Elimination communication (EC) is such a useful thing to practice. Over recent years, many parents are using it as their preferred method of toilet training.
It is different from potty training and focuses on your child using their initiative to let you know when they need to use the toilet.
It has many benefits that we will be discussing in this article. It teaches independence from a young age and is a fantastic way to improve the overall communication between you and your child.
While it may seem like a foreign and unheard of concept to many, it has been practiced for a long time.
After all, our ancestors did not have access to disposable diapers, so they must have used a form of EC.
In this article, we will be discussing the basics of elimination communication with you. We will be going into detail about what it means, when you should start it and why.
In addition to this, we will be talking about how to use elimination communication if you have twins and the best ways to dress your baby to help with this technique.
We hope that you will find this article useful and insightful.
What Is Elimination Communication?
Elimination communication is a fairly easy concept to understand. In short, it is a natural way of knowing when your child is going to go to the toilet.
In some ways it is similar to potty training, however, it takes place a lot earlier in your baby’s life.
Elimination communication aims to focus on your child and their toilet needs and how to respond to this, instead of waiting for them to dirty in their diaper.
Although this method has been used for many years, the phrase was created by a lady called Ingrid Bauer in 2001.
While disposable diapers are a great way of collecting your child’s waste, they are also very damaging to the environment.
While there are reusable and more eco-friendly diapers available, they still do create waste.
Given this, many environmentally conscious parents are trying elimination communication instead.
However, there is a lot more to elimination communication than just being environmentally conscious.
There are many reasons why more people are choosing to practice this, especially as it strengthens the bond between parents and baby.
Elimination communication focuses on responding to your baby’s natural toilet cues.
Instead of waiting until your baby relieves themselves in a diaper, you respond by teaching them to go to the toilet and have that independence.
When you think about nature, going to the toilet is something that we instinctively know how to do. We are born knowing how to go to the toilet and eliminating communication focus on that.
In addition to this, it will help you to be more in sync with your baby and know what it is trying to communicate with you.
Often as parents, we can assume we know what our child needs instead of allowing them to tell us.
When you look at countries that do not have access to an unlimited supply of diapers, they likely use a form of elimination communication.
In the grand scheme of things, diapers are a fairly new concept. When you think back to our ancestors, it is very unlikely that they popped to Walmart to buy a packet of reusable diapers!
By tuning into your baby and their needs, you can eventually eliminate the use of a diaper.
We know that this may seem like a foreign and unrealistic idea to many because we are brought up in a society that uses diapers like they are second nature. But this does not have to be the case.
Elimination communication is not a new concept, and when it is done correctly it will allow your baby to have more independence and allow them to use the toilet when they need to go, rather than when you think they do.
How To Start Elimination Communication
Starting elimination communication is a lot easier than you may think it is.
There are many ways you can start this process.
The building blocks to successful elimination communication is through observation. You need to observe your baby or child closely to monitor their natural toilet cues.
Observation is key, without it, you will likely struggle to identify when your baby is telling you that they need to use the toilet.
Knowing when your baby is going to go to the toilet is a great starting place. Typically babies especially up to the age of one will naturally go to the toilet after they have woken up and a short period after they have been fed.
Keep a close eye on your child’s behavior during these times and you will likely begin to notice the pattern of when they need the toilet.
When you start to notice these cues and act accordingly, your child will likely begin to notice their cues too.
While following the steps of observation, it is useful to place your child on a waterproof play mat.
Allow this time to be diaper free and this will help you to learn their cues and react accordingly.
Giving Your Child Cues
Once you have acknowledged your child’s cues and you are comfortable with knowing when they are likely to go to the toilet you should begin to introduce your own cues.
By introducing your own cues, your baby will start to associate those cues with going to the toilet.
As your child gets older they can then use these cues to let you know when they need to use the bathroom.
We would suggest using a short word or sound to signify going to the toilet. You can also use a hand action or baby sign language too.
Having A Potty To Hand
Having a potty to hand all of the time is a foolproof method to improve EC.
