Baby Elimination Communication (also known as infant potty training, natural infant hygiene, and diaper free) is the practice of learning your baby’s potty cues and timing to help teach him that a potty is where he should pee and poo.
EC might sound weird, but consider the global perspective. In most non-industrialized countries, EC doesn’t even have a name because it’s the norm. In these societies, babies can be toilet independent as early as 6 months, while the average in America is 3 years.
EC is a lifestyle that encourages natural toilet learning. Baby elimination communication is not about getting your child to use a potty as soon as possible (although earlier potty learning often occurs). EC doesn’t mean your child has to never use diapers. It simply means freedom from dependence on diapers.
What are the benefits of baby Elimination Communication (EC)?
It encourages a deep connection between you and your baby. Newborn elimination communication is a great way to build communication and trust between child and parent.
It’s cleaner. Baby doesn’t sit in his waste, which means less chance for diaper rash too!
It’s more comfortable. Diapers are bulky, so it goes without saying that being diaper free would be more comfortable for most infants.
You can use fewer diapers. When you EC, even part time, you’ll inevitably use fewer diapers, which is great for the environment as well as your wallet.
Baby gains self esteem. When she cries for help to potty and is responded to respectfully, she begins to understand that what she communicates has value and, therefore, she has value.
Explains unexplainable behavior. Many babies become fussy, pop off the breast, wake, or have trouble falling asleep when they need to eliminate (or just have eliminated, and don’t like being wet).
How to get started with EC Elimination Communication
There are many ways to practice baby elimination communication. I would highly, highly encourage you to get support as you will definitely be going against the grain. Here is a fabulous resource you can check out!
Many parents begin EC’ing from birth and are glad they did, but many of those who start later have success as well. Some families EC full time (including through the night), while others choose to do baby elimination communication part time. Whichever path works best for your family, getting started is simple.
Begin with observation. Give baby diaper-free time on a waterproof mat so that you can begin to learn her cues. Keep in mind that many babies need to eliminate shortly after a feed and upon waking. Pay attention to your baby’s natural potty times. This is a great way to help baby recognize his own cues as well.
Introduce cues. When you observe baby eliminating, consider introducing a cue sound like a “pss” sound for pee and a “hmm” sound for poo. Baby will start to associate those sound with “letting go.” You can also use the ASL sign for bathroom. For some babies, just the act of sitting on the potty can be a cue.
Keep a potty nearby. Many parents choose to have an elimination communication potty in each room so there is always one close. When baby shows signs of needing to eliminate, bring her to the potty (or whatever receptacle you choose).
Carry baby in a sling or other carrier. Babywearing can be a great tool for learning baby’s potty rhythms. Many babies won’t eliminate when held close, therefore will be quiet and alert when they don’t need to eliminate and will become fussy and show signs that they want to be taken out of the sling when they need to go.
What do I need in order to practice the baby Elimination Communication method?
The only thing you really need is a place for baby to eliminate. The Baby Bjorn potty is a good choice because of its size. You can use the insert for infants and then when baby can sit up on his own, you can use the full potty. Some parents choose to use the toilet, sink, a Tupperware container, or other small container.
Other things that may help are:
- Infant nightgowns
- Crotchless pants
- Clothing that is easy to pull off quickly
- Notebook to record observations about timing and cues
- A tote bag to carry the potty when traveling
Will I have to buy any diapers at all?
That all depends. Are you planning on full time baby elimination communication including at night? If yes, then you may not need diapers. On the other hand many parents choose to use diapers as backup or to EC part time (while baby is at home for example) and use diapers when traveling or at daycare.
If you choose to use diapers, using cloth can help baby stay aware of when he has eliminated because cloth doesn’t wick wetness away like disposables.
What are the disadvantages?
- More time and dedication necessary (at least initially)
- More messes when you’re still learning
- It can be isolating when you don’t know anyone in real life that EC’s
Here’s what other natural mamas have to say about baby Elimination Communication
I asked the moms on my Facebook page if they’d tried EC and how their experience went. Here is a sample of their responses.
- We are doing baby elimination communication for the first time with my newborn and I LOVE it. We’ve only been doing it a week and we’ve already had so much success. We still have misses, but for the most part we are starting to learn his cues. He used to be colicky around the same time every night, but once we started EC and realized that was when he had to go number 2 and was getting frustrated and began catching it, then his colicky period totally disappeared. His face when we help him go is so relaxed and happy, it’s really another bonding method for parents and babies. I recommend it 10000000000%! – Meagan Cotterell
- We are practicing baby elimination communication in our own way. We started at 8 weeks old. My son wears only cloth diapers. Whenever we change him we take him to the potty (we use the sink because he isn’t big enough for a potty yet) and give him the opportunity to go. He goes per about 80 percent of the time. Poops we are still working on. I think it is all about giving them an opportunity to go somewhere other than in a diaper. After when we are done we do a little pee-pee dance in the mirror to make it fun! Really it only adds an extra minutes to the diaper change. I love it! – Alex Stracey
- We loved EC. Started at 3 months. I rarely washed a poop diaper from then on. My daughter was toilet independent by 19 months, with the occasional missed pee. – Tracy Mills
- Had never tried it until baby #6. Great success! A lot of work on the front end, but well worth it. She never remembers not going on the potty or even wearing diapers (started at 3 mos. which I highly recommend that age). – Moringa Momma
- We do part time baby elimination communication. I think of it as just another part of our day. We offer the potty at every diaper change. When we traveled recently–we were in the car for three days!–our 8 month old would pee in her diapers, but she would wait to poop until we could get to a toilet! It sure made the trip easier for us! – Michelle Grimm-Gossett
- I tried it a bit with both kids. basically, whenever i felt like doing it or remembered to do it, they sat on the potty. During obvious times, like when they woke up in the morning or after nap. Those were easy wins. My son didn’t train early by any means, even though he did start around and on the potty at like 9 months old. With my daughter, at 14 months she showed a lot of interest and told me several times when she had to poop, but then that faded when she got into other interests or something haha. We just play it by ear. She’s in cloth, unlike my son. – Ericka J Iverson
- I started baby elimination communication with my daughter when she was a month old. She is now 7 months old.. no Poopy diaper changes for us! My nephews are 2 and 3 years of age.. both with no intention of potty training. My family is not a fan of us The fact that most nights my daughter wakes up dry:) I love that I can cuddle my baby, nurse her, and put her down for naps all without a diaper on!!:) – Kathleen Partridge
- I started baby elimination communication with my son when he was shy of 3 months. I was very aware of his potty times as he would go after every meal. bf’ing lol. When he was 5 months I changed his last poopy diaper. I started sitting him directly in the toilet and waiting till he went, then praised with lots of happiness and kisses. By the time he was 12 months, he would literally get on the potty himself and go. – Cindy Penagos
More resources for baby elimination communication
How about you? Did you practice EC? Know anyone who did? Share with us below!