Pee, poop and potty training, pardon my French, was the topic of our heated conversation at the dinner table last night. For mothers, discussing such niceties is of utmost and takes precedence over other less pressing issues like the recent NSA revelation and Abercrombie and Fitch’s homeless brand readjustment. These dining room discussions can also become extremely impassioned, some what aggressive and unnecessarily melodramatic. The guests included a veteran mother of four diaper-less children, a rookie soldier currently engaged in potty training combat with her toddler, and myself, with my rugrat in tow, relieved that I wouldn’t be stepping into that battle zone for at least another year… or so I thought. (Warning: smelly territory ahead)
‘You can go diaper free from the beginning you know!’, exclaimed veteran mama-four-times. I almost choked on my exceedingly healthy buffalo wings! ‘You mean EC?!?!’, I shrieked. EC, or Elimination Communication, which sounds more like a conflict resolution technique than anything baby related, is a method of communicating with your child in order to respond to their need to relieve themselves without relying upon diapers. Or in mommy language, teaching baby to aim for the potty instead of the pampers. Easy peasy! All it requires is that you march boo boo to a toilet, sink or a bowl, every twenty minutes all the while looking out for signals from said boo boo such as smelly fumes and funny faces indicating that they need to ‘go’. You must also develop sound cue associations to make them ‘psss‘/pee and ‘grrrrr‘ /poop, or whichever noises take your fancy. Others let intuition be their guide, but we’ll save that and other fairy tales for bedtime.
I’d come to know about this preposterous practice quite accidently. Late one night as I mindlessly flicked through Pandora’s box of evils, also known as a television, I stumbled upon an Attachment Parenting report. It was all blissful, rosy and freakishly wonderful. Fathers carried their overgrown toddlers in slings for most of the day, mothers nursed their preschoolers, and entire families including grandmother slept in the same bed. Nothing odd about this picture, except maybe the super extended breast feeding, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. And then I witnessed a parent’s worst nightmare… poop smeared walls and floors. An EC mama wasn’t quite as attentive as she should have been whilst the cameras were rolling and missed her baby’s poop signal. Poops! I mean Oops! She continued to ignore him so he preceded to play with it. The end result? One happy baby and one giant Picassoesque poopy piece of artwork.
Veteran EC mama then tried and convince me that dumping the diapers was the way to go. She touted all kind of benefits from environmental to butt related, but I wasn’t having any of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for reducing our big fat carbon footprint and keeping my child’s delicate nether regions clean, but I’m already washing yesterday’s dinner off my sons cloth diapers, and there’s only so much poop a girl can take. And aside from the really impressive ‘I need to pee’ gang signs your baby will eventually start throwing, why should I succumb to such madness? ‘Relying on diapers causes babies to loose their ability to control their bowels and bladder’. Come again? ‘Babies are born with sphincter control and can effectively ‘hold it in’, and by practicing EC you’re enhancing this skill in your child until they gain conscious control of it, so eventually they’ll be able to eliminate their waste on cue… ‘pssss’….grrrr’.
I don’t doubt that it works. I myself was potty trained by nine months. In fact, I think it’d be marvelous for my baby to be able to control his motions until I plop him on the toilet but does that mean I’ll be singing up to the EC camp anytime soon? A resounding ‘NO!’. In this instance my sanity is far more precious to me than the environment or my baby’s behind. Can you imagine taking the little cherub for a pee break three times an hour, every hour of their waking existence, for the first few months of their life? (yes they do pee that often!) And if you were brave enough to go completely diaper free can you envisage the amount of hit and miss situations you’d have to clean up? Not to mention that it’d probably be the only thing you’d discuss at the dinner table… ever again! I don’t think any EC parent will disagree with me when I say that ECing is a ludicrously laborious task. I for one love to put on my son’s diaper and forget about its contents until that all too familiar funk comes wafting in my direction.
Here are some great websites for those interested in finding out more about EC. A simple google search will also bring up a variety of discussion and opinion for those wishing to join the debate. Let me know how you do or don’t get on.