If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, see yesterday’s post: Elimination Communication, where I introduced the idea.
I bought a package of Seventh Generation ‘sposies for Annabelle’s first days, as I knew I wouldn’t want to be fussing with laundry and I wasn’t so sure about trying to clean meconium off my cloth (though now I hear it’s actually no big deal). I planned to start EC right away, but use those as back-up. I had the potty nearby at all times when we came home from the hospital, but I was too busy staring at my gorgeous new daughter and nursing constantly to pay a whole lot of attention to EC. I have to give props to my awesome husband for being the first to “catch.” He informed me that, “I think she needs to go,” so I held her over her potty and sure enough – she went! After that, we started paying more attention and learning her cues and in the early weeks, we had at least 2 or 3 catches a day and within several weeks, I was having more “catches” than “misses.”
For the first several weeks, I wasn’t brave enough to try ECing while the babe slept. Even toddlers and preschoolers sometimes wet the bed, right? I always had her in a cloth diaper with a waterproof cover at night. I started noticing that she would wake up dry, however, so I finally decided to give nighttime EC a try when she was about a month old. It turns out that night time (and nap time) is even easier than daytime! Annabelle wakes up dry 95% of the time, and I usually take her to the potty first thing when she wakes.
For outings, it took a long time before I tried EC at all. I always put her in a cloth diaper with a waterproof cover and changed her periodically just like any other mom would when we were out. Only in the past couple of weeks have I started trying to EC all the time. I now have a system down and we’re occasionally having catches while out, though it’s harder for me to focus on her cues, and for me to get her to a potty in time while out, so we still have plenty of misses and sometimes I just go ahead and diaper her, cover and all.
I am definitely seeing her habits change as she is getting older and becoming more aware in general. During the first several weeks, I would often end up with trails on the way to the potty because she would start going as soon as I got her diaper off. Now, she really seems to know that I will take her and put her on the potty and will wait until she’s in position. I really can’t remember the last time we had the trail o’poo issue. It has also been helped, of course, by trial and error on my part. I now have a system down where I don’t have to lay her down to remove anything before getting to the bathroom. More on that in the next section.
Recently, we had our first 24 hour stretch with no misses at all. In the past several days, however, Annabelle’s cues have started to change. With the beginnings of teething, it has also been difficult to tell her general fussiness from the minor fussing she’ll do when she needs to go to the bathroom. As a result, we have had a lot more misses and some days it feels like we’re back to square one. From what all of the other EC moms say, however, this is totally normal. We’ll probably hit bumps like this when she starts crawling, then when she starts walking, and so on. It looks like we’re almost through this one, though. Today was more catches than misses.
As a goal oriented person, it can be frustrating to have frequent misses. Occasionally, I find myself focusing more on not soiling diapers than on the real goal of simply being in tune and communicating with my daughter about her elimination needs. The point, again, is not “training,” but simply being in tune. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. ECing parents in general do not react positively or negatively toward catches or misses. There is no fanfare when baby goes in the potty and no, “oops” or other response when there is a miss. Elimination is treated like the perfectly normal thing that it is. I really have to work hard on that one, because I am tempted to reprimand myself out loud for not paying enough attention sometimes! Most do use the same cue sound or word for a miss that they use when their child goes in the potty, just to acknowledge the event. Sort of an, “Oh, I see you’re going potty.” I generally use the ASL sign for bathroom on the way and the “sssss” sound when she is actually going.
How it’s Done: EC at our House
This part is probably a lot more info than friends or family care to hear. I’m documenting this, because I wish I could have found pictures and clear explanations from other ECing families before we started. Then it wouldn’t have taken me three months to get my system down!
As I mentioned yesterday, Annabelle is not “diaper free”. We do use a combination of cloth diapers and training pants as back-up, so that “misses” aren’t messes. I absolutely LOVE EcaPants, and some of the other trainers available over at EC Wear – a wonderful, work at home mama run store. They have a velcro closure that is super easy to fasten and unfasten to drop the front of the pant, while the waist is cleverly held in place by an elastic band. So, when it’s time to go, all you do is open and close. Annabelle loves this, since lying flat for diapering is on her list of least favorite things to do. These are usually what she wears when we go out now that we’re trying to EC more away from home, too.
Around the house, we use standard prefold diapers with a fleece belt to hold them in place most of the time. Much like with EcaPants, when it’s time to go, I just pull down the front so she can do her business, and then tuck it back into the belt when she’s finished. Naturally, Annabelle doesn’t dress in pants very often, because they’re just another thing to fuss with. It’s dresses most of the time around here!
I don’t put a cover over the prefolds, because I want to know if she’s wet. If she is, I have missed a signal that would have clued me in to the fact that she needed to go. It’s definitely a learning process, watching and figuring out what might have tipped me off when we have a “miss” helps me figure her out! This is one plus with using non waterproof cloth instead of disposables. The other benefit of cloth (besides the obvious environmental benefits, and the lack of harsh chemicals on babe’s delicate skin) is that it makes it easier for Annabelle to feel that she is wet, so that she, too, is aware of what’s going on and knows that she has just gone. The only thing I don’t like about EC is that I can’t justify buying as many adorable cloth diapers as I want. They are so darn cute these days! So much more awesome than boring old prefolds! I’ve been buying up a few of the cute ones for our flight to the states and other times when ECing is just not practical.
I admire the families that go all in and are completely diaper-free, but I prefer our way of doing things. I think I do less laundry in the long run, since a miss doesn’t mean a change of clothes, and I spend less time cleaning the floor and more time cuddling!
During the day at home, we use our Baby Bjorn Little Potty most of the time. It seems to be the preferred potty of ECing families from what I can gather. It is small enough that her tiny bottom can still sit on it. Right now, I keep it on the counter in the bathroom so that Annabelle has her reflection to entertain her while she sits and because it’s easier on my back than having to hunch over her on the floor. Once she becomes mobile, however, I’ll start keeping it on the floor to allow for a more natural transition to independent pottying when she’s ready to initiate that.