Home » attachment parenting, breastfeeding, Elimination Communication, homebirth

Our EC Journey, So far

8 August 2009 956 views 24 Comments

EC1.webLet me just start by saying that babies rock! Really, they do! Before we started this whole Elimination Communication (EC) thing, I really didn’t imagine it would be all that successful.  I mean, I read all the books on EC, with little babies peeing on command.  But when I imagined how I could make that work with my own little baby, I initially had a little trouble imagining it.

But here I am with my 12 week old baby, and today I took her outside on 5-6 separate occasions and cued her with a “pssss” sound and she peed!  I even caught my first poop today!  I can’t help but be incredibly impressed that I’m having a whole communication process with my 12-week-old about peeing and pooping, and she really understands.  Not only that, but I reduced the amount of diapers that I used today quite a bit. And B’s butt was dry for quite some time. I’m sure that feels great to her.

We aren’t ECing full time right now.  Right now, on a good day, I’ll have B diaper-free for about half the day.  The rest of the daytime she wears cloth diapers.  Sometimes she’ll be in a cloth diaper and I’ll just take it off when I sense that she needs to pee.  Other days I get really busy or exhausted, and B will spend the day in cloth diapers.  At nighttime, we don’t EC at all.  I use a few disposable diapers at night.  Right now, I just don’t have it in me to sit up in bed and do the EC thing.

This is how we started ECing:

The first week or so of ECing I viewed as an observation period.  I started this when B was about 8 weeks old, which was when things calmed down enough after the birth that I thought I could handle trying this.  Whenever I had time, I would lay B down on a waterproof changing pad and take off her pants and diaper.  I’d put a cloth prefold diaper under her to absorb any pees. I would pay careful attention to what she was doing and when she was peeing.  I would try to notice what sorts of facial expressions and body movements she was making when she peed.  And whenever she peed, I would make the cue noise (psssssss) and tell her, “Yes! You are peeing!”

After those first observation weeks, I decided to give the cuing a try right around when I thought she might have to pee.  I’d take her outside and put her in a supported squat against my back and make that same “psssssss” noise.  I was shocked to find that she had learned the noise, and she peed most of the time when I took her outside. I think she is peeing partially because I am so in tune with her and I can tell when she needs to go. She is also partially responding to the cue noise. So our communication is going both ways.

Of course, sometimes I am wrong in my guesses, and she doesn’t pee.  When that happens, no big deal.  Other times I’m not really paying attention, and she sometimes pees on me.  Again, no big deal.  I have changes of clothes, and pee isn’t that gross or anything. When she pooped on me at the beach, that was pretty gross, but I got over it.

One nice part about ECing is that I feel like our family has recaptured the ancient wisdom of the past. Arp tells me that he thinks his grandmother practiced Elimination Communication. She lives in India, where EC was typical, but may be dying out due to the influx of disposable diapers. By the time Arp came along, his mother tried making the cue noise with him, but combined it with some regimented, power-based, traditional potty training. It is clear that the wisdom had been lost in Arp’s family. Sadly, breastfeeding in his family has also become a lost art. Like many developing nations, the new generation seems to be following in footsteps of the west, with reduced breastfeeding rates combined with the (wrong!) belief that formula is easier and better than breastfeeding. Ditto homebirth. Arp’s mother was the last member of his family to be born at home. My children are changing those trends. We are going back to some of the old ways with ECing, breastfeeding, and homebirth. Now, if only we can convince a few of Arp’s cousins to give them a try, too. Unfortunately, Arp doesn’t hold much hope that they will.


  • Rashel said:

    Awesome! Even EC part time is helpful. Less diapers for you to wash, more communication and closeness with baby. Less time sitting in wet/poopy diapers for baby and more confidence that her needs are being listened too! Everyone wins!

  • Kunsthure said:

    I definitely plan on ECing our next baby but I’m still confused about so much of it. But your post makes it seem so easy, which I’m sure it is once you get it down. Thank you for sharing.

  • Simply Mother said:

    Cool, I need to hear more stories like this. I wonder if it’s too late to give it a try with mine? She’s 4 months. I know I don’t have it in me to do it full time, and I was concerned it wouldn’t work so well doing it part time, but it sounds like it’s still quite possible.
    .-= Simply Mother´s last blog ..Trusting That Writing Will Come =-.

  • Summer said:

    I’ve always been currious about EC, but I just don’t think I’m brave enough. LOL But bravo to you for trying it and being sucessfull!
    .-= Summer´s last blog ..Live Your Life =-.

  • Robin said:

    Maybe I am missing the point, but do you really think it is acceptable for children to pee and poop outside on the ground? Indoor plumbing was invented by the ancient Romans for a very good reason. I can’t imagine living in an area where children are allowed to spread germs this way! It is a very dirty way of living. What about in the winter? Are you still going to make your child go outside to defecate? I feel sorry for your child and any others that you should happen to bring into this world!!

