Browsing Category

Nappyfree

Nappyfree, Parenting

Elimination communication is stress free potty training

23 April, 2015

Let me bend your ear for a few hundred words about how Elimination Communication sounds quite fierce but is truly one of the most gentle potty training methods out there.

We have done elimination communication for over five years now and this week something momentous happened. I packed up our cloth nappies and gave them away. Oh, how I relished that. I was like “LATER LOSERS!” Actually, I hope never to clap mine eyes on them ever again. I don’t hate our cloth nappies, in fact they have been IDEAL for what we have done with our little ones…. but they seem to be everywhere I look at all times, in the laundry, on the line, in piles. And we barely use them at all! The reason is that we have opted for no nappies, most of the time.

I also experienced that special sigh of relief reserved for parents whose child has become toilet trained. This realisation has come slowly over the last couple of months.Just last week my husband said “Hey, Juno’s pretty much potty trained now, eh?”  Ah. Yes, yes, she is. In fact, we were along time noticing properly (or wanting to say the words aloud) sine around 21 months she was getting her wees and poos on target the majority of the time.

See, we have been practicing the most gentle, stress-free, quiet way to potty train ever: Nappy Free – ness. Hmm. Nappy Free -dom. Or just… Nappy- Free babies. It truly is attachment parenting potty training, beginning from newborn, if you like. Read our new born elimination communication story here and our three month old baby elimination communication story here. Elimination communication is stress free potty training!

I don’t even really know what you mean by Nappy-Free. It sounds kinda dangerous
If you think “Nappy-free” sounds dangerous try “elimination communication” HA! That sounds like we are raising talkative assassins. The best term for this kind of potty-training is “Born Ready” – I love it as it captures the fundamental belief that no living thing wants to lay a cable on themselves.

We witnessed this first hand when we tried to save a baby bird, fallen from the tree. It was a tiny, weeny speck of a thing, but even so after it had munched on a quarter of a teaspoon’s glob of food it would shuffle over, put its butt over the edge of the nest we had made for it, and squirt out a Number Two. Our children are born communicating with us about all of their needs- their need for touch, food, and their need to release their bladder. They will shuffle and squirm and squark, and if we respond they continue to communicate about it long after you’ve packed up the cloth nappies- until they are grown ups! (If they are anything like me, that is, for I do love a good poo story.)

How is Nappy Free gentle potty training?
People who practice Nappy Free just accept that regular visits to the loo/ holds over the potty are a part of everyday life. There is no song or dance to be made of it. It is something as common as drinking or eating. There are no bribes or reward charts, no punishments for accidents or shaming. This shaming thing is something I see all the time (no judgement, I know it can be frustrating when our children pee their pants and you’ve run out of spares and it was in a neighbour’s house and it was already a rubbish day) – an almost accepted part of teaching our children that weeing in their pants isn’t acceptable. Mu understanding of the culture within Nappy Free families is an unconditional style of parenting – no shame allowed, ever. Nappy Free families just do trips to the loo when it seems needed and don’t make a fuss when the wires of communication are a bit tangled and a poo ends up in a shoe. Families take it at the child’s own pace, listening to them and helping them until they are ready to be entirely toilet-independant.

It could be more respectful
Elimination communication is stress free, gentle potty training however I think it could be even even more respectful. It is common practice with Nappy-Free world to simply feel “in tune” with a baby and whip off their pants and urge them on if we are sure they need to go. I don’t think this is right. I think we need to potty our children with the utmost care and respectful touch and we need to allow a lot more space for consent. I think Nappy Free families could aim to always ask their babies, even newborns, if we can help them go, and if they clearly show they don’t want to we should leave them be- even if that ends up as wet pants. We need to prioritise them receiving the knowledge that they, not us, are the boss’s of their own body.

Is Nappy Free for everyone?
I’m not in the business of telling people what to do. I like to share stories of what we do but I believe each family needs to weigh things up and consider their family’s own delicate dance of needs and then decide! I do think there are principles of nappy free that will make for a much, much less stressful potty training for everyone. Things such as acknowledging when a baby is clearly doing a number – keep up the communication, respectfully. Don’t let them forget what it feels like to relieve themselves.  (It seems to be the case that children can lose the sensation.)  Give children a go when it seems like they want to but need some help. Model toilet use. Be child led. Avoid forcing and coercive tactics.

