Elimination Communication (otherwise known as "the diaper free baby")

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)."

12003386.jpgAfter reading the book, I understood Rhonda's choice and I applauded her for being so in tune with her baby. The thought process behind the movement made sense.

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!

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31 comments on “Elimination Communication (otherwise known as "the diaper free baby")”

  1. Hi, I just wanted to share my EC experience. I was an EC infant. I was the youngest of six children. My mom completely potty trained me by 6 mos. I am certain my mom knew nothing about EC, but she was just aware of my habits. She says when I was 3 or 4 mos old I would wake up at night and she would go get me a bottle, but by the time she got back I was wet. She came to the conclusion that I was probably wanting to wet and not crying for a bottle. So she tried placing me over the toilet first and I went. She placed a potty over the toilet and began only using diapers when we left home. Growing up I had a hard time believing her. Then one day when I was in my 20s one of my old babysitters daughters stopped by my moms and as soon as she saw me she began to carry on. "Is that the baby that was potty trained at 6 mos old!" "I've never seen anything like it." Then with my second child I began reading about other babies who experienced success as infants. My children were both potty trained at two. I was not as intuned as my mom. :P

  2. Hi, I just wanted to share my EC experience. I was an EC infant. I was the youngest of six children. My mom completely potty trained me by 6 mos. I am certain my mom knew nothing about EC, but she was just aware of my habits. She says when I was 3 or 4 mos old I would wake up at night and she would go get me a bottle, but by the time she got back I was wet. She came to the conclusion that I was probably wanting to wet and not crying for a bottle. So she tried placing me over the toilet first and I went. She placed a potty over the toilet and began only using diapers when we left home. Growing up I had a hard time believing her. Then one day when I was in my 20s one of my old babysitters daughters stopped by my moms and as soon as she saw me she began to carry on. "Is that the baby that was potty trained at 6 mos old!" "I've never seen anything like it." Then with my second child I began reading about other babies who experienced success as infants. My children were both potty trained at two. I was not as intuned as my mom.

  3. I was intrigued by this concept when I was pregnant, but when we ended up having twins, I didn't think I'd be able to make it work for twins. Now we're talking about adding to our family & I'd love to at least part time EC our next baby!!!

  4. I found this book to be easier and simpler than other books on EC, and I highly recommend it to any parent who is interested in having less poopy diapers to change!

  5. this would be a great read. i have a youngster that i might be able to put this into practice with.

  6. I love this book, even though it came out after I was well into ECing my daughter, now 3. Christine Gross-Loh's approach to EC dispels the myth that practicing EC puts extra pressure on parents and stresses EC as a journey, something that can be done part-time. I love EC -- I found it to be a fun way to increase my connection with my daughter. Looking back, I see what a blessing it has been to have had the process unfold so gradually that I honestly can't say when my daughter was "potty trained." Now I'm looking forward to ECing baby #2 in October and I can't wait to re-read Christine's wonderful book.

  7. This is a wonderful book to give away! I would love to own another copy because I lend out these books to mom's who are interested in the elimination communication (EC) concept.

    We have 3 girls and I did conventional potty training with my older 2 and learned about EC when preg with #3. The EC experience was so different. I was so surprised by my tiny daughter being able to tell me through different signals that she needed to go.

    No matter how often you decide to EC, you are doing lots of other things with your child then sitting by the potty waiting for them to go. It really is a pleasurable experience.

    DiaperFreeBaby suggests that families take the challenge and try EC. Here is the link to learn more info:
    http://diaperfreechallenge.org/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_pag\
    e&PAGE_id=12&MMN_position=12:3

    I look at EC as a win-win situation. It's great for the parents, child and for the environment.

  8. When I first heard of EC from a NY Times article and then read some more online I was intrigued but thought it would be hard work. It certainly sounded like a great idea but I was working and didn't think it was possible. I came upon Christine's book in the library and read it overnight. It's such an easy read yet filled with tons of useful and practical information. The biggest ideas I gleamed were that this is possible part-time and didn't seem all that difficult after all. My son was 4 months then and 15 months now; we haven't regretted it since.

    The "Diaper-Free Baby" doesn't need to be diaper-free. The book really shows readers how to just jump in and try EC painlessly. It's been a lot of fun.

  9. I used cloth diapers exclusively with my son, who was out of diapers much sooner than many of his peers (before age two) and EC'd with our daughter since she was three months old.

    We went from washing diapers every other day with her to once a week and her diaper rash quickly diminished, then disappeared. She is now nineteen months old, and I still help her in getting undressed and dressed, but she lets me know when and where she needs to go.

