A Step Beyond Cloth Diapers

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a little rundown on what modern cloth diapering really looks like, and a few comments have been made with curiosity about how early my son potty trained. If you don’t recall from earlier posts, by 16 months he learned to pretty much exclusively go poo on the potty and by just over two-years-old he was fully potty trained (aside from nights).

Now, I must admit, these early results were prompted not only by our cloth diapering (which I do believe helped tremendously) but also by our elimination communication efforts.

So, what exactly is elimination communication (EC), you ask?

Basically it is watching for the signs your little one typically gives when they are about to do their business, and responding to them by taking the child to the potty. This process can be started at anytime really, some parents begin as early as birth, and although it can be a bit of work in the beginning, it definitely makes for less work later on!

We decided that our son’s first birthday would be a good time to start this process, but will probably start even earlier with our next babe.  Basically, all we did was take him in and sit him on the potty every hour or so and encourage him to go. Making a “psss psss” sound often helped him understand what we were talking about, and before long he would pee nearly every time we took him. Another key to this process was making sure I changed his wet diapers as soon as he wet them so that the feeling of wetness would become increasingly uncomfortable when it was there. His cloth diapers helped greatly in this arena, as I would use diapers that did not have covers (fitteds or prefolds) at home so that it was very easy for me to see and feel right when he had wet.

In addition we would rush him to the potty anytime we saw him giving us “the look,” cuing that there was a little more than pee about to enter his drawers. It didn’t take long for him to feel the difference between pooing in the potty and pooing in his pants, and his preference for not carrying around such a load became abundantly clear as he began letting us know when he was about to go. In just a few short months he had the concept down, and even created his own little hand sign for when he needed to use the bathroom.

There are many books, websites, and products that can aid in the elimination communication process.  DiaperFreeBaby.org is full of nearly every resource you could need to make your EC venture successful.  The EC Store also has lots of wonderful products and information (including a potty bowl for infants) to make ECing easy. There are also many great forums on the web where you can gain inspiration and support from other EC parents- Mothering.com has an entire forum dedicated to the topic.

Elimination Communication is pretty much as green as you can get when it comes to your babe’s bathroom habits–not only do you avoid disposables, but in the end you tremendously lighten the load on your cloth diapering laundry as well!

Save water, save money, and save your sanity with an early-potty trained kiddo!

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. Follow the rest of MacKenzie’s musings on being a birth and postpartum doula while pregnant, totschooling her son, and still finding time to knit, at Mama Kenz Studio.

5 Responses to A Step Beyond Cloth Diapers
  1. Rachel @ Growing Sage
    March 30, 2009 | 12:39 am

    Wonderful post, thank you! My son is 5 months old and I have been casually ECing him for three months now. So far I’ve only caught pees, but I look forward to catching poops at some point.

    I’m curious to know what cue you use for poops? I’ve heard of parents grunting but that doesn’t seem to be my style…and “pssss” doesn’t seem to go with a bowel movement.

  2. Mama K
    April 2, 2009 | 8:36 pm

    I just want to give the disclaimer that EC does NOT equal early potty training. It may contribute, but that’s not really the point of EC.

    I only mention it because we started ECing when my son turned one as well. By 18 months he was doing most #2’s on the potty. Now he is over 2.5yo and is still no closer to telling me when he has to go. I can remind him and cue him and he is just not motivated to communicate back. I read the EC books and websites and really gave it a valiant effort. I’ll admit that after a year and a half of cleaning up misses, I’m a bit over it. We use mostly prefold dipes and I keep dilligently changing him and talking to him about it and taking him to the potty. Just praying he gets the hang of it before 3yo.

    That’s great that it worked so well for you though. I am guessing that a child’s temperment has something to do with it. I also noticed that many of the girls we know his age trained in a couple weeks around 2yo using more traditional methods of potty training.

  3. Shelly
    April 3, 2009 | 1:21 pm

    Nice article. I’m glad to see the only true “green” approach being mentioned. We started EC with our son at 6 mos. We usually knew when he was pooing by the amount of kicking he did and realized since he was sitting fine on his own that it was silly to wait for him to finish and then have to clean it up. He has never responded to cues. We’ve just provided him with plenty of opportunities to use the potty. We also only did the prefold, no cover, or just a pair of pants because they were quicker to get off. We’ve cleaned up quite a few puddles, but it helped up both learn quicker. He’s now been dry at night since he was 10 mos, no poo since 8 mos (except on very long car rides and when he got 3 molars in at once), and completely dry since 17 mos. He has been telling us when he needs to go for the past month. Yeah!! A helpful book was ‘Infant Potty Training’.

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