Saturday, 23 May 2015

19 months old and out of nappies!

Ever heard of Elimination Communication / EC / Infant Pottying? I first heard about it 12 years ago and thought it was kind of mental. How does that even work? Magic or something?

Babies are pretty smart, it turns out. I never bothered to try EC with my older children, but by the time my four year old was seven or eight months old, I made a few friends who successfully practised it with their babies so I picked their brains. I attempted a modified version of EC with my then-toddler and by 22 months old, she was in undies. Huzzah! She wasn't dry at night for another year +, but I was cool with that.

When I had my fifth baby, I really wanted to start from birth. The little dear had some feeding problems we needed to overcome and I didn't have the headspace for it, so we didn't actually start until she was 3 months old.

So... how does this work, exactly? My baby was showing some signs of straining to poo one day, so I held her over a potty and hey presto. No stinky nappy. At first, I would focus on holding her over the potty or toilet when she woke from naps. Eventually, I noticed that when she was breastfeeding, she would pop off and on the breast and couldn't settle down to feed, so I held her over a potty. BAM. Pretty soon, I noticed that she would tense her body up in a certain way, or wiggle around a bit when she needed to "go". She sometimes would cry and get frustrated if I didn't help her to a potty quickly enough.

Basically, she trained me. But that's okay! I liked not having dirty nappies to change, and less laundry to wash. (we use cloth)

Much to my dismay, once she started solids and crawling in earnest, the idea of using the potty was totally uncool. She completely refused every effort for me to hold her over a receptacle, even when it was obvious she needed to go.

Okay then! I left her to it. Back to nappies full time, but I kept up with the "communication" aspect of Elimination Communication. I pointed out when she was doing a poo or wee, and when she got older, she would point to herself and repeat after me.

Fifty or sixty years ago, most children were potty trained by 18 months. When my daughter reached a similar age, I started noticing her morning nappies were bone dry. As an experiment, I started leaving the nappy off her in the morning, and one day when I was in a different room, I walked by the potty to see it was full! The little munchkin had taken herself to the potty with zero assistance, and we've had plenty of success since then.

To be fair, what I'm describing as a nappy free 19 month old is really not even close to a fully toilet trained four year old. She can't pull down pants on her own, so I have to help her with clothes (she's normally half naked at home to facilitate quick dashes to the potty). She doesn't really tell me in advance when she needs to go, so I still rely on cues to help her focus on the potty. She's mostly happy to stop what she's doing to go potty, but not always. I have to make a little game of it.

She has accidents most days, but it really is all about my attitude towards them. I don't coerce her or shame her if there's a puddle, and in actual fact she is more upset about messes than I am ("eeeewwww!" I hear her cry - sends me running!). To be fair, we have no carpeting downstairs where we spend most of our time, so that helps with a relaxed approach!

Still. She is in underwear when we go out, and it hasn't been a big deal. Hopefully I'm not jinxing anything, but I think she'll be much more independent in a few months when she turns 2, and until that time comes, I'm here to help.

EC is more of a long haul process than those "train in 3 days" programmes, but so is weaning and independence in general. Nobody expects a six month old to be cutting their own steak dinner from the beginning - there are stages to independent eating, sleeping, walking, playing, and toileting. I am very happy (and surprised, to be honest) at our progress and quite proud of this little girl of mine.

Feel free to ask any questions about EC in the comments. I'm happy to help where I can!

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