April 4, 2010 (5:45 pm)

Elimination Communication (i.e., No Baby Skivvies)

by Kristen Suzanne

Elimination Communication, also known as having a Diaper Free Baby,  is something that I never thought I’d even consider. A long while back on my Kristen’s Raw blog, I blogged about things I wanted to do as a future mama before I became pregnant. These posts generated many comments, suggestions, and questions from readers inquiring about how we we planned to handle diapers. At first I thought, “We’re going green – cloth diapers for sure – organic, hemp, and/or bamboo ones at that!” But, something else came up in the comments. Something called Elimination Communication (referred to as “EC” from here on out). What the heck was EC? The name alone sounded hokey. Come to find out, EC is a form of potty training that basically means your baby is diaper free. What?! No diapers? Seriously? That’s just crazy talk.

Or so I thought. I’ve since learned that with EC, you learn to pay attention to impending potty cues from your baby, you hold your baby over a toilet (or bowl), and when baby is ready, baby lets loose. You hope there are not any accidents, or “misses” as folks in the EC world call it. After reading some of these details, my first reaction was, “Heck no!” It sounded way too weird for me.

Well. I didn’t think of it again, except to laugh with my husband at the absurdity of it after I told him about the comments on my blog. A couple of months later, it came up again on my blog, and since my initial shock about the topic had warned off, I didn’t laugh this time, but I still dismissed it as something that just wasn’t for me.

A few months later, I was reading a blog written by a woman I respect where she addressed the topic. I found myself absolutely devouring the post and its many comments, thinking to myself, “I need to hear what all these people are saying about EC.”

Fast forward to today. I own a book on EC, The Diaper Free Baby, and we plan on doing it. LOL. And you know what?… I’m stoked. I mean, come on, how cool that your child gets potty trained way early and doesn’t have to deal with dirty diapers? (At least, not nearly as much as most of the kids in our culture who often don’t get potty trained until they’re 2-3 years old.)

So, what changed my mind? For starters, when I was reading the blog post and comments, many people voiced the same concerns that I had, yet they gave it a try anyway, and they couldn’t believe how awesome it was. My interest was piqued enough to research it. Why not, I thought. When I told me husband, he said, “Cool. Check it out.” Although, I can’t help but wonder if he thought maybe I was losing my mind. Even if he did, he doesn’t feel that way anymore. He’s on board and thinks it’s a bad-ass concept.

My research excited me. Apparently, we’re not the first culture to use EC; many people around the world practice this form of potty training (it’s actually an ancient method of child care). It’s also the ultimate in eco-friendly pooping: when parents practice EC, they don’t buy nearly as many diapers or need to do as many loads of laundry (which saves tons of money, too! — the other kind of green!). And, EC is allegedly better for baby, who doesn’t have to sit in his/her poop or pee, which has to be a nicer experience for both their toosh and well-being. Want more reasons? Here are 75 Benefits of EC.

My new-found excitement for EC might not be shared by everyone however. I already know that I will get some weird comments about it from family and friends, and I’m sure many of the comments and weird looks will have a distinct tone of skepticism or disapproval. That’s ok. I have my own feisty response prepared already. :) But you’ll have to wait… I plan on blogging more about this as I experience it first-hand with our baby, and I hope to show some video, too. So, stay tuned to more on EC!

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  • amyskretta

    Very interesting. I had the first same initial reaction as you, when I was researching diapering options for my now-one-year-old toddler. I think I might try to do some more diaperless time, and pay attention to things more. I do feel a little bad that S. hasn't been diaper free for more than a few minutes since his birth! Looking forward to reading about your journey.

  • http://buddingplanet.com/alkaline-heals baking soda

    It IS Awesome. I ECed my 2nd child from birth and at a year old, he knows how to tell me he wants to potty or pee. Even then, I did make the little guy wear a cloth diaper … you know , just in case.

    Wish I found this out for my first child!

    Go for it.

  • http://www.rawbrides.com/ Denise Duffield-Thomas

    Awesome – I'm really open to trying it when it comes to having my own kids in the future. Our culture really does have things a bit backwards sometimes, and most of our squeamishness at trying these kinds of things is really because of the marketing brainwash we've been exposed to.

    I'm really looking forward to how you go with this Kristen, when your bubba gets here.

