Tag Archives: EC

The Amazing Communication of (even casual) EC

By Carrie

Once A. was out of the newborn diapers and into the one size cloth diapers I felt they were gigantic on her!  How was she going to learn to roll over with this huge obstacle (her cloth diaper bottom)?  Thankfully a friend from my training had given me a bit of a heads up with her observation that cloth diapers may be an obstacle to development.  So I had planned to give A. lots of diaper free time when she was on her movement mat and had a wool puddle pad underneath the sheet.  I ended up putting a pre-fold diaper underneath of her a lot of the time and/or a plastic-backed change mat.  I had also planned to start putting A. on the potty when she was able to hold her head up.

Despite reading many times that children using cloth diapers get less diaper rash, A. was easily prone to getting a diaper rash.  Diaper free time was essential to help clear it up.  When A. was 11 weeks and was having diaper free time she made this odd fussing noise.  I checked and nope, she wasn’t wet.  A little while later she fussed again and this time she had peed.   Later that day the same thing happened: odd fussing noise, dry, but soon she was wet.  The light bulb went off in my head that perhaps the odd fussing noise meant that she had to go pee.  So again, she made the fussing noise and this time I was prepared with the potty right beside the movement mat.  She fussed, I quickly put her on the potty and to my amazement – she peed!  I did this a few more times before I became a bit more confident and then moved the potty to the bathroom.  Nothing made my heart more full then realizing I had this type of communication with my baby.  I really didn’t expect that my infant would communicate with me when she needed to go pee.  It blew me away!

potty

I can’t really recall how long this lasted for but it wasn’t for more than a month or so.  I don’t know why she stopped making the noise or how I stopped missing her cue signs, but that type of strong communication was lost.  It did make a positive impact as she associated the potty for going pee, and the occasional poo.  So from then on, every diaper change and before her evening bath I would sit her on the potty.  Sometimes she went pee and sometimes she didn’t.  Most nights before her bath she would go pee.  We kept one potty in the downstairs bathroom and one in the upstairs bathroom.  I read Diaper Free Baby to do more EC (Elimination Communication) but I was never super successful at picking up on her signs.  I did try to observe for signs of watery/glassy eyes or a sudden stillness or wiggly/fussiness, especially after she ate.  We always did a diaper change when she woke up so she had the opportunity to use the potty at these keys times of day.  Sometimes we communicated well and a lot of times we didn’t.  I really appreciated how the book said that EC isn’t an all or nothing thing.  Even a little bit is great.

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We did use the cue signs as suggested “psss” for pee and grunting for poo.  I’m not sure if either of these helped in reality but it made us as adults feel like we were doing something to encourage her to pee/poo.  We chose to not read to her or really engage with her while on the potty.  I tried to give her privacy as I like to have while on the toilet.  Often I would use the toilet at the same time, which I think has helped.  She usually sat there for a few minutes and I would  take her off the potty if she became upset about it but I really can’t think of too many times when she has been upset.  Recently she has taken to playing with her pants or underwear while on the potty, and sometimes I give her a square of toilet paper.  She makes the motions of wiping herself and likes to put the toilet paper into the toilet.

Repetitions are needed to awaken his interest.  To create a cycle of relationship. ~Maria Montessori, “What You Should Know About Your Child”

My hope by practising even some EC early on is that A. would begin to connect to her bodily sensations and have an awareness of going pee/poo.  My hope of introducing the potty in her first few months of life is that she would create a relationship with the potty that this is where to go pee/poo.  With many repeated opportunities to practice using the potty during her first year of life, my hope is that when toilet learning did begin that some initial steps would come much more naturally.

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 12-18 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting

Time for a Diaper Change

By Carrie

Developing a strong bond with my daughter is very important to me.  While I shared with you the importance of allowing babies to develop independence in this post, time together is also very important.  Rubi’s post on language development stimulated me to share with you an important part of fostering that strong bond: changing her diaper.  Rubi shared that times of caring for your child’s physical needs, such as bathing, can be times for language development.  These can also be strong moments of togetherness for you and your child.

According to Dr. Silvana Montanaro, there are 3 aspects of togetherness that are important in the mother-child bond: holding, handling, and feeding.  By handling she is referring to when we care for the infant’s physical needs such as changing a diaper, dressing, or bathing.  While she specifically refers to maternal care in her book, the same principle applies for all adults who interact with a baby.  Perhaps it seems odd that changing my daughter’s diaper is one of the most important ways I have fostered our bond but it is an important time of togetherness for us.

 Too many parents and adults still miss this point and handle a child solely with the aim of accomplishing, as soon as possible, the more obvious, physical tasks: changing, dressing, bathing, etc.  The parents may be well-trained, efficient and capable of doing good work but they fail to use this time to have an encounter.  To use it as an occasion for meeting and expressing feelings.  There is not much personal involvement, because the idea is solely to accomplish an unemotional routine.  ~Dr. Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being

Speaking with a friend she boasted about her infant’s bottom never seeing the light of day as she could change a diaper so quickly.  Many adults approach changing a diaper with disdain, they keep “score” between mom & dad, desperately try to distract the infant from what is happening to them, or assign a lack of importance to it saying to their child “you can go back to playing soon” and thinking for themselves what they would rather be doing.

