I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that we started showing Noah the potty from birth, rather than starting at age 18 months or two years. EM does not necessarily lead to a baby being out of diapers sooner (though sometimes they are). I heard about EM while I was researching cloth diapers, as a more extreme movement away from disposables. As Noah reaches six months, I wanted to share some of my experiences:
First of all, it’s all good. We’re not that far along the hippy crunchy continuum in many (or most) areas of our lives, and this wasn’t really about being amazing environmentalists. I just thought it would be fun to try it out. I didn’t like the idea that babies get used to being wet, and so actually lose instinctive control as they spend more time in diapers. The historian/non-consumer in me was frustrated that the age of potty training has increased over the years (as disposables became convenient), so that learning how to go to the bathroom now coincides with the exact time when toddlers are trying to assert their independence and say “no” as much as possible.
If you’d like to try it out, but don’t want to read entire books on the subject, there were a few key things that I found very helpful:
1) As early as possible, leave your baby without a diaper for blocks of time for a few days and try to notice when he’s peeing. If he’s not mobile, it’s really not all that messy because you can put him on a prefold and just switch out the prefold.
2) Once you get a sense of when s/he pees/poops, if he gives any signal, start holding him over a bowl or toilet or Potty and making some kind of sound that he’ll come to associate with being there.
3) Don’t get upset about mess or have too many expectations of success-- if you do, take a break.
4) Three strikes: When you’re further along in the process, leaving your baby with trousers (or a skirt) but no diaper for part of the day helps him get used to feeling wet or dry, and associating that with peeing. We have a three strikes policy-- we go through three pairs of trousers and then switch back to diapers. I figure trousers are actually easier to wash than diapers. We also use mamaroo pants for part of the day.
One great advantage we’ve had is absolutely no diaper rash despite very little use of diaper cream or wipes. We don’t have to use disposable wipes at all, and the cloth wipes only get used occasionally. It’s not that we’re obsessively looking to take Noah to the bathroom, but it just becomes part of what we do when we’re hanging out. And if we forget for a day or two, it’s not like benefits are lost.
The other advantage (and this one is major) is that we’re able to understand Noah better-- the "Communication" part of Elimination Communication. We have one more thing we can do if he fusses, which feels great. And he definitely fusses many times when he’s about to pee. Unless he’s naked. Then he just pees.
These are my two favourite books on EM:
The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative
Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living