I was down at the beach last week. Joshi was playing in the water with this other little boy, also 18 months old. I was chatting to his mom. She asked me, “When are you going to start toilet training Joshi?” ”I’m not,” I said, “We’ve been practicing elimination communication (EC) and responding to Joshi’s toilet needs since he was 10 days old.” I also shared how he’s been nappy free at night since he was 6 months old and that although we still miss catching some wees we almost never miss a poo. She was surprised. She’d never heard about ECing. Most mums I’ve spoken to haven’t. So if you’re also one of those who’ve not, then this is the news – you can give the whole toilet training thing a complete miss if you EC your baby instead.
Toilet Training Stinks
Yes, I think the whole idea of toilet training stinks; in more ways than one. This mum I met read that you shouldn’t start toilet training your kid until they’re 22 months. I was genuinely shocked, but when I googled ‘toilet training’ that’s the advice that came up. Seriously some of the worst advice ever. I can’t believe this lousy information is really what parents are being given. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ‘regular’ toilet training info that mums read:
1. Toilet training encourages you to not respond to your kids toilet needs for the first two years of their life
Online it said, “don’t start toilet training too early.” Is it really possible to respond to your kid’s toilet needs too early? Surely by not responding to your kids toilet needs for the first years you’re basically teaching them that the place for them to go to the toilet is in their nappy/pants. If this is what you do then you’re eventually going to have to teach them that what you’ve been teaching them is wrong. How confusing must that be for kids? I’ve heard some pretty yukky things about toilet training. One kid refused to do a poo anywhere except for in his nappy. His mum literally had to put his nappy back on so that he would poo. How unsurprising. For years this is what he’s been taught and now he’s being told not to. Kids learn from our actions but they also learn from our in-actions. The repeated inaction of not removing your kid’s nappy when they need the loo teaches them that the place to go to the toilet is in their nappy. ECing is not rocket science … you just take their nappy off and take them to the potty. You can start this right from the time they’re born (and yes, it’s possible even when you’re in public).
2. Toilet training says “your kid needs to be between 18 months and three years before they are mature enough to recognize the urge to use the toilet”
From my personal experience this is complete nonsense. If you observe newborn babies you’ll notice they’re already able to recognize the urge to use the toilet. Of course they won’t say so with words, but they’ll probably make sounds and gestures. They might even cry, pull off the boob while feeding or start wiggling about. These are a few of the signs that EC talk about. That’s when you hold them over the sink, potty or bush.
3. Toilet training says “Toddlers can’t hold on for long”
Well surprise surprise – for months or years your baby has learnt to go in their nappy. They’ve had no need to practice holding. I noticed with Joshi (who’s now 18 months) that he very quickly started holding. I remember when he was just a few months old, we were in the car, on the freeway. He needed the loo. I told him to hold and he did – for a few hours. I used to EC Joshi a few times through the night, but since he turned 14 months he’s been holding right through the night (from 8pm to 7am). I also never subscribed to the practice of no liquids before bed. He has a big feed before bed, has his final visit to the potty and then feeds a few times through the night. Still he doesn’t have to go until 7am. Ironically, my current challenge is to get him to go once he’s up!
4. Toilet training says, “A child usually masters daytime toileting before they can keep their bed dry at night.”
This may be so for that expert’s child, but it wasn’t true with mine. Joshi was dry at night as soon as I started pottying him regularly when he woke. I only started pottying him at night from 6 months and he’s been dry through the night ever since, long before he was dry through the day. Basically, your baby will be dry through the night when you take them to the potty when they wake at night. Baby’s wake to go to the loo. If no one takes them then they’ll have to go in their bed. If someone takes them, they’ll stay dry.
5. Toilet training says, “Most children under the age of five years still urinate in their sleep.”
As I said in the previously point, babies don’t urinate in their sleep. From the time they are born they wake to wee, but if there’s no one to take them to the potty, they’ll have to go in their nappy.
6. Toilet training says, “Toilet training’s a big step in your toddler’s life.”
Yes, it’s going to be a big step for them if their toilet needs have not been responded to for 2 years. That’s one of the great things about ECing … it’s a gradual process that unfolds over time, not something you suddenly present to your kid which is in complete contrast to what they’ve learned before. Also, with elimination communication there’s no hurry, you’re not trying to get your kid toilet trained, you’re just responding to their needs when you see them, knowing that they’ll eventually get there once they’re ‘on the path’.
7. Toilet training says, “They need to have the ability to sit in one position for two to five minutes.”
Really? In our household it takes about five seconds to wee. With elimination communication your child isn’t thrust onto a potty at a time of the parents choosing and then expected to wee before they’re again permitted to toddle off. Your kid doesn’t even need to be able to sit before you start responding to their toilet needs. They just need someone to hold them over a sink or potty for a few seconds whenever you read their signals.
When Can You Start Elimination Communication?
If you’ve not EC’d your baby/toddler until now, it’s never too late, you can start anytime. Why don’t you start now! It doesn’t have to be practiced 24/7, so if you’re a working mamma you can still do it. You also don’t have to do it at night if you don’t feel you can manage. You just do it when you can and when you choose to, that’s often good enough.
Some Of The Things I Love About Elimination Communication
- I love not having to clean poo of cloth nappies
- I love not having to clean heaps of poo of a baby’s bottom and back
- I love reducing the amount of cloth nappies that need to be washed – less laundry’s always a winner! If we weren’t EC’ing, I think the laundry aspect of cloth nappies would be too much for this mamma and I’d resort to disposables which are expensive and terrible for the environment.
- I love not having to get my head around toilet training
- I love that for the past few months I’ve watched Joshi going to the potty, doing his thing and then lifting the toilet lid and emptying the potty into the toilet.
Now it’s your turn:
Have you heard of elimination communication? Would you be open to giving it a go with your kid? Let me know if you’ve got any questions about it and I’ll be happy to help If I can.
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