  • anais2010

    I'm pretty sure you know her, but you might wanna check out Annalise at http://pullingdaisies.blogspot.com/. She discovered EC for her second child, when you read the older posts, you'll find it. Also a lot of brilliant information about their UC. Good luck! I am 20 weeks pregnant and we just moved to Hawaii, and here I have so far even met other moms who do it, but then we are outdoors a lot, so it's almost natural to do that. Haven't made up my own mind yet ;-) But we learned with our first child that it serves well to be really flexible at all times, so who knows….

  • http://veganjoy.blogspot.com/ Joy

    We really love EC, which I started with my daughter a few days after her birth. She just wore [dry] cloth diapers or went naked for awhile, and at two, she's in underwear all the time.

    I think the really important thing is not attaching too much value to it (like being disappointed if there are accidents, or excessive praise for using the potty), and just making it a totally normal thing. I also know a lot of EC parents whose children didn't learn the potty any earlier than diapered kids, and they're still glad they connected with their babies and learned to respond to them in this way. So whatever the outcome, there are lots of awesome benefits of EC–I think you're going to love it!

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    Great feedback, Joy. Thx!

  • natasha

    I noticed you are eating soy whilst pregnant, it can be harmful to your baby.
    Please keep the health of your baby in mind and consume some real nutrient dense foods that will produce a healthy happy baby.

    I hope you understand,i dont mean to sound offensive.

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    I disagree. I've researched it, have support from my midwife, and it's
    not a staple in my diet anyway, but I do have it here and there. If
    you read my Kristen's Raw blog you will see how healthy I eat. Thx for
    your opinion. ;)

  • LC

    Hello! I came across this blog by finding your original blog while searching for vegan prenatals. I am going to give the prenatals you started on a try because my naturopathic doctor has me on synthetic ones I just am not sure about. I want to thank you for this blog because I am vegan, although not raw, and I am happy to find some advice on vegan pregnancies while I am trying to conceive. I am sure you will inspire me to eat healthier and make some smart choices with advice that would be hard to find elsewhere! Thanks for your blogs <3!

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    Hi! Thanks for commenting. Yay vegan!

  • http://robertsonsofmumbai.blogspot.com/ The Robertsons of Mumbai

    I will be very interested in reading how this all goes down! ;)

  • Sarah Anne

    I think EC is a really interesting comment that I plan on looking into further down the road when we're thinking of kiddos.

    However, I have had a few bad experiences with a few patients who do practice it! (Like, dropping the young child's drawers while in the middle of the waiting room so she can pee on her little travel potty. It was disturbing for all the patients in the waitingroom, and I can't really see how it'd be respectful for the CHILD.) I love the concept, but like anything – sometimes people don't use their heads.

    Can't wait to hear how you make out with it!

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    I think there are times that diapers make sense with EC and/or taking
    the child to the bathroom. Like you said: common sense. ;)

  • http://www.soyager.com Gretchen

    Hmmm…I have yet to look deeper into EC, but now you have me intrigued. My question is, though, how does this work for working moms? (I'm thinking it doesn't.) I'll be home with my little one from birth (April/May) until school begins in August, but it doesn't seem like a method I can just pass off onto my mother (our daycare provider)!

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    Definitely check out the book, because it does detail part-time
    ECing. :)

  • http://www.rawdorable.blogspot.com shannonmarie

    That is amazing. I hope it works out. When I worked in a pediatric office, we had a few families from other countries that trained their babies this way. It was the norm for them.

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    Neat! What are you doing ShannonMarie?

  • http://girlonraw.com/ GirlonRaw

    This is really interesting. When I was travelling in China, I used to see mothers holding their babies in the street (not hygenic I know) to wee. These kids were too young to walk and yes they didn't wear diapers. It is all coming back to me now! Makes alot of sense.

  • http://www.rawdorable.blogspot.com shannonmarie

    I wish I could say I tried this or even cloth diapers, but it's hard to do if you don't have everyone else on board. Little Hayden wears disposables; at least there are some better options on the market now. I'd love to try this diaper-free idea, since diapers in general aren't very green. If you use disposables, they end up in a landfill, and cloth diapers require water and energy to clean. Decisions, decisions …

  • http://rachelandchristopher.blogspot.com/ Rachel

    I think it's pretty cool that you're going to do EC. I remember first hearing about it when I went to a cloth diaper play group in town. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the idea of it (or at least how some Mothers were explaining it to me), but they said that if I want to do it, to not obsess over taking your baby to the toliet all the time, but to just be really flexible with it and it's okay if you only get the baby to go in the toliet (or bowl) a couple times a day. My daughter's 18 months now and will tell me when she needs to go sit on the potty (most of the time), but I think I might check out the book and be more consistent with it this next time around.

