How I Found Elimination and Communication in EC

Welcome to the First Annual Freedom of Cloth Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year’s carnival will run from Sunday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 9th. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.

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When I was pregnant with my first child, I already knew I wanted to cloth diaper. I researched the benefits to both health and the environment and decided that, while I can understand the arguments for cloth diapers and disposables, cloth was the way I wanted to go. So, we hired a cloth diaper service and managed well with prefolds, snappis, and PUL covers until our first son, Nat, was around 6 months old.

Discovering Elimination Communication

As we emerged from the newborn shell shock, we began noticing that our son would fuss or cry before peeing or pooing in his diaper and he would pee or poo whenever his diaper was removed. I researched online and after panicking over all manner of terrifying medical conditions (first time parent, remember) I stumbled upon elimination communication. I was extremely skeptical, but felt instinctively that Nat was trying to tell me something. So, with little belief, I decided to give it a whirl. Nat squirmed a bit and fussed while wearing his diaper. So I held him over the sink and he peed! I was hooked. This little baby was smart. He already knew to communicate his need to relieve himself and his thick-headed mother was finally getting it. It only took a little while before his dad was happily practicing as well.

We still used cloth diapers while out, but Nat was pretty much nakey butt all the time at home. When he began crawling, he would reach for a Baby Bjorn potty to let me know he needed to use it. I ended up buying several potties to keep in the rooms where we were. This came in handy when he was able to walk to the potty on his own and he would get himself there much more easily.

When Nat was about 15 months old, we switched to cloth training pants from The EC Store. We used the training pants while we were out of the house and continued to let Nat be naked while home. Nat switched to underpants full-time at 18 months old. He has always been an easy-going child, so our e.c. journey with him was easy.

The Second Time Around

Things were not so easy the second time around. We had planned on practicing e.c. from birth with our second son, Gan. We did e.c. full-time for the first few weeks. It was a joy to experience this time with little Gan. I found keeping his booty clean so much easier when he could just relieve himself into a small potty or onto a prefold as I held him in my arms. However, connecting with Gan became increasingly challenging for me as I succumbed to postpartum depression. My husband and I made the decision to use primarily cloth diapers and only e.c. when it was joyful while our family healed together.

I held onto a lot of guilt about this decision as I was concerned about the long term effects on him if he lost his awareness of his bodily functions. Still, Gan was full-time in underpants at about 20 months, although we had a few days of regression to missing here and there around the time he turn 2 years old and his little brother, Bud, was born. I think Gan has been able to maintain his awareness of his pottying needs because he has always been in cloth. He could tell when he was wet, so there was little disconnect from his urge to relieve himself.

I think Gan would have had a far more difficult time maintaining his awareness of his needs to pee and poo if we had used disposable diapers that wick moisture away from the skin. Cloth diapers have been an asset and not a detriment to Gan’s journey to potty independence. I wonder if we might have had a more difficult time with him without cloth because he has always been fiercely opinionated. If I had attempted full e.c. with him, I believe he may have felt it as control. Cloth diapers allowed him the joy of taking them off himself while watching my reaction. We would play a game where I would pretend to be upset that he was removing his diaper and sitting on the potty without my help. When he was older, we played the game but pulling off underpants didn’t seem as satisfying for him as the sound of Velcro or snaps.

Finding the Groove with Baby Number Three

Now, we’re on this cloth and e.c. journey with baby number three. At 11 months, Bud is primarily nakey butt at home and full time cloth diapered when out of the house. A benefit of being the third child is that I’m a more experienced mom, but the trade-off is that I have less focus for him when he communicates his need to use the potty, so we have more misses. But, that’s okay. I already have a well-loved prefold stash for clean up.

I feel at ease with whatever combination of cloth and diaper-free time Bud ends up with because I understand the importance of the words elimination and communication behind the term elimination communication. As long as he maintains his awareness of his elimination needs and we work together to communicate all will be well.

For more on EC, and particularly the “communication” aspect of EC, please see:

  • Diaper Free Baby is one of the main hubs for information about EC. It includes links to the large online forums and groups for support and information, as well as local meetups and playgroups.
  • Tribal Baby has extensive resources about EC including the history of elimination communication and many common questions such as late and early starters, part-time ecing, and signals to watch for.
  • Born Potty Trained is a great place for information on getting started with elimination communication and using cloth back ups.
  • The Potty Whisperer has two especially good articles about communicating, instead of perfection and what to expect for late starters.
  • Natural Baby World has this excellent article, along with more resources, about communication and EC.
  • The EC Store and the specific Design Your Own Waterproof EC Pants we used. My experience with the owner was outstanding and she has always been welcoming of questions and concerns.
  • Bongo Baby cloth training pants are, in my experience, the best option for the very last stages before full time underpants or during a regression. Unless you’re in Australia, they can take awhile to get to you. But, they are worth the wait.
  • EC Wear also has good customer service, is willing to answer questions and share personal experiences with EC.
  • Photo Credit: Author

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    Zoie is a hippy mama to three boys on earth and one girl who soars. She waggles her toes near the San Francisco Bay and wiggles her fingers at TouchstoneZ: Gentle Parenting and Mindful Living off the Mat. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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    Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:

    • Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
    • Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents’ individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering “style” that best suits their families.
    • Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
    • Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
    • Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
    • Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
    • Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become “greener” overall.

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