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Adventures in Part Time Baby Pottying: Astrid and Paul and their son

Adventures in Part Time Baby Pottying: Astrid and Paul and their son

Discover Valuable Insights in The Stories of Parents Practicing EC!  How do they combine their busy modern lives with being part time diaper free?

What can your learn from someone who has a similar story to yours?

Astrid, Paul-Andre and their baby son, in Norway…

“Suddenly we understood what his sudden crying bouts were about – except from when he had to pee (and sometimes poop) he hardly ever cried anymore. It was so nice to know what was wrong, and be able to help him.”

When did you begin practicing EC with your little one and how did this look?

I had read a little bit about EC while still pregnant, so we started cuing every time he pooped from the beginning. First time we held him over the sink, however, was when he was 2 weeks old, and screaming his lungs out. He pooed and peed while crying – and then: silence and a contented baby. 20 min later he started screaming in the same way – we took him to the sink where he peed, and then calmed down. He actually started signaling really strongly from the start, for both pooing and peeing, so there really was no option for us not continuing doing EC (as we have always wanted to respond to anything he tries to tell us).

Which diapers and alternatives did you use in the process?

We had received some prefolds from my mil, but they were way too big in the beginning, so we used mainly disposables (20-30 every day before starting EC).

Later we found some newborn prefolds, that we used part time, and we bought some tiny organic swaddlebees. We stopped using disposables completely when he was a couple of months old, as I though they started stinking after a single pee, and we were uncomfortable about the chemicals and plastic involved.

Today we use the newborn prefolds between his legs as a loin-cloth and held up by prefold belts (some form the ecstore, some homemade in soft elastic velvet. To protect his trousers we just put a little piece of wool in the front (we have loads of them), held in place by the prefold belt. We also use some training pants, but we find them quite hard to take on and off all the time (either when offering pottitunities or to change them), so the loin-cloths are by far the most used. When out in a wrap/sling/mei-tai I often put him in normal underwear (size 2-4 years, although he is only 7 months), as he never pees when being carried – he is actually able to start signaling 10-20 min in advance, so that we can find a toilet place.

And we always use wool pants/trousers on him, preferably untreated (handwash only). In case of an accident they offer a quite good protection, and wool doesn’t get cold if it should get wet (but it hardly never does get wet on the outside, even when he has an accident).

What differences/changes did you notice in your baby after beginning EC?

Suddenly we understood what his sudden crying bouts were about – except from when he had to pee (and sometimes poop) he hardly ever cried anymore. It was so nice to know what was wrong, and be able to help him.

It also made me aware that peeing hurt for him – so I started doing an elimination diet myself – and the crying finally subsided when I stopped eating pepper (while on an already strict diet). every time I ate pepper (at friends’ house, at restaurants, …) he would start crying for minutes before being able to eliminate, and this went on until about 4 months. Had I not done EC, I would probably never have understood what was wrong, would never have tried moderating my diet the way I did, and would probably had a baby who would have regularly screamed in pain.

What difference did it make to your day-to-day life and your relationship with your baby?

The most important aspect of ec for us was how we really got tuned into his signals.

He communicative even clearer his needs after we started ec – there was never any doubt about what he needed, he used different signals for food, being rocked, needing to eliminate etc from only 2-3 weeks old. After one week – 3 weeks old – he stopped pooing in his diaper, trying to hold it till we got him in position. It was just amazing seeing this little creature, unable to even hold his head up, signaling he wanted to eliminate – and not in his diaper.

I must admit I have sometimes been shocked seeing small babies signaling clearly that they are hungry, that they need to poop, that they are really tired – and how their mothers are unable to understand what the baby wants (they hardly ever fail to stop crying when the mothers have followed my suggestion to what can be wrong). The above-mentioned may sound extremely arrogant, but I truly believe that if you really try to do ec with your little one, you will be so tuned into
his/hers signals that the signals for other needs also get clearer for you – plus that I believe that the baby will signal stronger as (s)he gets a proper response to his/hers different needs.

I can’t really tell if my baby got calmer, as he was so small when we started, but I have seen other babies stopping ”crying for no reason” after they started doing ‘ec light’.

How long before you were feeling confident including a few ‘baby potty breaks’ into your day?

As our boy unfortunately was in a lot of pain before peeing, we actually caught the number of pees and all poos almost from the start. He was reliably dry when 3-4 months, that’s why we completely stopped using disposables and cloth diaper covers (this being in the summer). He did have more accidents when starting to crawl at 5 months, but as he would get really upset as soon as he had peed, I just kept him in his loin-cloth and a little shirt, changing the loin-cloths as soon as they got wet (= when he started complaining). Today he can actually be diaper free when carried, even for several hours.

In really busy times, what do you do?

Hm, here I’m probably not a very good example, as I’ve felt obliged to do ec way more seriously than intended. As our little son has been so clear about his elimination needs, I have simply changed our schedules a little bit.

– I try not to go out / only go to places with nice pottitunities before he has done his morning poo. Not because he gets upset, but because i hate to make him wait, and i know he will (for hours if he has to), as he refuses to poo in his diaper.

– I always bring a potty along in a potty-bag i have made. He has been on his potty almost anywhere (covered with the wrap if in public). He has even peed on his potty on buses (with a plastic bag with paper in the bottom / sitting on the potty in the pram).

– I have automatically started to notice good pottitunity places, and prefer to do my shopping in places with a bathroom, for instance.

– When there really has been no possibility to let him pee outside the potty, i have whispered pss in his ear when he has been signaling, and felt really bad because he would still wait for as long as possible before peeing. While it is awful to see him signal desperately and not being able to help, this is at the same time a clear indication about how much he actually values eliminating away from his body.

