EC: Beyond Diapers

The Beginning: 1 month

Recently my daughter went three days without a potty “accident.” Another way of saying it might be that we, my husband and I, went three days without a miss. Yes, we practice Elimination Communication (EC).

I can see why people call EC infant or early potty training, but I don’t like the implications of the word “training.” I think this is why some people who aren’t familiar with EC might assume it involves a level of force or authority. I prefer the term EC because it clearly mentions my main goal, which is simply to communicate with my daughter about her natural functions and needs.

What is EC?

EC is a traditional cultural practice worldwide.

Tribal Baby is an in-depth/how-to resource, but the communication piece is about three main things:

  • talking to the child (saying “Do you need to go potty?” or using sign language — potty is generally a shaken “t” for toilet)
  • timing potty opportunities (peeing after waking or before leaving house)
  • watching for the particular cues (squirms, squeaks, red noses, hiding in corners, squatting — each child has their own set of cues)

Steady on the Path: 7 months

Aside from the communication, there is the actually taking her to the potty and allowing the her to go diaper-free. Everyone practices EC differently, but I like the way the Diaper Free Baby site gives a range of possibility for everyone to find a comfort zone:

  • Full Time — diaper-free  majority of the time (often including at nighttime), potty opportunities when out of the house
  • Part Time — diaper as a backup (particularly when out of the house), diaper free on and off
  • Occasional — potty opportunities might be focused around nighttime or day time or timing (such as after baby wakes up or before a bath), diaper-free time once in a while

The amount we do both opportunities and diaper free has changed many times since we started at a month old. Our journey, cataloged from the beginning on Life and Times of Uma Pai, and Stay at Home Papa‘s posts offer a view into two experiences of EC.

EC language uses the terms catches and misses:

  • Catch — You, the adult or even an older sibling, caught the cues, used timing or “got a feeling” and got the child to the potty to pee or poop.
  • Miss — You missed the cues. ….. : )

Rather than focusing on building a child’s awareness of body and self, some people, when traditionally potty training or ECing, focus their goal on having the child eliminating in the potty. Our goal, as I said, is communication. We are easy going when it comes to misses (wood floors?). I honestly find it to be a cleaner and healthier for my child to be as diaper-free as I can stand her to be. Sometimes she doesn’t want to go in the potty; we still talk to her, naming and signing so she can gain more understanding about things.

Grandparents can EC, too!

Finding a (local) support group can be helpful. Things can be up and down and get frustrating, especially if outsiders are judging or calculating your “success.” When she was 3 months old, we went 3 days without a miss. She was cueing in obvious ways and beginning to “wait” or be in step with the timed opportunities we gave her. Obviously, though, she wasn’t going without diapers from the age of three months. Due to a bitter winter and her screaming, a year later we were barely offering opportunities and didn’t have too much diaper free time. Then, at 16 months, came these last few weeks of warmer weather, lots of diaper free time, and the recent 3-day streak without a miss.

The lessons for us? Observe, trust, listen, communicate and relax. All will develop in its own time and rhythm.



4 responses to this post.

  1. […] written a bit previously about our EC experience and about how I love my daughter’s voice. Well, today’s Happy Place combines these two […]


  2. […] instance, this morning I put her on the potty. Many folks who practice EC (Elimination Communication) have probably had the experience when you are pottying your child (reading a book, say), and just […]


  3. […] with friends is fun! (EC babies the two of […]


  4. […] have practiced EC (Elimination Communication) with our daughter since infancy. As my daughter got past infancy and could sit on her own, pottying […]


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