Shhhhhh!

For updates on our EC adventures click here.



No, I'm not going to tell you a secret. Sorry to disappoint.

In fact, I am hoping to do just the opposite. I want to tell you about something I am very excited about. Something I want anyone with kids to know about. Something I discovered about six months before my daughter was born that I didn't think would actually work, yet does.


In most countries it is merely part of caring for a baby. In the Western World it has become known as elimination communication (EC), natural infant hygiene, infant potty training, or diaper free. Thanks to Nina Planck (author of Real Food For Mothers and Babies--a book I highly recommend for any woman who is breastfeeding, pregnant, or hoping to conceive. Read my full review here.) I discovered this form of toilet training. 


In her book she mentioned that she practiced this method with her son. Highly skeptical, yet intrigued, I borrowed a copy of Ingrid Bauer's Diaper Free! from the library. 


I must admit that the picture on the front cover did nothing to dissuade me from the belief that this was a hoax, an impossible task set up only for hippy-mommas who pranced around naked all day with their babies in golden fields of barley. Yet, Bauer, claimed that what she was proposing was far from new and even possible for Western mothers who live in carpeted areas with friends and family who would not appreciate their babies peeing on their floors.

She states,

Throughout most of human existence, parents have cared for their babies hygienically without relying on diapers. In many cultures around the world, mothers still know how to understand and respond to their infants elimination needs to keep them clean and content. 
Bauer presents a picture that makes sense to me--babies are born with the innate need to be held, to feed and to eliminate after feeding. She argues that just as babies communicate when they are scared, tired, or hungry they also (from birth) know when they have too pee or poop and they give us a verbal and/or physical cue. 

The only difference between a mother in Mongolia and a mother in L.A. is that the mother in Mongolia has learned from her mother who learned from her mother who learned from her mother, how to read her babies "cue". Mothers (or father, grandparents, village elders) than respond to the babies cue by holding them over a receptacle (toilet, bowl, dirt floor) and making a hissing, or shushing noise (hence the title of this post). 

The idea is that the baby learns to associate this sound with the use of their "elimination" muscles. Eventually they will learn to tighten those muscles when they hear the verbal cue. If they have to go, they will. If they don't, they will at least try. 

As a U.S. born and bred woman I didn't have much in the way of help for getting started. Initially, I was armed with little more than Bauer's book and the belief (or more simply, the hope) that maybe I could do this. Looking at the statistics made me want to at least try:

Over the half the world's babies are potty trained by 1 year old (Pediatrics Magazine). Yet, in the US, the average age is now over 3 years old! (webMD) 
If I could do something to prevent having to change diapers at three, or even at two, I was going to at least give it a try!


STARTING OUT (Birth- 2 months)



For the first three weeks of my Little Owl's life she wore nothing except her baby-fresh skin and her momma and papa's love. We wrapped her gently in blankets and she would sleep on my, or her daddy's chest. She peed onto receiving blankets which we changed immediately. And changed. And changed. And changed.  And changed. 

Holy peeing baby batman. Bauer didn't talk about just HOW much a newborn pees. Nursing triggers peeing. Being moved triggers peeing. Sneezing triggers peeing. Got the hiccups? Pee. Gas smile? Pee. Breathing? Pee. How in the world was I suppose to catch sixty pees a day?? Needless to say I became very discouraged. It wasn't working. My baby didn't give me cues. No warning whatsoever. Just peed. And peed. And pooped. And peed. And peed. 

Than I saw a reminder. A stranger changing her three-year-olds poopy daiper. I. Did. Not. Want. To. Do. If. I. Could. Help. It. That was not baby poop. That was not a baby bottom. Before reading Bauer's book I wouldn't have thought twice about what that mother was doing. To most of the world its strange to have a toddler in diapers but not breastfeeding. In the States it's the opposite. Babies nurse? Of course. Toddlers nurse? Are you crazy? But, they have their diapers changed. 


