Elimination Communication
(Photo credit: lkonstanski)

Look away, all ye who are squeamish, because this is the requisite mommy blog post about poop.  (Rest easy, I’m not the type to get gross or stray into parental overshare – it’s not that kind of blog post.)

My boys are coming up on a year old and OF COURSE, they are not potty trained.  Which is totally normal!  Right?  I thought so too.  Then I stumbled on this article over at Mommyish.com – which introduced me to yet another mommy acronym and a parenting practice I had never heard of before.

“EC” stands for “Elimination Communication.”  From what I can gather, you basically start toilet-training your tot from birth.  You’re supposed to “read cues” about when he or she needs to tinkle, and get baby to a potty, pronto.  Hold him over it.  If that’s not possible, hold baby over some other kind of receptacle, or over a diaper.  You make noises that simulate peeing and pooping as they perform the act (I’m not sure why).  Wearing diapers, at least at home, is discouraged.  It’s touted as “baby-led” toilet training.

Pros:  Kid toilet trains early – theoretically.  No need to bribe your kid with M&Ms or sticker charts to poop in the potty.

Cons:  Um, pee and poop potentially everywhere, and – the biggest drawback, to me – having to watch your child extremely closely every second. (I’m all for supervision and safety – but I don’t want to have to decipher my sons’ every sideways glance and grimace and rush him to the bathroom in case that was the “I need to pee” face.)

I actually can’t even fathom how this would work with twins.  It wouldn’t.  I’d be holding one baby over the toilet, triceps quivering as he took his sweet time, and I’d miss the other kid’s “cues”, and come back to a playroom covered in you-know-what.  I am already terrified of potty training twins – I’m leaning towards that whole “diaper-free weekend” approach, just to try and get the grossness and and the stress all out of the way in one shot.

How do we bust into this thing?
How do we bust into this thing?

Like extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and making homemade baby food, “EC” is one of those parenting practices that is a privilege of the affluent.  (Full disclosure: we’re still nursing – though we’re almost done.  We also cloth diaper, but we’re like the white-meat vegetarians of cloth diapering – we use disposables at night and for car trips.  And I do make the boys’ food – which I’m sure they would be sad about, if they ever got to taste Heinz’s delicious apple-strawberry blend.)

Why are these measures – which, at first glance, should save you money – only for  those with resources?  Because if you have to go to work, you don’t have time for them.  Breastfeeding and pumping are an enormous time commitment, and if, like most women in the neighbouring United States, I’d had to go back to work within three months of  giving birth – particularly to a job where I couldn’t sneak away to pump every couple of hours – I would have ended up switching to formula, no question.  Cloth diapers undoubtedly save us money, but they add multiple extra loads of laundry to my week (not to mention, most daycares won’t use them).  And making baby food takes up at least a couple of hours a week that I wouldn’t have if I had to work.  EC is another commitment for which – if you have a job, or another kid, or even just an addiction to celebrity gossip (ahem), you cannot make time.  You can’t exactly tell your daycare provider – “Oh, don’t worry, this little guy doesn’t use diapers, just keep an eye on him and he’ll tell you when he needs to go.”  Nope, this one is for stay-at-home-moms only.

Of which I am one.  But I guess I must be the lazy kind.  Good on you, ECers, but it’s just not for me.  After all, playing the “nose game” with my husband – where whoever touches their nose last has to change the poopy diaper – is often the most satisfying “win” that I’ll have in a day.  I gloat for hours.  I wouldn’t cheat myself out of that kind of satisfaction.


100 thoughts on “On potties and my (evidently) lazy parenting

  1. I’m amazed by the people now-a-days who truly believe that every waking second of your life should be 100% devoted to your children. I mean, yes, they should be the most important things in your life, but in order for them to be the “most important” there has to be other things that are “less important”, you know what I mean?