Take it off
But how does one begin such a thing! You know what they say: a journey of a thousand poos begins with one poo. Begin that journey today! It can begin with Day 1 for a newborn or with toddlers even. I have written a whole post on how to get started with elimination communication, but here are a few tips:

  • Give your baby a go on the loo whenever you go. You modelling toilet use is the number one way they’ll pick it up!
  • This also makes a bit of a regular rhythm, and you will soon pick up their rhythm.
  • Create little points in the day that they can become used to going – before meals, after meals, before the car, after the car, before the buggy/wrap one getting out of the buggy/wrap.
  • Create a little sign that you begin doing whenever you talk about the potty.
  • Have potties lying around the house – sometimes the sign is them patting or going to the potty.
  • Thumbs up for “tree wees” – it is my experience that it is very natural for kids to wee outside. It might feel like an accident, but they might have gone outside just to wee!
  • Don’t get too into it. Hehe. Just relax. You’ll have heaps of us and downs, really awesome in-sync days and them days where teething pain interrupts the brain-bladder signalling and, well, you know: wee. Spend loads of time outside where misses don’t count.
  • Put nappies on if it helps you relax in between. We always had nappies on hand for when we were at someone elses house as we dodn’t want to be super stressing about getting wee on someone elses carpet. You’d think this would make for mix messages but it didn’t seem to. Both our girls were fine with or without nappies.

Do check out my friend Jenn’s new online classes, of Born Ready. The Born Ready website was basically my homepage when I first got into this!  She is the absolute GURU of nappy free and offers loads and loads of advice.  She also sells flaparaps– the perfect nappy/pants inbetweener for babies.

Real Nappies and Nappy-Free are mates
It is Real Nappy week this week and I wanted to take a moment to encourage all the cloth-bummed baby mammas and pappas to consider this gentle form of potty training. I know you, you and your gorgeous stash of nappy covers in every crazy pattern, your ever-so-slight addiction to animal print cloth nappies. Real Nappy lovers and Nappy-free lovers are cut from the same cloth – we care for our babies bums and our earth. And we are not afraid of poo.

Go for it, go on. Take it off and liberate your baby’s butt! Nappy Free = Stress Free Potty Training.

PS Read all my posts on elimination communication:

Beginning Elimination Communication
Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
Elimination Communication with a newborn baby
Elimination communication at three months old
Elimination Communication at one – the highs and lows
Elimination communication at one –  (a poo in a shoe!)
Elimination Communication at 17 months old plus seven elimination communication tips
Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!

Nappyfree, Parenting

A Poo in a Shoe: Elimination Communication with a One Year Old

9 May, 2014

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty about elimination communication with a one year old!

One morning last week as Juno march-crawled past me (it is technically a crawl but it evokes the resolute marching of an army of fearless soldiers) I spied a bit of tell-tale poo on her little bare bottom.  I scanned the space around me but couldn’t spot a turd anywhere, I looked under her rocking horse (“Going on a poo hunt!”) and, with dread, on the sofa. No poo. Hmm. I had the quick senseless conversation only a pre-coffee mind can have with itself about Ghost Poos and then gave up looking.

About an hour later Tim bent down to put on his shoes and WOAH THERE! He got a bit of a fright because that missing poo? Well, that poo was in Tim’s shoe.  TIM’S SHOE!

Juno is one and we have been doing Elimination Communication (EC) since birth. Some people call it Nappy Free (I do too sometimes as EC is technically correct but creates much more puzzlement) but Juno has worn a nappy a fair bit more than Ramona. We’ve been travelling for so much of her life and when we have been in friend’s houses or in the car seat we have put a nappy on her. Elimination Communication One Year Old

In other ways Juno’s elimination communication story is different too.

