Elimination Communication: Nappyfree Newborn

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.

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.

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-  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!

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40 Responses to Elimination Communication: Nappyfree Newborn

  1. Yael says:

    Sounds great!
    We did EC with our daughter and the levels of communication were unbelievable.
    It’s also great fun if not taken too seriously (I’ve promised I wouldn’t count all the missed wee, but ended up counting dry-trousers-days instead).
    Congratulations (:

  2. Sherryl-Lee says:

    I was thinking of you just last night as there was an item on the NZ 6pm news about Elimination Communication. (So this wee update, no pun intended, is very timely indeed). If I had my time again with newborns I would definitely be giving this a go – I was intuitive on so many other things, but being a young mum at the time I wasn’t quite brave enough (nor did I have the emotional stamina) to fight back at everyone who would have potentially thought this was not the norm. My Mum, on the other hand, did her own version of EC with me and my sister back in the day, but she just always made it sound like hard work (even though she hated us using nappies on our own children). Oh well – something to remember to share in a helpful way with our girls in years to come.

    • Lucy says:

      Oh what a cool comment! I think there is a real intuitive thing about this but because not many do it it doesn’t go hand in hand with other parenting practices.
      I’ve heard alot from other grandparents who did it- I guess it was a better alternative to hand washing millions of cloth nappies!

  3. Damson Lane says:

    I thought about EC with my son but was very ill after he was born so I didn’t end up down that road but it is really interesting to see how it is working for you.
    Damson Lane recently posted…How to Grow Potatoes: Step 2 PlantingMy Profile

  4. Mercedes says:

    How nice to have a little helper/cheerleader for baby Juno! I wish we could practice EC more thn we do but with twins I’m just doing the bet I can I I get one or two catches a day! My son is much more predictable than my daughter. Glad it’s going well for you! I’m impressed starting so young! I couldn’t manage till twins were 3 months.

    • Lucy says:

      Wow, with twins! Amazing! That is fascinating about the difference between the two. I am curious about how things will turn out with Juno in comparison to Ramona :)

  5. Oh wow never even heard of this, good on you! Must admit I don’t think I could do it, as far as I’m aware I don’t really notice any signs with my 5 month old (apart from no.2′s occasionally). I wish I did though would save a bit of expense on some nappies! x
    Danielle Askins recently posted…A Birthday for a bright shining starMy Profile

    • Lucy says:

      It took us a wee while to understand Ramona’s signals when she was a few months old, I think they start kind of subtle and develop as they understand we are going to help them do their biz!

  6. I wish I’d heard about this with my little one :( . At one I think she’s probably a little too old to do it with now and I can’t imagine my other half agreeing to it. I’ll probably keep it in mind for future babies :) x
    Victoria Croker recently posted…The Baby In Red’s Baby (Doll)My Profile

    • Lucy says:

      Well, actually… my friend did EC with her older baby, I think it just makes for a super gentle, child led potty training! It’s totally possible to use the principles at any age I reckon. Good luck if you decide to give it a crack! x

    • Janine Fowler says:

      We started EC with our first around 6 months, as soon as he could sit up on his own, and he took to it right away. I think that the sooner you get them used to NOT going in diapers/nappies, the better, but there is no age that is too late. (One upside to doing in later is that you may be able to teach them a (sign language) baby sign to let you know they need to potty. My son used to simply pat the front of his diaper when he needed to go.)
      Janine Fowler recently posted…Milk-boosting post-partum oatsMy Profile

  7. Purplemum says:

    Wow, I had heard of EC and as a pretty crunchy Mum it seemed like something I might try but never did. I think seeing it in pictures actually makes it a little more real, and convinces me it’s not entirely crazy. A newborn, a toddler and EC, well done you.
    Purplemum recently posted…Wonder Girl Turns TwoMy Profile

  8. Wendy says:

    This is an interesting idea that I hadn’t heard of before. It wouldn’t necessarily work for us but if it works for you then that’s great. It is an interesting post but the main thing I took away from it I’m afraid is that I just felt really sorry for Juno and felt like I’d infringed her privacy. Taking a poo is a rather personal moment and having a photo of yourself on the Internet having a poo is not something I’d personally want, and at her age she can’t give consent or not to whether she would want that shared publicly. I respect your decision to post these photos, I’m just saying I personally felt like I’d infringed her privacy viewing them.
    Wendy recently posted…What to Sow Now: MayMy Profile

