No, not that kind of potty talk. That's another topic altogether! I'm talking about Elimination Communication (EC), a new word given to an ancient practice: raising baby without diapers. E. C. is also referred to as Natural Infant Hygiene.
When I first heard about Elimination Communication, my second child was about 8 months old. The concept intrigued me. I knew that women around the world did not use diapers, and though they wore their babies on their bodies, they didn't get wet on. They simply tuned in to their baby's cues and at the right time, held baby out over a bush and let nature take its course. I decided to try it with my son. I was tickled pink when I sat him on a little potty and he went, right on cue. It's like he knew exactly what to do.
The party line of modern child rearing experts is that baby has no control over his sphincter muscles until around 18 months, but I didn't believe that. I noticed with my kids that they would wake up dry every morning from the time they were around 7 months old or so (and I use cloth diapers so I knew the diaper was dry). Besides, babies all over the world don’t read books by American parenting experts!
My “EC babies”, at 9 months of age, used the potty for almost all of their eliminations. They rarely wore diapers (only when we went out, sometimes not even then) and instead wore either training pants or little underwear. Early potty training (as young as 15- 24 months) is a side effect of EC but it's not really the goal. The goal is communication. If you put diapers on the baby from the time he is newborn, he's effectively being trained to “go" in a diaper. He's being “diaper trained. "
EC babies do have accidents. Sometimes, during a developmental leap (crawling, walking), babies take a break from cueing their parents when they need to go. They're just too busy to be bothered.
But since they don't become accustomed to the feel of waste on their skin, finishing to potty independence is easy. They don't really have to be trained as toddlers because they already prefer the potty. It's not scary, neither do they have to be coerced, bribed, etc as often happens with conventionally trained toddlers.
Elimination Communication is just another option for parents. The thing I love about it is that it proves that babies are so much smarter than we give them credit for. Just as it was fascinating and almost unbelievable the first time you saw a baby signing to its parents (whether that baby was yours or someone else's), it's also really cool to see a baby clearly communicating their elimination needs. For example, when my youngest baby is playing happily on the floor, then crawls up to me quickly and starts fussing, I sit her on the potty and she poops. Instead of struggling with an unhappy, squirmy baby during diaper changes, her needs are met in a more hygienic way, quickly and easily, with respect for her dignity.
For those who are interested in learning more, a non profit organization called DiaperFreeBaby.org has appeared on the scene to give information and support. There is also a wonderful book called Diaper Free! by Ingrid Bauer that tells you how to get started with the practice, stories from parents and practical tips.
Now regarding potty talk, if anyone knows the secret to getting your 5 year old son to stop communicating about eliminating, I'm all ears.
Carrie Lauth is a mom of 4 who enjoys helping other Moms raise their babies the natural way. Come listen and learn with her at http://www.naturalmomstalkradio.com and for more information on EC, visit http://www.naturalbabyworld.com