    Personally, I passed on most of these new trends. I did breastfeed as long as I could (about seven months, until I returned to work), and I did try pumping for a while but my body just didn’t respond to it and my supply quickly dwindled to nothing. I tried once or twice to make baby food from scratch, but it was an immense amount of effort and from what I could tell it was neither healthier nor more economical than just buying the damned jarred stuff. And cloth diapers? Are you kidding me? I’d have ended up killing myself. This EC stuff is just another one that makes me sigh. If you have the time and energy to devote to keeping your eyes glued to your child 24-7 and spending half again that time scrubbing up all the inevitable messes, I envy you, I really do. But it’s definitely not for me and I’m perfectly happy with having a 2-1/2 year old who has been potty trained for a couple of months now.

  2. Although I am not yet a mother (nor will I be anytime soon) this seems a bit extreme. I have always grown up around/cared for young children and no matter when the mom decides to start potty training, it’s always a struggle and always a bit of a mess. Be stern and be consistent seem like better tid bits of advice than analyzing “gas faces” from your babies.

  3. Thank you. I am currently “in the middle” of potty training my two year old boy…it’s an on-going process I’ve realized…I didn’t get lucky with the kid who just decides one day “from now on I think I’ll go in the toilet.” 🙂 And I totally agree with your thoughts…maybe I’m a lazy mom too…but I just can’t bring myself to do the no diaper, let the kids run around naked bit. Call me crazy, but I’m sure eventually my son WILL pee and poop in the potty consistently, as long as he gets there, I’m not really sure it matters how. You made me laugh out loud! Thanks!! I SO relate. All the best!

  4. That is utterly hilarious!!! I’ve never heard of EC before and it seems completely unnecessary – just potty trained my two year old daughter (also blogged about it) and it only took a couple of weeks (not a couple of years EC style!!!) LOL

  5. Hey,
    just a different perspective – I don’t have twins, just one little boy, but we’ve done all of those things with him while my hubby and I both work full time. It’s all saved a ton of money, and is just going back to an older style of doing things – no buying formula, disposables or baby food necessary. My kid doesn’t go to daycare as my husband and I drop him off to each other and work opposite schedules (which, unfortunately, we were already doing pre-baby). I am a cook, hourly worker, but still was able to pump at work enough to make it okay (actually it is federally mandated that you have to get breaks if you want them). Anyway, the EC is not really about watching your kid like a hawk every day, it’s more of a system to get to know what your kid is doing. The theory is that just like they let you know when they’re hungry and you are able to tell that they are hungry and not just sleepy or whatever, you can also come to know when they have to use the bathroom. This worked really well for our son for his babyhood, but now that he’s a toddler he is not as keen on going when (or where) we want him to. He’s still a normal kid who is learning to use the bathroom, it’s just that we know that he has the knowledge to do it when he’s ready, because he’s done it before. Anytime I started to think it was weird that we were doing that, I would remind myself that it’s what whole countries of people all over the world do, not really something special. And the noise can be anything, it’s just to have an association with going to the bathroom so that if I then want the kid to go at a different time or in a different position I can make that same noise and the kid will know what’s up. Sorry for the long response!

    1. Thanks for sharing! I don’t know anyone who’s done this personally so it’s good to hear from someone who has. It’s not for everyone (nothing is, when it comes to parenting choices)!

    1. Formula is crazy expensive. Criminally so, considering how many people need it. Just a different perspective here though…I’m the author of the “snippy” blog post. (Hate to think it came off that way.) But just so you know where I’m coming from – I’m still breastfeeding my twins – who were exclusively breastfed for the first six months. And we are definitely not “affluent” – I am a stay at home mom and my husband is a teacher! But we are “affluent” enough that I don’t have to work. A lot of women don’t have that choice. Financial reasons dictate that they have to work. In the early days of nursing I was on the couch breastfeeding for probably 12 hours a day – something I definitely could not have done if I’d had to go back to work. I think a lot of women are in that situation and that is sad.

      I enjoy your blog though, I’m glad to have found it.

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