– I have stopped bothering about what other people think, and matter-of-factly let him pee on a public flowerbed if that is the most convenient.

– When at home, i don’t bring him to the potty when he crawls around unless he really signals strongly. it seems like he has understood this, as he signals less when crawling (but apparently tries to hold it even so, as he normally pees if given a pottitunity). when he starts complaining, i just change his loin-cloth in less than 10 seconds. he starts crawling happily around again, i go back to whatever I was doing.

What impact has reducing diapers had on your budget?

I must admit that the economical aspect hasn’t really been that important to us. but sure, leaving him without a diaper cover has led me to buy him lots of high quality wool-and-silk trousers that i otherwise probably wouldn’t have (instead of letting him use the less comfortable trousers people keep giving us).

“High quality” disposable diapers are one of the few things that are much cheaper in Norway than in most other countries, so the savings probably aren’t that great. But of course, not having to drag them home from the super market sure is a big pro (we are city people, and don’t drive a car).

I had considered using cloth diapers while pregnant because of the environmental aspect. But our 2-3 pooing happenings after we switched to cloth really make me wonder if I would have managed. I simply find it very disgusting to rinse pooed cloth. On second thoughts, I wonder if I would have managed to use disposables on him after the first weeks either, as everyone I know who do, have had poop accidents with poop going up the back, down the legs etc.

If only to not have to bother about the poos, I actually think I would have tried to hold him over the toilet when he was about to poo even if I had never heard about ec.

What else has been significant to you?

The environmental aspect is quite important to me: not contributing to a garbage problem that doesn’t burn well (in the refuse incineration plant), doesn’t go in the compost, alternatively takes up a lot of space and is a health hazard because of leakage. and polluting in the production process as well.

For the dad, ec has been great, as he says: He may not be able to feed the little one, but he is really good at getting things out the other end!

As for my personal insight, ec has shown me the strongest how capable tiny small babies are.

I have also updated my own knowledge a lot, and:

– been shocked about the making up of and effects of diapers

– read a lot about other cultures and had a new view of both them and my own (unfortunately made me quite displeased with my own culture’s look at and way of bringing up babies)

– almost every scientific report there is about diapers, potty training and the like. And being shocked about the lack of scientific fundament current potty training guidelines are based upon.

I probably don’t have a psychic connection with my baby (being a bit too ”rationalist” and uptight to allow those senses any room), but I normally catch his smallest signals.

As for diaper rash – we simply have never had any as we started ec’ing so early on. But he has sometimes been red just around the opening, and been crying after pooing until I have washed him gently – I don’t even want to imagine what his bum would have looked like if those poos had stayed on him for a longer period of time.

I also have a friend who was extremely skeptical and negative to ec – until the day I brought her two month old baby with a rash and 10+ poop diapers a day to the sink. The baby pooped a lot, and didn’t poop any more for hours. She actually started signaling next time she needed to poop, and my friend decided to give it a try. The diaper rash that the baby had had for weeks, disappeared after a couple of days, and the baby started signaling stronger and stronger. After only a few days my friend actually claimed she sometimes would get a warm feeling down her leg, even when in an other room, and when she then took the baby to the sink, she would always pee a lot and sometimes poo.

What message do you have to share with parents beginning their part time diaper free journey?

I believe the most important aspects about ec are:

– you do it to make life more comfortable for your baby.

– you let your baby understand that what (s)he signals is important to you, and worthy of response.

– you will probably get quite good at interpreting your baby’s signals – much more so than if you didn’t EC.

– it doesn’t matter if you have lots of misses – just try to follow your baby. some babies don’t communicate that clearly about their elimination, that’s fine, but they probably prefer to poo outside their diaper in a favorable position even so.

– even the sporadic use of potty / holding in position will mean that your baby will not get completely diaper trained. and thus will have a less difficult time if potty trained the conventional way.

– you are not training your baby in any way, but allowing it’s natural sense of cleanliness to be held alive.

– Conventional full-time diapering is actually more of a training form: the baby is trained to understand that the only acceptable place to eliminate is in the diaper.

– if you are getting stressed out, relax and take a break.

– baby pee really doesn’t smell much if it doesn’t stay wet for longer periods. It is quite sterile as well. I would freak out about baby pee on anything in the beginning – today I have experienced that it doesn’t really leave any trace.

– what you do is not harmful in any way – the “It is 18-months before baby has any control of its elimination” is as scientifically true as the “do not breastfeed your baby more often than every 4 hours”

– read some of the books, and if possible some of the relevant scientific reports, to be able to withstand people’s ignorance. Remember that few doctors have actually read a single scientific report about this topic, and only repeat what AAP and “everybody else” says.

How would you practice EC with another baby?

I must admit that I actually hope the next one won’t be as specific about it’s peeing needs, as it might be difficult to follow it up as thoroughly as I would like with an older sibling to tender to as well.

Apart from that, I guess I will do everything the same way as I did with the first one except:

– not using any disposables after the first 2-3 weeks.

– not being afraid about what other people might think.

– starting using a potty long before 3 months, as life got so much more convenient when I could simply bring a potty along.

– every child is different, so I guess my biggest challenge might be to see how my next baby prefers to have things done, and not expect him or her to be like my firstborn.

– when I advise other people, I never talk much about catching pees, for some it will come naturally if the child starts to communicate and the parent starts to respond, for others it wont. But I do evangelise the fact that babies do prefer to poop outside a diaper, that they have the capacity to do so if allowed the opportunity and time, and that this “ec light” is actually more convenient for the parent as well, not having to handle poop at present, and having a potty accustomed child when they want to start conventionally potty train their child (which is a process that takes 7 months on average ). And I also try to make them read their baby and be aware that a baby has amazing communication abilities.

By Astrid in Norway
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