Our (modified) use of Elimination Communication

Abraham at 15 months old

Okay fair warning here: poop (and variations of the word) will be mentioned frequently in this post. Okay now that we got that covered, let’s discuss Elimination Communication (EC).

What is Elimination Communication? It is”toilet training practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant’s need to eliminate waste” (Wikipedia, 2011). I first heard about it while visiting with a friend who’s baby was close in age to my then 5 month old son. She mentioned how much she liked using cloth diapers in conjunction with practicing Elimination Communication. When she explained to me what it was, I admit I thought it sounded kind of strange, but I was also intrigued. Later that day as I was driving home I thought more about it. I realized that for the most part I knew when my son was pooping. Normally I would just wait until he finished and then change his diaper.  I thought to myself, ‘gee why not try holding him over the toilet and just let him poop in there?” I mean, isn’t that were I would prefer for poop to be? The more I thought about it, the stranger my current approached seemed to me. Why did I wait for him to finish his ‘business’ in his diaper, then dunk his dirty diaper in the toilet to clean it off, when in fact it might be possible just to ‘catch’ the poop in the toilet in the first place?

So the next day I decided to try it….and much to my delight, my five month old actually pooped in the toilet! Mmm, this could make diapering much easier! So from five months on, anytime I thought my son was going to poop, I would rush to the bathroom, take off his diaper and hold him over the toilet. Once he was big enough to actually sit on the potty, I would sit him on it instead. In just a few short weeks it seemed he was pooping almost exclusively in the potty.

Okay, trust me…I know how crazy I sound saying my 6 month old was potty trained. Truthfully he wasn’t ‘potty trained’. Not in the traditional sense of the word. Rather I was more attune to his elimination needs/cues and responding immediately by bringing him to the bathroom. What made this a relatively easy process with my second son was that his cues were super easy to read and he tended to poop around the same time most days. Shortly after his first birthday he began telling us when he had to poop by saying ‘poo-poo’.

There are more extensive means of practicing Elimination Communication that include responding to your baby’s urination needs as well. Since those are typically more subtle cues, it takes a greater attentiveness. I will be honest that I personally didn’t have as much incentive to hold my son over the potty to urinate since wet cloth diapers are really no big deal to change or wash. I actually don’t mind wet diapers at all…it was dunking messy diapers that convinced me to give Elimination Communication a try.  And I am glad I did because Elimination Communication and cloth diapers certainly are a dynamic duo!

Did you/do you practice Elimination Communication with your baby? If so, we would love to hear your experience with it!



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4 Responses to “Our (modified) use of Elimination Communication”

  1. Jenny says:

    Okay, I’m intrigued. Like you I’ve heard of EC, but kind thought it was crazy, but I’ve also potty trained kids before who were terrified of pooping on the toilet. If nothing else, maybe this will help eliminate that! I think I’ll try it with my 6 month old today and see how it goes 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Would love to hear how it goes for you today!! “Catching” your first poop is really exciting…as silly as that sounds, lol! 🙂
      Best wishes,

  2. Michelle G. says:

    We did pretty much the same thing as you. Started holding her over the potty for poops, as early as 3 months. By 5 months (ish) she was sitting up good so we would sit her on her little potty. She is now 22 months and almost fully potty trained (at home she is fully trained except night-time).

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience! A five month old sitting on the potty by themselves is pretty darn cute! 😉