Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Elimination Communication

Warning, this is a post all about baby pee & poop & such. If you don't care, feel free to move along LOL.

Ok, so when I was researching cloth diapering stuff before I was pregnant with the big girls, I came across the concept of Elimination Communication or Inf ant Potty Training. But with being a new mom and then finding out we were having twins, "reading cues" for EC didn't seem feasible, so I didn't bother looking into it further, or trying it.

In a nutshell babies are born with the ability to hold their pee/poop, but when you never give them the chance, they "forget" so then as toddlers they have to re-learn. So with a young baby, if you consistently give them the opportunity to go potty, they will retain that ability, and over time, they will tell you when they need to go (by sounds, sign, etc), and wait for you to take them. You can also encourage them to go by making a specific sound & holding them a specific way when you want them to go (ie. I hold Little Bit over a bowl/sink/whatever facing out with her upper thighs resting in my hands and her upper body leaning against mine, and say "pshhhhh").

When I got pregnant again, I started reading abit more about it, and figured we'd at least try it. . . I got a slow start with it, and, while I'd generally "offer" her a chance to potty in a bowl or the sink when I changed her diaper, I rarely "caught" anything. The advice about baby giving cues when they need to go, I found didn't work for us AT ALL. Maybe I'm just not observant enough . . . but the signs the books, etc. say young babies use are things like "wiggling alot", and Little Bit hasn't stopped wiggling since she was conceived!! Ok, that may be an exaggeration but she was super wiggly in utero and she still is! No way every time she wiggles is an indication of needing to pee, and if it was, I'd never get ANYTHING done if I stopped and pottied her every time she wiggled LOL. . .

So anyway . . . I figured I'd keep offering at diaper changes, but not stress about it for now. I also added the sign language sign for toilet and figured if nothing else in a few months she can make that sign to let me know she needs to potty (I did this with the sign for milk, for nursing, with A&L and long before they could talk, they could make the sign for milk to let me know they wanted to nurse).

Up until now, the only "useful" thing about all of this has been in the poop department. Little Bit tends to go 2-3 days or more w/ little to no pooping, and then when she does poop, she POOPS!!! No diaper could hold all the poop when she poops, BUT if she's right with me when she poops, so I hear/feel her right away, she will usually stop and wait while I take her to a bowl/sink/toilet, and she does the rest of her pooping there, which saves clothes & diaper covers LOL. If she's in the bouncy seat or something, forget it, at the very least the diaper cover is going to have to be washed LOL.

Several weeks ago, I tried keeping her naked (on a waterproof mat with a prefold under her) to figure out when she pees, in hopes of getting on a "schedule" of sorts, since I haven't found that she cues me in any way. And the main thing I determined from that is that, at that point, she generally peed WHILE nursing. Now yes, the books/websites say you can hold a bowl under baby while she nurses, but I generally nurse on a boppy, so that wouldn't work. Additionally, I wear skirts, so holding a bowl "between my legs" doesn't work as well in skirts (most of mine are either denim, so abit stiff for holding a bowl between my legs, or a silk/satin material, that the bowl just slides right out of). So, I figured I wasn't going to try to catch pees as long as she was peeing while nursing (I'd offer the potty at diaper changes and if we caught some, great, if not, no biggie).

But these last couple days, something has finally clicked. We're certainly not "diaper free", but we went all afternoon yesterday in one diaper! Even with making a trip to Target!! I pottied her before we left, and she fell asleep in the car on the way there, and stayed asleep in the sling most of the time we were shopping, she woke up and was quiet for a little while, then started to get restless. I was trying to decide if it was worth dragging the big girls to the bathroom just to see if we could keep Little Bit's diaper dry, when L told me SHE needed to go potty. So that answered that. That Target has a "family bathroom" so we went in there and while L used the toilet I held Little Bit over the sink. Note to self, be aware of the motion sensors in public sinks, this one the faucet was off-center & a higher than normal faucet, so Little Bit got her foot wet when the water turned itself on LOL. I dried off her foot and tried again, making sure to hold her away from the faucet/motion sensor & she peed! Then again when we came home, and again later in the afternoon . . . it wasn't until I was busy fixing supper and the girls were playing with her that she wet her diaper!!!

The most consistent "catch" I'm making is when she wakes up from a nap. She generally wakes up dry and if I take her potty as soon as she wakes up, she'll pee.

So, we're using a few less diapers (though not many) and the ones we do change tend to be less-wet (a single pee), so she's staying drier overall. And I have hopes that once she reaches the point of being able to sign toilet (or otherwise signal her need to potty in a way that both I, and the big girls, can recognize) we'll have even less misses.

For our "set-up" I just use plastic bowls (the ziplock disposable containers or one of the other brands, I don't remember which). I have one on our bed (where I also have a changing station set up, at the foot of the co-sleeper), one in the family room (where we change diapers downstairs) and one in the car. The one in the car, I have the lid with it & a flatfold diaper inside it, I generally take the diaper out when I potty her in the car, and I don't think she's ever actually GONE potty in that one, but if she did pee (or poop for that matter) and I wasn't somewhere that I c0uld empty it, I figure I can put the flatfold in to absorb, and put the lid on, and it shouldn't spill even if kids knock it over. If I'm somewhere else, say on the floor in hubby's office, like I did quite a few diaper changes last week, w/o a sink or toilet, I'll just hold her over the wet/dirty diaper & cue her, that doesn't keep it off a diaper, but it puts it on one that's already wet/dirty instead of a clean one, and it keeps her dry longer. Not sure what I'll do in that scenario if she's dry . . . probably go ahead & hold her over the diaper to cue her, unless there's a sink/toilet relatively close by (though at hubby's office, he grumbles about me holding her over the diaper (Don't do that here! What if someone SEES you?!?!), so I know he'd object to me dashing off to the bathroom w/ her LOL), but even if it doesn't save a diaper (and remember, we use cloth diapers so it's just decreasing laundry, not adding to a landfill or costing money to buy more disposables), it will mean she doesn't ever have the wet cloth against her skin if I potty her on a dry diaper & then put a new dry diaper on her. . . if/when she reaches a point of being consistently dry, I'll probably just take her to the bathroom & potty her there, that's getting easier (in bathrooms w/o changing tables) as she gets less floppy anyway).

And that's where we're at on our EC journey . . . it's kind of fun, doesn't cost anything, and at the very least should make potty training easier/sooner than it might otherwise be (though even w/o EC the big girls potty trained at 27 mo LOL).


Ann@His Grace To Me said...

Wow, very interesting! I think the fact that you become more attuned to baby's signals and cues is valuable, even if the potty training is slow going.

Charndra at Part Time EC said...

Hi Sweetpeas!
It was lovely coming across your EC story this morning (I am in Australia, it's 6 am-ish here)

I'm going to link to it on my blog in a while. I'd also like to share your story at my site, in this section:


P.S I'm about to move interstate so will be off-line for a week or two.