Every time I have a new baby, I end up posting something to social media about how much I love teaching my kids to use the potty. Without fail, folks end up commenting and sending me private messages to thank me for the info, having no idea that you could place a young baby on a small infant potty right from the start.
I think that elimination communication (also called “natural infant hygiene”) is one of the greatest parenting tricks ever- yet so many people have never even heard of it! Thanks to EC, I’ve never had two little ones in diapers at the same time, in spite of the fact that I basically give birth every five minutes. Perhaps I’ve simply had good luck, but with this practice my girls are always out of diapers at around 1 year old.
I honestly dislike calling it elimination communication because that term sounds intimidating and complicated (and, well, kinda gross). The term refers to the fact that most babies naturally communicate to their caregivers that they are about to eliminate waste: usually with a familiar cue, such as making funny faces or sounds. The caregivers learn to notice these cues and respond to them, offering the potty (rather than just watching their kid poop themselves). The parent can even come up with a sound or sign to signal to the baby that its time for them to try to go potty.
To summarize: I don’t train my babies to poop on themselves and then attempt to un-train them at the socially appointed time (i.e., at around age 2, once they become tyrannical toddlers). I just train them to go on the potty right from the jump.
For your convenience, here’s an idiots guide to elimination communication:
1. Most parents who use this practice begin ECing with their newborns. I start at 6 months old, or whenever the baby can sit independently. I do this because I’m lazy/busy.
2. When my sitting baby wakes up in the morning, I take off her wet diaper and put her on her seat. I give her toys and books to play with. I stay nearby, making coffee, yelling at my other kids to clothe themselves. Meanwhile, baby goes potty. Then I diaper her as usual for the day.
3. When she wakes from nap, I do the exact same thing.
That’s it. I don’t attempt to catch every pee in the infant potty because ain’t nobody got time for that. (There are certainly diehard EC people who never need to use a diaper, I’m just not that invested.) With my system, she typically poops on the potty twice a day and I don’t have to deal with dirty diapers, just wet ones (which are considerably less offensive). As with my other two girls, she’ll be accustomed to going in potty from the start and will just automatically use the toilet as she grows into it. No potty training drama whatsoever. Give it a try!
One last technical tip: if you want to avoid having to rinse out poop that is sticky or icky, you can simply add a little water into the infant potty before your baby goes, making it much easier to pour out.