By this time with Ramona we were able to say that we catch all poos in the potty and 9/10 wees. This is SO not the case with Juno. We have hardly any idea how many wees we catch – sometimes as little as 2 a day (normally the after sleep ones which are pretty much guaranteed.) And with poos, well Juno really LOVES to poo standing up. I guess it is the ergonomically superior way to do your business. But does make this EC malarkey a bit trickier!

We have also been on a bit of a journey with Juno on the body autonomy of a baby. With Ramona I grew in understanding of how important autonomy is to children – I began giving her every chance to be in control of what happens to her own body. It took a workshop from the magnificent Pennie Brownlee who talks on the Pikler Institute to really realise that this autonomy begins with a newborn. An example used is with nappy changes – the Pikler movement shows that it is possible to ask a newborn permission to change her nappy, and by the time they are toddling, to wait for them to be ready before changing their nappy. The nappy change can be a beautiful example of respect and connection, and should begin at birth!

This really resonated with me as elimination communication with a one year old – or any age from birth! – is really about believing that babies can communicate their needs to eliminate from birth and Pikler insists they can communicate their readiness for a change.

So we are far more hands off with Juno – if we see she needs to go we always offer the potty but we don’t insist up on it-  unlike with Ramona where we would sing and dance to keep her on there! We feel it is Juno’s right to chose where she wants to go, and in time, we know she will chose the toilet or potty. Elimination Communication

Juno has been SO conscious of doing her poos and wees- I think spending enormous amounts of time without a nappy on is key for this. She has responded to key words for months and months and has been climbing on the potty to do her business (every so often) since ten months old.  She also helps wipe up her own wee (by choice, not in an angry “You did it, you clean it!” kind of a way!)- and if Juno does a wee with her nappy on she brushes the floor in front of her as if to say “Look, it isn’t THERE?!”

We are miles more relaxed with EC this time round (hey, with EVERY PARENTY THING second time, eh?)

I think with Ramona we REALLY wanted it to “work” so that people didn’t think we were completely bonkers doing it. Where as with Juno we KNOW it works (they do communicate their needs from birth, and they can be in normal underwear from a very early age) so feel less pressure to prove it and can just enjoy all the benefits of it. Such as ease of pooing for the baby (I think some baby angst is to do with not being able to find the best position for pooing) and way less pooey nappies and much more awareness of bodily functions.

We are really lucky to live largely in an environment that is really supportive of natural parenting things like this and I think this really helps. We can just roll with it and we don’t feel any need to follow up every missed wee with an apology and excuse “So sorry! We do normally catch all her water works!”

It makes me wish a little for a much more supportive society for this kind of thing. Where bare bums weren’t gasped at with disgust and where even the thought of baby wee is terrifying. (Surely, SURELY, giving a baby a chance to wee by a bush is the same as a dog doing a wee wherever it likes in public?)

I do feel that more people are getting on board with the EC thing. Over a couple of years the London group I used to be a part of grew tripled in size and I’ve met a few women already in NZ who do it.

I think as more parents experiment with nappy free time we will become much less afraid of our babies BUTT CRACKS (as Ramona insists on calling bottoms) and much more used to the odd poo in a shoe!

(Hehe, not really, I do see that that isn’t a very compelling or ambitious vision for society.)
PS Read all my posts on elimination communication:

Beginning Elimination Communication
Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
Elimination Communication with a newborn baby
Elimination communication at three months old
Elimination Communication at one – the highs and lows
Elimination communication at one –  (a poo in a shoe!)
Elimination Communication at 17 months old plus seven elimination communication tips
Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!

PIN FOR LATER: Elimination communication with a one year old baby

Nappyfree

Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet

12 October, 2013

We have done elimination communication with both of our children and here are ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet!

My husband and five month old baby were playing Humpty Dumpty last week. At some point between sitting on the wall and having a great fall Humpty became Trumpy. As we always do upon hearing Juno’s little farts, Tim took her to the potty for a go. As she filled the potty with sweet caramelly goodness she tilted her head to look up at daddy and gave him an enormous smile of relief.

