Final Thoughts on our Experience with Elimination Communication

toddler on slide

In my last post, I told the story of how we finally were able to ditch the diapers just before my daughter turned 19 months old, after practicing elimination communication from her birth.

I wanted to just offer a few more reflections on the experience, and share whether we would do it again, and if so, what we’d do differently and what we’d do the same.

I figured now was probably the best time to consider the pros and cons, now that we’re done with the worst part but not so far removed from the experience that we’ve forgotten what it was like. Now that we’re out of it, my opinions aren’t under the influence of crushing frustration, but neither is my memory clouded by nostalgia.

Because, as I mentioned in my last post, there were LOTS of times when I regretted ever having started. It felt like way too much work for not enough payoff. I still had to wash just as many diapers as anybody (since I had to change her diaper after every single pee, rather than letting them accumulate in her diaper), but I was also putting way more thought and effort into caring for her elimination overall. We just didn’t seem to be getting the hang of it. It felt like I was wasting my time.

There were plenty of days when I just wanted to call it quits. To just strap on a diaper and forget about it. Nobody else bothered to pay attention to their kids’ elimination for the first 2-3 years; why was I doing it?

But then I would remember why I’d started in the first place:

  • I just couldn’t let me kid sit in her own waste, knowing that there was another way. It just felt gross and wrong.
  • Sticking with EC would still mean fewer diapers in the long run, because she would (hopefully!!) be done with diapers much sooner than if we took the conventional route.
  • I rarely had to clean up poop. We at least had that part fairly down-pat.

On those bad days, I had to remind myself that it was working, and I was succeeding, in many of the ways I’d hoped . . . even if it didn’t feel very successful sometimes.

Even on our worst days, I had to acknowledge that I was experiencing many of the benefits of EC. I had sidestepped a whole host of common diapering and potty training problems:

  • My daughter knew, from the very start, that pee and poop belonged in the potty. That’s not something I ever had to teach her. The potty was never a source of confusion or anxiety. It was a natural part of her life from day one.
  • Because she never, ever sat in her own urine for longer than a few seconds, she never had a speck of diaper rash her entire life, and I never used a speck of diaper cream.
  • I never had to deal with diaper leaks at night. She was dry through the night starting at four months. (I think we just got lucky here. I pottied her at night for the first four months, but then after that, she just didn’t pee at night any more.)
  • From 3 – 18 months, I probably had to change about one poopy diaper a month. All the rest went straight into the potty. I don’t think I have to expand on why that was awesome.

And finally: I was completely done with diapers before she was even 19 months old – a full year earlier than the national average. How many parents get that? Not only is there the obvious advantage of not having to personally handle another person’s waste, but this is so much better for our bank account and for the planet (the same planet that your kids and mine will have to live on, I might remind you. You’re welcome.)

toddler with goats

But like I said: there were plenty of days when none of this felt worth it. I got so very, very tired and frustrated some days.

So the question remains: would I do it again?

 Probably, yeah.

The thing is, I don’t think I could not do it. I just can’t see myself ever being content to let a baby in my care pee and poop herself. I couldn’t be one of those moms watching her baby and laughing in a sing-song voice, “Are you pooping?” and then just sit around and let it happen, only to have to clean it up later. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It boggles my mind when I see other moms do it. If you know she’s pooping, why don’t you do something about it? Do you like wiping poop off her bum? Do you like throwing out your money? Do you want your kid to grow up in a world piled high with toxic garbage? (My inner monologue can be a little melodramatic.) You want her to think her diaper is a toilet?

So yeah – I don’t think I have a choice but to practice EC in the future.

However, I would do a few things differently.

1. I wouldn’t start from birth. Newborn babies just pee and poop way too dang much. I remember Lydia wetting or dirtying all 24 diapers in one day when she was a newborn. It was just way too much headache to try to keep up with that. I would maybe start with pottying around 3 months, when peeing and pooping slows down significantly.

2. I would lower my expectations DRAMATICALLY. Gone are my expectations to be done with diapers before my baby’s first birthday. That’s just crazy. It might work for some people, and in other cultures, but it didn’t work for me. I wouldn’t ever place that expectation on myself or my child again.

Instead, I would aim to just get some or most pees in the potty, and to keep using diapers until two. If we managed to be done earlier than that (as we did with Lydia), that would be an amazing bonus; but I wouldn’t count on it.

With Lydia, because I assumed we’d be able to go diaper-free so much earlier, I felt like an utter failure when we weren’t. I went so crazy, wondering what we were doing wrong, why we sucked so bad at it.

In the future, if I let go of these expectations, I would be able to enjoy the benefits I was already granted.

It would have made the whole process immeasurably easier and more enjoyable if I’d known it would take as long as it did.