Re-motivated I decided to keep trying. At this point Little Owl was mostly at home with a pad and blanket wrapped around her. When we were out and about she was in cloth diapers. I still didn't seem to see any signs or "cues" from her. Or any sense of understanding what in the world mommy was doing making "shhh"-ing sounds by her ear. And, mind you, I was doing a LOT of laundry. 



The Middle and Onward (3 months-now)



Then, somewhere around 2.5 or 3 months it changed. She started to get it. I started to get her. It started to work. On good days I would feel really encouraged. On bad days, I would try to remind myself that it was worth it. That it would be totally worth it, and that it was working despite laundry, laundry, laundry. Those days I would catch a poop were SUPER exciting (Cheap thrills, moms, right?)


I began to do more research. I discovered websites, blogs, youtube videos, bought an infant potty (they make them??), thanks to a friend joined a facebook support group (I know--hilarious, right??). I began to build a network for myself and gather tools that I would need to actually do this in a carpeted house, in a car-riding family, in a no-your-baby-can't-be-naked-all-the-time world. 


Slowly, piece by piece, it was coming together. She was cue-ing. I was responding. I was missing, but less and less. Or, at least most days. 


Now, I have a four-month old. (What?? When did that happen?) Yesterday we road the bus, went to the library for baby story-time, visited with a friend, had lunch out, road the bus back home, took a nap and hung out at the house. Number of diapers used=five. 


Granted, that was a good day. A really good day. But it HAPPENED. And it won't be the last one.


Folks, it's working. I didn't believe it would, but it is. 

I'll keep you posted about how it continues to go. But for now, you butt-ter believe it. ;)


Oops. Just missed a poop... gotta go...




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Have you heard of "EC" before? What are your thoughts?

23 comments:

  1. I wanted to try this with Jonathan, but did not have the courage to follow through. Glad to see you actually braving it—and looking forward to reading updates.

    Oh...and congrats with the new blog!

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  2. Thanks! I look forward to knowing how it will go, too. Will definitely keep posting. I feel very encouraged.

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  3. Very cool what you are doing! I had heard about this idea when I had babies and thought about (I think I even did kind of) trying it but didn't really follow through. My kids are all potty trained now (the youngest is 6) but it sure would have been nice if it would have happened when they were babies. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks, Abbi, for the encouragement! I needed it. Yesterday was a hard day with EC...

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  4. I actually saw this way back when my first son was a baby! Yet didnt get what the mother was doing. Oh I so wished I had asked her questions like "why" and "how does it work" - maybe then we wouldnt have had our youngest son in nappies for so long, and he took for ever to toilet train at night!

    Good on you for giving it a go, and for doing the research. I reckon it will be so worth it because those toddler nappies are yuck!

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    1. Good to hear because I still feel REALLY weird doing this in public! I get the strangest looks :)

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  5. We actually did this full time with our oldest (now 5). It completely worked and I can count on one hand the number of dirty diapers I change once she started eating solids. However, this does get much more difficult when you have other children, or at least it did for us. When you have a toddler running around the house, you can't spend all day with a newborn laying on your chest. Thankfully, though we have been able to modify this a bit to at least have our babies pooing on the potty the majority of the time. I've recently slipped with our 1 year old, so thanks for the reminder to get back on the ECing horse :)

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    1. Yay! Love success stories with EC. Very encouraging. I imagine it does get more difficult with a toddler running around! I am hoping I can keep up the courage :)

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  6. We are very sloooowly trying to EC. So far, have only tried it in the evening because our 13 month old poops in the bath EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT! And he freaks out when he sees it! :D So, we're trying to catch him when he's squatting and put him on the toilet, but then he won't go. The second we put him back in the water, he goes. Darn kid.

    But I'm definitely still thinking about trying further because I certainly don't want to still be changing poops when he's pushing 3 years old like I did with my daughter.

    Thanks Jackie, you post about things that I want to do but have either been too scared or too busy to try. You give me more encouragement to keep trying. :)

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    1. You should see about connecting to the facebook group I linked to in this post. It's a great, supportive community... and lord knows we can ALL use support for raising children (am I right??)