    • Lucy says:

      Hi Wendy
      Thank you SO much for your comment and honesty, I can totally understand how you feel that way.
      I think you are totally right about Juno not being able to consent to this, and for everything I right and post I tend to ask myself how the girls would feel about finding this about themselves when they are a bit older! I think this is VERY close to the line, and potentially way over it.
      However, when I was beginning EC, photos and even videos were really crucial for us. Learning “The Hold” and seeing it in action helped me believe it was possible and were what got me on the journey. I feel like the compromise is worth it if more parents see how possible nappyfree life is with their baby, and their babies will thank them! It is just a shame I am making this compromise on Juno’s behalf. I am going to think this through a bit more and talk to my husband about it.
      Thank you x
      Lucy recently posted…Elimination Communication: Nappyfree NewbornMy Profile

      • Mummy Barrow says:

        This is a really interesting debate. I have three children, and a blog, yet I rarely blog specifically about them. I might blog about an issue surrounding them but not about them as I respect their privacy. And for the same reason there are very few photos on my blog that have them in them.

        That said, they are teenagers and have friends that read my blog so the situation is very different from yours.

        I dont think that in ten years or so Juno is going to be up in arms about the fact she didnt consent to having her pooing displayed on the internet.

        It is not a gratuitous shot. It is a specific picture for a very specific reason, taken when is just a couple of weeks old. I wouldnt have a problem with that at all.

        This post is brilliant. I must admit that I did know about EC but thought it was a bit, well, whacky. I thought it was bonkers. And caused a massive amount of work and enouraged babies to just pee all over the place.

        Your post has shown me it is not that at all. And that babies are born with these skills and CAN communicate these things from the very day they are born.

        Please keep us updated on this. I am fascinated!

    • Jem says:

      I think it’s society and the way you [generic you, not YOU you] were brought up that says that there is something private about pooping – certainly I have no issues with sharing details of my bowel movements with anyone unfortunate enough to be in ear shot and that has to be because I was brought up in an ‘open bathroom door’ household.

      I think being honest about our bodies, bodily functions, sexuality and all that stuff is really important, actually.

      I do think you need a bigger bowl though Lucy, looks like a little over-spray there ;)
      Jem recently posted…RiskMy Profile

      • Lucy says:

        Yes, this represents my upbringing too!!!!!! It is the “on behalf” thing that is bothering me a bit though…
        HOW DID YOU NOTICE THE OVERSPRAY HAHA was hoping noone would!!

    • Janine Fowler says:

      I typically agree. There is one blogger in particular who is quite popular and writes about her toddler’s issues with bowel movements… It really bothers me that she shares so much detail when he cannot understand or consent. Children are people and deserve their privacy.

      I think that it’s different for a newborn though. I cannot honestly imagine anyone looking back and being genuinely embarrassed at a photo of themselves as an infant. Everyone is pretty much the same as a newborn! And this image is posted for a very specific reason, to help educate.
      Janine Fowler recently posted…Milk-boosting post-partum oatsMy Profile

  9. Jen says:

    Wow, this is amazing. When I used to teach baby signing to families I had a little baby who’s parents had been doing EC with him from very young, and his first sign at 9 months old was…..’toilet’…. I kid you not! It is fascinating to understand more about what babies are trying to communicate. Good luck with it!
    Jen recently posted…Pinterest Passion: #PinItForward CampaignMy Profile

  10. Mary Keynko says:

    My mum used to tell me that she did this with me from birth, as it was ‘bloody obvious what your problem was!’
    Given that it was 40 years ago and she was an older mum with 4 children and rather starchy and middle class, I’m very surprised! tried it with both of mine – epic failure!
    I think it’s wonderful and your are hopefully inspiring more mums to try the same! Even if there is never success with the numbers – learning to communicate with your children can only be a good thing!
    I really can’t imagine that they are going to be worried about seeing the picture in the future – and if they do – you can always take it down!

    • Lucy says:

      Hehe I think some babies are soooo keen to get help doing their business- and then others much less so. Fab that your mum responded to it though!

  11. Mari says:

    Well I am amazed, I didn’t know EC existed so you have opened my eyes and your post is self explanatory and very too the point. I have twins so may have chosen not to do this as I was busy enough as it was BUT with a singleton I may have been tempted, especially with my first born who would scream with colic at sundown every single day. I would have tried with him.

