscle from birth.  The bladder fills, they feel the pressure, they release the muscle and go. The same with bowel movements. ALL babies communicate in some way when they feel that pressure and it gets uncomfortable, just as they communicate the need to eat or sleep. They may cry out unexpectedly, they may pull away from the breast, they may have a certain facial expression, they may wake up from sleep suddenly, there are many different signs. Now, it is true that the muscle is not 100% mature, and that maturity is something that happens when children are between 12-24 months, with an average of 18 months, but when it is mature, that is when toileting should be complete, not when it should start.

Think about it, especially parents of boys, how many times have you taken a diaper off only to have baby pee? Keep that image in your memory.

With diapering, we choose to ignore the signals that our children are telling us and teach the baby in turn to ignore the sensation and simply use the diaper as a toilet, only to have to re-train them to do the opposite later on. With EC, the parent chooses instead to tune in to the signals and helps the child eliminate away from themselves (over a bowl, potty, sink, toilet etc)

Instinctively, fresh air is actually “trigger” to eliminate, as the parent will undress/uncover the baby when they signal, so when you think back to the baby boy peeing when the diaper is taken off, and even the products that have been created because of that,  you will understand that it is not just a coincidence. It is what is natural.

Babies instinctively do not want to soil themselves and will wait and “hold it in” to eliminate where it is more comfortable to do so. They have the muscle control from birth, they communicate the need to go and EC is simply about responding to that need as you would respond to other needs. But if you ignore it, you are training them to ignore their bodies and training them to use a diaper.

So going back to the myth… It is completely false. Babies are ready to eliminate at birth, it is a basic need. They have control and awareness and communicate the need as much as they do other needs and do not enjoy soiling themselves. There is nothing damaging in responding to a babies need.

Myth#2: “just another classic sign of parents “rushing” their children to grow up.. they’re babies, so let them be babies.”

Who says that part of being a baby is wearing diapers? Why is diaper training an essential part of babyhood? What about cribs, bottles, strollers, pacifiers… I used none of these  and I “let my babies be babies”. Things do not make a baby a baby. What gets me the most about this myth it that it often comes from the type of parent that will then turn around and sleep-train a baby and talk about the important of independence.. This myth has nothing to do with what is normal and natural it has everything to do with what is more convenient for the parent and the fear of the unknown. EC is not about rushing babies to grow up, It is simply about responding to a need.

Myth #3: “the baby is not really potty trained with this method, the parents are!” or “You are all deluded. A baby cannot control their bodily functions at that age, be sensible, it is the parents who are trained here!!”

I agree, I am trained to respond to my babies needs. If they communicate that they are hungry, I am trained to feed them. If they communicate that they are tired, I am trained to help them fall asleep. If they communicate the need to eliminate, I help them do so in a clean and sanitary way. What is wrong with that?

Whats the difference between a newborn signalling they have to go to the bathroom and me bringing them over the toilet, or my now 21 month old daughter running to the bathroom and calling “mama” to help her get on the toilet. Nothing.

I am am just responding to her request the way I did when she was a newborn.

Myth #4: EC is unclean and unsanitary or “EW, I don’t have the time to clean up pee and poop all day, I would rather spend time with my baby”

The myth here is going back to the idea that babies have no control and just pee and poo everywhere all of the time. This is not true. Yes, there can be misses or “accidents” but once EC is well established and going well, the misses and accidents cause much less mess that the messes that occur with diapers. Have you ever experienced a blowout??? Talk about messy! Furthermore, when you are ECing, most misses are pee, as poop is often the easiest to catch and babies will most often wait to do them. Also, this myth is also assuming that EC has to be diaper-free. Yes, it can be, and when it is going well it often is, but many people who EC use training underwear or even diapers as back up. They simply take the diaper off or pull the underwear down when it is time to eliminate in the same way as we do when we go to the bathroom. Colin and Khéna both used diapers as back-up even though we ECed, I would often change a diaper at the end of the day because it was the thing to do, just like you change underwear, not because it was dirty.

