by Emily Walker
There’s been a few questions lately regarding the optimum time to begin potty training and troubles with “traditional” potty training. I’ve noticed that the mere mention of potty training before the traditional age of 2/2.5 brings out a lot of opinions! More often than not the debates revolve around children not being ready to express and control their toileting needs at a young age.
The practice of Elimination Communication (EC) completely flies in the face of western society’s current position and philosophy on the potty training process.
This is a simple concept, but it takes some explaining.
Many people are shocked when they learn that there are parents who “potty train” their infants, these parents however, are most likely to be practicing a form of EC.
Elimination Communication is nothing like potty training, although it is sometimes referred to as infant potty training…
This gentle, baby-led approach relies on the caregiver’s understanding of and attention to their child’s individual cues, and their prompt response to the cues which indicate a need to urinate of defecate. No pressure is put on the baby to “perform” to any expectation, they are simply placed over a bathtub, potty, sink or toilet as they do (or don’t do) their business. This method has been found to be much more successful when it is practiced from early infancy.
Based on the evidence of human history, the natural age at which a child can become actively involved in expressing their toileting needs is far younger than is currently recommended and practiced in western society.
There are studies which show babies to have little control over their bowels and bladder. However, the dependence on nappies during the first, second and sometimes third and fourth year will almost certainly have some bearing on these findings. Within the first few months of life, babies can consciously release their bladders and bowels.
There are many ways in which to practice EC, families who choose to practice it will differ in their approaches; You do what works for you. My 14 month old for example is in nappies, but when I catch one of her cues the nappy comes off and I take her to the potty (around 6-7 times a day. We began this process at around 3 months of age.
Other parents will not use nappies at all., not even in public or at night. The extent to which one practices EC is completely a personal decision based on many variables. This process depends on patience, willingness, lifestyle, support networks etc. Also, of course, an ability to be very in touch with the child’s cues, which is accompanied by a realisation that your baby is a wise, instinctual and conscious being.
From the day your baby is born he/she knows instinctively when they need to go. There will be subtle little hints, your baby doesn’t look forward to the discomfort of a soiled nappy so they will warn you!
Still sceptical? Here are 5 great benefits that can come from practicing Elimination Communication with your child-
1. Reduces the chance of nappy rash.
2. Reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.
3. Reduces the risk of constipation.
4. Reduces incidences of “unexplained” fussiness and colic.
5. Reduces the risk of bed wetting in older children.
I’d like to thank www.diaperfreebaby.org for providing this list (from their article “75 benefits of Elimination Communication.”) For anyone considering this approach to “potty training” Diaper Free Baby also has a fantastic range of articles and resources to help anyone wanting to know more about EC.