By having a potty close by at all times, if your child gives you the toilet cue, you have quick access to a potty for them to use.
This will help to limit the number of accidents that occur during the learning process. In addition to this, it will help your child to associate the potty with going to the toilet a lot quicker.
If you purchase multiple potties and spread them around the house, this method will be more successful and effective.
If you are interested in finding out the best potty for elimination communication, we have written an article all about them here. We discuss in detail 5 different options that would be great for you and your child.
Using a Carrier Or Sling
Having your baby close to you will help you to pick up on their natural cues. It is a sure-fire way of learning when they will need to go to the toilet.
In addition to this, children often will not relieve themselves while they are being held so this can help with potential accidents too.
While it is not guaranteed that your child will not go to the toilet while being held, the likelihood is a lot lower.
By using a carrier or a sling that holds your child close to your body, your overall communication is likely to improve.
You will start to notice the signs that your child may need to eliminate. For example, they may become restless, upset, or wriggly. If you notice these signs then you will know how to act accordingly.
If you are interested in finding out more information about elimination communication, we would highly recommend reading Go Diaper Free: A simple handbook for elimination communication (for babies 0-18 months).
It is written by Andrea Olson who also wrote The Tiny Potty Training Book.
This is such a fantastic book. It provides you with all the tips and tricks that will help you to become a boss at EC.
It is the handbook that every parent needs to read. Andrea is a mom that has used this method with her children and is extremely knowledgeable on the subject.We have an extensive review of this book on our website if you would like to read some detailed thoughts on it.
If you have already read this book or are looking for a handful of books, why not check out our article about the Best Elimination Communication Books here. There are some fantastic recommendations included.
As you can see, there are many methods you can try to help introduce EC to your child.
While this is a method we are not overly accustomed to in the western world, you will be surprised by how quickly your child will pick up on their natural cues.
Just because elimination communication is not something that is widely used in our culture, this does not mean that it does not come with its benefits.
The more comfortable you and your baby become with EC, the more you will begin to rely on intuition to guide you.
If you would prefer to take a course to help you to get to grips with the idea of EC and potty training, some are available online. An online course can help you to grasp the basics of EC.
Online courses can be particularly helpful if you are beginning this process with an older toddler, or if you are a first-time parent.
If you would like to read more information about online courses, we have written an article on a potty training course for over 18 months. You can read this article here.
Why Start Elimination Communication With a Newborn
To many, the idea of not using a diaper with a newborn seems like an impossible concept. But, what if we told you that it is possible?
You might be thinking, yeah right, but it is completely possible to teach your newborn the basics of elimination communication.
The earlier you introduce EC to your child, the more successful it will likely be.
When the phrase elimination communication is used in regards to newborns, it does not necessarily mean that you need to go diaper-free straight away. If you are a first time parent, having a child is a completely new life journey.
It can take a good while to recover from childbirth and settle into a new routine with your baby.
Elimination communication for newborns starts in a very simple way, such as short periods without a nappy. Instead of looking at EC as potty training your child from birth, think about it as less dependence on diapers instead.
The earlier your child starts their EC, the less money you will have to spend on diapers. In addition to this, because you are teaching your child to soil out of their nappy they are less likely to have diaper rash, which is a great benefit.
By using EC with a newborn you will increase the overall communication you have with your child.
They will also feel a sense of independence and worth from a younger age. Your child is more likely to be ready to start potty training a lot sooner too.
How To Use Elimination Communication With Twins
If you have been reading this article and think that elimination communication is something you would like to try, then that is great! But, what if you have twins?
While one baby can be a handful, twins require double the amount of time and care. You may be thinking that trying EC with twins is an impossible task as there are two children that you need to keep a close eye on, but it is possible.
While it does require a lot of perseverance and awareness, it can be great for you and your babies.
If you have twins you probably feel like you are changing diapers every other minute of the day.
When you think about the time you spend changing diapers and the money you will spend on buying them, EC does not seem like such a bad idea.
When you have twins the most important thing to remember is that both of your children are different.
