Last night we went to an Elimination Communication (EC) discussion at a coffee social where a woman talked about the lifestyle of using EC with your infant. I say it is a lifestyle, because it is.
For those who have never heard of ECing, it's basically early toilet training for babies. But instead of teaching your child to eliminate into a diaper as an infant and then trying to retrain them to be aware of their body functions when they become toddlers, you skip the diaper part. Essentially, when your child is too small to sit on a pot, you hold them over it. Usually you watch for cues (silence, face scrunching up, a noise, etc) while the baby is naked and on a waterproof mat or something. Then you see them pee or poop, and you mark down times, trends, etc. For example, I know Delilah will have to pee when she wakes up from a nap, and about 15 minutes after nursing. So I hold her over a big bowl for a minute or two. Today we started. I caught two pees in a row!!!
Some people might think it's ridiculous. Some people might not believe it's possible, but what do you think people in non-industrialized societies do? They certainly don't use disposable diapers (ick), and when a society has no water to drink, they definitely don't have the water with which to wash cloth diapers. So they pay attention to their babies, and provide opportunities to relieve themselves which doesn't involve sitting in their own waste. People in these countries think WE'RE crazy for using diapers. Then again, these people carry their babies during the day. They also co-sleep (have family beds or two beds in one room) and are aghast when told that (most) North American families put the most vulnerable member of their family into a crib in a room all alone all night long. They wouldn't dream of abandoning their children every night. Neither do I.
When you think about it, more and more kids go later and later these days before being potty trained. The reason? Larger sized disposable diapers. Yes, I'm talking about pull-ups or those night-time underwear things they advertise. Seriously. "oh, don't worry about those sleepovers, just put your kid in a diaper and they won't be embarrassed." Yeah right. Back in the day before they had larger sized diapers kids were potty trained by one year of age. Who benefits these days from the kids going longer before being trained? Certainly not the kids. Not the parents. The diaper companies sure are raking the cashola in though, huh? Same for formula makers, but I won't get started on that one.
Back on the topic of ECing, the benefits are great. My baby doesn't UNlearn to recognize her own body signals and elimination control, she doesn't have to sit in soiled diapers, and she'll never have to experience the whole "well, last week it was ok to poop and pee in your diaper but this week we're potty training and if you pee or poop anywhere than in the potty it's DIRTY" shame some parents place on their kids when trying to unlearn them from using their clothes as a toilet. (sorry for the huge sentence!) For me, it means less laundry, a smaller bag when we have to go out, and less cost incurred with buying new cloth diapers. It will give me a closer relationship with my baby, as I'll be watching her for cues and signals, and eventually will be able to intuit when she has to go. The only downside, which may not even be much of one, is the time involved. As I indicated before, it's a lifestyle, and it will require a lot of time committed if it's going to work. I'll need to watch her constantly for the next while, learning her cues, and seeing if there are trends. I'm sure I'll catch the odd pee in her pot, but poops will be more difficult, as she's not one of those babies who goes every time she eats. I've started a journal to document our progress. It will be interesting to look back in a year and see what has happened. I'll keep everyone posted on our progress.