Getting Started with EC: the When and How of Elimination Communication
by Lisa Bobrow
Part I: WHEN to EC
Observation is the first step in EC. While observing, there are a few things to look for. One is timing patterns and rhythms. Many babies need to pee:
- either immediately or a few minutes after waking up
- 0, 5, 10, 15 minutes after nursing
- at frequent, regular periods in the morning
- at less frequent, regular periods in the afternoon
- either before, during or after nursing sessions at night.
Other things to look for are body language and signals. These could include:
- squirming, "fussing," vocalizing
- tensing the face, raising the eyebrows
- frowning or having a look of "inner concentration"
- becoming still and pausing in activity
- agitation or sudden increase in activity
- stirring or waking from sleep
- looking intently or reaching for you
- reaching for the potty, or indicating towards the toilet place
For an older baby, signals could also include:
- rolling, crawling, or walking to the toilet place
- struggling to get out of a sling or carseat
- moving off the bed, couch or carpet
- holding the genital area
Along with these, your own intuition will naturally develop around your baby's elimination. Listening to and trusting your intuition is an important part of parenting. With a little time and practice, it can also become a very reliable tool for anticipating your baby's elimination. What intuition is, and how it works, is difficult to describe. However, there are a few concrete ways you will know your intuition is telling you that your baby needs to eliminate. For example:
- a sudden thought along the lines of "She needs to pee."
- wondering or questioning, "Does he need to go?"
- "seeing" or "hearing" the word "pee" or cueing sound (see below)
- "just knowing" that your baby needs to pee
- feeling the urge to pee yourself
- feeling a warm wet spreading over your lap or other area while baby is dry
If you are finding it difficult to observe your baby's elimination patterns, consider choosing one day to make it your focus. Putting your baby in a cloth diaper without a waterproof cover, or removing the diaper entirely, will help you to know exactly when your baby has eliminated. Even just few hours of this kind of observation will help you learn your baby's elimination habits.