Elimination Communication, also known as Natural Infant Hygiene, Infant Potty Training, and Elimination Timing, is a process that parents can use to address their baby’s elimination needs. Unlike relying solely on the cue of a smelly diaper, Elimination Communication utilizes timing, signals, and cueing to determine when a baby has to urinate or defecate.
This form of potty training is very unlike the common method, where it is generally not until about eighteen months of age at the earliest that training begins. This method originated in less industrialized countries, and in fact, diaperless baby care has been a tradition in many parts of the world for centuries.
However, many modern parents are interested in Elimination Communication because it involves spending less money on diapers, reducing the incidence of diaper rash, and developing a bond and mode of communication with your child from infancy.
The process of Elimination Communication should begin between birth and six months of age. While it can be started later on, up to a year or older, it is much harder to teach an older baby to learn the method than it is to teach it to a newborn baby.
Older babies become diaper trained, and they teach themselves to ignore their body cues since they have a diaper on anyway and there’s no real reason for them to think about it. Babies who begin the Elimination Communication method after six months of age are referred to as late starters.
Not only is it harder for the babies who start late, but parents of late starters will also have to work much harder to make the process work. Expecting parents should decide before their baby’s birth if they want to use Natural Infant Hygiene rather than the more traditional potty training method so that they can research the techniques involved and get started right from the day their baby is born.
The timing component of Elimination Communication refers to parent’s tuning into the times of day that their infant urinates. Typically, newborns urinate every ten to twenty minutes, and as they get to about six months old, the expanse of time between urinations lengthens to about once an hour.
Since defecations can’t be predicted through timing, parents have to read their baby’s signals to determine when defecation is occurring or about to occur. Some signals are more subtle than others, and all babies are different, so parents just have to pay close attention to the signals that their baby gives, such as grunting, a certain facial expression, or squirming.
The cueing aspect of Elimination Communication is the most important facet. Parents should make a particular noise while their baby eliminates it so that the baby develops an association between that sound and the appropriate time and place to eliminate it. For example, for urination, many parents use a swishing sound, and for defecation, a grunting sound is often used.
There are different ways to approach the Elimination Communication method. Some parents leave their baby diaperless, while others use a cloth diaper. The important thing is that when the baby goes, the parent can feel it and make the appropriate cueing sound.
Once a parent has established the timing pattern, they can make that sound when they want the baby to urinate, holding the baby securely over whatever is being used as the toilet. Until six months of age, a baby is generally too small to be held over the actual toilet, so instead, many parents use either a basin, sink or the outdoors (certainly depending on where you live and what the climate is like).
The process of Elimination Communication is not for everyone. In fact, some parents are genuinely disgusted by the notion of a diaperless baby bottom.
If both parents work full-time jobs, finding a nanny or babysitter who can effectively execute the Elimination Communication process will undoubtedly prove to be very challenging. However, if you have the time and patience as a mother or father to properly use this method, it can really work very well.
Plus, babies that are raised on this method can virtually bypass the potty training phase altogether because they will already be able to read and understand the signals that their body sends them when they need to eliminate.