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Elimination Communication: on the toilet at 6 weeks old

There are many ways environmentally-concerned parents can try to avoid the waste of disposable diapers (I’ve read estimates that diapering one child can use from 4 to 20 trees). We’ve tried flushables, pocket diapers and potty training at 16 months to avoid the cost of disposables (both environmental and economic) for baby #1.

Now, with baby #2, we’re ready to go a bit further. She’s still a newborn, but with Elimination Communication (EC) that can be an ideal time to begin. Some EC practicioners start immediately after birth and I’ve read that “the first and most effective window of learning ends around age 5 to 6 months”.

EC is not exactly potty training, but “communication between the caregiver and child, helping them both become more attuned to the child’s innate rhythms and control of urination and defecation”. It sounds a bit theoretical, but it’s based on traditional practices.

Ingrid Bauer who coined the terms “elimination communication” and “natural infant hygiene” in her book Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene first witnessed it while traveling to India and Africa. She explains that the idea of going diaper-free was a foreign concept until trying it with her own child.

“I’ve had to re-examine everything I ever believed about toilet training. My youngest child, like millions of babies around the globe, experienced no difficulty in developing awareness and control of his body functions from infancy. We’ve been communicating about it since his birth and he has been out of diapers since he was four months old. The consequences have been positive: a strengthened trust, an intimate bond, and a child who is conscious and comfortable in his body.”

Reading that caregivers are supposed to use timing, signals, cues and intuition to help infants eliminate over a toilet, I realized that my mother has been doing that with my newborn as a way to avoid using too many diapers. She doesn’t go as far as to anticipate every elimination and she hadn’t even heard of EC, but she was of a generation that .

In this video, I turned on the camera while my mom lowered my 6-week-old daughter over the toilet.

I also have a blog post on Diaper wars: disposables vs cloth and now flushables and EC, as well as a video with tips from my mother on potty training.