Our Journey With Elimination Communication
AKA: We Held Baby Over the Toilet to Poop
Ever heard of elimination communication, or as it’s abbreviated, EC? The idea behind EC is that children can learn to pee and poop in the right place (i.e. the potty) much earlier than we typically think. Hardcore EC parents start from birth, helping their baby pee in a tiny “top hat” potty. My family is not hardcore about anything (except maybe our love of chocolate chip cookies), nor are we giving up diapers any time soon. But we did give part-time EC a try.
Motivated by the promise of fewer poopy diapers (and less environmental impact), we forged our EC path with our first baby starting when he was about 3 months old.
My husband Josh observed our son JJ’s diaper habits. Josh noted that JJ made a certain face when he was about to poop, and that generally JJ had to pee after he ate or moved from a sitting position. Armed with that knowledge, Josh moved all diaper changes to the bathroom floor to be in closer proximity to the potty. He started slowly, trying to hold JJ over the toilet around those times he already had to go (or when Josh noted JJ’s “poo face” happening).
Nothing miraculous happened at first, but slowly JJ started using fewer diapers as one or two pees or the daily poop ended up in the toilet. As I watched Josh work his magic, I slowly gained the confidence to hold our baby over the toilet, too -- clutching with the right hold that wouldn’t drop him in!
Bit by bit, we taught JJ that the toilet is the place for pee and poop, and we saved hundreds of diapers over JJ’s toddler years.
Frequently Asked EC Questions:
We get a lot of questions about how and why we put our kids on the toilet so young. Here are some FAQs about how elimination communication worked for us.
Did you use a mini potty?
Nope. We actually bought two different kinds but gave both away because they grossed out my husband. Why? It’s like a chamber pot. You have to get your little one to pee or poop on that potty, then you have to dump it all into the toilet. Josh figured, why not skip that step (and associated “yuck” factor of transporting pee and poop) and just have them go in the toilet?
We did buy a toilet seat reducer but we don’t use it anymore because it restricts their legs and doesn’t let our kids get into a more natural wide-leg “squat” position on the toilet.
How do your kids sit on a toilet without falling in? Especially babies under one year?!
I will defer to the EC expert Andrea Olson here, who has a whole photo gallery of different ways to hold babies over the potty (including outdoor options!). Our preferred way is to hold our kiddos under their armpits and lift them so their little bottoms are over the toilet seat, legs dangling over.
When was your son officially done with diapers?
JJ potty trained around 17 months. That’s pretty early, according to doctors at Stanford Health, and we had plenty of accidents because he didn’t really start verbalizing his need to potty until much later (when he was around two and a half years old). Still, JJ could signal by walking to the bathroom door and touching it. We also followed the schedule-based approach of holding him on the toilet at specific times of the day. JJ officially ditched diapers at nighttime when he was three and a half.
Did you keep it up with your other kids?
We took a relatively laid back approach to elimination communication with our first born, and we’ve been even more laid back as we had two more children in quick succession (“three under three!”). A few things we’ve kept up with are diaper changes in the bathroom and offering potty time whenever it seems obvious (like when we see poo faces on JJ’s younger siblings).
Ginny, our second baby, went through weeks where she used one diaper per day as she signaled to go on the potty. But then there were weeks of lots of diaper use, because she’s two and I think sometimes she pooped in her diaper as a way of asserting independence. Who knows? We did finally transition her out of diapers at 27 months, and unlike her brother she was ready to potty train at night at the same time.
With Sawyer, our third, we’ve had one poop on the potty and one pee in the woods in his first six months. It’s not groundbreaking but we figure any time one of our little ones goes on the toilet instead of in a diaper, it’s a win.
Was it worth it?
The special orders of tiny undies and the multiple outfit changes on bad days? I think so. Diapers are among the biggest contributors to landfill waste in the United States. In addition to smelling bad as they fester in a diaper genie, certain diapers resulted in my son’s sensitive skin erupting in an awful diaper rash. The fewer diapers he wore, the better his skin looked. My son’s skin irritation after wearing certain disposable diapers was one of the reasons I was so passionate about Kudos’ mission.
If you’re curious about my family’s EC experience, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to talk poop! :)
Questions? Email us at email@example.com