parents talk about EC

Seattle Families Take the EC Challenge

Letting infants pee in the sink? Pooping when the hear a certain cue? Is that really a thing?

Elimination Communication (EC) class facilitator Rachel Ogestelli said when she first heard about local families helping their babies pee and poop outside of diapers, she thought it was weird and not for her. It was just hard to believe that it would work. But when her infant daughter woke up from a nap one day with a dry diaper, she decided to put her over a container and see what happened.

When the baby peed, Ogestelli was hooked. Ditch Stork owner Carrie Pollak had a similar experience with her daughter and describes the thrill of “catching” that first pee outside of a diaper. As babies and parents got to know each others’ cues and signals and coordinated more toileting instead of diapering, the wonder and amazement grew and grew.

It was that joy and respect for our babies’ abilities that made us all EC converts, but it’s the added benefit of fewer diapers to buy, wash or toss that prompted us to start the Ditch the Diapers Zero Waste Initiative. Seattle needs to reduce its trash output, and EC is one of the most joyful ways we know of to do that.

Joining the Challenge

This year, eight new families are trying EC as part of the Ditch the Diapers Zero Waste Initiative’s Elimination Communication Challenge. They came from all corners of the city to meet for the first time with their tiny babies in November at Sri Janani Yoga near Green Lake.

Parents in the EC Challenge Group Meet for the First Time photo: Jeff Nachtigal

Their facilitator, Heather Alvarez, talked them through the first steps to starting EC: observing baby’s movements, sounds and expressions just before they eliminate, making notes on the frequency and timing, and choosing a sound to make that we’ll teach them to associate with the act of eliminating.

Frequent questions and concerns

As new parents, our participants have attended many classes and received many instructions and warnings about their new charges. Thinking in that vein, parents asked, “Is there any danger in doing this wrong, or being inconsistent about it?”

The great thing about EC with infants is that you can’t go wrong. Any chance they have to experience elimination outside of a diaper is great for maintaining their body awareness. The 100% consistent “diaper training” that most American children receive starting at birth is what makes it so scary for many of them to ditch the diapers 2 or sometimes 3 years later.

Another question concerns hygiene – “Is it really sanitary to let a baby poop or pee in your sink?” The short answer is yes — infants on an all-milk diet have water soluble poop, which can be washed down the drain completely with water alone, and of course a spray bottle of natural surface cleaner can also be used. Some families use a designated sink for EC, while others use small potty inserts (inner part of a toddler’s potty chair), buckets, or plastic bins.

Challenge participant Ashlee tried another technique with her older, heavier baby – sitting together on the big toilet: parent fully clothed and scooted back, and baby bare bottomed, held snugly between the adult’s legs.

Challenge group facilitator Heather Alvarez demonstrates various potties that can be used. photo: Jeff Nachtigal

Learning EC Step by Step

Not all parents had that magical catch this first month, but they write “Starting to identify his signals has been pretty awesome. A little overwhelmed but excited for the next steps.” Support is always a click away on our Facebook group page, and the challenge group reconvenes this Sunday to celebrate all they’ve learned so far and keep on going!

Anyone who wants to learn about EC is more than welcome to join our next Infant Potty Training 101 class. We’ll be holding them every month in various parts of the city and helping participants form ongoing groups for support along the way.

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