Myth #5 “Wow. Someone has no real life. Imagine being able to sit there, 24 hrs a day, just watching your kid for signs that he/she has to go potty. ???” or “I’d rather have a life and actually go out and have fun with my baby”

Would you not go out with a baby because they might get hungry? How about if they get sleepy? What if you have to go to the bathroom while you are out, or what about your 10-year-old? You just deal with the situation when it arrises. If you see that baby has to go to the bathroom, you bring them. You can bring a potty, you can use a toilet etc. Once you get used to the signs, and equally important the timing, EC outside of the home is actually often easier than in the home. If a baby is not trained to use the diaper as a toilet, they will wait until you bring them to an appropriate place, just like an older child that tell you they have to go the bathroom. You can’t wait for an eternity but it is also not an instantaneous thing. And don’t forget, you can use diaper back-up.

 Myth #6: “EC takes so much longer than potty training. Why would I choose to do something over 18 months when I could do it in just 1 or 2 months when they are ready?”

If you are not familiar with EC or still a bit confused, this statement might make sense. The problem is, this myth is equating EC to potty-training and ignoring, or not understanding that the goal of EC is not potty-independence, it is Communication.  However, being potty independent is something that does happen at the end.

Myth #7: “That’s absurd, a 3 month old can’t sit on a potty!!!”

Well… actually some can 😉 Some can even do it earlier. But that’s not the point. There are many alternatives to sitting on the potty for a small baby. Again, EC is not about potty-training. The goal is not to sit on the potty by themselves, the goal is to help a baby eliminate when the express the need to do so. A parent can hold them over a potty, a bowl, a sink, the toilet or any other receptacle and then when they are ready, the will be able to sit on the potty also.

So these are some of the myths I have come across just by reading the comments after one article and it is basically summed up more of the myths that I have heard over the years. If you have others, I would love to hear them and debunk them…

EC setback and update…

Elimination Communication has been an important part of parenthood for me. We have used the method with 3 of our children and it has only been a positive experience.

Buddha Baby

With Colin we started when he was about 2 months old… before that, he hated peeing in his diaper and would cry and cry if he did. I had heard of it before but didn’t think it was for us. Honestly I thought it would be messy, it would be more work, I thought that I wasn’t attentive enough. I had the same misconceptions that people often have the first time they hear about it. I was open to try however and it changed everything. My upset, crying baby was now a happy baby that refused to go anywhere else than in the sink or potty or toilet. He showed me that EC was so much less work than diapers, it was cleaner and he showed me just how much control a baby could actually have. I never looked back. He was completely potty independent by two.

Wilhelmina on the potty...

I started with both Khéna and Wilhelmina at birth. Though Khéna still has a few accidents at night, he was also potty independent at two.

With both Colin and Khéna we ECed with diaper backup. They didn’t actually use the diaper that often, but we seemed to feel more comfortable having it on. With Wilhelmina I decided to go diaper free from birth.

We used diapers (gdiapers with washable liners) during our trip to BC when she was 8 weeks old, but after that she was in either in normal underwear or the one-wet trainers that I had made, but she was consistent enough that we didn’t see any need for diapers.

Things were going great until the camping trip in June and her becoming sick afterwards.

warm September At the age of 18 months, she was in diapers for basically the first time in her life. Though we still brought her to the potty and kept the routine intact she was having many more misses. EC also proved to be a lifesaver more than once in the hospital and in tests. (Urine tests, VCUG etc) The biggest setback however was because of the nephrostomy. We could get the trainers on her but it was much more complicated with the tube, so having her naked or in a diaper was easiest. The other setback  with the nephrostomy was that it was draining directly into the bag on the outside, which left her with only a small portion of urine which made things much more complicated as she probably didn’t have much pressure on her bladder so she didn’t feel that she had to go.

When we headed to the hospital for her surgery at the beginning of October, I didn’t even bring the potty. I knew that it wouldn’t get much use. I couldn’t even hold her or get her out of bed for the first few days and of course she had a catheter anyway, but once she was a bit more mobile and then tubeless, I would just bring her to the toilet. However, I think it took time for her to get used to the feeling of having a full bladder again, so, since coming home she has been using either the one-wet trainers or has been in diapers…

But in the last few days things have now changed. I noticed that she had an interest in using the seat reducer on the toilet, so we tried it out and has not turned back. She now she runs to the bathroom and says “pipi” when she has to go. Instead of going often and in small amounts the timing is again spacing out as it did when she was smaller when EC was at its easiest point.

