EC, What is it?


Elimination Communication

Elimination Communication (Photo credit: lkonstanski)

You ask, what exactly is EC? 

EC is a short term for Elimination Communication. Also known as natural infant hygene. It is a  gentle, laid back process in which a baby has the opportunity with the loving support of parents and caregivers to share it’s elimination needs and have his/her needs addressed. Typically beginning from 0-20 months, but really is it ever too late to positively communicate anything with your baby?

When did this begin?

The terms Elimination Communication and Natural Infant Hygene were started  by Ingrid Bauer, Author of Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene. 

However,  It has been around (without the fancy title) for as long as humans have existed and is still practiced the world around. You have to imagine that cloth diapers were not in mass production until the late 1800’s and believe it or not disposable diapers weren’t even invented until 1948. So since humans have been in existance at least 200,000 years, disposables haven’t even been around for 1% of that time.

Is this blowing your mind yet?

So how does it work?

Just like cloth diapering, every EC parent has their own words of advice/insight. I will elaborate more on what has worked for us later in my blogging, but for now lets talk about the four basic ways to communicate with your baby.

  1. Timing: Most babies if you begin as newborns will pee every 10-15 minutes or more, which in turn makes timing very important. As babes get older, they often go longer in between eliminations and just like adults ofen when in a deep sleep will not eliminate at all. #2’s (Bowel Movements)  however variy drastically from child to child and will often change cycles even when breastfed or for example when introduced to new foods. Timing could also include knowing when your child usually goes. For example, while eating, after waking, before a bath, or going to bed.
  2. Signals:  This means signs your baby is showing you that they need to go. This could range from a specific cry, fussyness, getting wiggily, suddenly being still, a facial expression, or maybe even nothing at all. You would usually do a period of “diaper free” time to learn your babies cues. Some babies will pee while nursing, while others will not. As far as #2’s, many babies will pass gas first, grunt, or give you a very knowing face that it is about to happen. As your baby gets older, you can help them learn the sign for “toilet” or “potty” as a signal as well as simply them speaking it.
  3. Intuition: This is the caregiver or parents way of naturally knowing by instinct that the baby is going to eliminate. Many parents who have EC’ed for quite some time feel as though this is a very important component. (myself included) Just as with anything else, trust your motherly instincts.
  4. Cueing: Cueing is initiated with the parent or caregiver making a specific sound when the baby is in the right place to eliminate. This creates a language so to say that you can communicate the need with your baby. Most parents begin by making a SSSsss sound (for pee) or a Hhmmm HhMMM (or grunting sound for defication) Usually this would start with a cue when the baby is eliminating to create awareness that they are indeed going. Then eventually this same cue would be used when you place them where it is appropriate to eliminate and then you would cue them to go. Older babies may even cue just by saying a simple phrase about “going on the potty” Sometimes cues don’t even have to be words. They can be sign language or for some simply being placed where they go is a cue.

How do I fit this into my life?

There are 3 main paths to EC:

  1. Occasionally: You choose to catch elimintation every once in a while. For example, you catch first thing in the morning when your baby wakes up. You often are exploring the possibilites of EC for you family and lifestyle. 
  2. Part Time: Part timers typically still ec consistenly however they choose to only do this part of the time. Many working parents choose to EC part time. They choose to offer ec when they can accomodate. Many of these parents will choose to go full time when their child is a little older.
  3. Full Time: Full timers are dedicated to offering as many opportunities as possible to catch eliminations. Many will choose to go diaper free or use trainers rather than diapers as a back up to make it easier to know when your child has eliminated. Full time EC’ers find ways to EC while out and about running errands, traveling, and thru the night. Most EC’ed parents know that just like every other part of parenting it isn’t always a straight and narrow line from start to finish and know that every day is a new adventure.

What EC is not: 

  • EC is NOT conventional potty training. It is a way to communicate with your child about his/her needs just as you would anything else in their lives, such as when they need to eat you feed them, when they need to sleep you help them go to sleep. The same thought process applies with EC.
  • EC should be a relaxed, stress free process. You should not feel pressure for you or your child to catch every elimination. If at any time you feel this way, remember, this is a way for you to connect with your child. One more way to have a close bond with them. If early potty learning comes with it, great. If not, you understand you have a better understanding of your childs needs just by participating in this part of her life.
  • EC does not happen overnight. This is a journey you will take with your baby that will change day by day.
  • EC is not changing the process. (like diapering in my opinion does) you are not changing the natural flow. You are simply acting upon your childs natural signs that she needs to eliminate and you are giving her the option to do it in a very hygenic, simple way.
  • EC is not inconvient. At first if you start you EC will indeed take time as children go very often. But as time rolls on and once you get to know your child and her process, it becomes part of your every day life pattern.  You also have to imagine your diaper/trainer laundry and changing alone will shrink dramatically. Freeing up more time, and giving your more time to connect with your baby.
  • EC is not parent “training”. EC is NOT a way for your child to enable you. A babies instinct is to cry or fuss when they are in need of something like eliminating, just like the need to eat or sleep. This is the only way they know how to address needs at this age. You are simply listening  and allowing her to use her instincts of the need to eliminate to do so hygenically and not training her to go in a diaper.

So now that we have the very basics out of the way, I hope I have answered a few of your questions about EC. We have chosen to go full time since I am home with little H. all of the time. (More on our story to come) I will continue to share the how to’s and our journey thru EC through this blog. It is now a part of my lifestyle and I couldn’t be more excited to have yet another way to communicate with my baby.



8 thoughts on “EC, What is it?

  1. Hi there,
    EC is something I’ve only recently heard about. I was a little skeptical but now I’m determined to try it out when my baby is born. I’ll look forward to reading more about your experiences. x

    • I was the EXACT same way at first. I bought cloth diapers just in case. Then on day two with my daughter, my husband caught the very first pee and we were hooked from then on. The communication you gain is amazing!

  2. Pingback: EC Potty Pause Time. | lightgreenmothering

  3. This is amazing Heather, we knew a couple from a commune in TN who never used diapers & I always thought I wish we could do that. I will definitely take this into consideration for whenever we have the next baby. Thank you for sharing<3

    • It has had it’s ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change our journey for the world. We are going to give it a go with our next as well. I’m sure the journey will be totally different than the first.

  4. Pingback: EC 2 years later. | lightgreenmothering

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