Have You Discovered Your Elimination Communication Confidence?

My Grandma did Elimination Communication too!

My Grandma did Elimination Communication too!

Doesn’t everyone do it this way? It’s Easy.” – the loss of a social norm.

I have talked to my Grandma several times about going nappy free. When I explained how it worked, she said that  she did the same with her seven children. She said that my Great Grandmother also did the same with her six children.

In fact, as my Grandma was the eldest, she helped care for the younger ones when her Mum was out working for extra money. She said she worked out pretty quickly that 10 minutes after a drink was when they’d go, and said that’s what most of us do to keep the balance of what goes in and out! So, she had learnt this way while growing up – it was the done thing to help them learnt from their early months, and begin moving out of nappies more so around one.

She said she started when they were three or four months old, as they wet so often before then, and that she would hold them in the same classic position we use, over a bowl, a bucket, the toilet, a nappy or some newspaper. I guess they threw the newspaper into the fireplace, as she also mentioned that my Great Grandma used newspaper as well. She held them out for a wee or poo when they awoke, and always ten minutes after a breastfeed, or later when they ate or drank, as that was their pattern. One difference is that she didn’t use a cue sound – had no idea what I was talking about with that one! I guess that skill had been lost by that stage. I know I have found a cue sound to be very helpful to Maven as I invite him to have a wee. Instead, what she did was say “Come on”, and they’d go! A word cue in place of a sound cue.

“You don’t let them just mess themselves when you can help them…”

She also gave them an opportunity when they awoke from sleeps, at nappy changes and when they obviously needed to go, such as for poos, so “They didn’t have to mess themselves”.  She used nappy back-up full time as she had many children and jobs to do around the place, and of course, this method worked perfectly fine. They were always in cloth nappies. She thinks cloth nappies (They used to call them ‘napkins’ or ‘baby napkins’) are the best thing to use at home, so the baby and mother is aware, but that disposables would have been great for going out and for nights, as obviously she did not attend to any night time needs with a house full of children! Not surprisingly, with many young children she commonly had about two dozen nappies and a couple of sheets on the line every morning, so any to be avoided with a spot of attentiveness was a bonus. She used cloudy ammonia and the sun to keep them white.

Take your baby to the toilet with you- an easy timing strategy

Once the baby could sit,  she would take the baby with her every time she went to the toilet, and put the babe on a potty in the corner, and they would usually go then. Her father, my great grandfather, made her a little wooden seat with a hole in it for the baby to sit on. The bowl would sit underneath this seat, and that was their potty. She didn’t like having a potty around the house.

“Children never wear nappies over summer…”

Another thing she said was “Children never wear nappies over summer – they just run around outside. It is too hot for nappies” Chuckle. The fact that it was just so NORMAL for her is amazing considering the ‘pee phobia’ so rampantly promoted these days. She said it is best to help them to use the “toilet” as soon as they are able to, sometime after they begin walking, so they don’t just stay in nappies. It was better for Mum and baby. The children finished at various ages of course, but she couldn’t remember when. The boys always finished later than the girls. The children were out of full time nappies sometime between one and two, though they still had some accidents. They would go to their little potty seat in the corner of the toilet whenever they needed to go, once they could walk there. When they were older and walking she would give them a jelly bean for using the pot and they enjoyed it.

She was amazed when I said people are told these days that babies have no awareness or control and that they are told to keep them in nappies full time until three or even later, and that some children are still in nappies at five, or even later at nights. I told her how this was just propaganda by the nappy manufacturers so that they could make much more money by getting people to believe this. She thought this was strange.

How my Grandma has inspired me…

I was telling her recently how she is part of the reason I was inspired to start developing the ‘Part time Nappy Free’ site for Tribal Baby – by the fact that, if she can do this with seven children, so can the rest of us with our own, by and large much smaller menageries.

It was funny. She was SO confused about WHY I would have a website on this topic:

“Doesn’t everyone do it? Everyone did it back in my day – you just hold the baby out. It’s easy – you just hold the baby between your legs over a bucket with some newspaper in the bottom or a napkin”

(Napkin was the word then for cloth nappy – which were a yard squared, cut out of whatever towelling was available – old towels usually)

I talked again about how no, this knowledge has been totally lost in most places – children are in nappies for years! She said “What, they just let them mess themselves?”I said “Sadly, yes – People simply have NO IDEA this is an option! It just isn’t fair that parents are denied information about even the basic concept of helping their babies to go to the toilet now and then – as it really helps the baby – and this REALLY helps the parents to learn about and respond to their babies.”

My ideal world would be just that – for anyone to have access to these basic elimination communication skills, to suit to their lifestyle just as my Granny did. In between, they always wore a nappy – she took the current baby to the toilet with her when she went, and ‘held the baby out’ to wee after naps and to poo when they clearly needed to go. After all,  you didn’t want to let them ‘mess themselves’ with poo if you were there to notice. Far easier to just catch it on a bit of newspaper and toss it in the fireplace or compost.

From the loss of a cultural ‘norm’ to re-discovering it all a generation later!

How amazing that here we are a few decades later re-learning a method of baby care that was once so normal it had no name. It was fantastic to realise we had all this in common, a generation apart. It goes to show that the knowledge is not all lost in the community – it may still even be in your own family!

“It is astounding that a thousand generations of knowledge and experience can be wiped out by a single generation of ignorance.”
S. M. Richards

It is so true in this instance – a spot of scare tactics, a change in social norms, a new product and clever marketing – and something like 99% of babies are in disposables.


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