Elimination Communication, or EC for short, is an alternative, more natural way of toileting babies and toddlers. It is also known as Natural Infant Hygiene or Baby-Led Potty Training (BLPT).
What it is
It is what most of the world, for almost all of human history, have intuitively practised with their offspring, just without giving it this label. It is about connecting and communicating with your baby, learning their signs and signals for when they need to go, and responding by assisting your baby in relieving themselves. To do this takes a leap of faith, both trusting your baby to communicate their toileting needs to you, and trusting yourself by really listening to your instincts. This means living in the present moment, a real challenge for many twenty-first century parents.
Parenting and EC
We parent in as gentle, natural and conscious way as we can, practising full-term nursing, bed-sharing, baby-wearing, etc. EC is simply an extension of this. I am also attracted to the minimal environmental impact of EC compared to conventional toileting of an infant. I discovered EC too late to really practise it with our son Ewan, who is now 4 and a half, but was keen to try it after our daughter Tessa was born. I did some research on-line and read a few books on the topic to support me, then decided to give it a go.
EC is about connecting with our children on a deeper level, being truly in-tune with our babies. This communion between parent and child is an instinct once necessary for survival, submerged over the last century with the advent of industrialised living. Our reliance on material aids means we no longer have to rely on our senses to alert us to our baby’s actions; just as we have lost the art of reading our baby’s signals of elimination, we have also passed night-time communication over to a baby monitor sleep.
I haven’t yet reached the stage where I feel in complete unison with my son. However, being aware of and practising part-time EC has deepened my responsiveness and communication with him. It has also reduced the number of nappies we use, a bonus as reusable nappies still use up valuable resources and energy and take time to care for.
A year into our cloth nappy wearing journey I discovered elimination communication (EC), also known as natural infant hygiene and infant potty training. This concept was a revelation to me, causing me to re-think how I approached my child’s elimination needs. After extensive reading online, as well as reading Christine Gross-Loh and Laurie Boucke’s books, I decided to try this theory out.
The theory goes that newborn babies communicate their wish to eliminate, but in the West we are blind to and ignore their signals, training them to eliminate in nappies instead of potties or toilets. EC involves learning and responding to these signals, lifting our baby to squat on a potty or toilet bowl in order to eliminate. The process takes a lot of time, patience and attention to our babies, which many parents in the West find conflicts with our busy modern lifestyles. It may appear radical, but it is how parents have managed their children’s elimination needs for millennia, and how many societies still function today.