Three months ago something clicked and elimination communication made sense to me. Thinking back, I knew that tiny babies showed awareness of their bodily functions and that we could respond if we knew what signs we were looking for.
The problem was that, by this point, I didn’t have a tiny baby anymore.
EC’ers often talk about a window of opportunity that closes somewhere around four months. It’s not impossible to start with an older baby or even a toddler but it’s almost certainly more, well, complicated.
With a now 20-month-old, I can attest to that. We’ve done nappy-free time almost every day since I first told you we were giving it a go (bar the week we were away). The “misses” far outweigh the “catches”, ie we’ve had a lot of wet trousers.
Times when I’ve been a bit disappointed, I’ve had to take a step back to remind myself that this journey isn’t focused on the destination of toilet independence but on communication.
I know how crazy I sound. I remember seeing that EC group on Channel 4’s How to be a Good Mother and thinking I really didn’t mind missing out on relating to my daughter’s bowel movements.
And yet here I am, letting her run around half-naked, potty at the ready and really not finding it a big deal. She needs to be out of them some time anyway so why not make it a gradual communication thing instead of a goal-focused training thing?
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I figured a nappy-free hour or two a day is a bit token considering that I’m pretty much with her all the time.
So, I started taking off her nappy whenever we were home and taking a few spare while out so I could change her as soon as she’s been or at least more frequently than I normally would do.
The amazing thing to me? She’s really keen on telling me when she’s been. She’s even added the word “poo” to her vocabulary. To her it means both numbers . I’m looking forward to when she tells me before, admittedly.
In fact, she loves the whole process: sitting on the potty (sometimes she uses it, usually she doesn’t), flushing the toilet, washing her hands… Oh my, she loves washing her hands. I’ve started calling her Lady Macbeth and moved the stool back downstairs because there aren’t enough hours in the day to spend so many of them on personal hygiene.
I’ve not made it a “big girl” thing or even made a fuss over her actually sitting on the potty, let alone using it. And that feels good to me.
It’s not at all been the usual route for EC. People who write about starting with toddlers talk about sitting them on the potty after meals or standing them on the toilet. My strong-willed leg straightener would never let me do that. She’d scream her protest.
I instead I have had to wait for her to decide she’d sit on the potty, at first by pretending I didn’t care what she did with it and later by offering to read her a book while she’s on it.
Otherwise, I keep a small container close to hand for catches and that has worked more times than I expected.
I’ve also traded her trousers for leg warmers, which removes another obstacle for us both. In fact, I cut off the toes of a bunch of socks I didn’t like and they’re the perfect size for baby legs.
I still don’t really know what I’m doing or particularly where we’re going but it all feels really positive.
It’s pretty much convinced me to avoid nappy-training the next baby in the first place, if we have another.
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