 So we tend to do these routines quickly instead of slowly.  We tend to avoid the movements instead of repeating then in order to let the child try to understand what is happening.  What we should do is to explain our actions to the infant, in a simple and short way, touch the different parts of his body gently, name them and ask him to collaborate with us.  This collaboration can begin from the moment of birth, but it requires a little more time and the basic trust of the child, who is an intelligent human being, eager to interact with us.  Only when we become able to give maternal care with the child’s collaboration are we really doing things “with the child” and not “to the child.” ~Dr. Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being

When A. finishes one activity and I am not interrupting her (often after she finishes eating), I’ll sing a little ditty “Time for a diaper change, time for a diaper change, time for a diaper, diaper change.”  I wait for her to respond to me.  She gets a smile on her face and I tell her “Up you get” as I pick her up.  (I always try to tell her what I am doing to her, even simple things like picking her up)  Recently she has started stretching out her arms for me.  As I carry her to the change table I might continue singing the ditty or talk to her about what she was just doing.  I tell her, “Down you go” or “Lay down” as I lay her down on the change table so that I am directly facing her and she can properly see me while we connect.  “Let’s take off your pants,” I say as I take off her pants.  This “let’s” begins the routine of doing it together and not doing things to her.  “Undo your onesie,” as I unsnap her fitted bodysuit.  “Let’s see what’s inside,” as I unsnap/undo her diaper.  “Oh it’s a poop” and really try not to make a disgusted face or sound if the smell is bad or the poo is quite large, although I may acknowledge “Oh my, it’s a big one!”  Or I’ll say “Just a pee” depending on what the occasion calls for.  She lifts her bottom for me to wipe.  I take out a wipe and tell her “wipe, wipe, wipe” as I do so.

I put a clean dry cloth under her bottom and pick her up “Time to use the potty.”  I place her on her potty and give her some time.  Sometimes I just let her be, sometimes I sing another ditty “she goes pee pee in the potty, pee pee in the potty, pee pee in the potty: A!”, sometimes I’ll use the toilet to model for her, and sometimes I’ll use the cue sound we used when we started doing EC (Elimination Communcation) with “psssss.”  After a short period of time I’ll give her a pat/wipe dry with the cloth (if she urinated) and carry her back to the change table.
“Down you go” as I lay her down.  “Let’s put on a clean, dry diaper” as I choose which diaper to put on.  (We use cloth diapers but during this photo shoot we had to temporarily switch to disposables)  Sometimes she will lay there watching me and listening to me, and sometimes she will roll over and now sometimes sit up.  I keep a hand gently on her for safety and talk to her about the diaper I’m choosing, “It’s your pretty, pink diaper.  You look so beautiful in this shade of pink.”  If she is on her stomach or sitting up I lay her down again, “You need to lie down so I can put your diaper on.”  Sometimes she is squirmy and sometimes she lays there watching me.  I talk to her as I put on her diaper, “This diaper matches the pink sweater you’re wearing today.  Your great-grandma made that sweater.  Let’s do up the snaps on your diaper: ooonnne, twwooo.”

Usually she watches me as I talk to her and she coos back but sometimes she is very squirmy.  She is often very squirmy if she has just reached a new stage of development, such as now when she often tries to climb off of the change table.  If she is very squirmy I place my hand on her stomach and lean right over to place my face very close to her face to focus on our connection.  “A., I need to put your diaper on now.  I love you very much.”  Sometimes I kiss her tummy and this usually puts a smile on her face and helps to reconnect her to what we’re doing and remind her that this is our time together.  “Time to put your pants back on.”  She sticks out her leg, “One leg.  The other leg.” (or right leg and left leg if I’m really on the ball)  “We’re all done” as I pick her up and give her a cuddle.

“Ah booo” says A., “Ah booo” I respond. I try to mimic the sounds she makes to encourage her language development.

Does this take a long time?  You bet it does!  It is an important relationship to spend time on.  Do I honestly say all this absolutely every time?  No.  Sometimes my mind is elsewhere or I’m so tired, but by talking to her like this for the majority of diaper changes I usually realize when I’ve gone silent and snap out of it.  I certainly wouldn’t want you to think this is an exact script to follow as it is important your bonding come from your heart.  Do I call my husband to change diapers?  Of course.  I really enjoy listening to him interact with our daughter during diaper changes.

Why did I just spend so long writing about changing a diaper?  Changing a diaper, dressing/undressing, and bathing are very important parts of living life together with a baby.  For adults we enjoy spending time together talking, sharing a meal, going for a walk, or reconnecting at the end of our work days.  This is what living life together means for adults.  For a baby these moments of “handling” are often over-looked as important times to bond with a baby and for language development.  In reality, diaper changes is what living life together means for an adult and baby.  I encourage you to re-think how you approach that next diaper change, outfit change, or bath to really connect with your child.

What is a good social life if not the joy of passing the time with others, accepting them in our environment, talking and smiling together and sharing each other’s company and activities?  In a sense, we invited the child to our house when we decided to give it life and he must feel how glad we are to have him with us.  “Handling” in maternal care is the right moment for a happy social interaction that teaches the child the great benefits of social life.  ~Dr. Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being 

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting