Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Elimination Communication

Potty Training Method Five (5)

The terms elimination communication and natural infant hygiene were coined by Ingrid Bauer and are used interchangeably in her book, Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdome of Natural Infant Hygiene.

Ms. Bauer traveled to India and Africa, where she noticed that most mothers would carry their diaper-less babies, yet she saw no elimination "accidents" as would be expected in industrialized countries where babies wear diapers almost continuously from birth. Subsequently, she raised her own children with minimal use of diapers, and eventually began to share her approach with other mothers and caregivers.

The elimination communication potty training method does not use diapers. The caregiver simply offers the infant a potty (small portable receptacles) whenever the baby exhibits signs that she needs to go to the bathroom. Signs differ for each child but caregivers closely observe the infants so they can spot the signs, such as squirming, fussing, passing gas, crying, a look of concentration, or by following a timetable such as, ten minutes after every feeding. Those that use the method remind us that caregivers check for soiled diapers already. Caregivers already look for signs for when an infant is hungry or tired so why not include elimination to the list?

Elimination communication training can begin as early as birth but can also start in later infancy or during the toddler years.

Children who use diapers get used to eliminating in a diaper. They need to learn how to use the toilet. Diapers keep waste close to the body and may lead to diaper rashes. Children are also exposed to the chemicals in diaper detergents or disposable diapers. While elimination communication requires some work at the beginning, it pays off when the child learns how to use the toilet readily.

The Elimination Communication Steps:

  1. Pick a day when you won’t leave the house and remove the baby’s diaper. Keep activities limited and to perhaps on or two rooms without carpet and mop near by!
  2. Place the baby on the floor or play with the toddler and watch for potty signs.
  3. When you notice these signs sit the baby on the toilet or holding them over the toilet and make the “pssss” or “ssshhh” sound. They might pee or potty right then or perhaps not but continue this process, repeating it until she uses the toilet.
  4. Children often will pee on a floor if the signal has been missed by the caregiver.

Some prefer this method because it is cheaper than buying diapers and is environmentally friendly since disposable diapers are not biodegradable. It is also a natural extension of attachment parenting.

Would you work for parents that want you to use the elimination communication potty training method?


Anonymous said...

Here we go with no diapers and I just feel this is not something nannies should have to do. I would not work for a family that asks me to care for an infant without diapers.

tobagonanny said...

Granted this type of pottying a baby is more time consuming but if you can take the time why not help the enviroment? According to the Real Diaper Association, single use diapers are the third largest consumer product contribution to landfills and make up 50 percent of the household waste for a family with one child in diapers. The average American child will use more than 6,000 diapers before potty training. Fewer diapers used means less waste in the landfill from disposables or less water and energy to wash reusable diapers.

Anonymous said...

I think this is ridiculous for busy families. One baby might be ok for a parent. I do not think it would be reasonable to ask someone you hire to do this. Just ridiculous.

Career Nanny Kerry, Ontario

englishnannyny said...

As a nanny I am working in a service industry for the parents. I do as they ask me to do. They are paying me to care for their child how they feel is best. If the child is trying to tell you something, you have to stop, listen and respond. Period. If you are more interested in your own needs, conversations and interests to stop for a moment and focus on the child. No reason not do this. Give it a try, then perhaps you and the parents can decide the child belongs in diapers. All the products that are designed to hold our babies so we don’t have to, such as swings, playpens, bouncy seats and strollers allow you to safely “ignore” your baby while you are on the phone, watching TV or doing laundry. You have to be in the moment and ready to respond to your baby for EC to work.

Anonymous said...

No way would I do this. Some comments over the past 2 days are so self righteous. I do not feel bad to say no way. I will not work for a family that wants to do this.
I will not work for a family that won't allow me to use diapers. I am a good nanny. I do plenty of things I don't want to for my job. This is not one I would do.
Gwen in Houston

Anonymous said...

I agree with Gwen. It is interesting to learn about but I wouldn't do it either.

Anonymous said...

I am really glad to learn about this. I have heard about it but did not beleive in it and I see now it's not as "strange" or "weird" as I thought it would be. I agree it's a lot like attachment parenting. It isn't some crazy whacko idea. For those that can do it, great. I'm not sure I'd have the patience required but I am glad to see it isn't witchcraft.