I think it is too early to say that this is it… but I definitely feel that we are at the end of diapers for good.

 

 

 

The "My Carry Potty"…

When I bought the Vital ID bracelets that I mentioned on the last post I saw this cool little potty on the website and had to get it.

One of the big components of EC is having a routine, which means that we potty Wilhelmina before and after getting her in/out of her car seat when we are out. Pottying on the go can sometimes get messy especially when you are somewhere that you can’t umm… dispose of the contents…

A cheap tupperware container with a soaker at the bottom has been what we have been using the most but now that Wilhelmina is bigger and is getting picky about her elimination location, it just hasn’t been working out as well so we have been needing to bring the potty… It is not always the ideal situation!

I know of a lot of people that use the “potette” system, but I kept on holding off as you need think of and buy  bags and then dispose of them which doesn’t make sense to me when I want to put less in the landfills and honestly with 4 kids, I don’t want to have to think of yet another thing when leaving the house.

So when I saw the “My Carry Potty” I had to get it!

The idea is brilliant…

A portable potty that closes and seals and can be easily carried around…

From the outside it looks like a little suitcase with a handle and Wilhelmina loves carrying it around…

Walking with her potty

One the inside, it is a potty on one side and the seal the other…

Cool new potty

The size is perfect and I can definitely see that it will be utilized by older siblings at times also…

On the carry potty

The greatest part of course, is that if you can’t dispose of the contents right away, you can just close it up and do it when you can…

Nothing is getting through the seal and there is just enough resistance when opening it so that no “accidents” can happen with kids accidentally opening it.

You don’t really need much for EC, but there are somethings that make just a little easier…

 

One-wet Trainers (for EC) Tutorial

Wilhelmina has now been diaper-free and using one-wet trainers since she was about 5 months old. One-wet trainers are great, they are underwear with a bit of absorbency so that a miss doesn’t mean a mess. They are however quite expensive between 15$-20$ each. Because I can sew, I can’t justify buying them.

I made quite a few pairs before finding the perfect design for us and I am really happy with the ones that I now make. They stay up well, have no bulk, and fit and look like underwear.

The underwear itself is made from a stretchy knit fabric (I have even used old onsies) The Soaker has a layer of flannel, a layer of Zorb or another absorbant material and a layer of PUL. You also need braided elastic for the waist and fold-over elastic for the leg openings.

You can download my pattern here. (I don’t mind sharing, but please don’t use this to sell unless you buy a license which is at the end of the post) These fit Wilhelmina at 5 months and were still fitting at 18 months when we stopped using them…

First cut the pieces out… giving yourself a 1/2″ seam allowance around all sides except on the fold. (btw… If you want to make these bigger just add more seam allowance.)

Next cut out the pieces of the soaker. One flannel, one PUL and one of your absorbant material and then a smaller rectangle of the same to add a bit more absorbency without adding bulk.

(here is the flannel, I forgot to take a pic of the other pieces…sorry )

 

Sew the absorbent material together and add a few lines of stitches going across the middle. This makes it less stiff and contours the body more instead of the soaker sticking out…

Put the soaker together by placing the flannel on top and the layer of PUL (shiny side in) on the bottom and sew the pieces together (serge or do a zig zag stich around the edges)

Now that the soaker is done, it is time for the underwear.

Sew the three pieces together. (the largest part of the crotch piece fits onto the back piece)

Next is time to put the elastic in the leg holes.

(This is Fold-over elastic if you are wondering)

Fold the elastic over one end of the leghole edge and stich it down, then using a zigzag stich pull the elastic slightly while sewing it down the leghole edge.

It should look like this when done.

The do the same on the other side.

Next place the finished soaker on the underwear piece with the round part on the front of the underwear. Using a zigzag stich, sew it in.


Now the soaker is in…

With the right sides of the underwear together sew and/or serge the side edges.

Almost done!