Juno is going to be half a year old in a couple of weeks and we are still in that blissful, pre-distraction, stage of Elimination Communication where nearly everything is going in the potty. When inside the Campervan or someone’s home we do normally keep a nappy on (well, specifically, a cloth nappy outer with an Incontinence Pad inside- an elderly chap we know was chucking a few boxes out and we felt we could put them to good use… They work brilliantly and it has saved us spending our whole trip away in a laundromat washing and drying nappies!) People often assume that parents who do Elimination Communication (nappyfree/ EC) have a mysterious connection with their babies (and also too much time in their hands!) when actually it can be a lot more practical then that. Here are some ways that babies let us know about their potty needs, the point at which we can whisk off that nappy and give them a go:

20131012-184235.jpg

1 – Trumpet Pants
When I was a teen I used to hoot with laughter when every time we tooted my dad would get all worked up insisting that we go to the loo as if pops = poo. The thing is, with tinies it actually very often does. A little trump can signal an impending wee or poo, as if their insides are relaxing getting ready for a Number.

2- Potty Mouth
When my eldest daughter, Ramona, was about one month old we took a picture of her pursed little mouth, forming a perfect O. We wanted to remember the face she pulled when she did a poo- why on earth we thought it better to take a snap rather than take off her nappy and give her a chance to poo in the loo rather than all over her own bottom I’ll never understand. Fortunately it was only another two months before we discovered EC. It is common for babies to let you know the happenings of their bowels through their facials, either by pulling different expressions or going a bit pink or purple.

3- Ghost Wees
Okay, this one is a little on the mysterious side. Every so often you get this warm, wet patch appear on your lap or wherever baby is sitting and you think you have just had a big wee miss. Quickly you realise it is actually nothing BUT giving a go on the potty after this often results in a wee. Even Juno’s Nana has experienced the strangeness of a Ghost Wee. What is this about? All I can think is that maybe it is to do with the rush of blood to the bottom area that happens when a wee is about to come. Alternatively there are ghouls roaming about whose primary calling in Valhalla is to help parents catch their babies Business.

4- Popping on and off the nipple
The very first sign I knew Juno needed a wee, and the very first wee we ever caught, came just a few hours after her birth when she just kept latching on and off in an unhappy way. We held her over the potty and she did a big wee, latching on straight after and staying on. This signal stays with a baby from newborn to a year old, although by then babies often prefer other ways of communicating.

5- Pat-a-bum
Juno has just begun this one and it is a pretty cute one. When she is lying in her back, when she needs to go, she begins patting the front of her nappy insistently and gleefully. I remember Ramona doing this for quite some time, and I know traditionally potty-trained toddlers also play with their bits when they need to go.

6- Cough, cough, hint, hint
I am writing this post on the train, Tim is sitting with Juno on his lap across from me. I asked him if he felt I had missed any signs and just as I posed the question, Juno coughed. “Oh, of course, coughing!” Tim said “I think I’ll give her a go.” He returned with the most incredulous expression- Juno had just done an enormous wee in the train toilet. Paharhaha…

7- Fidgeting
Even now, as a fully toilet-independent almost three year old Ramona fidgets like mad when she needs to go, performing a wee dance that is sort of reminiscent of a turkey walking. This fidgeting begins as a signal really early, particularly if baby is in a sling. They really don’t want to go in the sling so even as a newborn Juno would arch and wriggle when she needed to go. When lying on her front Juno will often tilt her bottom up into the air as if she doesn’t want to be in a position where she might end up lying in it.

8- Stillness
Conversely, and commonly if baby is lying down somewhere happily playing, you will notice an aura of calm or concentration come over them. Their whole body will still, their eyes will lock and they will go. As if doing their business is serious work indeed and commands all their attention.

9- Grunt and growl
It can be hard work getting your bowels to move all on your own- sometimes babies need a little vocal help much in the same way as some tennis players do as they serve. Grunting and growling often come hand in hand with a poo, becoming increasingly normal as poos solidify. So common is it that some ECing parents use grunting as the “cue” for a poo- employing it as a prompt to help their babies go.

ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
10- Waking up
I know, I know, this is not a communication from the baby but it is pretty much a guaranteed wee. We always give a “pottytunity” upon waking.

