Have You Discovered Your Elimination Communication Confidence?

A Nappy Free Baby? How we got started with Elimination Communication..

A Nappy Free Baby?

Yes, it is indeed possible. This is how we got started with Elimination Communication…

Maven is a Nappy Free baby… now.

We help Maven go to the toilet like we help him to go to sleep, to breastfeed, to wash, to dress and to explore his world. This is a gentle, natural method to keep your baby clean and dry with decreasing reliance on nappies. It is an ancient infant care practice used throughout human history and around the world today. 85% of babies in the world don’t wear nappies.

I was lucky enough to hear about “natural infant hygiene”, “elimination communication”, or “nappy / diaper free” before our baby arrived, so I had researched it online and in the book “Diaper Free” by Ingrid Bauer and was ready to start from birth. You can start later, before they turn five-six months is ideal. (before they become mobile helps) Before that age they still have a natural awareness of when they eliminate – hence babies who pee as soon as their nappy comes off. They want to eliminate away from their bodies, and try to let us know to help them. Some babies start later quite well, especially if their parents use cloth, and there is lots of advice for that. Any time is good.

Discover More about My Elimination Communication eBook…

Here is a list of online support groups for doing Elimination Communication. They are all free to join.

Joining an Elimination Communication Forum

Read this before joining an EC forum, to be sure you get the most out of it…

Australian / New Zealand group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OzNappyfree/
International EC group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eliminationcommunication/

Natural infant hygiene for newbies:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NaturalInfantHygiene/
MotheringDotCommune EC forum:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions/

Late starters group (for babies over 6 months):
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IPTLateStarters

The Diaper Free Baby Organisation has more regional groups…

Part Time Nappy Free

How we started (how everyone starts – gradually!)

We wanted to start as soon as possible so that EC became a normal part of our infant care routine. We started at birth. I caught my first pee when he was 1 1/2 days old – I got up first thing, took off his nappy as soon as he awoke and gingerly held him over the sink and whispered ‘sss sss’ quietly in his ear – and he peed! I was smiling like a loon all day! Actually the pee went all over the sink area – at home the pee went all over the wall a few times until he got easier to handle and aim. There were many times if he was fussing that all he needed was a good poop and then he was happy and relaxed again.

We asked for a cloth nappy service for a baby gift. We used nappies full time, and changed him often so he was used to feeling dry. Each time we’d give him a pee break over the laundry basin – he’d almost always go, and we’d use our cue sound ‘sss pss’ each time. Within a few days he would wait to go until we held him over the sink and said the sound. It was astounding. He couldn’t do much as a newborn, but he could do this by golly! It really helped him to get out all his business in one go. He knew exactly what to do with his muscles.

We’d give him a pee break if he was crying and wouldn’t feed, or if he was simply fussing or squirming. Often the full bladder or need to poo was making him uncomfortable – young babies often interpret their discomforts as pain. This was a great solution that helped him numerous times, and he’d relax so obviously afterwards. We’d give him a pee-opp when he woke up – often he awoke because of the need to go – still does now. I’d give him a pee break after a feed as well. These are known as using ‘timing’ opportunities.

The first ‘sign’ I learnt to separately recognise and respond to was during breastfeeding. He’d pop on and off while feeding, and wouldn’t stay attached despite my help. This is really common sign of baby simply not wanting to eat and go at the same time! We use this sign every single day many times, and giving him a ‘boob test’ is a good way to see whether he needs to feed or just have a widdle, then a feed again.

Boys get what my friend calls a ‘pee horn’ when they need to wee – by around 5 weeks this sign became clearer, and we’d peep into his nappy to see if he needed to do a wee! From these few physical signs and body language clues, and the timing pees we slowly learnt more over time, and our communication improved. It goes on from there. There are plateau stages of not much improvement from either of us, other times leaps as he’d develop or we’d recognise a new sign or signal. It is like walking a winding path, not a straight road.

We used many many, many nappies, then almost suddenly it seemed, noticed they were starting to drop- around 8 weeks I seem to remember. I was also starting to incorporate some nappy-free strategies into our day, I was doing well and not needing the nappies so much. It was very inspiring to get to this stage. I’d have him nappy-free on a mat on my lap, or have a flannel between his legs, sit outside in the shade and wee him onto the grass when I thought I’d seen a sign.

My confidence improved fast at that point, and I had him nappy free a lot of the day. We treated it a bit like a game or a challenge to see how long we could keep him dry be responding to his signs or giving timely pee breaks. I remember keeping him dry for a couple of hours really clearly, then not having to clean a pooey nappy for 5 days.