  • kblogger said:

    We did a modified version of EC once each of mine learned to walk (10 mo & 12 mo respectively). Just had them diaperless anytime we were home, made the cue noises/aknowldgement of elimination as they would go. Once they asked, we switched to undies instead of diapers when out. The baby bjorn little potty was really so helpful because they could sit down easily, even as newly walking toddlers, and can go with us easily in the car.

    Wanted to note that we have always used disposable diapers too; in case anyone reading is interested in EC, but not in cloth. Both my kiddos were completely out of diapers before turning 2.

  • rosanna said:

    I only heard about EC after my baby was born and at that point, I didn’t feel like I was prepared or well-read enough to try it. Perhaps by the time the next one comes around, I’ll feel comfortable giving it a try! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Robin from comment #5:
    I think it’s great to ask questions about something that we’re not familiar with, but to make personal attacks is totally unnecessary!


  • Rashel said:

    Are you joking Robin? Do animals pee and poo outside? Dogs crap is waaay more scary than human poo. Pee is completely sterile – but it sounds like you are a germaphobe so you probably wouldn’t believe that. People pee outside all the time – you step in pee every time you leave the house. What do you think most of the world does? Most of the people on this planet do NOT have indoor toilet or even water, let alone washing machines. How disgusting it would be for them to hand wash their diapers in the rivers, lakes, wells that supply water to their whole community? How could they even afford diapers when they can’t afford enough food? Children pee outside when the weather or timing is right – no where does this author say they always go outside. Your inability to think creatively is astounding. Your ignorance, racism and privilege is disgusting – I feel bad for the germs you are spreading to your children.

  • Wendy said:

    Yes, you are definitely missing the point, Robin. Use plastic diapers and stay clean and safe. Raise a little robot who lives in a box and always does what you think is clean and safe.

    Awesome, Trish. I’m all for ECing! Nice share. You are raising curious, intelligent human beings!

  • Rashel said:

    How are diapers clean and safe? Who thought that defecating on yourself and sitting in it was clean? Why are we teaching our babies and children to pee and poo in their most intimate clothing? And then trying to untrain them when they are toddlers. I believe it came about around the same time as formula feeding, cribs, etc – so mothers didn’t have to bother caring for, paying attention to or nurturing their children. But also to encourage us to be good consumers.

  • kblogger said:

    As much as I disagree with “Robin” for suggesting EC is dirty, and for being so unnecessarily harsh towards Trish, I also can’t agree with “Rashel” who is suggesting diaper use is akin to child neglect.

    Seriously, people? Is the world truly so black & white to you folks?

  • Robin said:

    When my children were babies, they wore cloth diapers that were changed as soon as they pottied, they were rinsed out properly in the toilet and then washed and hung on the clothes line to dry and be sterilized. I treated my children with dignity that they all deserve. I also breastfed all my children. When they were ready they learned how to use a toilet and not to pee outside unless absolutely necessary. They are all well disciplined and have good morals. Look at ancient Rome! They invented sewers for a reason!!!!!!! Urine is only sterile until it hits the air!!!!!!! I feel sorry for your children being taught that this is ok! If you teach them at 2 months old to go to the bathroom in a potty chair or toilet, I think it is great, but to go outside is disgusting and humiliating for the child.

  • Jejan said:

    Really interesting post! I love the look of your child. She’s so adorable. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!

  • Robin said:

    Yes, baby is so cute. I hope baby thinks this picture is cute when she grows up and sees it on the internet!

  • Tracey said:

    Robin, I have a million replies to you that keep running through my head. But, they aren’t very nice, and wouldn’t really help you “get it” (EC, that is). Plus, I’m pretty sure that my words would be wasted on you. I won’t bother. This isn’t about YOU.

    Thank you, T, for posting about YOUR experiences, and posting on YOUR family blog about what YOUR family is doing. I enjoy reading what your family is up to. You guys inspire me!

  • Trish (author) said:

    Usually, I would delete comments with either ad hominem arguments, or with insults. Generally, yours would apply. But I decided to to put it up because I initially felt like responding. But now that you’ve continued to come back, making snarky comments, I’ve put you on permanent comment moderation.

    Now, for the response.

    When you say, “I can’t imagine living in an area where children are allowed to spread germs this way!” what you showing about yourself is that you cannot put yourself in another person’s place. All over the world, in current times and in times past, other mothers live in a way that makes your ideal impossible. Or maybe some mothers, like myself, don’t agree with your opinions. While using cloth diapers is one option, is does not work for everyone. Some people don’t have adequate running water. Some don’t have washing machines. Some don’t have time, or prefer to spend it another way, some live in a rainy season (like here in Costa Rica) that makes drying cloth diapers in the sun virtually impossible. So next time you say, “I can’t imagine…”, try to really stretch yourself. Try to imagine. You might be surprised by what you see.