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Measure your little ones waist  and then subtract about 10% and cut the braided elastic to that length. (Wilhelmina’s waist is about 17 inches so I need about 15 inches)

With the underwear inside out, sew the elastic around the top edge. Again using a the zigzag stich, and stretching as you sew. (the ends of the elastic should meet or slightly overlap)

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Finally, turn the underwear right side out, fold the elastic over and sew it down, stretching again as you sew.

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Your done!

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Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!!

___________________________________________

Not everyone can sew or has the time to do so, so if you want to make these One-wet trainers and sell them, you may purchase a license to do so.

-One Limited Commercial License = One pattern / tutorial

One License must be purchased for each person who makes or sells the tutorial / pattern (so if two people are making them for an etsy shop of craft fair, both must buy the license)

I still retain copyright on the tutorial / pattern itself.

Lastly, when selling or listing the item, design credit must be given to A hippie with a Minivan with a link to this site or pattern.

Also, if you wish you may send me the link to your shop so that I can send people to you!

By purchasing the license, you agree with the terms

Thank you! and happy sewing!

              20.00




9 Months…

OK, OK I am a bit late… Wilhelmina is nearly 9 1/2 months already, but I guess it is better now than never.

Big smiles

I can’t believe that more than 9 months have passed since my little girl was born. There are many that insist that there are no differences between girls and boys but I don’t agree, I can see that there are differences, and with 3 boys, I embrace those differences. She seems to admire me as a brush my hair and she loves to have her hair brushed as well and lets me play with her hair. She is a lot more sensitive and more calm than her brothers were at the same age. It might also be a reflection fo the way that her brothers treat her of course, but by 9 months old, Colin and Khéna were both already play-fighting with their older brother(s)…. She in turn is ver gentle. Though she enjoys biting books, she equally enjoys being read to, something the boys never seemed to have the patience for as babies.

When we are out she doesn’t say a word, she just observes and cuddles or goes to play but is so content. She loves being out and about, except for the car ride, though that has been a lot better in the last months. She is shy, but not overly so. She quickly warms up to people, especially the guys. A the workshops I give she just plays contently, coming to see me to nurse or pee… otherwise she is happily doing her own thing.

She loves her brothers, and me of course, but I think her favourite person in the world is daddy…There are evenings that she doesn’t even want me and only wants Simon.A true daddy’s girl 🙂

Willa with her daddy

She has started to eat a bit here and there but it is not a daily thing and she is still getting all of her nutrition from me. She now has 6 teeth and hopefully we will get a bit of a break before the next ones come in. It effects her mood so much and she gets a rash… even though she doesn’t wear a diaper…

EC is going great. We catch about 75% of the pees and all of the poos… Most of the pees that we miss are in the morning. Since she stays dry all night and only wakes in the morning to pee and nurse, she has a lot of pees when she gets up… sometimes every 5-10 min for the first hour… then she goes back to her normal frequency and we catch most of the rest. During the day she wears one-wet underwear or is bare-bum… and the same at night. When we are out it is the easiest, especially when we are busy and going from place to place. She pees when we get out of the car, and then when we get back in and remains dry the rest of the time… even for 2-3 hours…

sleep

Wilhelmina now has a few words also… her first word was “Caca”, and she says that when she needs to eliminate. She has been saying that one for at least 2 months now. Her next was “Cat” and now “Mama” and “Dada” and have been added… I love to hear her say actual words… though it makes her seem a bit older than I am ready for…

She can get anywhere she needs to go,but isn’t walking yet… (I say that because I have had early walkers) She is still not completely confidant to stand on her own, but will do so if she forgets that she is doing it. She can walk holding onto our hands, or a toy, or furniture or the wall and will take mini-steps between two pieces of furniture. Once she gets that confidence going it, the steps will not be far behind.

Peek-a-boo

All in all, I am enjoying every minute of her growing and changing. Knowing that she is our last last makes every milestone bitter-sweet. My little baby is changing and becoming less and less of a baby… My kids are growing up…

She makes my heart melt...

By |November 8th, 2010|EC (Elimination communication), Family Life, NaBloPoMo, The Kids|Comments Off on 9 Months…|