When my friend Rhonda first told me that she held her infant son over the toilet to go to the bathroom, I thought she might be just a wee bit crazy. After all, her son was just a newborn - unable to sit or even hold his head up for that matter. She told me that she read a book about the topic, a book that unashamedly reported that babies can indeed learn to communicate their elimination needs from an early age.
I was, of course, secretly intrigued. What was this method really about and was it crazy or genuis? Was it good for babies? I wanted to know so I read the book - The Diaper Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative by Christine Gross-Loh.
If you've heard of this method or if you are interested, I thought I'd take a moment to "interview the book." That's right - I'll be sharing a few common questions and answering them using quotes from the book and the corresponding website. Enjoy!
QUESTION: What is EC [Elimination Communication]?
ANSWER: "EC is not toilet training the way you train an older child to use the toilet. It's engaging in communication and becoming in tune with your wonderful baby by responding to a basic need."
QUESTION: Will my child be out of diapers sooner if I EC as opposed to if I follow a standard potty training process?
ANSWER: "While getting out of diapers earlier than the U.S. average is something that happens with a lot of EC'd children, it's not the main point of EC at all...this method is not aboutgetting your baby potty trained sooner than anyone else's child. It's about the process of communication, not the result."
QUESTION: Isn't EC'ing too time-consuming for a busy mom like me?
ANSWER: "If you’re wondering about frequency and picturing yourself whisking baby off to the toilet every few minutes, consider this: Children who are diapered exclusively from birth and lose their bodily awareness can experience diminished sphincter control (leading people to conclude wrongly that babies aren’t capable of being aware of or controlling their elimination), but EC’ed children intuitively and effortlessly employ those muscles and typically aren’t going to the bathroom constantly. A typical pattern for some EC’ed infants and toddlers is to pee a few times in the morning after waking up, but to go for several hours-long stretches later on in the day then they might be out and about."
QUESTION: Is EC'ing "all or nothing"?
ANSWER: "Contrary to popular belief, plenty of parents practice EC part-time. The Diaper-Free Baby has lots of examples of working parents, for instance, who practice EC only occasionally (and there are many stay-at-home EC’ing parents who practice EC occasionally as well)."
For example, I was unaware that "half of the world's children are out of diapers by the end of their first year, yet many of the children in American society remain in diapers well into their third and fourth years."
I was also oblivious to the fact that "before the [1960's and 1970's], most American children were out of diapers by age two, if not earlier."
Those are strong statistics and, although I don't think you'll find me standing over the toilet with my newborn when we have #2, I will be taking small steps toward my daughter's diaper independence. I might even become what Gross-Loh terms "an ocassional ECer." See, I can be cool too!
If you're interested in learning more about this topic, you can check out the FAQ page on the Diaper Free Baby site or you can find a local DiaperFreeBaby group near you to gain support or to find a place to ask questions about this ever increasingly popular method.
WIN IT! One mama will win a copy of The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative by Christine Gross-Loh. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post prior to Sunday, April 6 at midnight (don’t forget to follow the rules). The winner will be announced and contacted on Monday, April 7. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.
*UPDATE* The winner is #21 Danielle S. Congratulations!