      Just a thought... what if you brought the toilet into the bathtub? My LO tends to go when she hears water/her feet touch water... It's the same for me though... if I have to go and my feet get put in water... I REALLY have to go :)

      Cheers to trying to not change diapers at three! :)

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  7. That picture of the baby with the open-bottom pants...is that for real? When I told my husband how much diapers cost he was half joking half serious when he asked if we can't just send Jr. out to the back yard with open pants. (Not that we would...I'd just love to tell him if pants like that are real.

    I'd like to look for the book myself. I wonder if this strategy can work for parents who must both work outside the home and must put their child in daycare. Daycares won't even work with cloth diapering parents - I doubt they'd work with this method. :(

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    1. Yes, it's for real. It's a picture of a Chinese child.
      :) If you type in "diaper free" to google images you'll find more "open-crotch pants" picture of babies. Pretty hilarious.

      I highly recommend Bauer's book. I would recommend doing an amazon/library search if you want to get a hold of her's. Her's is the one I read, but there are others on the same subject.

      I highly doubt any daycare would be on board. :( But, you could always to diaper free "part-time". You could just practice it when Jr.'s at home. I have heard that any little bit helps! It definitely wouldn't hurt!

      Let me know if you have any more questions/thoughts. :)

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  8. It's so cool that you're doing this! A friend of mine told me about this a couple years ago, and although we don't have children yet, Frank and I hope to EC them when the time comes. :)

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    1. Thanks, Courtney! You should. It is totally worth it! <3

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  9. i have wanted desperately to start trying! we use cloth diapers, which was a huge stretch for my family! so to be diaper free and ec??... HA! our daughter is one year old... and i really would like to try!! especially for when we have more children!! im so glad you were open and honest about your experiences! is that book the best one??

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    1. Hey, Kate! My family was SUPER skeptical at first, too. Five months later? My mom sometimes catches the "cues" before I do. They laughed, made fun (lovingly, of course) but are now super impressed. It's working and they can't argue with that. ;) For encouragement on starting with older kids you should check out Mei-Ling Hopgood's book "How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm", specifically the chapter "How the Chinese Potty Train Early". Best of luck! I'd love to hear how it goes. <3

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  10. Oh my goodness! I just looked up Ingrid Bauer's book online and it's so expensive! :( I was hoping to have it in my library and loan it to people who were interested :( Boo.

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    1. You can get a used copy from amazon for just under $15. Is that where you were looking? New it's ridiculous. I think it might be out of print. I don't own a copy (though I want to). I borrowed it from the library.

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  11. Excellent post, Jackie! We did ECing with our second son from 4-9 months and it worked beautifully and we loved it! He was going on the potty all the time. Then, once he started crawling, it all changed and he refused to use the potty anymore. I got discouraged and gave up. Now he's 20 months and we're due with #3 in just 4 weeks and I really want to potty train him now, before he gets too old. I still believe in the method and want to try it from birth with this next one. It's not for the faint of heart, though, is it?! :)

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    1. Ugh! Such perfect timing for me to read your post. Things have gone COMPLETELY down hill since A started crawling. Lol. Good to know I am not the only one! I am determined to get back on the EC-train though! *fingers crossed* We will see. Hope you are well! <3

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  12. Nice post! It's impressive that you can EC even while traveling out of the house. I'm doing EC part-time with my baby and also using cloth diapers, but we still use the diapers a lot
    -Thais
    www.growinggreenbabyblog.wordpress.com

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    1. Hey! Thanks for the note. Going to check out your blog now... :)

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  13. hi, love your spirit and good luck with all of your endevors! Infant potty training saved our family vacation when the 9 month old would go poop on her baby potty before we got on the boat each day, so we didn't have to worry about yucky swim diapers and smelly wet messes in the boat. It was awesome!! We still used diapers, but we were somewhere in the middle, we could go with out if we wanted, it was great.
    by the way, you have a crazy video game ad on your sidebar that is called League of Angels and it borders on cartoon porn, wondered if you knew...if so oh well, to each there own, but thought you might want to check it out.

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