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Nappyfree, Parenting

Potty training from birth?! Our nappy-free newborn

13 April, 2017

Updated! Here is a video all about why we chose the Nappy-Free Newborn route.

And here is my original post – written two weeks after Juno was born.

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!Potty training from birth?! Nappyfree newborn

Nappy-free newborn: 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.

Nappy-free Newborn 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:

Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!
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

Pin for later:
elimination communication with a newborn baby

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


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:


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!

ten signs your baby needs to to to the toilet

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.

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!

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.”