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

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  • Caroline 9 May, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Really interesting post – I’ve never heard of EC, but will definitely be looking into it now.

    The bare bottom thing… My Mum is very wary of me even putting pictures of my twins in the bath up online. She’s an early years teacher and concerned about child protection and potential predators, and advises against even having babies naked on the beach. The whole thing makes me sick and angry, but I can’t help feeling that if society as a whole were more tolerant of bare bottoms, naked babies in general would be less of a novelty.

    • Lucy 9 May, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      Yep, I’m with you on that!

    • Katy Beale 9 May, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      The naked thing is sad. If we hide our children away, then that becomes a normal thing. If we let them be free, then aren’t we saying this is normal? I can see why your mum is scared, but but but… we can’t bow down to the ‘might happens’.

    • Kath Rushworth 12 May, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      My thought on his is one of respect for my children. I wouldn’t post pictures to Facebook of my mother, or my best friend with no pants on.
      Facebook reserves to right to use your pictures how ever they want. Once your pictures are on their servers, any person who can see your picture can share it with anyone they choose. You can “delete” images but that just removed the link that visits that image, it doesn’t take it off their servers.
      Once they are there they are there for good, and my kids may only be 6, 4 and 1 now… but one day they may be 19, 17 and 14, and possibly offended that I have shown compromising pictures of their private anatomy to their future employers or love partners.

  • Amy 9 May, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Hello! Love your posts. My little girl, (also a Juno!) is 4 months old. I quite like the idea of not spending the next two years in nappies. Any particular books or routes you’d recommend? Cheers!

  • Katy Beale 9 May, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    So lovely to read this! Very reassuring to hear that Juno likes to poo standing up. Ada does the same and wants to squat for wees and poos toddling around. It makes sense really. It’s a different kind of thing to sitting on the potty.

    She does say ‘wee’ and ‘poo’ now and will seem a little upset when she’s weed on the floor, but like you, will ‘help’ mop it up. She’ll also tell me if there’s a poo in her nappy. I think the awareness is great, even if the ratio of wees in the potty isn’t.

    I do find other people’s reactions a bit hard. Only in one person’s house I know would I be comfortable letting her go nappy free. It helps that many people have wood floors though my mum is convinced she’ll ruin her carpets!

  • ThaliaKR 9 May, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Go Juno! Go you guys!

    Thanks for this.

    We really need to be a bit less scared of wee on the floor, eh. I understand not spreading excrement around the place, but wee is really not that bad for anyone (not that I’m a wee-drinker, personally) and I think everyone who’s near a baby or small child – or the elderly, or a bunch of other people, actually – would be more relaxed and enjoy their lives more if we could all agree that wee on the floor is not the end of the world.

    Also, my toddler was delighted to be offered a ‘tree wee’ on the way home today. I hadn’t thought about the social acceptability of dogs weeing everywhere, but that’s an excellent point! I feel even better about that now!

  • Eline 9 May, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    This was really interesting to read. I wanted to do EC when M was born but then I chickened out. I wish I hadn’t though, because he HATES being changed so much. It’s turned into a really negative thing for both of us.
    He’s almost 16 months now, and he tells me when he’s done a poo. So, as it’s finally warm enough to be nappy-free most of the time, we’re going to have a go. Just going buy a potty and see how we go, no pressure. I’m really interested to see how the communication part will turn out – he generally surprises me with how much he can tell me despite not being able to say much yet.
    By the way, do you know of any eco/recycled/non-plastic potties out there? Does such a thing exist??

  • Alex 10 May, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Surprise shoe poo! Splendid Lucy – does Tim know about the little present yet? I’m sure caramelly warm soles are good for one’s feet. 🙂 I just started reading a little about EC and let my 10 month old roam nappy free at home occasionally. We rent, and have carpet in every room except for kitchen and bathroom. Of course there was a poo miss the other day, and surely more to happen soon. Soooooo…. how does one reliably get those stains out?? How would you wash poo from a shoe? Any tipps anyone?

    • Alex 10 May, 2014 at 2:42 am

      Silly me – it clearly says that Tim made the discovery himself! Doh.

    • Lucy 14 May, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      Hmmm… we never had poos on carpet that mattered – ours was brown 🙂 But our poo stains come out of cloth nappies just with laundry liquid, and a bit of bleaching from the sun…
      Sorry to be rubbish…. try google!

  • Frank 10 May, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Ah the poo hunt! Circling flies were always a good indication for me… My boy always squatted and even now at three still squats on top of the toilet to poo.

  • Laurenne 11 May, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Love following how it’s going with your girls 🙂 How awesome is being a mama second time around though? I feel like I am a loads better parent to both of them now I am so much more relaxed about everything.

    And on to wees… I let my toddler wee anywhere if she needs it and there isn’t a toilet close by (or if the toilets are gross!), I know people can be funny about it but I wouldn’t let my toddler wet herself for the sake of someone else having a problem with it – if she gotta go she gotta go so we have fairly regular tree wees!

    I always say it’s funny how it’s fine for dogs to do their business anywhere – so it shouldn’t be a problem for babies. People get so squeamish about bodily fluids – the amount of people who recoil in horror when I talk about washing nappies is ridiculous. Get a grip!

    L x

  • Anna Hughes 11 May, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Glad there is another child out there that uses the term ‘butt crack’. Oh the joys of being more relaxed with the whole ‘nappy free’ thing second time around! Or like you said, everything parenting the second time around.

    We have birthed and raised 2 boys in Dunedin, NZ in the winter and successfully (we have a possibly out of the ordinary definition of success) done it nappy free. Less so with our second child. He had nappies on more often but couldn’t resist removing them when we thought he needed to go. Anyway my point it that you don’t need to be in a warm climate to do it. Leg warmers and an extra layer on the top compensate and we generally have a warm home for our young ones anyway. We have chosen not to get new carpet with babies/children in the house so that helps too.

    I don’t know what it’s like to raise a baby with nappies 24/7 and then potty train them. Sometimes I wish I did so I could compare the experiences. You know what you know and if you do it this way from the start it just becomes what you do. Embrace the nakedness, the misses and the journey to independent toileting. It’s fun! 🙂

  • Cecelia 12 May, 2014 at 11:38 am

    For those in Auckland, – here is an EC Support Group:-

  • Janine 12 May, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Oh yes, SO much lazier and so much less need to prove yourself doing EC with the second time around.

    Good point about dogs going wherever but not children. Pretty bizarre considering I would much much MUCH rather touch/step in baby pee than dog pee. Times a million.

  • Amy Harris 15 May, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Well at least she’s got good aim! 😉