Any thoughts or questions? Have you tried EC? What was your experience?

Linking up with Your Green Resource on Red and Honey.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. I’ve attempted EC a little bit with my almost-9 month old, and the best I ever did was to catch a couple of pees a day. I have two older children who need a lot of attention, so the amount of time I can devote to the baby’s toilet-ing is limited. Do you think it’s worth sticking with it, even for only two pees a day? Do you know of any resources that discuss how to learn EC AND take care of older siblings? Thanks! This seems like such a good idea, but I’m not sure how to implement it.

    • Hi Rachel! Sorry I missed your comment/question until now! Way to go with attempting part-time EC when you’ve got multiple kids!

      Although I don’t have any personal experience, I can just imagine how challenging it must be to try to EC with two other kids! All the books I’ve read on the subject have a chapter or section dealing with this question. My favourite book, if you’re really interested in delving deeper, Is Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh. It might have answers to your specific issues, and also just provide overall advice and encouragement.

      I do personally believe there are benefits to even catching a couple of pees a day — most notably, that you’re teaching your baby right from the start that pee goes in the potty, not her pants. Eventually, you can work towards catching more; but for now, you’re at least setting the stage. If you take a MUCH more relaxed approach than I did, satisfied with just a few predictable pees a day, I think you’d find it beneficial to keep it up!

  2. THANK YOU for this post! I am a new reader… stumbled upon your site when I was researching tips for being shampoo-free a few weeks ago, then kept reading through another 8-10 posts. Have appreciated your thoughts on spirituality, natural living, peculiar parenting and leaving the marketplace. However, with this post I was nodding my head and (sometimes) smiling through the whole reading, so I wanted to let you know that I know exactly where you’re coming from. We are using EC with our only child, a 15-month-old girl, and it has been a LONG journey thus far. (And we didn’t start full-time until 7 months! However, we’re still doing nightly potty trips with her 1-2 time a night.) I have family/friends who have looked at me like I’m crazy when I talk about taking our little one to the bathroom, and more than one person has insinuated that of course I won’t be doing this when we have other children in the house. However, I agree with you that I don’t know if I could be one of those moms who doesn’t respond when they see their child needing to use the potty. It’s like there is a EC switch in the brain, and there’s no way to turn it off once the experience has happened. Anyway, all this rambling to say that this was a HUGE encouragement for me to be reminded of the benefits of ECing!

  3. I can’t seem to stop cruising your blog.

    Our daughter is almost 16 months and she’s been out of diapers during the day since shortly after her 1st birthday, but of course we still have “accidents” here and there. Some days she doesn’t have any, and on other days she wets three pairs of pants and totally refuses to be pottied.
    A lot of it has to do with the mood she is in, which is often a result of the mood I’M in. So when I’m stressed and super busy, I don’t give her enough “time-ins”, so she’ll act up.
    Sometimes she is just too busy exploring the world to mind her full bladder.

    When she was a newborn, I read the PDF-book “EC Simplified” by Andrea Olson, and I found it extremely helpful. Never once have I doubted our decision to do EC (we started at 6-7 weeks old), but I think having read that book instead of trying to wing it had a lot to do with that.
    She still wears diapers at night, but she doesn’t always wet them.
    We have her potty right next to the bed (we co-sleep), and use it like a bedpan. Sometimes she barely wakes when I potty her.

    What I really love is that she is so eager to sit down on the potty on her own now, she carefully backs up and sits down, sometimes missing it the first couple of tries, haha. It’s so cute! She loves feeling independent.

    I think in any case, EC is a good thing, and I never expected her to be potty independent until perhaps 18-20 months, so I am not discouraged by her peeing her pants etc.

    Your little one is so cute, and has so much hair! :)

    All the best for you and your family!

  4. It’s encouraging to read that EC worked so well for your daughter. I’ve tried EC since my son was born and everything was working really well until 6-months when we moved around a bit.

    I don’t know if it was because he had to be put in a diaper most of the time when traveling or just the different environments or that he was getting bigger and more independent, but he pretty much stopped wanting to go when I held him over the toilet.

    I thought at 10 months when we were more settled he would go again in his own potty but he pretty much resists that too.

    Now at 12 months I know when he needs to go yet he refuses to go when I hold him over the regular toilet or any receptacle (sink, bathtub) or on his own potty. He arches his back, squrims and cries. And if I stop him when he wants to poop or pee to hold him over the potty, he won’t go and he’ll just wait until he can squat somewhere.. either in a diaper or without a diaper on the carpet or floor.

    So diapers are the only thing I can do at the moment. I do dump his poop from his diaper into the toilet and let him see it to tell him that’s where poop goes and we wave bye to it and flush it down. But he still doesn’t want to go poop in potty.