    In reply to Wendy’s comment, I have to disagree, I cannot see Juno being upset by photos of her at two weeks old demonstrating to the world EC, I honestly don’t think she could care less other than having clear bowels and empty bladder to get back to her napping as soon as possible. Actually I think there will be mothers out there who NEED this post and they will be thanking Juno for proving the concept.
    Mari recently posted…Farmhouse Chicken – Le Creuset Cast Iron ChallengeMy Profile

    • Lucy says:

      Yes, twins possibly quite a different ball game! I can’t get my head around how parents cope with more than one new born RESPECT!

  12. Jayne says:

    My daughter, who is now almost 5, suffered terribly with constipation and the position that you’re holding Juno in is identical to how I would hold Sausage to help her pass a bowel movement. She’d end up terribly upset as she was in a cycle of retention, which caused her bm’s to accumulate and get massive, which hurt her all over again and caused her to actively retain.

    I supposed what I’m getting at is that the position you’re holding Juno is brilliant for bowel motility and anything that helps them in this area is great. Learning to understand the signals they give you really improves communication and bonding and anything that cuts down on nappy usage is a bonus, in my humble opinion.

    As for whether or not the photos cross the line, what I would say is this: would the detractors still be cross if they saw this photo in a book? These days, we’re moving away from print media and the very reason that blogging is so huge now is because people are searching for something real and authentic to refer to and learn from. Using informative photos such as this on a blog is no different from using them in a book or instruction manual and I don’t think for one second that your daughter would be bothered by it.
    Jayne recently posted…Cinco de Mayo with a Healthy Twist!My Profile

    • Lucy says:

      Yes, a friend had the same thing with her little guy. He was in a lot of pain until she began this, it really helped them out.
      Thanks for your comment it’s a beauty!

  13. HPMcQ says:

    What a brilliant post and brilliant thing to do! I’ve never heard of it before, but I’m hugely impressed.

    I wouldn’t think that Juno would be particularly bothered by the picture to be honest, she’s helping other mothers in their decision making, I think she might actually be rather proud of herself x
    HPMcQ recently posted…365 07.05.13My Profile

  14. Jem says:

    I meant to do this with Oliver and caught a few wees and I think 1 poop in the early days but my heart wasn’t in it, then going self-employed from 2 weeks old meant I just did not need the extra “stress”. I do wish I’d put more effort in but to be honest I’m just glad he’s not a stool withholder like his sister was from 6mo+
    Jem recently posted…RiskMy Profile

  15. Nell Heshram says:

    This is a fantastic post. The thing that strikes me the most is the level of communication EC requires you to have with the baby. If responsiveness is crucial for child development, then EC sounds as though it really helps with building up a greater understanding between parent and child – and better parenting.

    I found potty training my eldest quite traumatic, old fuddy duddy that I am. But, after reading this, I’m considering taking nappies off my 14 month old, and seeing how we get on. Can I ask how you found parenting your older girl while you were practising EC? The hardest thing for me when potty training my eldest (then 2), was dividing my attention between that and my daughter, who was 3 months old and needed me to focus on her an awful lot too. It sounds as though you need to give loads of attention to the baby for EC to work.
    Nell Heshram recently posted…A country taleMy Profile

    • Lucy says:

      Yes, in my other posts about it I very much talk about the increased opportunity for communication and connection. It is pretty amazing. It really helps you feel in tune with each other.
      It’s been fine with Ramona so far, I’d honestly say it interrupts our day much less then a nappy change. There is no poo to wipe off smeared bums, and Ramona really gets involved, encouraging Juno’s business to make an appearance!

  16. Sian says:

    If I was having another I’d definitely give ec a go!
    and yes I’m sure newborns do smile : )
    Sian recently posted…Colours of the week are…My Profile

  17. valentina says:

    well done lovely photos, thanks for sharing :-) we too did/do ec with our sons. the eldest from 7,5 months (now 3yo) and the youngest from birth, now 6 months. i can’t imagine life without ec really… x

  18. Eva says:

    Dear Lucy,

    congratulations! I haven’t checked the “online media” for a little while and then was out of the country so please accept my late congratulations for Juno coming into fresh air. I had been thinking about you wondering about the arrival and it is lovely to see you guys doing well. EC is a plus :o) I really hope to see you soon, we are doing the last EC meet at mine on the 21st of May, if you feel like getting out of the house. I believe after that it is around yours! Much happiness, Eva

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