Tonya Parker Smith
Austin TX

Anonymous said...

Nannies have to ask themselves why they won't try something so nurturing. You can't ignore the baby. For those who want to sleep or watch tv you are too lazy to do this. BTW this method does not mean that you have to hold the baby 24-7 or that you cannot have a conversation with a friend. You can do anything you feel like as long as you stop for a moment and pay attention when the baby is trying to tell you something. Yes attachment parenting should be used too. It will be easier if you wear your baby. The more you wear the baby, the more successful you will be at elimination communication. Wearing / carrying the baby (as opposed to using strollers, swings, playpens) allows you to feel the baby’s signals it is time to eliminate. Babywearing also makes it much more difficult to ignore your baby than if he was in a playpen across the room.

Anonymous said...

I read online that parents have to cosleep with a potty handy for EC.
Babies go a lot and they go around the clock. EC is a 24 hour proposition. Before the baby stays dry through the night be prepared to potty your baby at the same time as those middle of the night feedings. Some parents only EC during they day because they are not willing to cosleep with their children. There is no way to feel that “certain squirm” if your baby is in a crib in the next room and not lying in your arms. You may also be surprised at how many night wakings are to eliminate and not to eat (like you always thought). Co-sleeping or utilizing a family bed, is the most convenient way to feed and potty your baby in the middle of the night.

But all literature warns about babies sleeping with adults as being dangerous. Adults can smother the baby while sleeping.

Many ECers feel that cosleeping is the only way for elimination communication to work at night. Cosleeping parents generally breastfeed and will be snuggled up with their babies anyway.

Clothes become a problem. This is a very unfortunate aspect of EC. Baby and toddler clothes are cut for diapers. The older the child, the bigger the cut, to allow for a big, heavy, full diaper. A clean diaper takes up a lot of space and a full diaper takes up a ton of space. When you put these “cut for diaper” jeans, skirts and pants on a baby or toddler who is wearing normal underwear, they literally fall off in some cases.

You may be able to find some foreign brands of pants that have a slimmer cut but you will probably have to do some searching and trial and error. Girls can wear dresses and leggings and both sexes can go naked with baby leg warmers while at home. You will probably find that nudity is the easiest and best option and your baby will certainly like it better too.

Then I read about how embarrassed parents are when the clothes fall off and family and friends see the baby's bitt crack all the time.

Anonymous said...

Comments yesterday about using diapers some of the time is wrong. Typically the goal is to partially or completely avoid the use of diapers. EC emphasizes communication between the caregiver and child, helping them both become more attuned to the child's innate rhythms and control of urination and defecation. The term "elimination communication" was inspired by traditional practices of diaper-less baby care in less industrialized countries and hunter-gatherer cultures.

Anonymous said...

The entire concept is not to potty train them, it’s not to do reward and punishment. It’s a very Zen, meditative experience of learning the signals, being able to respond to the signa. The level of communication you can achieve with an infant is really profound.
Michelle Lincoln NE

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with this method but I won't be doing it.

Melanie M
Bay Area

Lisa, DC said...

For those that think "how dare families have this expectation for nannies"... um you aren't the parent and they are the one paying the salary.

They can have any job expectation that they want. Being a nanny is a service industry.

No, you don't have to agree with any of them or choose to be hired by them.

Some of these anonymous posters want to get caught up in how using diapers aren't true EC. Okay there's not a complete label for us. But I can say the philosophy we are trying is based on EC and in my case in combination with cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers aren't causing issues at landfills. Cloth diapers can also help child toilet training quicker too.

Well, quite frankly in all my years of being a TA or nanny have I ever met a caregiver who so LOVES to change a toddler's diaper. If my charge can be trained by a 18 months. WOO-HOO.

Anonymous said...

Persoally I'm so glad to read about it since I sort of heard about it and thought it must be voodoo. But I also wouldn't want to do it unless I had to. I guess if the mother or father could teach you...why not?

I kind of feel similarly about attachment parenting. Whatever floats you boat but I'm just not sure if I would want to do it.

Dena nanny of 5

Anonymous said...

I saw a mother doing this once with a baby at an airport. I don't think it is appropriate to do this in public. She should have excused herself to the bathroom. Everyone noticed and it seem inappropriate at the time.

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