EC Gear Review: On the Go with the Baby Bjorn Little Potty
By Laura M. Evans-DeSmidt
Practicing Elimination Communication (EC) with our daughter, Ani, has afforded our family a higher level of personal freedom than cloth diapering alone. From the time we began to EC (not even knowing there was a name for it!) with then three-month-old Ani, to the present, pottying on the go - with the help of the Baby Bjorn Little Potty - has gone hand in hand with our active, attachment parenting lifestyle.
Learning about EC and the Baby Bjorn Little Potty
I first heard of EC three days before embarking upon a trip to New York City. We were hosting a La Leche League meeting in our home and at one point in the evening, a baby began to wriggle and fuss. Her mom said, "Oh, you must need to go potty."
"You do that, too?!" I exclaimed. I explained what we'd been doing with Ani for the past few months. She revealed that the name for it was Elimination Communication, or EC, and that there are books, websites, e-mail lists and groups forming of EC'ing families.
This was so very exciting, I wanted to know more! She told me of a little potty that many people find indispensable, called the Baby Bjorn Little Potty (BBLP). Ani was just beginning to be able to sit on her own, so obtaining a potty was the logical next step on our EC journey. In addition, I decided to go to our local, independent booksellers to see if they carried any books on the subject.
The next day I purchased two books, Diaper Free! A Gentle Guide to Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer and Christine Gross-Loh's The Diaper Free Baby. I also located the recommended BBLP and purchased a single pack of disposable diapers for our trip.
EC in NYC
When I began to pack, I washed Ani's cloth diapers and set them on the shelf for when we returned, for I had not planned to bring them along. I bought disposables for the trip, though I was wary of using them; I was so torn about having her go in a diaper. She and I had been communicating very clearly. I wondered, "What if we went two weeks relying on disposable diapers, only to return home and continue to do so?" I confided my uneasiness to my husband and he suggested I bring a few of her cloth diapers and the new potty, just in case. I felt immediate relief. I finished packing and we took off. I diapered her with a disposable for the ride, and continued to communicate.
Once on the road, I began to read the books I'd purchased, and each book seemed to reinforce what I already knew to be true. I was astounded as I read stories reflecting the signals and behaviors I had been witnessing in Ani since we'd begun practicing EC. It took two days of driving reach New York, and we had many opportunities to try out the BBLP. We carried it into restaurants and rest stops, but mainly used it in the van: when Ani needed to go, if we weren't near a rest stop, we'd simply pull over, sit her on the potty and she'd do her thing!
While in our suite at the fabulous DoubleTree in Times Square, Ani wore cloth and I helped her use her new potty. I had a special jacket for babywearing (we were there in January), and carried Ani in her sling all over NYC; walking, catching a cab, riding the subway. I had read that babies in arms are less likely to pee or poop while being carried, and Ani was no exception. When we went out, she wore a disposable and I would pee her on the toilet with me when I needed to go, as we always had. Each time we ventured out, Ani would return to the room in the same, dry diaper she left in!
One week in, we laundered the dozen diapers we'd brought, and when we returned home, we still had some of the disposables we'd bought. By the end of this trip, we had graduated to full-time EC. Her diaper rash, which was terrible before we began EC and had improved to very minor before our trip, was now completely healed.
Our Journey Continues
Our relationship with the Baby Bjorn Little Potty continues to be a constant companion on our family's EC journey. Its ease of use and solid construction guarantees its place in our life, whether at home or away.
The wide base provides stability for Ani's growing body and doesn't tip over, allowing her to use it even in the carpeted interior of our Civic hatchback. The cut-out "handle" in the back keeps my hands clean, even as the potty sits on the dirtiest of public restroom floors. The molded plastic contains no seams where germs could hide. I rinse and wipe it dry after each use and wash with hot, soapy water once a week. Today, after over a year of use, it still looks as good as new.
Grabbing the potty is always our first step in getting ready to leave the house. Rather than lug a heavy diaper bag packed with a half-dozen thick, cloth diapers and several changes of clothes (as I did for two years with my son), I carry a thin, lightweight cloth grocery sack containing her potty, a diaper to wipe it with after use and a single change of clothes (which are rarely needed).
Even when we venture out on our bicycles, her potty fits perfectly within my bike basket (and her extras fit right inside the potty), leaving plenty of room for our additional supplies: wallet, camera, cell phone, snacks and water.
She has used her potty in all kinds of situations: snowboarding, shopping, on Amtrak to D.C., on the ferry to Virginia, in the mall, at the beach, in the grocery store, at the park and in every restaurant bathroom we've been to in the last couple of years. Recently, we flew to Florida and she used her potty in the tiniest place yet: the airplane lavatory!
Our (non-)diapering choice tends to make some folks we visit nervous (fearing a puddle on the carpet?), but by the time we depart, we've usually encouraged our hosts to consider Elimination Communication. For us, misses seem less likely to occur when away from home: she's usually in-arms and I am more intensely tuned into her needs, elimination or otherwise.
The best part about EC on the go is the reaction we get from total strangers. Some are genuinely excited to see someone doing this in "real life," after having seen a story on TV. Most are simply amazed at seeing such a young baby wearing underwear and using a potty. Others express regret or dismay over their own children or grandchildren who continue to rely upon diapers, usually well past infancy and/or who are proving difficult to "potty train." Interestingly, many of the grandmothers I meet aren't surprised by Ani's early toilet use, only delighted. This is how they themselves, and perhaps their children, were trained: gently, and as babies.
As a natural part of our active, attachment parenting lifestyle, EC'ing out and about demonstrates to the public the ease and practicality of this practice.
The Baby Bjorn Little Potty can be purchased at the DiaperFreeBaby Shop http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/shop/
Issue No. 8
Letter from the Editor
Cover Story: A Short History of EC and DiaperFreeBaby
FAQ: On the Road With EC: Staying Focused in the Face of Skepticism
Featured DiaperFreeBaby Group: DiaperFreeBaby of MN (Minnesota)
Local Happenings: At Home or On the Road, EC makes Cloth Diapering Easier!
EC Gear Review: On the Go with the Baby Bjorn Little Potty
Take the DiaperFreeChallenge ™
The DiaperFreeChallenge ™ Journal: An “Out and About” Challenge
Tips For Starting with an Older Baby
Question from a EC’ing Family: Part-Time EC
Helpful Tip: Why and How to Switch to Training Pants
Survey Answer: What is your favorite piece of EC gear?
Creative Corner: What About EC!