11- Coming out of the sling
Just like offering the potty upon waking we offer the potty when she comes out of the sling. As an ECing parent you find natural rhythms and patterns to your nappyfree days and this is one of ours. Juno will only wee in the sling after a lot of crying and wriggling so I tend to give her a chance to wee whenever I take her out.

Do you do elimination communication with your baby? What are some of the ways your baby communicates with you about needing to go?

PS Read all my posts on elimination communication:

Beginning Elimination Communication
Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
Elimination Communication with a newborn baby
Elimination communication at three months old
Elimination Communication at one – the highs and lows
Elimination communication at one –  (a poo in a shoe!)
Elimination Communication at 17 months old plus seven elimination communication tips
Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!

PIN FOR LATER:
ten signs your baby needs to to to the toilet

Nappyfree

Elimination Communication at 3 months old: Nappyfree Bliss

9 August, 2013

This is our second nappy free baby  – here is an update of elimination communication at three months old!

I was trying to nurse Juno in bed, it felt a little bit too early to wake fully so I was hoping to keep her asleep. She was having none of it, popping on and off, shouting, wriggling her body. “Ohhh, I know” – even after 3 months of doing this with her it can still take me a few moments to respond. I sat up, grabbed the potty and held her over it. There was an instant explosion and she released a whole night of breastmilk. Her tiny (okay, enormously plump) body immediately lost all its tension, she breathed a content sigh and we snuggled back down.

We have reached that blissful period of an Elimination Communication journey, the stage where you can’t believe more parents don’t do this! Juno has a bit more of a rhythm to her life, is sleeping a lot less (so doing less dream wees) and it feels like we are incredibly in sync, catching 75% of wees and poos. We found this with Ramona too – between the ages of 3 and 6 months we were considering just putting her in pants, as if she was almost potty trained.
20130809-120735.jpg
At this stage babies are communicating perfectly; fussing at the breast, grunting, crying out. They are as yet not distracted by the need to try and crawl/ walk/ run/ jump/ play. And they are still very much in arms, so the parents are able to pick up on the more subtle cues (like farts!)

Doing nappyfree a second time round, I guess like almost all the aspects of parenting, is SO much easier. Primarily because I think I am a lot less bound up in it emotionally. With Ramona I felt quite engaged with how well we were doing – if we had a really in sync day I felt awesome, but felt equally bad if we had loads of misses. This time round I feel tons more relaxed about it, not judging myself or our days on how “successful” our EC has been. My expectations are probably more accurate too. Some days EC won’t have ANY effect on how much laundry you have to do. EC is not a linear thing- it doesn’t get increasingly better until they are independent. It just goes up and down month by month and then, Oh! You realise you don’t miss anymore. And then, you say it outloud and they have a great big accident in front of everyone. It’s the way. elimination communication at three months old
So, I know this stage won’t last. Once Juno gets crawling she’ll have too much on her mind to communicate every little wee she has to do. But for the mean time I am reminded, without a shadow of a doubt, that babies are born ready. That they are able, from the youngest age to communicate with you about their EVERY need, even their elimination ones.

Nice one, babies! *high fives Juno*

Read more about Elimination Communication right here:

PS Read all my post on elimination communication:

Beginning Elimination Communication
Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
Elimination Communication with a newborn baby
Elimination communication at three months old
Elimination Communication at one – the highs and lows
Elimination communication at one –  (a poo in a shoe!)
Elimination Communication at 17 months old plus seven elimination communication tips
Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!

PIN FOR LATER:

elimination communication at three months old

Nappyfree, Parenting

Elimination Communication with a Newborn Baby

8 May, 2013

This is the second child we have done elimination communication with but the first time we have done elimination communication with a newborn baby!

Our little Juno has been on the outside for almost two weeks and what a magnificent little poppet she is. She stoically snoozes through Ramona’s loving cuddles and smooches and gives us smiles (WHATEVER! NEWBORNS DO SMILE!) and makes the cutest little sleep growls.

