Babies are extremely conscious, and infants have the natural bodily intelligence to not want to soil themselves. Humans, as well as other animals, have a primal instinct to want to be clean, to eliminate bodily waste away from the body, and can be easily taught to go in specific places from birth. Perhaps we need to change our cultural way of thinking about potty training, to realize that we are actually diaper training babies. We are teaching babies that it is acceptable to go to the bathroom in their pants, which can make teaching them to go in a toilet later more difficult.
We are practicing elimination communication with our babe and it is so amazing how much easier it is than I thought it would be! He loves not doing his business in his pants and when he fusses we just hold him over the sink. This last week we've caught the vast majority of his releases and have had to wash way less diapers. It's so empowering for us and him.
I was curious to try Elimination Communication because it sounded wonderful to have a baby who knew where to go to the bathroom and could communicate their needs, as well as ideally being completely out of diapers at an earlier age. I didn't learn about EC until my first was already potty trained. My first son was in diapers until he turned three, and I am not thrilled about the idea of washing and changing diapers for another several years. However, I was ambivalent about the process of attempting EC as I had heard stories from mothers that made it sound that it was a lot of work.
Several years ago I was in a public library and a mother came over to talk to me while wearing her baby in the ErgoBaby carrier. She commented on liking the books I was checking out, and told me she was hiding from the library security guard. He had told her to leave the library and she was avoiding him to prevent being kicked out. The reason the security guard was harassing her, was because her baby was not wearing a diaper (or pants!). She described how they were doing elimination communication and that she had to wear him skin-to-skin all the time, and showed me how he was sitting in the Ergo with no pants or diaper and against her belly with a naked bottom, so she could feel if he tensed his muscles and cued her that he needed to potty.
I had been really intrigued by Elimination Communication up until this point, but I was turned off by this parent's insistence that the baby must be naked all the time, and never wear a diaper, even in public places. I also adore the library and want to avoid confrontation in public places, so filed the practice away in my mind as something to investigate more but may be TOO much to be practical for most parents, considering the EC enthusiast I was speaking to was hiding from security and seemed rather fanatical.
With my new son, at two weeks I was noticing that he seemed happiest when he was being changed and not wearing a diaper. He loves to chill out on the changing table with a naked booty and make little happy cooing sounds. He was going through lots of cloth diapers with frequent pees and poos and developing a little diaper rash even though we were using cloth diapers. For the first two weeks we had a constant cycle of washing and drying cloth diapers every single day.
My friend came to visit and I happened to comment to her that I didn't think he liked to wear diapers. She asked me if I knew about elimination communication and I said that I did, but hadn't yet tried it out. I did some quick research online about how to hold an infant out to go to the potty over a sink, toilet, or bowl, to make a "psss" cue sound, and to notice their cues, cries, and movements letting you know it's time to go.
The next day I held out Jeva over the sink for the first time when he started fussing while I was nursing him, and he immediately calmed down and peed. It was like winning the lottery - or making a winning goal! SCORE! Pee in the sink! One clean diaper saved! I was hooked.
That first day we continued to catch his poops and pees, and just missed one pee for the remainder of the day. He seemed really happy that we were paying attention to him and that he didn't have to go in his pants (no one likes sitting in poop or pee - and then crying until someone comes and cleans you up). We also did not have to wash a load of diapers that day - hooray! We also use much less wipes, because we just wash his bottom of with warm water at the sink and dry him.
I learned I can still diaper him in cloth and a cover (which stay clean now for hours or even all day), and just remove it when it's time for him to go. It's very easy to keep him in a diaper and leg warmers or pull-up pants and just take that off and offer him to go when he needs to (outfits with snaps and buttons take more work). Sometimes he doesn't want to, and we are learning how to read his signs. He occasionally goes pee in his diaper still, when he is tired and doesn't wake up, so it's great that we still diaper him. A lot of the time we just carry him around with a big cloth diaper under his butt, or let him relax without a diaper over a waterproof pad and blanket. We are still learning together and understand that it's a process that changes over time. However we are astounded at how much easier it is than we thought, the immediate improvement in our communication with baby, and the ease of clean up.
Infant potty training is easy, tidy, and can be done when you want to do it, whether that is all the time, during the day, or when you are at home - it simply begins with paying attention and offering your baby the opportunity to squat over a receptacle. It's what the majority of humans on the planet do. It's how humans have learned to go to the bathroom since we began living on the Earth. It's what your great-grandparents did.
When you think about it, teaching babies to go to the bathroom in diapers all the time sure does bring a lot more business to the diaper industry doesn't it? Who wants to spend thousands of dollars on diapers, or years changing diapers? Not me. Who likes to go poop in their pants? Not me - or my baby.
EC Simplified by Andrea Olsen: http://ecsimplified.com/
Diaper Free Baby: http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/