    While UV light *helps* to kill germs, it will not render cloth diapers *sterile*. Ask any surgeon if she would to use your cloth diapers as a surgical drape, and I think the answer would be eye opening.

    Do you have a pet dog? Or neighbors with a pet dog, or cat for that matter? Do squirrels or raccoons ever walk through your yard? Or maybe a rabbit every so often? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you have urine & poop in your yard. I guarantee it. And I dream joyously of the day when you will most assuredly step in it. Hope you’ve got the clorox all ready :-) Or on second thought, perhaps you’ll just hang your feet up in the sun for awhile? LOL.

    As far as ECing goes, I won’t bother saying anything more to you about that, as it is clear you are not here to consider or learn, but only to espouse & insult.

  • Trish (author) said:

    Interesting fact for robin:

    Those same Romans that invented sewers also used urine as a bleaching agent for cleaning clothes & teeth. Interesting, eh?


  • Trish (author) said:

    More interesting points on urine from the link above:
    Diluted at least 8:1 with water it can be applied directly to soil as a fertilizer. Undiluted, it can chemically burn the roots of some plants, but it can be safely used as a source of complementary nitrogen in carbon rich compost.

    So, I’m guessing that when I hose the pee puddles off my patio, I’m actually putting organic fertilizer on my lawn. Most excellent!

  • Trish (author) said:

    Oh no! We were just outside ECing, and the neighbor’s chicken saw B’s v@g1na! She is so utterly humiliated! I feel so bad for her.

    Also, Arp just told me that some baseball players pee on their hands due to the folk wisdom that pee gives them tougher calluses. Bizarre. Who would’ve known! Maybe I should try that next time I give guitar-playing a try.

  • Arp said:

    OMFG – did the chicken really see her youknowwhatsis? She’ll tell the rooster who’ll let all the chickens in the neighborhood know!

  • Lyndsey said:

    Yay for EC!!! We EC as well…started when Kaius was 8 weeks old and we were having a lot of naked time due to a diaper rash. Now, we can get through some days with NO diapers!

    It’s great to read a new blog post, and your baby is absolutely ADORABLE!
    .-= Lyndsey´s last blog ..Neat Babyshower gift! =-.

  • Trish (author) said:

    Lyndsey – love your blog!

  • Stephanie - Green SAHM said:

    I haven’t had the nerve to try EC, but I think my grandmother did it also. At least, she made reference once to having all her kids potty trained by 6 months, and I can’t think how else that could be accomplished.

    We cloth diaper though, and it is so much better than disposables! Just nicer diapers and really not that much extra work in my opinion.
    .-= Stephanie – Green SAHM´s last blog ..Going to Watch the Perseids Tonight! =-.

  • Holly said:

    Hi! I just found your blog by searching for “vegetarian homeschooler” and was delighted to find a post about EC! Very nice post, I am happy to hear of your success. I am currently practicing EC with my 6mo boy, who we started at about 3-4 months. I catch about 95% of his poops (and have been since the beginning). Pees are day to day. I find that once I catch a couple I can get into a rhythm for the day, whereas if I miss early on, it’s hard to get back on track. I have definitely noticed (& I remember this from my first son, too) if he has to pee, he does not like to wet himself. He will let a little out until he has a somewhat wet diaper. If I am holding him and notice, then go change him, but try to pee him before putting the new diaper on, he will give a big pee to finish emptying his bladder. This seems to happen in the morning, when he usually does a couple big pees within an hour or so of waking.

    To the person who asked, I think it would be possible to start anytime, you just might have to adjust your approach based on the age. The best/easiest place to start is to just take the baby potty every time they wake, and if they go, make the sound and congratulate them! From there it just seems to take off…you think about it more and realize if it’s been a while since the last wet diaper, and try to take them.

    I successfully had my 1st son trained by 18 months, but at that point I had already been “catching” poops 95% of the time for most of his life, and pees very often. I didn’t practice EC w/ baby #2 as I was working full time, but we still were able to train him pretty early (2&1/2ish) once I stopped working. When he was just over 3yo, I had my aunt watch him a couple times, and he told her, (and his 5yo brother), that he had to go, she told him to wait, then forgot to take him and he peed his pants. She told me I had to put a diaper or pull ups on him if she was going to watch him because he “wasn’t trained” and I was “pushing him too hard”. AAARRRGHH! (He had been in underwear for several months, and almost never had an accident.)

    Anyway, I’m happy to have found your blog, and sorry for the long comment.

    As for Robin…you might want to do a little research about the negative effects of millions of people mixing their urine and feces with water, and then trying to get the water clean afterward. She is actually doing us and the planet a favor by taking her baby outside! We really should all be dry composting our waste.

    Sorry for the long comment!