Breastfeeding has been a breeze until the last couple of days – suddenly I am dealing with MASSIVE oversupply meaning Juno veers from being like a deliriously happy drunk to acting like she has dined on razor blades- until that huge burp makes an appearance. It has actually made for a few stressful nursing times, which has knocked me for six a bit. Being more diligent with positioning and just waiting for my milk to regulate should fix it.

Ramona meanwhile, is being a total star about the big change, continuing to be a complete hoot (she has taken to using my languishing breastpads like a mobile phone, chattering away to her friends. I mean, really, how much more comfy for your ear? Mobile phone creators could take some inspiration from this, I tell you) and taking it all in her stride.

One thing we are doing quite differently with Juno compared to Ramona’s early days is Elimination Communication- this is the idea that babies are born ready to communicate about when they need to go to the toilet. We did do this with Ramona (read all about that here) but began when she was around 12 weeks old. Doing it with a newborn is BONKERS!

The first addictive catch
Juno had only been out of the womb for a few hours, we were all tucked up in bed, but she was a little unsettled and wouldn’t latch on properly. I suggested we might hold her over the potty and Tim duly did so. Out burst a joyous wee, glowing with freedom, and Juno instantly shut her eyes and nodded off. Tim and I just looked at each other in flabbergastedment and cracked the heck up.

We are by no means catching everything, maybe only 60% of poos and wees, but it is an incredibly helpful parenting tool for newborns. So, SO, often – even more pronounced at night- Juno will be grunting and squiriming and complaining, a little hold over the pot soon sees her releasing all that caramelly poop and she will immediately be happier. It really seems as if at least a third of her cries are to do with the sensation of needing to go. The experience is convincing me that newborns come out with the ability to tell us about three needs- tiredness, hunger, and elimination. I think “The Hold” (see pictures!) is really comfortable for them- often Juno will just begin a nap inbetween her poo and wee- and allows them to really empty their system.elimination communication with a newborn baby

Practicalities
We tend to sit her on a cloth nappy, tucked in the sling, or on my lap, and then we chuck them in the wash if she does her business on there. We still get alot of stealthy wees and poos so are easily going through the same amount of washes (10 nappies a dayish) compared to normal cloth nappying, so we are yet to see any laundry benefits from EC (that comes a bit later.) We have cartons and bowls and potties tucked around the house so that we can whip one under Juno if we sense a Number coming on. It doesn’t feel like more work than normal nappy changing, and I feel it is really helping Juno’s comfort levels.elimination communication with a newborn baby

Ramona is a big help- when Juno is wriggling she’ll ask her “Ooh, do you need to do a Number, Juno?” and while we hold her over the potty Ramona will sing the “Come on poo” song (What, you don’t have a poo song?!) and will even empty it down the toilet for us.

So, there you go – elimination communication with a new born baby! In some ways a typical two weeks in the life of a newborn; milk, sleep, poos and wees, and in other ways, well, just a little bit mindboggling!

PS Read all my posts on elimination communication:

Beginning Elimination Communication
Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
Elimination Communication with a newborn baby
Elimination communication at three months old
Elimination Communication at one – the highs and lows
Elimination communication at one –  (a poo in a shoe!)
Elimination Communication at 17 months old plus seven elimination communication tips
Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!

Pin for later:
elimination communication with a newborn baby

Attachment parenting, Nappyfree, Parenting

Hello Juno! Our new little girl

27 April, 2013

On Thursday 25th April we welcomed little Juno into the world!
She is a total delight; downy skin, rolls of chub and alert, bright eyes.

image

She is an expert breastfeeder and spends most of her time showing off her expertise!

Ramona is so far loving her little sister, kisses and cuddles are flowing in abundance. We have had some tandem nursing happening which is lovely, Ramona gently strokes her little sister, but also seems like a big entanglement of limbs. I need to work on my technique!

image

Juno’s birth journey didn’t follow quite the path we’d imagined, primarily due to me showing signs of infection, and we spent the last few hours in hospital. However, it was a still a gentle and peaceful entry for her and an empowering experience for me and the four of us were tucked up in bed together by night time.

image

We have also caught a fair few wees, Juno makes it really obvious when she needs to go. So looks like our second nappyfree baby is keen to start

Over the moon that this little treasure has joined us!