    I read Christine's book after we'd EC'd for about three months and I really enjoyed the stories from all the other parents of EC'd babies. This is how most of the rest of the world approaches a baby's hygenic needs; indeed, this is how babies have been cared for through the ages. America could really benefit from this approach to caring for our children, in a clean, respectful and healthy way.

  10. I hadn't heard of this before I read your potty chairs review, this sounds like an interesting read! Baby is due in May, it might be a fun experiment.

  11. We found toilet training so difficult with our first, that I would LOVE to read this book and hopefully make the transition much easier this time!

  12. I have heard of this method and would be interested in learning more about it. Please enter me in the
    giveaway..Thanks!

  13. I've EC'd my daughter since birth and now at eight months we can be out all day and she stays dry. I feel so bad for my friends who are still scraping poop off of their two and three year olds. They say they don't know how I have the time to EC and I say I don't know how they have the time to change diapers all day. :-)

    For anyone interested, please give it a try. It's really as easy as Christine makes it sound.

  14. A friend of mine did this with her son and it worked great. Once he ways crawling he would bang on the bathroom door when he had to use it. It stopped working once he became the active toddler because he was too busy to stop and go potty but once he turned 2 or so he potty trained in about a day. All dad had to do was hold his hand on the potty and he would use it all the time. He is 2 1/2 and stays dry at nap time and night time. They loved the EC.

  15. I would love to read this book. I plan to EC my next baby after going through the rigamarolls of "traditional" potty training with my last!

  16. I would love a copy of this book as I've EC'd my daughter since about 3 months old (she's now 18mo), but never read any books on it (the internet is wonderful, though!). I'm expecting another baby this fall and would love to know more about ECing from birth!

  17. We've EC'd both girls. The first from 3 weeks and the second from birth! The increased communication is amazing and getting rid of the diapers is just a bonus.

    I haven't read this book, but I'd love to check it out & share it w/my pregnant sister in law.

  18. I was introduced to EC when I came across Christine's book at the library. I highly recommend EC to anyone with a new baby, and Christine's book is a great place to start. I take a laid-back, part-time approach, one option covered in the book. My little one is 10 months old now and gets nearly all her poop and over half of her pee into the potty. However, she wears diapers full-time, as the thought of daily accidents on the floor would stress me out. The nice thing about EC is that it doesn't have to be a radical, all-or-nothing decision. I have gently introduced my little girl to the potty, at my convenience, with amazing (to me) results.

  19. I started ECing my son at 6 mos because of this book! It was so easy to use, and so great that it wasn't all or nothing. You can choose to use the method as much or as little as fits into your lifestyle.

    My now 8 month-old uses the little bjorn, with diaper back up, and hasn't had a poop in his diaper since we started. And he really has fun on the potty, and is so proud of himself, you can see it in his face! We play and spend a lot of time together. My husband and I think it's magic! My parents, when they visited, were able to pick it up easily, too.

    The thing is, it's not about potty training, it's about communication. Our son thinks it's just as fun as we do when he's able to let us know he has to go! Also, it's so nice that he doesn't get so messy, not to mention the diapers we save...it's interesting to think that most of the world doesn't use diapers like we do...so wasteful...

    We have so much postives to say about ECing! I recommend this book so, so much!

  20. I've heard of E.C. before, but would love to know a bit more about it. Like you, I think I'm secretly intrigued!

  21. Thank you for reading this book with an open mind and for featuring it in your blog. Christine's book is so practical and really gets across the ways in which this ancient practice can be adapted successfully to the modern life. I am a real American mama who works full time and began EC with my daughter from birth, we used cloth diaper back up, but pottied her throughout the day as well. it wasn't the only thing we did together, but it is one of the things we did every day as we could. She was completely out of diapers at 14 months. The money we saved, not to mention the grief of trying to convince a 2, 3 or 4 year old to change her ways, was so worth the investment in time that we made. And the communication aspect is priceless. Thanks again!

  22. How fasciniating! I'm always interested in the 'unusal approach'. Its one of those things that I remember watching a video on in one of my early childhood ed classes. I was under the impression that it wasn't an American thing to do! ...well, there ya go! Trendy American Mamas are doing it! With their cool potties no less! :)

  23. I've read about this in the past and always thought it'd be something I'd like to do but I also felt like I was too lazy to do it. It sounds as though this book might dispel that since I could be a PT ECer. I'm guessing 8 weeks isn't too late to start!

  24. with potty training my 2 yo coming up in the near future, I need all the help I can get with potty training a boy after 5 girls :)

  25. This would be an interesting read. I had never heard about this before. Would love to win a copy. Thanks for the great give away!

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