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A Publication about Elimination Communication from DiaperFreeBaby
Support for Practicing Parents
by Laurie Boucke (Mentor, Colorado, and author of Infant Potty Training and Infant Potty Basics )
These are historic times. In the early twenty-first century, there is more support than ever for EC parents in industrialized societies. Even so, some newcomers to infant pottying still feel they face an uphill battle where support is concerned. The very concept of potty teamwork with infants sometimes strikes uninformed friends and relatives as ridiculous, impracticable or impossible, and in such situations, some parents may not have the societal support and examples that teach, inspire and sustain mothers in traditional societies.
Most EC families in non-industrialized or lesser-industrialized societies have experienced infant elimination training themselves. It is and has long been the norm for them, so that women and children have a life experience of loving support from both their families and communities. Due to many generations of unwavering acceptance and positive acculturation, the attitude towards infant toilet learning is nurturing and tranquil. No one finds it unusual or strange. No doctors or psychologists frighten families with stories of psychological damage caused by infant pottying. In these cultures, babies generally don't wear diapers and are not subjected to anger, impatience, punishment or worries about keeping carpeting or fancy clothing clean and dry. They do not have to undergo diaper untraining and are free to run and play as toddlers, without interruption by boring and confining diaper changes and potty sessions.
For Western parents who lack support or feel isolated, there is now a fabulous network of resources available. The Internet has been key in spreading the word and wisdom of EC, and this is covered in this article. But perhaps you live in a rural area with limited or no Internet access. Perhaps your online time is restricted or nearly non-existent due to holding a full-time job, homeschooling, taking care of sick or elderly parents, or for medical or financial reasons. Or perhaps you have never used a computer before. This article addresses means for support for people in all these situations.
The most comprehensive online resource is the publisher of this newsletter, the non-profit DiaperFreeBaby organization. If you don't have Internet access, you can learn a lot about DiaperFreeBaby by reading this newsletter. Hopefully this will inspire you to make an effort to visit their website (I'll tell you how) where you can find numerous specialized articles; contact information for support groups, mentors and meetings in most of the 50 United States as well as in many other countries; links to online discussion groups where you can read about the experiences, opinions and advice made available by numerous practitioners, authors and medical professionals in many different languages; links to online stores that sell everything you need for your baby; and more.
If you have received a printed copy of this newsletter and do not have Internet access at home, you can go to your public library to get online. If you have not used the Internet before, ask the librarian to help you find www.diaperfreebaby.org. Once you find the website, you will see a directory on the left side of the homepage, and from there you can visit the different areas of the website. If you can't get to the library, check to see if there is a Internet café in town. These are places that provide free use of computers for customers who buy a drink or food in the cafe. Or you can ask a neighbor, friend or relative to help you get online for a short time.
For those who do not or cannot go online, there are plenty of other sources of support.
For some, the most important form of support comes from one or more meetings with other practicing families. At these meetings, parents exchange information and can view clothing, potty equipment, books and other items made available by those who attend. You can also see demos of different ways to hold and potty a small infant and learn different strategies for dealing with all aspects of infant pottying.
Books and multimedia products
There are now several excellent books available. My two books are listed at the end of this article. If your local bookstore doesn't have what you want in stock, they can special order any book you request. If you don't want to buy a book, ask your librarian if the library has any books on infant potty training or diaper free babies. If not, request your librarian to either acquire its own copy or get you a copy via InterLibrary Loan.
There are also a few DVDs available. The Potty Project released in 2000 by pediatrician Barbara Gablehouse addresses a mainstream audience and gives a general overview that provides medical support and combats skepticism. In October 2006, my 2-disk DVD Potty Whispering will be released with commentary by EC'ers and medical professionals; video and photo demos of various positions and receptacles; interviews from around the world; case history information and more.
Supportive family members can make a difference so it's a good idea to ascertain whether any of your family members are open to infant pottying. Family support from a spouse, partner, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sister or brother will make life easier for you and your baby. It may take time for the "other parent" to accept what you are doing and in this situation, it's especially helpful to find support outside the home for a while.
Older siblings can offer wonderful support too. They can motivate, inspire and help you potty your baby and share in the joys.
Friends and caregivers
Find out if any of your friends or preferred caregivers (baby-sitter, daycare provider, or nanny) are open and supportive. If so, their backing, understanding and occasional assistance will give you a boost. It's possible that they will be so inspired by the communication they witness between you and you baby that they may one day decide to give EC a try with their own child or children.
If you have [Asians] or other immigrants living in your community, find out where they are from and if they are familiar with infant pottying. They won't have a special name for it, as it is simply the way they toilet train in their homelands. Infant pottying is especially prevalent in India, Pakistan, China and Vietnam. If you meet any women from places such as these, ask their advice and see if they can show you different positions to use with your baby. They can be most inspiring and provide valuable tips. If you go out without your baby, consider asking them to baby-sit and potty your baby a few times while you are out.
As with most things in life, you can be your best support or your worst enemy. Don't be too hard on yourself. Don't expect too much too soon and do not strive to be perfect. It's fine to take breaks or to use diapers in between potty visits or as a backup. Remind yourself to use the three C's: Remain calm, confident and communicative with your baby.
If at potty time you find yourself among negative or skeptical people, a good solution for this type of situation is to be private and discreet when pottying your baby. If you excuse yourself and go to a rest room with your baby, everyone will assume you are going there to change a diaper. Let them think this and then potty your baby as usual over the potty, toilet or other receptacle behind closed doors.
Knowledge is power. Learn from as many of the resources listed above as possible, and find ways to combat skepticism and criticism. It helps to know that you're not alone and that certain myths are rampant, almost to the point of being (boring!) mantras. Medlore and myths have been created by a small number of self-proclaimed medical experts with no official medical studies to back their theories. Once these myths and misunderstandings enter the mainstream, they are hard to rectify in the public eye. Here is a selection of some of the most common myths for you to disregard:
"Mommy is potty trained."
"A baby cannot be aware of elimination."
"It's impossible. A baby cannot control elimination before the age of 18-14 months."
"It's too inconvenient."
"It's too convenient, just a way for you not to have to wash diapers."
"It will harm your baby because it pressures your baby."
"It makes you obsess about elimination."
Laurie Boucke is the author of:
Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living, 500 pages, 2002.
Infant Potty Basics: With or Without Diapers, the Natural Way, 115 pages, 2003, abridged version of the longer book.