We bought a Baby Bjorn Potty Chair for Oliver a couple of months ago. They were on sale for half price at Babies ‘R Us, and I’d been contemplating the idea of introducing him to the potty early, hoping for an easier transition out of diapers later on.
I had read a lot about Elimination Communication (EC — also known as infant potty training) before Oliver’s birth, and while I truly admire families who choose this route, I decided it was not for us. I didn’t want to spend every waking moment that I wasn’t feeding Oliver, trying to stop him from crying, trying to settle him to sleep, doing laundry, or cleaning, holding him over a potty in the hopes of catching his every elimination. The prospect of adding yet another complication to my daily routine in those early months was simply too overwhelming.
I’m also not sure that EC is totally compatible with urban living — unless you want to tote a potty or other receptacle everywhere you go (as if we moms don’t already have enough stuff to carry!). The alternative, letting a baby pee and poop anywhere and everywhere — parking lots, boulevards, sides of buildings, sinks in public washrooms — just doesn’t sit right with me. Besides being a health hazard in an urban or suburban environment, I think it’s every bit as disrespectful to leave baby poop in a public space as it is to leave dog poop. I also think it’s important to teach and reinforce appropriate social behaviours, including elimination habits, from an early age. I cringe whenever I see a parent encouraging their little one to pee on a structure in the park, when washrooms are available mere feet away.
All that aside, after talking to some of the moms at my weekly drop-in group, I became convinced of the merits of introducing Oliver to the potty in a casual way, with no expectations or pressures. I started putting Oliver on his potty at times that he would be likely to have to go, such as after naps and before baths. I used the “pssss” sound as a cue, and within two weeks, he was reliably peeing in the potty several times each day.
I now give Oliver the opportunity to use the potty every time I remove his diaper (at home), and he will always go — even just a tiny bit — if he is able. When he’s finished, I say, “All finished,” while giving him the corresponding ASL sign. In return he gives me a big, bright smile. If he doesn’t have to go, he makes it fairly obvious to me by squirming and trying to stand up. I try to keep the experience as positive as possible, and never force him to remain on the potty if he doesn’t go within about 30 seconds.
In effect, I suppose we are doing a form of part-time EC, though it’s completely parent-directed, so I don’t know if that counts as “communication.” Oliver is still in diapers and I have no plan to change that anytime soon. I don’t have any specific goals in mind with this endeavour, other than to introduce Oliver to the fact that he can eliminate somewhere other than his diapers, and to provide opportunities to do so when feasible and appropriate. So far, I think it’s working rather well!
Have you considered doing (or had experience with) part-time or full-time EC with your baby? Why or why not?