July 28, 2006

The Elimination Game

Hi-ho. John Biggs here, guest blogger and recent new dad.
In an effort to fill the vacuum of my days, I've decided to take a stab at the old Elimination Communciation (EC), a process in which you listen for your baby's "tells" and then sprint upstairs to the potty.

Kasper, the boy, is just now sittting so it seems like a good time give him a few Freudian issues. Every time he grunts, I'll haul him to the little orange see-through potty, strip him like a ham wrapped in plastic, and let him give it the business. I've been successful once so far - the resulting lumpkins were quite handsome, not pressed and contorted by the diaper - but now he is trying to sit up on his own so his exertions often sound like false alarms.

I'll try to update DT readers with my efforts. I've yet to sense the tell-tale sound of his Number 1 efforts, but that's the next step, I suppose.


Hey John. New dad here myself (kid turns 3-months-old this weekend). I'm also a stay-at-home dad, so the EC thing gets to be mostly MY responsibility. Still, the wife and I have been doing it for about a month now and it's going swimmingly. We catch a good 95% of his poos and probably 75% of his pees (the ones in the middle of the night are impossible). The main key isn't listening, for me, it's all in the statistics.

Watch for when your kid pees his diaper. Ours always goes after he wakes up, so when you see his eyes open and he squirms to stretch, you get him up and to the potty. Bam! Pee.

You'll find that you catch a lot of poops that way, too, since most people seem to pee and poo at the same time, or, rather, at the same "sitting".

If your son is trying to sit up on his own, how old is he? It's supposed to work best if you can start early (like birth or first couple of months).

Anyway, best of luck. I'll probably be posting some more on our experiences on my blog, so read there if you're interested.

I know it is hard to tell if someone is trying to be judgmental when they write in on comments. So, I'll just say my question is in no way meant to critique your parenting decisions.

I'm just curious about why you would try to toilet train your 3 month old. Environmental reasons?

He's actually 7 months old and he can communicate - if that's what you want to call it - enough to attempt an early potty training. My wife is Polish and she's been brought up with kids getting potty trained fairly early, so we're giving it a go.

Why, you ask? Why not? Beats changing diapers. We got a late start (started at about 13 months), but in a short time we cut the number of diapers needing changed in half. By the way, teaching a kid sign language helps this process so much (along with helping overall communication immensely).

I've been doing this for a while, nowhere near as sucessful as the first commenter but I'm using the same technique. I take him to pee when he wakes up, set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes, and keep taking him every 20 minutes until he goes to sleep. I wish I had the energy to do this every day because it works.

Poos are on the same schedule ever day so I watch for grunting at those times.

One of the reasons why people do this is that babies may not like to sit in diapers. ECers think that babies are born knowing to avoid soiling themselves but that through years of diapering kids forget what they're born knowing. Then relearning can sometimes be traumatic.

It's not "potty training" though. It's "potty awareness." I know you're thinking "toe-may-toe/toe-mah-toe" but there's a big difference. The first is a person (or animal, if you want to think about training a dog) learning how to eliminate in an appropriate place. The second is about a shared learning: the caretaker learning the baby's signs; and the child learning to give those signs and wait until their caretaker gives them the go-ahead.

As another commenter said, it keeps the kid from becoming OK with having poop all over their bums. I know for a fact that our son is much happier pooping in a sink or potty than in his diaper. You can see it on his face every time he goes and on his diaper-rash-free butt. It's also supposed to speed up potty training when you get to that later in life.

And it's _definitely_ something you should do everyday, if it all possible, since doing it sporadically would probably just confuse the child.

[I've heard people say that EC is really just training the parents to drop everything at the merest hint of pee. But from our own current toilet training experience, I can say that parents get trained this way, too; 3/4 accidents we've had have been the direct result of me or my wife forgetting to remind the kid when we go out or come back. -ed.]

This is almost considered standard practice (in Asia at least, where I am) and is working great for us as well after 8 months. My feeling is that the diaper industry would prefer us to keep our little ones in diapers and training pants and what-have-you for as long as possible, or until our landfills give way, whichever comes first.

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