Contemplating Elimination Communication From Birth

I am really intrigued by the idea of elimination communication. After first finding out about it online, I read Christine Gross-Loh’s book Diaper Free Baby. The title may be a little misleading– most parents who use elimination communication with their children use diapers at least some of the time. It also takes some pressure off to read that elimination communication is not an all or nothing prospect. Some families do it all the time, some do it part time, or even only at specific times. It all boils down to observing the cues and patterns surrounding the child’s eliminations and offering the toilet or child’s potty in response to those cues and patterns. Elimination communication advocates stress that it is not about toilet training at the earliest possible time, but more about the communication between child and parent. I have to admit that I am approaching it for the early toilet independence.

One thing that stands out to me from reading about elimination communication is the idea that relying solely on diapers is effectively “diaper training” the child, almost guaranteeing a stressful transition to toileting. This seems to make sense– if a child has been using diapers exclusively for his or her whole life why would the child not want to continue using the diapers? The idea behind offering the toilet from a very young age is so that the child does not become used to the feeling of a wet or soiled diaper. When the child does have a “miss”, as elimination communication advocates call it, the child is more likely to let the parent know quickly. No one expects to catch every urination or bowel movement. Catching at least some of them, though, ensures that the child experiences eliminating outside of a diaper and hopefully comes to prefer doing so.

I am planning to begin elimination communication from birth. I do not plan to be rigid or fanatical about it. I hope to progress naturally, in a loving and stress free way. It helps to remember that “elimination communication” is just a new term for an old concept. There is a lot of talk in elimination communication circles about early toileting in other cultures. Also, it seems the typical diapered western child is diaper dependant much longer today than even in the relatively recent past. I believe the many parents who say that their children have become toilet independent sooner than is culturally expected, and I am going to give my child that opportunity. Why keep a child in diapers longer than necessary?

I just ordered an infant potty bowl to use from birth. It is not necessary to purchase a product designated as an infant potty– a regular bowl or even plastic container is used by many families. I bought this because– well, because I don’t want to look so weird to our family and friends. We are doing a lot of things differently. I am confident about trying all of them and willing to explain and to accept criticism. I don’t mind if people express disagreement with our choices. But I do think it will be easier to explain that we are using an infant potty bowl than an old cottage cheese container. Maybe that makes me a weenie. At any rate, the infant potty bowl can be held between the parent’s thighs and is said to be the perfect size and shape for babies. We’ll see.

We are also using cloth diapers, which are said to be more conducive to elimination communication than disposables because the child feels the wetness more directly. We made the decision to use cloth early on, before I had even heard of elimination communication. It just seems more economical to make one larger investment at the beginning and not have to purchase disposables over and over. We went with FuzziBunz, a pocket style cloth diaper. My mother purchased them for us as a gift, spending about $285.00. We chose the “one size” option, which adjust to fit babies from 7-40 lbs. I like that her one time purchase will cover the whole time our child uses diapers, and subsequent children if the diapers are well cared for. We do have one package of disposables, which we received as a gift. We are taking a couple to the birth center (along with the potty bowl) because I would rather have meconium in the disposables than the cloth diapers. Although I have no direct experience with meconium, hearing how tarry and difficult to remove it is makes me not want to chance ruining a cloth diaper with it.

I look forward to chronicling our experience with elimination communication. If it is working for us I will write about it, and if it is not working for us I will write about that, too.

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  1. Sarah

     /  April 24, 2011

    We have a couple of FuzziBunz, they work really well for us so I hope they do for you too. I was seriously contemplating doing EC with my daughter until I got addicted to pretty fluffy cloth nappies instead… whoops! Looking forward to hearing how it works out for you.

  2. I’m glad to hear the FuzziBunz work well for you– I had been wondering if we made the right choice. There are so many attractive styles available, I can see how an addiction could develop!

  3. We loved Fuzzi Buns for our daughter. They didn’t have the one size when we purchased them so we bought S and M and she was in the Mediums until she was potty trained.
    We had every intention of using them with our son as well but he is HUGE! The mediums were too small around his legs and at 6 months I have a hard time getting 12mo pants on him with a slim disposable let alone a CD! (Yet the cloth was the only think keeping my daughters pants up sometimes :P)
    I wish we could use them with him because he has poo blowouts on a daily basis – that was never an issue when DD was in cloth.


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