From around four months we started more often ‘nappying’ his environment rather than him, as it was easier to change a mat than a nappy, plus it was much easier to spot signs and get an idea of his patterns, and poos were all first thing in the morning by this stage. Chris took care of them while I snoozed in bed a bit longer!

Out and about, we used disposable nappies for a long time (4 months full time), then cloth, still giving him pee breaks when we could, but it was a nice time to take a break each day on our walks, and visits, and he felt dry. We changed to EC underwear or training pants (Onewet Pants) after being able to keep them ‘dry’ on outings quite well. We used disposables on family visits and movies and restaurant visits until even 10 months, although only very occasionally by this stage, plus, he’d often refuse to pee in them, waiting and complaining until I took him to the toilet! He’d be in nappies for other carers who wouldn’t wish to pee him. This was no problem to him. EC is flexible with babies.

The Classic Position for elimination communication

We hold him with his back safely against my belly, with my hands supporting his thighs from below, his body slightly reclining. This ‘classic position’ helps the baby to do his business with ease. Tightening my stomach muscles helps him to know when to go, as does turning on the tap.

Conditioning the baby to pee on ‘cue’

Elimination communication is about conditioning at first, so whenever he peed we made a cue sound, “sss psss” so that he associated the sound with the feeling of peeing. As a newborn who peed often, it was easy to help him learn the cue sound. Within days he would pee in the sink when he heard the sound and he needed to go. Frequently he would spit-up as well if not reclining enough. He would usually poop at the same time. It was great to help him get out any burps, too. In time, they simply take the offer to wee if they need it, or indicate that they have no need to go right now, no worries.

The Key to Elimination Communication

Commitment and persistence is the key in the early days when practicing Elimination Communication, as it is really important the baby doesn’t get used to being wet, and feels familiar with beign held in the squat position (or on the potty) and hearing the cue sound. Surprisingly soon (in baby time) the nappy use really drops and it gets easier. It is important to have them not reliant on nappies as their ‘toilet’ within a few months. I clearly remember the first afternoon we kept his nappy dry for several hours. I was so proud of us! Dry streaks are very motivating, all the way through – they are a little personal goal to strive for.

Thank goodness – I wish all Mums knew this!

I cannot count the number of times giving the baby a pee break was the solution to a fussy baby. Especially when breastfeeding, if he stopped during a feed, popping on and off, or refusing to stay attached, once he had a pee break, he’d continue happily. If he was grizzly and squirmy at other times, very often it was the need to poop making him uncomfortable – after a good ‘go’, he’d simply go to sleep! I wish every Mum knew this ‘response tool’ to help baby through a fussy patch – holding baby in the classic elimination position to gain some relief. It is empowering for your confidence, knowing one more way to respond to and HELP your baby. Saving nappies is secondary to this wonderful benefit – ‘talking with’ your baby.

HOW many nappies? Use a nappy service!

The amount of cloth nappies you go through in those early days to keep baby dry is insane – but we were seeing the benefits before he was even two months old. A nappy service is such a glorious thing – nappies arrive at door, are used with abandon, then leave the next week, no washing involved. A flannel covered elastic belt is easier to use than pins – we never used them again once I made one.

Lots of nappies during the learning curve so baby is used to being dry, just like we are!

In the first few weeks we ran out four or five days into our week long supply of nappies, and used plastics on the weekends, still offering pee-breaks, but a few misses would go into the nappy before we could really tell, so it was actually a bit of a break at the time!  By ten weeks I’d dropped the number down to thirty. Over time there were less and less nappies being wet, from a whopping eighty or more in the first weeks (“Get it off!” We’d say the instant it was even barely wet) to less than twenty in a week when the nappy service ended at sixteen weeks. Discover More about My Elimination Communication eBook…

Nappies became a tool, used casually, rather than something always on the baby

By that time they were being used for every spill just to use them up as we were practising lots of nappy free time. Once the nappy service ended we were confident in our skills, and the amount of ‘extra’ washing was easily incorporated into our normal washing load, and was no big deal at all. We used training pants, some disposables, nappy free mats, and held him nappy free when in-arms, as it became easier to read his signs and our confidence grew.

Disposable nappies had their place for sure

We always used disposables on outings until around four months when we were better able to keep them ‘unused’, then began practising with undies ‘OneWet Pants’ (padded training pants) on short trips until we got better skills and confidence, now we use them most of the time. For family visits, long visits we’d use disposables too just for peace of mind, although we’d still use them as a back-up, giving baby pee breaks and changing if wetness was found. We keep our spares in the car just in case we need them one day while out. I carried a spare around for six months before realising it was a bit pointless to do so.

 

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