Elimination Communication - - and fewer diapers to wash!

Elimination Communication - - and fewer diapers to wash!

Before getting pregnant with Adelaide, I knew how I wanted to give birth and how I wanted to feed her.  My diapering journey didn’t start off with such conviction, and I passively diapered my sweet baby in disposables.  Elimination Communication introduced me to our new generation of cloth diapers.  Let me tell you how I got here…

Elimination Communication is a practice in which parents or caregivers notice and respond to their baby’s elimination signals, and upon which give their baby an opportunity to eliminate in an appropriate receptacle (e.g. a potty, toilet, sink, nature…the list is long, but in theory does not include soiling themselves in a diaper).

The purpose is to allow your baby to be tuned in to their elimination needs from an early age (ideally at birth, however EC can be started at any age before one year old) thereby reducing their use of diapers, and avoiding the struggles of traditional potty training.  Lest we forget, the other equally important word in Elimination Communication is “communication”.  EC will work if we focus on communication, but if we focus on elimination, EC can be a stressful and unsuccessful experience.

It is a gentle and nurturing practice.  EC jargon includes “misses” instead of “accidents”, and if we keep in mind that even one “catch” a day equals one less diaper used, we can relax our expectations and make this a fun and bonding experience for baby and parent.  Cueing your baby upon elimination (whether during a catch or a miss) and letting your baby have diaper-free time as much as you’re comfortable with are both important, but no parent should be turned off from attempting EC -- it can be done full-time, part-time, or occasionally.  EC can be practiced with or without diapers.

Speaking of diapers…I started what I refer to as “EC Light” when Adelaide was five months old.  I decided that introducing solid foods would be a great time to start “potty training”.  I didn’t know then that I was actually practicing Elimination Communication.

We had great initial success (my goal was to catch one pee a day), and we even made it through traveling to the grandparents’ for Thanksgiving and Christmas with our little potty in tow.  After two months of using the potty, and one full week without changing a single poopy diaper, I told my husband it was time to switch from disposables to cloth.  No way was I going to throw out a pee diaper when I could just throw it in the wash.

I don’t catch them all, but I try harder to tune in to my daughter when she’s in cloth diapers (I’d rather empty a potty than wash a diaper, especially a poopy one).  If you decide to use diapers when practicing Elimination Communication, consider cloth an important factor to your success.

My local cloth diaper store, Basic Baby in Syracuse NY, was the first to hear about my EC journey; this was where I bought my stash of FuzziBunz.  After talking to co-owner (and Central NY Real Diaper Circle Leader) Josh one day about unsuccessfully finding a local EC support group, he suggested I host one, and offered up their community room and social networking resources.  I’m no expert on EC -- and just like breastfeeding, Adelaide and I are learning together as we go.

When I first started EC with my daughter I knew success would be more likely if I found support.  There are many resources online.  Check out www.diaperfreebaby.org for more information, books on Elimination Communication, and to find a mentor/support group in your area.  I also highly recommend www.tribalbaby.org.

- Emily Ayres, Syracuse NY


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  • Mar 23, 2012
Hi Andrea, I've actually purchased your book and loved it! I found it so helpful in my EC journey wth Addy! By the way, I was just reading your comments on "The dangers of potty training too early" article and was so happy to see them there! Thank you for being an advocate and saying so articulately what so many of us are thinking! -Em
Hi Emily! I know how a good support group or an EC community goes a long way, to celebrate those catches (yay!) and when things don't seem to be going well (potty strike!). This is why I made sure that the owners of my book EC Simplified: Infant Potty Training Made Easy have a private forum for us to have that virtual community vibe. If you're looking for some more online resources, I think you'll find a lot of good stuff over at ecsimplified.com/blog (I'm a DiaperFreeBaby mentor, by the way). I think you should definitely start an EC support group. Wow, who'd have thought that central NY didn't have one yet!

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