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.
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!