Some would call me a mad woman! Who bothers taking their newborn to the potty in the middle of the night?! Well folks… I do. (Actually, I use a bucket). And you know what? She stays dry all night long.
And, I’m not up all night hanging her bottom over a bucket either. It’s called Elimination Communication (EC). Responding to an infant’s need to eliminate. It’s what people do all over the world where they don’t use diapers, and it’s what our ancestors and not so distant relatives did (maybe even your grandmother did it to save on cloth diapers). It’s what I did with my 2 1/2 year old daughter, Margo, from birth, who hardly pooped in her diaper after she was 2 months old and was potty trained by 12 months. Little Goldie is almost six weeks old, just at the end of her official ‘newborn’ status (sigh…). When she wakes at night, I take her to the bucket, she always does a wee, sometimes a #1 and #2. During the process, her eyes are usually shut, and she’s half asleep! I take her back to bed, she has a quick feed and she’s back out for a few more hours. You would be surprised at how many signals even a newborn gives you before they ‘go’. If they know that someone is going to take them to relieve themselves, they can actually start holding it at an incredibly young age! Even at barely six weeks old, no matter how bad she is busting, for the really big #2s, she always waits until that cute little bottom is hanging over a bucket before she lets it rip! Aside from a few wees and wet farts that escape, she likes staying clean. I call her Princess Butt! Here are some tips and tricks to ECing with a newborn
Don’t Be Afraid, Be Brave!
I don’t know why, but the fear factor of baby wees and poos seems to dominate all thoughts of practicing EC, especially with a newborn. I was terrified to try it! I know of other mothers who have said the same. Maybe you’re scared of a mess? Scared it will take too much time? Newborn poos can be extremely explosive, are you scared of bombs? Maybe scared of upsetting your baby? I don’t know, but I understand… be brave! It’s actually a time saver… ever been out in the middle of something and have to change a baby’s poo explosion? That happened to me ONCE when I got trapped in IKEA with Margo and I knew she had to go, and it was everywhere, all over her, myself and the baby carrier, so yeah… that takes some time too, better to get the poos out in a designated place.
Set Realistic Expectations
EC is about building awareness of elimination. It’s about finding a way to communicate between you and your child the whens and wheres they need to eliminate. Don’t worry if you seem to be missing lots of wees and poos. Especially when out and about, when dealing with multiple children, or at night. Eventually, your communication will sync and it will work, but there may be some days that work better than others!
You can try using sound cues. I did this with Margo and it worked great. Make a ‘pssss’ sound for a wee and blow a raspbery for a poo. Every time they go, even if you missed it and it landed somewhere other than the potty, just make those noises. The idea is that eventually, they will associated the sound with the action. You can then hold them over the potty and make the noise and then they know to go! I haven’t had to do it with Goldie, her and I are really in tune with each other. However, my husband does it and you know what? Little 6 week old Goldie has started blowing these little baby raspberries now when she has to poo! Wonderful!
A newborn’s digestive track is incredibly short and they’re on a liquid diet… you don’t need to wait long to see if something will come flying out. When they wake from a sleep, is the best time to take them. Also, during a feed, if they start fusing, coming on and off the breast, is a sure sign they have to go. Have the ‘receptacle’ nearby, gently slip their diaper off, and see what comes out. Or, shortly after a feed, they could be sitting there all content, staring into that newborn space, and all of sudden start squirming, that is also a sure sign they have to go.
Give your baby some diaper free time. Watch their signals for when they might have to go. Signals could be unusual squirming, the ‘poo’ face, or pushing their abdomen. Heavy breathing, or panting can be a sign. Also, I noticed tummy time almost always produces a wee! Amazing little creatures, they are already communicating long before they can talk! Using baby breathing monitors from Babysense (or anywhere you can find them) can also help you to know when your baby needs to go if you’re in another room. Sometimes their breathing can be hard to hear if you’re in the bathroom or kitchen, so a monitor can help you to keep an eye and ear on them at all times.
Make sure they’re comfy in your arms. Rest their head against your arm or your back and hold their thighs. The ‘squatting’ position will help them go. You can squeeze your abdomen muscles a little, and that will actually cue them to ‘push’ a little. Anyway, even if they don’t go, they’ll probably release some wind! Sometimes the wee or poo comes out when they’re laying on their back, for diaper free time, or when you go to change their diaper. That’s great! You can just make a little cue sound, ‘pssss’, or blowing a raspberry for a #2. Then, they get familiar with the sound cues.
Watch your back
You don’t want an EC injury! I like to hold her so that I can stand up straight, so in some position where I’m not leaning over. Usually, when they have finished their business over the bucket, they will arch their back to let you know. ‘all done!’.
How to Dress an EC Baby for ‘Success’
Easy access to your baby’s bottom is key. Let your baby have as much nappy free as they can. This really scares my husband, haha, especially when I hand him a baby with nothing more than a terry towel nappy around her bottom. I found that a shirt (without the snaps at the crotch), diaper (optional), and leg warmers (if it’s cool), is the best way to dress an EC baby. That way you can quickly get to them. I usually take off her nappy without even setting her down, saves times, and gets her over the bucket as soon as I notice she has to go. Often, when my husband takes her, he sets her down first to take off her nappy, and then she goes while laying down… waah waah, not fast enough! But, that’s only because she’s so little, small little bladder still!
I love doing EC! For so many reasons. The biggest reason is that there are less surprises. I know that if I take a baby to the ‘potty’ in the middle of the night, there will be no messy poo explosion, as I’m feeding her back to sleep. I know that I won’t be falling asleep only to stick my finger in her cloth diaper to find that it’s wet, and have to get back up to change her. I know that when we go for a walk, if she’s already pooped and peed, I can stay out with her longer because I know she’s already gone. I love EC. Please, feel free to ask all and any questions about doing EC with a newborn. I think it’s well worth the little bit of effort… and way more fun than scraping poo off a baby’s bottom!