Today we’re starting elimination communication “for reals” Today we’re doing diaper free observation time for an extended period of time. I have a lot of thoughts about Elimination Communication today. Basically I’m learning that EC is easier and way more practical than I thought and that (most of) the people who do it are not even remotely insane, like I thought. These people are normal, busy people with crazy lives just like you and me, and EC actually makes their lives easier.
I heard about EC through my mom’s grapevine as a kid and I put it in a mental category with people who are die-hard, impractical, crunchy purists. People who never throw anything in a trash can and haven’t had white flour for 20 years and other things that sound very very difficult and soul-sucking.
The first thing that gave me hope about EC was the Birth Kweens episode about it where the guest, an EC Coach named Monet Combs, said that you shouldn’t be doing EC if it isn’t fun for you and making your life easier.
Then I discovered and listened to Andrea Olson’s Go Diaper Free podcast the other weekend (start with the earliest episodes!) and the more I listened, the more I realized that EC is not only doable, but, when done right, easier all around than traditional diapering.
Here are some of the things that helped me realize this. She says that even she, the EC master, only tried to catch every other pee for her babies. That sounds way easier than every pee! Babies pee a lot! She also explained that when babies are around 14-18 months, something clicks mentally, and they can come to an understanding of taking themselves to the potty, even if you only do EC part time up to that point. It sounds like they will be ready to be taught independent pottying at that age, and doing EC up to that point will only make that transition easier, but that up to that point it can be seen as kind of just for fun and practice to a certain extent. There were other things that helped too. But basically you have to go listen to the master and hear how it is actually done.
I also started checking and changing Clark’s diaper more often and I started noticing that at 8 months, he often doesn’t pee for an hour or more. That also made the whole thing sound more doable.
One thing that I learned from Andrea Olson is that you have to START with diaper free observation time. I always knew this before but it didn’t really sink in. In my previous, half-hearted, attempts at EC I just tried to watch for Clark’s potty signals with his diaper on throughout ordinary life. This was stressful, because since I didn’t know what his signals were, I just had to take him to the potty whenever it seemed like he might need it. Then I’d get stressed out and stop. This is (obviously, as I see now) the wrong way of going about it.
If you do diaper free observation time before you start your EC practice, you can watch for what signals the baby makes before peeing, so that you actually have accurate data to work from. During this crucial time, the emphasis isn’t on catching the pees before they happen, but on watching so that you can learn the essential information of what comes before the pees. You still always move the baby to the potty after they start peeing, so that they can learn that pee goes in the potty, not on the floor, but you aren’t putting them on the potty based on random guesses of when they might need to pee. Big. difference. See? This all seems so obvious now.
I did do diaper free time sometimes in the past because I knew it was important, but I didn’t do it in a practical way. I didn’t do it in a way that I could do regularly and for long periods of time. Here at Kopsa Bytes, I’m an engineer and I don’t have time for inconvenience.
In the past diaper free time looked like putting Clark on a prefold on our living room carpet floor. However, he’d roll around and get off the prefold. This was stressful. So I added more prefolds, but he’d move them around and pull them apart. So I wised up and put him on a giant towel. But he’d still roll off the towel and pull it around. To top it off, once when I held Clark standing up facing me, he peed on me. So basically all in all I associated diaper free time with stress. It wasn’t working. It was terrible. I avoided it and kept trying to wing EC.
Finally I prioritized getting a shower curtain (a ten dollar one, not a dollar one, so that it won’t tear easily from a baby squirming around on it and pulling on it), and I put it on the floor today and he finally had enough space to roll around and play with his diaper off! I still kept him on a prefold as much as was practical for easiest cleanup. I also discovered that if I put an oversized T-shirt on him, the t-shirt would hang down in front of his penis to block the pee-spray if I happened to be holding him up in front of me when he peed.
I still have yet to make comprehensive observations of his pee signals, but we have a working diaper free time system now.
I will also mention that the other HUGE reason to do diaper free observation time first is so that you can make the “psss” sound while baby is peeing and thus create a sound association between peeing and that sound. Before I was just putting him on the potty whenever and making that sound and he was probably thinking, “What the heck is going on?” He hadn’t had the essential first step of creating the sound association while he is actually peeing.