Monday, August 30, 2010

Natural infant hygeine, because it's really cute

A few months ago, I switched the boys to cloth diapers. I got a lot of advice from friends, and something that Kara said stuck in my head. She mentioned in passing that most mamas who cloth diaper do elimination communication as well. Elimination communication (or EC) being the use of timing, signals, cues, and intuition to take care of your baby's need to eliminate waste.

It didn't immediately take hold in my brain, it just simmered there for awhile. Then, on a whim, I picked up this tiny potty at a consignment sale. And all of the sudden, I am checking off two more things on my "I'll never do that" list of parenting.

1. I'll never buy a used potty. It's just gross.
2. I'll never do elimination communication. It's just weird.

You'll be happy to know that I am holding on to another rule, "I'll never take a picture of my child's poop," even though I was incredibly tempted to break it as well this past week.

Recently, another friend posted on Facebook that she had "caught" her child's first pee and poop. He was about two weeks old at the time. That comment that Kara made - the one that had been simmering - reached a boil. The next time I saw Erin, I asked her about her experience with elimination communication.

What she said made perfect sense. She said that you learn to read your baby's cues. That just like you know when they are hungry, you know when something needs to come out the other end. For whatever reason, the way she put it clicked with me, and I decided to give it a shot.

Colin is seven months old, which is actually a little old to start "infant potty training," but the up side is that he doesn't poop as much now, and I really do know when he is about to go. Our first run of EC found us on a five day streak of poop free diapers. I'm not as good at catching his cues for pee yet, but I'm working on it.

I realized that I already knew these things. I already knew when a diaper was going to need to be changed, and it just made sense that if I could put him on the potty before instead of wiping his bottom afterwards, wouldn't that be more comfortable for him? I mean, wouldn't he probably prefer not to poop all over himself? It is certainly less work for me to dump out a potty and spritz it clean than it is to change a diaper, rinse it, put it with the dirties, run them through the wash, dry them, sort them, and fold them.

I think he does prefer it - he loves sitting on his little potty. We have a song we sing that goes to the tune of "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da" by The Police, just with potty appropriate lyrics. I sit on the floor with him (because as my friend Tara pointed out, yes, he will fall off if I am not watching him closely), sing, and make a "ssssssssssssss" sound to remind him to pee.

This is by no means a guide to elimination communication. I'm fairly certain what we are doing probably can't even be called that. We are being really laid back about it, and if I can keep him from pooping on himself, then I call it a success. Or maybe we are really doing it; I don't know. What I do know is that what you call it doesn't matter. This is just another in a list of things that feel right and natural for our family that I might have tried sooner if I had been more open to my instincts.

I don't have any grand expectations of "potty training" my baby before he is ready. I still expect for him to be in diapers a grand long time (heavy sigh), but IF we can help him not have to sit in pee or poop, and IF we can get him comfortable with the idea of the potty, then I think we have done a good thing.

And IF Christopher starts showing an interest in it because Colin is doing it? Bonus.