The Elimination Communication Method is becoming more and more popular with young moms. Those who already tried it, love it but some others may see it as an extreme. Let’s look at the Elimination Communication Method. What is it? What are its advantages and disadvantages?
The Elimination Communication Method is based on the mutual communication between the parent and their baby. The baby gives certain signals which indicate when they need to go potty. The parent (or caregiver) who spends time with the baby will recognize these signals and allow the baby to go potty without a diaper, into the toilet, sink or washbasin. This method is still new in Slovakia but fairly common in the rest of the world.
Lenka, the mom of little Gabi, has also tried this method. She says: “We began using the Elimination Communication Method when Gabi was 4 weeks old. In the beginning, I took her to the bathroom whenever she made the slightest noise. Nowadays I don’t panic over every little sound. It’s a little hard to tell apart her signals, though. She’s 8 months old now and she’s interested in everything, so she crawls around and chatters a lot. Even then, though, I can tell when she needs to go potty. It doesn’t limit us at all. Quite the contrary, we’re both very happy that we understand each other so well.”
What are the signals?
It can be crying, restlessness, certain gestures or facial expressions. It can also by indicated by the baby suddenly stopping what is was doing. Every baby is unique. By watching your baby, you will eventually learn to recognize the signals they are giving you. You also have a secret weapon, your motherly intuition.
When to start?
The sooner you start using the Elimination Communication Method, the better! You and your baby will get to know each other a lot more and your baby will learn to go potty without a diaper. Babies give out their signals from the very start but they might give up around 3 months of age if the parent isn’t reacting to them. Teaching your baby the Elimination Communication Method when they’re older than 3 months is hard, but it’s still possible.
What about the parents?
Many moms who decide to try Elimination Communication are referred to as “alternative moms” and may be seen as strange. Your baby, however, doesn’t care what society thinks about you or about them. The only thing your baby cares about is having a parent who understands them. You wouldn’t feel good surround by your own excrements and your baby doesn’t feel good in such a position either. Of course, you don’t have to be a perfect Elimination Communication mom. You know your baby best and the most important thing is that you learn to see the signs your baby is giving you. If your baby sees that you’re reacting to them, they will communicate much more. Babies are very smart, trust them.
The method isn’t dirty and doesn’t take long
When using diapers, how long does it take to change your baby’s diaper and clean them? It’s not really an activity you can do in just a few minutes. In terms of time, wouldn’t it be easier to just take off your baby’s diaper when they give you a sign and hold them over the sink or the toilet? You’ll have less work with cleaning and your baby will be happy, too. Even though the method has the word “elimination” in it, it doesn’t mean that you need to entirely eliminate the use of diapers. Many moms give their babies diapers, just in case. Nothing is flawless and even if you’re using the Elimination Communication Method, accidents can still happen. But if your baby knows that you understand their signals, they will prefer to go potty in the toilet or the sink, rather than a diaper.
Parents usually refuse this method because they don’t want to watch their baby like a hawk non-stop, 24 hours a day. Don’t worry about that at all. In time, you will learn the habits of your baby. You’ll know whether they usually go potty right after they wake up, 20 minutes after they’ve eaten, or at some other time. You will gain experience and you’ll be able to predict when you should be on your guard.
Elimination Communication and traveling? Don’t panic!
During travel or when you’re visiting someone, the Elimination Communication Method isn’t exactly the most comfortable. Imagine you’re on a plane and your baby has to go. You get up, but the plane’s bathroom is occupied. What would you do in that situation? Knock on the bathroom door and hope the other person gets out quickly? Some mothers can handle such situations, but for many others, it’s just unnecessary stress. Allowing your baby to have ‘an accident’ on the plane because you didn’t give them a diaper is a bit inconsiderate towards the other people on the plane. If your baby uses a diaper from time to time, nothing bad will happen. They won’t suddenly unlearn everything and forget to give you signs, just because you used a diaper once or twice.
No more sore and irritated skin
When using the Elimination Communication Method, your baby’s skin is in minimal contact with stool and urine. This helps lower the risk of sore and irritated skin, infections, and inflammation. Everything has its good sides and bad sides. In the beginning, you will need to learn to understand your little bundle of joy. Accidents will happen and it will be frustrating to handle, but we think that the effort is worth it for the health of your baby.
When parents become competitive
Alright, so now you can read the signals of your child and you’ve gone a few days without an accident. Amazing! It’s a great feeling, indeed, but some parents take it to the extreme. They become too competitive and treat even the smallest accidents as if they were the end of the world. When you begin using the Elimination Communication Method, you have to account for the fact that you can’t eliminate 100% of all accidents. At least at the very beginning. Don’t worry, though. Eventually, you and your baby will learn to trust each other. Then, you’ll be able to take your baby for a visit or a walk without a diaper, even if they’re still less than one year old.
If you’d like to learn more about the Elimination Communication Method, you can get additional information in books. Many moms recommend “The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative” by Christine Gross-Loh and “Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene” by Ingrid Bauer.