One baby may pick up on its cues a lot quicker in comparison to the other. In addition to this, you may need to use different techniques for each twin. As EC is very much based around your baby leading you, it will take time and perseverance.
You should start the EC process when you are fully recovered and feel ready to try it. Do not put pressure on yourself.
You can start the process with just one twin, to begin with, or you can start the process with them both at the same time. Go with what feels the most natural to you.
When you start elimination communication, keep a close eye on each twin to get a better understanding of their individual cues. You can do this by using the waterproof mat method above.
If this technique does not seem to be working as well for you, it may be worth trying to determine when your children may go to the toilet.
For example, your children are more likely to need the toilet when they wake up and after they have been fed. Over time, the cues and process will begin to feel more natural.
You could even try using diapers part-time instead of fully relying on elimination communication.
The most important thing to remember is that it will take time and it is a natural process that cannot be rushed or forced. Even if you do not begin elimination communication until your children are over 6 months old, it is still possible for them to grasp it.
Remember, elimination communication is something that will come naturally to your twins.
They may also start to learn from each other as they become more aware too. The more you use intuition and become attuned with their wants and needs, the more successful the process will be.
How To Dress Baby For Elimination Communication
Now that you have a better understanding of elimination communication and how to begin the process, you may be wondering if there are specific clothes you should dress your baby or child in.
While you can dress your child in any clothes you would like, there are certain types of clothes that will make the process a little easier when you first get started.
After all, you do not want to be battling with many layers of clothes when your child is ready to go to the toilet!
We would recommend using the baby and children’s clothes that you already have. While you can go out and purchase a new wardrobe, this is not completely necessary.
There are some types of clothes that are easier to dress your child in, however. Here are a few of our suggestions:
Elasticated trousers - Elasticated trousers are particularly useful because you do not have to worry about undoing buttons. They are not fiddly and are comfortable for your child to wear.
Onesies - Onesies are so handy to dress your baby in, especially ones that are the t-shirt kind. As they have a few snap buttons they are easy to change your baby out of when they need to go to the toilet.
Baby leg warmers - To help keep your baby’s legs warm, baby leggings and leg warmers are a great option. They allow you to carry out elimination communication with ease while still keeping your baby nice and warm.
Back-ups - When your child is still learning the basics of elimination communication, they should always wear a backup. After all, accidents can and will happen. You can choose to use diapers, underwear, or even reusable diapers.
There are no real limitations on how you choose to dress your child. It is entirely your choice.
The longer you practice EC, the more you will find tips and tricks regarding clothing that make the overall process smoother.
Which Cultures Practice Elimination Communication
As we have discussed in this article, elimination communication is not a fad or a new concept. It is something that has been practiced in many cultures across the world for a long time.
For societies and cultures that do not have easy access to diapers, EC is widely common, particularly in non-industrialized countries.
Many African countries use a form of elimination communication but they do not necessarily call it this.
For many non-industrialized societies, this way of toilet training a child is a norm. Countries such as Kenya, Mali, and Botswana all use a form of EC.
They will encourage their children to learn the cues of when they need to go to the toilet from birth.
Many indigenous cultures do not look at toilet training and going to the toilet in the same way as western cultures.
While going to the toilet is something that we see as private, in many African countries people are a lot more open about it.
The majority of mothers in these cultures will teach their children to go to the toilet outside or in the bushes.
This practice quickly becomes second nature as non-industrialized countries often do not have access to flushing toilets. Given this, the children learn elimination communication from birth.
The parents and mothers in particular have a very close bond with their child and can differentiate between their individual needs.
They are so in tune with their children that they know when they need to go to the toilet. Given this, many children will be fully potty trained before they reach the age of two.
Non industrialized cultures raise their children differently to many western families and take a much more natural approach to how their child goes to the toilet.
When you research how easily their children pick up the process of elimination communication, it does make you wonder why more people do not try this technique.
Not only does elimination communication strengthen the bond and understanding between you and your baby, but it is much better for the environment too.
It is certainly worth considering, even if you only practice it part-time.