    Not sure what else to do as I don’t want him to get anxiety about his elimination methods right now. Any thoughts?

  5. I only really gave EC a go with my fourth, and that was after meeting a few people who were currently doing it or had done it with their children. Talking to others in real life was a KEY factor in my confidence levels. My fourth child was already crawling when I started EC part time, which was essentially just nappy free time for several hours a day. By that point, she wasn’t giving any signals, and we are now living in a home with all tiles or laminate wood flooring downstairs, so the odd puddle or worse wasn’t that bad. (and we did get some doozy messes!)

    When I had my fifth, I really wanted to start EC straight away, but she had some latch issues and I had supply issues so until that was resolved I couldn’t deal with it. She was about 3 months old when I started, and it went so well! Until she started crawling… then we had a potty pause for over a year.

    I think the communication aspect of EC needs to be stressed more. Being nappy free is awesome, and having a completely non-miss day or a load of nappies to wash with no poop anywhere feels amazing! But the communication about elimination keeps things going. My fifth child is now 19 months old and has been nappy free in the house for about a week now. She is juuuust about ready to wear underwear (if she says “eeeww” it’s too late!) but I’m not stressing. It is a journey, not a 3 day intensive potty training event. We’ll get there!

    Oh, and ECing with older children around isn’t so hard. Yes, I’m busy, and I get distracted, but it all seemed to fit into everything else in our lives.

  6. I love this so much!! I feel the same as you about it naturally.. I just couldn’t watch my kid pee and poop themselves and do nothing. Diapering never made sense to me. Why would you train your kid to poop themselves? As soon as I heard about EC, I thought, wow! That’s Amazing! Why don’t more people do it? And then I realized most people like the path of least resistance. And I shouldn’t judge others, but I do anyway. Don’t get me started on strollers. That being said, I m currently planning a family, so I can’t speak from experience yet. I just know how the majority does things is not for me. Really excited to do things differently, thank you for going there! I can’t wait to get started!!

  7. Borbala Branch says:

    Dude you spoke thoughts from my mind. Watching those moms be like, yep, my baby is pooping right now. And they look on as their child shits themselves and then hey have to use 400 wipes to clean it up. Instead of grabbing the baby and putting it on the toilet. It boggles my mind too. I think people dont get it that they are allowed to not have a diaper on the baby. Modern humans are mindfucked into thinking this is the only way and that their kid wont be diaper free until they are 3 anyways. My first was diaper free at 16 months. She had accidents sometimes until she was about 18 months but after that it was rare. My second now, i feel what you discribe. I just wanna give up. She gives no signs. At all. My first had such clear signs and i only started it at 4 months, not even from birth. My second is a torture. Living hell. Most days i just want to scream and be like, fuck it, im gonna diaper her up and we can try again when she is 2. And she also doesnt care if she is in her poop. Its the worst. Ever. I dont know if im gonna keep going with my second with this but your words were definitely encouraging.

  8. Leander says:

    EC: perfect when you have nothing else to do with your life than watching your baby for hours and forcing them to hold in their feces to make mommy proud.

    Its all about you, be honest about that.
    It was never about the baby.
    Its just another thing you can boast about with your felllow-EC-mombies.

    Its unhealthy and does literally shit on the advancements we made with diapers.

    EC-parents were banned from our groups, because all they contributed were dirty carpets and a total lack of attention to anything other than their squeamish kids!

    • That doesn’t describe our intentions, our goals or experience at all. Our daughter never had to hold anything, and I definitely had plenty of time and energy for other things in my life.

      “…the advancements we made with diapers” — I hope you are not talking about disposable diapers, which are a scourge upon the earth.

      It sounds like you’ve been having a rough day. Hope you’re doing better!

      • Leander says:

        1. there are disposable diapers that are bio-degradable
        2. cloth diapers exist
        3. kids that defacate in the open streets and contribute to e-coli, redeye and other deseases
        are a bigger scourge

  9. Thank you so much for that article
    I’m pottying my baby from 4 months, she’s now 13 months and Sometimes I’m also doubting everything
    I thought that we would have been done for her 12 months… same as you she doesn’t even signal
    Sometimes I think why I do all of that from a year for nothing? Why a parent that didn’t go throw all of that one day will begin potty training and it will take them less time than me
    Well I became to doubt myself and my baby
    So thank you so much for your honesty, for telling us the truth, EC even from birth can be hard and take some time
    I feel less like a failure and I will try to enjoy that journey even if it took us a year more
    And sorry because I’m French and not really good at English!


  1. […] Final Thoughts on Our Experience with Elimination Communication […]

  2. […] Finishing up with EC can sometimes seem tough.  Here’s one family’s experience with EC and “graduation.”  Via Becoming Peculiar […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge