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Beginning Elimination Communication

28 January, 2013

We have made a few parenting choices that aren’t those made by most others, but possibly the one deemed most odd was beginning elimination communication or bringing up a nappy-free baby.

I heard about Elimination Communication when I was pregnant and remember thinking it an utterly bizarre and implausible practice! Then, when Ramona was 10 weeks old, I decided I would give it a crack. (Me, on everything: “Bizarre? Hmm. I’ll try it.)

A few wees in and I was hooked! (I get a feeling this post is going to be filled with collections of words never, ever used in a sentence together before.) Within days she was responding to me helping her go in the potty and I was able to detect a few signals.

It hasn’t been a simple ride ever since, we have had a grand old share of rogue poos and wet pants. But I have loved our beginning elimination communication,  it made sense for us. I like the emphasis on babies being born with the ability to communicate and get their needs met. I love that Ramona has had a continued awareness of her bodily functions- there was no moment, which I know other toddlers have, that involved a revelation like “WHAT THE HECK IS THAT COMING OUT OF MY BUM!” I liked that we weren’t giving conflicting messages; “Wees go here in the nappy… oh, actually you are now this arbitrary age, now they go in the loo!” I like that Ramona never had her tender little bottom sitting in wee or poo for more than a minute.  It provided another channel for connection. But finally, I have definitely enjoyed the avoidance of any bribe/reward-based or punitive potty training. This has to be potty training at it’s most gentle- a pace set entirely by the child, for us it spanned two years.

Last night I mentioned the word “bath” to my just-turned-two Ramona, and got distracted by something. Minutes later I went upstairs to see Ramona running both taps, a towel helpfully placed on the side, totally nude, doing her business on the loo (no child seat) that she had evidently just discovered she could climb on to!! She is entirely independent of needing our help now and it is a complete relief knowing I will be able to concentrate on the new Spring baby’s elimination needs and leave Ramona to it.

You really don’t have to go the whole hog in order to appreciate the principles of Elimination Communication. Your babe might be a bit older-  commencing toddlerhood, or you might have brand new carpets that would not welcome even a tiny spray of newborn butt-caramel!! Wherever you are coming from, is entirely possible to help your kid understand their body, keep their bums poo free and talk to them about their elimination- all of which will make the transition to their toilet- independence much easier.

If you are wondering about Elimination Communication, or even considering doing it a little bit, this tips here might be a little bit helpful.

Beginning Elimination Communication Nappyfree Baby

1- Don’t expect a linear journey! This isn’t potty training. You don’t begin and get better and better until suddenly there are no accidents.  Some months are brilliant (for example, when Ramona was 5-7 months we rarely had accidents) and then others are a bit harder. Once Ramona was mobile she showed little interest in sitting on the potty, and it felt like a “backwards step”- try not to see it this way. It is so much easier if we can put aside our expectations and just roll with it, accepting whatever happens.

2- Learn the lingo and develop the communication. “Signals” are when they let you know they need to go- it might be squirming, crying, pursing lips, grunting or lifting legs. “Cues” are sounds they learn to associate with wees and poos, they end up being a bit of a trigger for them We used “Psst” for wee and a “poopoopoo!” for poop. “Offering” is suggesting to them they might need to go or “pottytunity” is sometimes used to!

3- Play with different places for pottytunities. Babies and tots will have a preference. Try the sink, the loo, a big potty, a small potty, by a tree. Adding variety might get them back into it. Plus certain potties are uncomfortable, so don’t insist if they aren’t up for it.

4- We ALL like entertainment on the loo, eh? A good book and a poo = perfect combo. Have a stack of toys/ books/ action songs that you do to encourage them to stay on the potty until they have been.

5- Get into a rhythm of offering at certain times. We always offered upon waking, upon leaving a place, upon arriving at a new place, upon getting in and out of the sling/ buggy/ car seat. This helps them get a sense of when their next pottytunity might be.

6- You will soon pick up a natural rhythm – for us in the early day between 3-6 months it was every 20 minutes or so. You will soon learn how long their little bodies take to process breast milk and you’ll be able to offer when you think they are due. And then they will still surprise you every now and then! Once they are drinking juice and water you will be surprised at how quickly that comes out the other end!

7- You will soon learn what you are comfortable with when out and about. We used to hide behind bushes and trees for a wee, or aim down drains in alleyways,  and do poos in a plastic bag like a doggy poop bag! Ramona didn’t used to like going in public loos at all. Other people have used the foldable portable potties, or even just an old ice cream carton. And others still don’t like offering in public at all.

8- Clothing completely depends on the season, but you will very soon discover that those baby grows with poppers are not workable! We very quickly moved on to leggings/ tights and tee shirts that could be quickly pulled up and down. Some people cut a gap in the leggings for even quicker access. Summer is the absolute best as they can be nudey pants all day!

9- Baby Bjorn do a couple of great pottys for Elimination C.ommunication We had their little potty for a while, and loved it, but we lost it on a camping trip. To eplace it we paid £1 for their potty chair on Ebay. It is HUGE but incredibly sturdy so really nurtures independence.

10 – Don’t be scared of nappies. There is a mixed feeling about this. But for a while I was hung up about putting any kind of nappy on. It annoyed me to concede to the nappy if we were in a “missy” stage after a “miss free” stage. However, when in other people’s homes, or somewhere where a miss might be awkward a nappy will help you relax and that is most important….

11- Relax. You would not believe the effect our own emotions can have on a child! They WILL pick up on any anxiety you have, and you could well get in a vicious cycle of tension based misses.

12- Avoid praise, if you can! Your child is only doing what is natural, when she does her business on the potty you WILL be thrilled. But try “Thank you for doing it on the pot, it makes it much easier for mummy” or “Doesn’t it feel nice letting it all out into the loo?” The last thing you need is a tot unable to do a poo without a clap (true story, by the way…)

13- Nurture independence from whenever they are ready. For us that was when Ramona was 1. We encouraged her to help us take her undies up and down, to wash her hands and flush the loo. Allowing them to be their own person is SO important at all times, but even more so when it comes to their bodies, eh?

14- Often, in a series of misses we just had to step right back, rather than constantly offering. Sometimes they can respond pretty sourly to us crowding them, offering all the time, which what we inevitably tend towards during a bout of misses. Better for them to miss and keep their independence then have a helicopter parent.

15- Once you get cracking join the Facebook EC group and Born Ready – the most amazing information packed website. It is vital, when choosing a more unusual path, to have people around you who have chosen the same. They are a WEALTH of wisdom and expertise and there will not be ONE issue that you come across that someone hasn’t not faced before!

16 – Consider getting some Flaparaps. They are little pants that flip open, for even the tiniest baby, we LOVED ours and highly recommend them.

There are 16 little pointers, the things I wished I had understood in my first week.  Would love to hear your thoughts on beginning elimination communication, if you are doing it, and what you would chose to share!

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:
beginning elimination communication

Nappyfree

7 Elimination Communication Tips you need for your nappy free baby!

1 May, 2012

Here’s a little story and seven elimination communication tips

I have had a couple of interesting emails this week. The first came from a close relative who was just expressing some gratitude for getting her started with Elimination Communication (EC or Nappy Free for something that sounds less Willy Wonkery.) I didn’t mean to get her started, it is just that one time a few months ago I heard her little 4 month old lad do huge trump. Knowing it was approaching the time he normally filled his pants, I whipped of his nappy and he proceeded to do two wees and an implausibly large dump.

Now, I am well aware this makes me seem AWFUL! Imposing my parenting way onto another. I swear, I have only done it a couple of times, once to my nephew and once to my neice, both times when their mothers weren’t around, and I would never do it to YOUR baby.

Yeah, it still makes me sound awful, eh. I’m sorry.

Anyway, while he was taking his dump, his mama came in. It was, er, a little awkward.

But she emailed this week, saying how since then he has done all of his poos in the potty – THREE A DAY!!- and it has changed their lives. He used to really struggle, poor chap, and turns out  The  Hold helps it all along.

HURRAH!

Then on the other hand, the second email. It was a friend also doing EC. Her 13 month old has turned Anti-Potty. It is a common low in this rollercoaster of EC and I really felt some of her disappointment. Those two emails really encapsulate the good and bad of Nappy Free, I reckon.

We began when Ramona was 3 months old, primarily out of curiosity but partly because I felt there must be something in it. Within days we discovered there was and we quickly hit a rhythm, catching 80% of her shizzle.

With every month that passes it is becoming less unusual that Ramona is Nappy Free. Sitting a baby on the potty at three months is ridiculous by almost everyone’s standard, sitting a toddler on the potty is pretty normal. This is a nice feeling – it is hard feeling as if you have to constantly explain yourself, particularly when people can be really quite hostile about it (for example, people “explaining” that it is physiologically impossible for babies to hold their wees in – if this is the case, how comes Ramona has held her wees since she was about 6 months?)

But with her growing up there also comes a sense that perhaps we should be further along the “potty trained” journey by now- since we have been doing it for 15 months!! Of course, it isn’t training. It is communication. And in the communication stakes we are doing superbly- oh yes. She ALWAYS tells us as she is doing a wee, even if it IS on the new carpet.

There is something brilliant about Ramona saying “POO”, walking up to the potty, sitting down and doing her business. She has been doing that since she was about 15 months old, it blew our minds the first time, and even now gives us a huge smile to see the communication effort paying off. Other signs she needs to go include grabbing her bum, patting the potty, looking very serious indeed, and pausing. (Yeah, she really doesn’t pause for any other reason!) In fact, there is a particuarly style of Serious Pause which usually means she already has a turtlehead.

With this big leap in communication comes a tiny bit of disappointment too, when it doesn’t go to plan. Until now it has been quite easy to be breezy about the misses, but now, because we know she can communicate  effectively and even sit her self down on the potty, it is a challenge not to let manipulative language in, or show signs of frustration. The last thing we want is hang ups over taking a dump.

We have by no means nailed this but still I thought this would be a nice opportunity to share…

Elimination Communication Tips:

1- The Baby Bjorn Potty Chair – when Ramona was tiny we had a little Baby Bjorn Potty, it was gorgeous but fell out of my bag on to some train tracks when we were going camping last summer. To replace it I got the BB potty chair, for £1 from Ebay. It is MAHUSIVE and I was gutted at first. But, because it is so sturdy, it means she can climb on and off and has been brilliant in fostering some independence about it all

2- Keeping the potty in the same, visible place everyday, so Ramona knows exactly where to find it.

3- The Born Ready website– a totally honest, warm community of people doing Nappy Free with their little ones. It has been such an encouragement. Also the lively Facebook group found by searching EC UK.

4- Keeping on communicating. When she has a miss we routinely say “OH! It’s a wee, wee wee goes in the potty!” and then sitting her on the potty for a little bit. We hold back any negativity. It is lovely when she grabs a rag too, and helps clean up her pee.

5- Putting nappies on. This is controversial as some wonderful ECers suggest not to. But putting nappies on every so often when we REALLY don’t want a puddle has helped us to relax and being relaxed is probably one of the most important attributes in all of this.  Little ones pick up our cues so perfectly.

6- Commitment to noises like PSST. It is remarkable how doing the PSST cue encourages Ramona to take a whizz. If she is a bit distracted doing PSST just seems to help her release her bladder.

7- High entertainment. There are certain times of the day that sitting on the potty is obviously just the perfect activity – namely upon waking. However sometimes she is so into her playing it just seems mean to interrupt. Instead we incorporate potty time- putting the potty in front of the Superhero Base (otherwise known as the Dolls House) or getting out all the best books. (I am editing this a few years later and I am not sure about this tip! I actually think that a child’s autonomy should let them do what they want with their bodies and if they don’t want to sit on the potty we shouldn’t try and manipulate that.)

Elimination Communication Tips

Ramona finding a tree to wee by

I have earlier on this blog suggested that elimination communication isn’t necessarily for everyone. But I think I might backtrack now. Not because I think  parents need anymore pressure put on them – to add cleaning up rogue wees and chasing nakey crawlers around the lounge, or any more burdens of “Eek, I should be doing this” to shoulder.

But because I think a form of elimination communication is accessible to every parent and will often times even EASE the strain of parenting. It is simply a case of adding in a bit more talk when you observe them doing their business – expressing from a tiny age exactly what is going on with their bodily functions, or, if you see your baby pushing out a wee turd, whipping of the nappy, holding them over a loo. A tiny wipe and clean up is done, nappy saved. For some babies, like the little guy mentioned earlier, getting help with the elimination could eliminate a whole lot of angst.

It seems such a shame that Nappy Free is seen as going all out- when it is essentially just about communication, something every parent is already doing.

Are you doing normal potty training, or a form of elimination communication? Have you found anything particularly ace/ hard?

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 tips

Attachment parenting, Nappyfree, Parenting

Elimination communication with a one year old: the highs and lows of a nappyfree baby

23 November, 2011

Elimination communication with a one year old!

Oh me, oh my. I just wandered into the spare bedroom to find Ramona sitting on the bed with poo smudged around her, a huge turd sitting atop the box she used to climb up.

Now seems to be the perfect moment for a 9 month summary of Elimination Communication (EC). The highs. The lows.

Clearly, crap on the bed is a low.

Three wee’s on the floor in the lounge within the first day of having new carpet put in. Also a low.

A wee on my lap on the bus. Hmmm, probably a low. A poo in her trousers in the park. I’d go a low.

As you can see being on a nappy free journey with a tiny tot isn’t a ride free of bumps, we get quite a few bumps. But there are some great, even exhilirating, times too.

When we go a whole day with everything in the potty. When she points to the toilet when she needs to go or when she grabs her baby girl bits before she needs to go. It is nice not having to clear smeary nappy poo up each day. Even clearing it up from a bed or other non-loo (these misses happen around once a month)  seems to be less work than changing a nappy (Pick up sheet, bung in washing machine). And even though we have some tricky times (most commonly if she is teething, as if she looses sense of her bowel movements- that is when we get rogue poos) they really seem just a minor part in the whole scheme of it. And if those lows I mentioned above happened more commonly than once a month I think I would struggle! But keeping her in touch with her bodily functions from babyhood through EC  just seems kind of natural to me.

I appreciate it is not for everyone though, certainly not for the faint hearted. You have to have a certain un-fazed-ness to whip your babies trousers down in public to give her a wee opportunity in a bush, or to laugh off a sneaky public shart in the trousers.  And doing it with more than one child on the scene would be a bit of a challenge, although one I think we’ll probably have a bash at, as millions of big families manage in this way in other places.

I guess, back in the day, or in the villages of rural China, adults would all be keeping an eye on the whipper snappers, not leaving it just for Mum to watch out for baby’s toilet need signalling. The other day we were all up in London at the Occupy protest having a big fun family day- Tim and I were caught up doing games with some of the big kids. My mum was there and spotted Ramona’s “wee face”- and took her outside for a successful tree pee. It made me think how much our small, isolated lives make this kind of natural parenting a lot trickier. The more we head along this journey the more I realise how lives have moved on from that tribal parenting, and how lifethese days is just set up harder to do these kinds of things with your baby.

So there we go. Nakey bum at one, a short review. NOT a “Woohoo!! Everyone should do this!!!” parenting post. In fact, it probably made some of you vomit in your mouth a little. Sorry about that.

We don’t actually have her nakey bum hanging out like this all the time. Ramona just happened to have these ridiculous baggy bloomers on that slipped down just as she reached round to attack Daddy’s specs. Just look at that tiny rotund bum!

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

Just when you think your baby can’t get grubbier…

25 August, 2011

you go camping.

There wasn’t much hope for Ramona. Her mother is one of those shower-averse Brits that substantiate the “myth” that we are an unclean nation. (I put myth in quotation marks as I like to think that there are more of us in the closet, you know?) Even at 28 years old she can’t remember to clean her teeth (and twice a day? Really? Booorrring.) and a brush only goes near her hair to backcomb it.

I like to think I embrace a layer of grime proudly, for aren’t pheromones -or Furry Gnomes as we call them- a vital sign? But clearly by writing that first bit in the third person I am somewhat distancing myself from that mucky sod.

So Ramona was never gonna be a prim and proper, nit pickily clean little lady. Or just clean.

She manages it for about the first ten minutes after a bath. And then she generally finds some food. Baby Led Weaning is one messy buisness. Yesterday she crawled off to the blackberry bush and ended up looking like she belonged in a horror film.

But, gosh, camping? That is seriously Next Level.  All that dust and mud and not a sink within dashing distance.

One night we were heading to bed late, we had put up the tent, cooked and eaten tea in the dark but I felt I ought to duck in the shower with Ramona as it had been a sweaty old day. As I turned the light on I expected to see Ramona covered in the tomato sauce from the pasta. She was. But I didn’t expect to see stuck on to this layer, a thick film of the dark dust surrounding our tent. She looked like a chimney sweep from Camberwell circa 1872.

And we are off camping again tomorrow to the probably not so hot as France but equally lush land of Glochestourestershire (pronounced Gloster). Meanwhile here are some snaps of the French campitycamp.

Attachment parenting, Green things, Nappyfree

So how is that weeing by a tree thing working out for you?

1 August, 2011

Famously thanks, it is by far Ramona’s favourite place to take a wizzle.  She likes to think she can do her buisness while still participating, you know? I personally hate having to duck off to the loo if I feel like I’m going to miss out on some fun snippet of conversation. (Unless there is a good book in there. We have David Shrigley in ours. Which makes you think everyone else is missing out by not being in there taking a dump and reading. ) We have been on an epic voyage of communicating about elimination over the last 6 months. We have had a fair share of wee on the floor, even one or two poos. But for the most part it has been totally wicked. We are now at a joyous stage of having a nappy free 9 month old  and fairly risk free too. (Averaging one wee miss a day- all others by tree or in potty.) I love it because:

It is a continuation of me meeting her needs, when I feel she is hungry, I feed her, when I feel she needs to wee, I help her.
I love the communication- her wriggling, eyeballing me, grunting when she needs to go.
The sense of connection when we have really in sync days.
We immediately went down from one laundry wash of nappies a day to one a week.
I never have to clean poo up, ever.
I love seeing her freedom of movement without a nappy, I love her lolling around naked on warm days.
My husband has been able to get hugely involved in this side of parenting.
When I go out I don’t need a big fat nappy bag. Just a spare pair of leggings for a miss.

Here is a picture of the big little lady combining pleasures…

She is clearly thinking “This cucumber is great but a book would make this heavenly.”