Have you noticed that we’re kind of hippy-dippy parents? We are. (We do vaccinate on schedule… we’re hippy-dippy parents with PhDs.)
Anyhow, we started gentle potty training with DC1 around 15 months, even though we really should have started at 12 months when ze didn’t want to poo in hir diaper anymore.
It was so much fun, that we vowed to start with any future DC2s once the poo became more solid. DC2’s poo is now more solid.
DC2 also hates wet diapers with a violent passion.
The first step of elimination communication is un-diaper-training your baby. The baby has to realize that ze is peeing. With DC1 this was easy– ze could stand so we let hir take showers and pointed out peeing when ze showered. Ze had a hilarious expression the first time it happened, sort of a “what is this?” DC2 isn’t stable enough to stand in the shower and probably won’t be any time soon.
So, for us, Step one was pulling out the incontinence pads we’d gotten for DC1’s night training and putting DC2 on top of them with shiny new-to-hir toys to keep hir occupied. Then we kept watch for sudden wetness. (This part was a little weird.)
When the wetness occurred, we would move on to Step 2: cueing the baby. Most folks cue the baby with a “pssss” or “tsss” or “peeeee” sound. My family apparently has a song they sing to the tune of “Twinkle twinkle little star” (“Tinkle, tinkle…”) that I thought I made up with DC1, but it turns out is something my grandma used to sing to my mom and her siblings and my mom must have sung to me and my sister even though I don’t remember it.
We repeated this for 2 days whenever we thought of it, probably 20 min a try, a few tries a day. Day 3 we decided to Step 3: introduce the potty. Sadly our tiny little potty got a crack in the bottom while stored in the attic which makes it useless as a potty. (But it’s recyclable!) And it has been discontinued. Fortunately DC2 is bigger than DC1 was, so can use the next size up Baby Bjorn potties, of which we have two.
DC1 always peed after waking up, so we figured to try that with DC2 as well. It worked. We caught a pee almost immediately. I tried later in the day with the cuing song and also caught a pee. The next day I caught another one and thought, “There is no way this can be so easy.”
So of course the next time I tried, baby didn’t pee when cued, and the time after that ze stood up and peed all over me instead of in the potty. (That has happened a couple times since then as well, but we stay upbeat about it.) But we’ve been catching a lot of pees, especially right after sleeping in the morning and right after naps. It’s pretty amazing.
One time half-naked DC2 even walked over to the potty hirself (with parental assistance), but then got distracted by the bathtub and peed on it instead. Oops!
The true joy of this method has been the poos we’ve caught. It is just so much less icky to dump poo in the toilet and then rinse out the potty than it is to deal with a poo covered rear end. I understand that many folks who do EC are better at catching poos than pees because their babies give more signs they’re about to poo, but apparently DC2 is a stealth pooper. (DC1 used to do an adorable wiggle-dance. DC2 just explodes without warning, usually while on hir tummy.)
The end goal, of course, is to be able to figure out when the baby is about to pee and for the baby to start to hold pees for the opportunity to go. DC2 does seem to have bigger pees the more we do this, but we’re still clueless about the communication part. Maybe we’ll figure it out or maybe it’ll all work out when ze starts talking to us.
Also: we’re only doing occasional elimination communication. Ze’s still mostly in diapers and the mother’s helpers all use diapers. (One of them thinks we’re weird beyond belief, another thinks we’re really cool, and the remaining two haven’t been around for a post-nap pee yet.) The Diaper Free Baby swears that occasional and part-time (that’s a step up from what we’re doing) elimination communication are fine, so we’re trusting them on that. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. And so far, other than DC2 maybe fighting a little more about getting that diaper back on, there doesn’t seem to be any harm done.
So anyway, Elimination Communication: messy but WAAAAAY easier than potty training later. Surprisingly so. And much easier than we ever thought it would be. (Also, kind of fun!)