    I'm really interested in seeing your experiences with it as well.

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    Flexible. Sounds smart. :)

  • JCP

    I EC my little man ,he is 16 months old and goes on the potty most of the time . He has been going over a potty since he was a week old, we love it. Every time my sister comes over with her two year old and has a poopy diaper I think thank goodness I don't have to change anything like that .

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s hilarious that EC is such a big deal these days. When I was a kid that was how you potty trained. DUH! Of course this was before disposable diapers were over used and parents got LAZY.

  • Sharpiegirl66

    I think it is too funny that people make such a big deal out of EC. That is how every child I knew was potty trained when I was young. DUH! Of course this was before disposable diapers came along and parents became LAZY.

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne


  • Kimberly

    One person’s LAZY is another person’s NEED TO WORK. :) I wish you the best of luck in doing EC, Kristen. If I have only one piece of advice for a new parent, it’s to not get married to any ideas. None. lol! :) You’ll need to work with the baby you got, not the one someone else got. What works for one may not work for you, and that’s ok! You have to find what works for you. Did I say one piece of advice? Ok, two. lol The other one that saved me when my son was an infant was something I read in a book written by a midwife. She said rather than stress out over getting somewhere on time, or getting X amount of hours of sleep, etc… repeat this mantra “Surrender To Baby Time.” I repeated that often, as I had a very high-needs baby. Rather than get upset, I’d speak the mantra. It usually calmed me right down. :)

    best wishes for a happy birth day!

  • Joy

    Yes, you can! I cared for three children in our registered childcare home, and I “squatty-potty” trained all of them on the Bjorn tiny potties. The idea we used was just to get the children used to the potty/toilet so they weren't afraid of it at 2 years. We didn't follow a rigid plan, but encouraged them to use the potties whenever they needed once they were walking. I started by putting the able-to-sit-up babies on after meals, because that was their usual times to “go”. Once they realized what they were doing, they usually disliked going in their diapers. We encouraged parents to be familiar with this method as well. Most of them would put their baby on the toilet when they got up in the morning and before they went to bed at night. By 18 months, the babies were in cloth panties and thought that using the potty was the natural thing to do. Just do whatever you can, my idea was to get the child to realize the potty was the natural thing to do, and by the time they were older they did. I hope this helps you on your journey!

  • http://www.raw-mumma.blogspot.com rawmumma

    This is so cool. I wondered if you were going to do that. ECing is awesome. We began from birth with my 5th child, but had already had an 'intro' with my 11 month old.
    I will just say one thing… Just when you think they've got it, they change the rules on you, and suddenly your back to baby weeing all over the place… lol It's stages, but the best thing I can say (my boy is now 14months), is the relationship which develops between mumma and baby. Absolutely awesome. And baby can seem so very proud of himself when he goes. Have fun with it Kristen. And good for you. I really like your 'go get 'im' kind of style. It's inspiring.

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    Awesome! Thank you for sharing. I can't wait to start the process.

  • sour_sadie

    I don't have any babies yet, but when I start having them, I'm definitely going to look into this method as an option. I used to be all about the disposable diapers because that was the way it was for me then. I don't know, maybe the first 3 months disposable; switch over to cloth while using the EC method.

  • Jess_in_AK

    I have been ECing with my son, Rowan, since he was 8 weeks old. My husband and I did not get really good at reading his signals, but we did get quite good at catching pees and poos due to Rowan's rhythm. We put him on the toilet when he wakes up, after every meal, and when he was younger we would put him on when he was fussy.

    Now he is 17 months old. For awhile (months) we were doing great, with almost no poos in the diaper, though with frequent pees missed. In the last month, however, we have been mostly having misses. Almost every poo has been missed and many more pees are missed. It actually seems like he is avoiding the use of the toilet. For instance, we will put him on it and he will sit there for 5-10 minutes (playing, reading books, etc), there will be nothing in the toilet and then there will be a poopy diaper within 10 minutes of getting the diaper back on. It is frustrating and I wonder if other parents have any advise about this new phase?

  • http://GreenMommyBlog.com/ Kristen Suzanne

    Interesting. Thank you for sharing that. We haven't started but I'm

    getting ready to soon. Fingers crossed!

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Kristen Suzanne is a Raw food chef and author who blogs about all things green and mommy-related! More...

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