Easy Positions for Elimination Communication with a Newborn

February 13th, 2012 by Dionna | 17 Comments
Posted in Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

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We’re practicing part time elimination communication with Ailia. Having never tried EC with Kieran when he was this young, we were clueless about what position we were supposed to hold Ailia in when she pottied. Newborns are just so floppy! So below are some pictures of how we held Ailia while she pottied (and pooped) for anyone who might be curious, along with some resources for parents curious about EC’ing with a newborn.

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2012-02-04 01

In the beginning, we almost exclusively held Ailia over our bathroom sink. At first, we held her in a cradle hold so that she would be more supported. Later, we tried more of a sitting position. It sounds weird – and I’m sure it looked weird – but it was a fairly good height and we didn’t want to mess with a potty chair when she was very tiny.

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2012-02-05 01

We rarely EC over the toilet at home, but I have had several catches while we’ve been out of the house – now that is exciting! (Sorry for the funky color in that picture, Tom was in a hurry to take it – this was in the middle of the Super Bowl. Ha!)

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Tom’s favorite way to help Ailia potty is to hold the bowl part of our Baby Bjorn potty chair in between his legs. He can easily hold up her floppiness while his knees support the bowl.

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2012-01-29 06

I prefer to stand with Ailia on the bowl part of our Baby Bjorn potty chair. I cradle her in my arms so she is secure and comfortable.

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2011-12-25 03

In the very early weeks of EC’ing, Ailia would often cry while eliminating (and while we held her to eliminate). I decided to try nursing her while I held her over the potty chair or sink, and she calmed down and pottied while we nursed.

Fearful I was setting up a bad habit (who wants to hold and nurse a 12 month old in order to potty?!, thought I), I asked some experienced EC’ing mamas if I should nip the breastfeeding while EC’ing in the bud. Every mama I asked said that she had done the same thing, and their babies grew out of it in time (within a few months).

Ailia is now 11 weeks old, and she rarely nurses while EC’ing.

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We put Ailia on the potty chair now almost exclusively – never over the sink (unless it’s an emergency), and occasionally over the toilet. Tom and I both love EC, even though we’re not EC’ing exclusively. Tom said to me one day, “you have got to blog about this! Think about how many disposable diapers could be saved, or how many fewer loads of cloth diapers could be washed, if more families caught even one potty a day!”

Think about it: making even one catch per day for a disposable diaper family – you would be saving 365 diapers every year. If you are using Seventh Generation diapers, that is a cost savings of $113.15 – that’s how much you spend on one diaper/day.1

The cost savings aren’t quite as spectacular for cloth diapering families, but I can attest to the fact that EC’ing saves time and money spent laundering cloth. I can tell when we’ve had fewer catches than normal. It also prolongs the life of your diapers, because you are using them less.

If you’re interested in learning more about elimination communication, check out these sites:

Baby Art gives an excellent introduction to EC.

LLLI offers info on EC throughout the infant through toddler stages.

This YouTube video shows a mama EC’ing her 5 week old over the toilet.

EC Simplified offers tips on starting EC with a newborn.

  1. Calculations based on the Amazon price of $.31 per diaper.

17 Responses to:
"Easy Positions for Elimination Communication with a Newborn"

  1. Annie

    This is so cool. I would love to try this with my babies–I’m hoping next one my husband and I will be ready to “switch” and I’ll be the one staying home while HE works. He’s not so interested in EC’ing, so that is the only way it would happen for us! :)
    We are happy our babe started asking to sit on the potty at 16 months, so we are getting several “catches” a day with her. And I agree, it does seem like less laundry when we are paying attention and getting her on the potty right away when she asks.
    We have the same babylegs as in your first pic, this morning that is what babygirl was wearing as she refused to let me diaper her (kept saying she had to go potty) :)
    Thanks for sharing your tips, I totally may try this with #3 in a few years so I love to read these positive accounts of EC!!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      We did part-time EC with Kieran, too, although I didn’t know the term at the time. But when he got interested in watching us go to the bathroom (around 12mo), we got him a potty chair and he sat and occasionally used it. It was great!! Good luck with your second!

  2. violetsouffle   Rainbowsouffle

    I started ECing T when she was about 3months, we were caching almost every poop and a few pee’s daily. Sadly, I don’t have any adorable pictures of it like you do! ECing is easy and more than a little bit addictive!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I think we have more pictures of Ailia pottying as a newborn than we have of Kieran nursing ;) But that’s only because I knew I was going to blog about it. Heh.

  3. I had heard of EC by the time I had Linc but decided against it for various reasons. Still, I did think about it. I wonder if there is a “sweet spot” of time to start it that would be less upsetting to the baby. I know that there is a natural pruning of the nervous system, which is why babies are so very spastic at birth… they are shooting off all these different nerves to different muscles, trying to figure out which ones to keep and which ones to let atrophy. This pruning starts at the head (hence, immediate ability to nurse and make eye contact) and moves down the body (control of hands, ability to grasp, then to sit up, then to stand and walk). I bet there’s a time, between hand control and sitting control, that would be the right time to start recognizing and emphasizing elimination control, too. Before that, you might essentially be “lucky” in catching the right time that they eliminate (you know, give ‘em a big meal and about ten minutes later you get a big payout!), but the sensation of being held in midair could be distressing and hence the need to nurse for comfort and security. Just thinking out loud here, what do you think?

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m sure you’re right about the sensation of being held up! When she was itty bitty, I tried to hold her in more of a cradle pose – in this picture she was a bit older and steadier, hence she’s sitting up more. But I bet you’re right on having more control the older they get. I do think, though, that she is really “getting” the potty part – not only does she potty *much* faster when we put her on the potty chair than she used to, but now we’ve noticed that when we miss a potty, that she potties a little in her diaper and will go more if we sit her on the chair. It’s like she stops herself b/c she doesn’t want to sit in it. (And if we don’t hold her over the chair, she’ll wet again in 10 minutes.)
      It’s not scientific or anything… ;)

      • In my admittedly limited experience, girls also seem much more willing (and possibly more physically able) to master their elimination processes earlier than boys. And I forgot to say what a beautiful little baby you have there!

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        I have heard that before! I think I lucked out w/Kieran – he was amazingly easy; I hope Ailia takes after him ;) And thank you!!

  4. Jan Messali   janj4c

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve heard of EC but didn’t know you could start it with a newborn.

  5. Hi Dionna! I love the photos you posted for the EC positions. Newborns are so tiny and floppy that many parents are apprehensive to hold them “to potty”. The key things are to choose positions that are comfortable, relaxing, safe, secure, supportive (spine, neck, and head), warm, and hygienic. I also wanted to add that some babies may resist the “classic EC position” and there are many alternatives that work great for newborns too that I show in my book.
    What it all comes down to in the end is being relaxed and gentle, enjoying EC as a way of bonding, which is truly the most important and wonderful thing. :)

  6. Neli

    Hi, great advice and pictures. With my son I tried a bit after he was a year old, but it only worked once with pee. With poop I tried to catch it twice but he freaked out completely. I guess we will have to go down the road of regular potty training soon. But I am expecting our second child, and would like to try EC immediately, so your tips are very precious. I have a question about poo in the sink: how did you wash it away? Was it runny enough or…?
    And, a comment about your calculation of how much is saved on diapers… I think you got it wrong, ’cause more than 1$ per diaper is A LOT. If you look at the link on Amazon, it says that the price is 0.31$ per piece. That makes it a bit more than 100$ saved. Nevertheless, why throw them away!?

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Neli – Yes! Breastmilk poo is definitely runny enough to wash down the sink. I also have a container of cleaning wipes sitting on the bathroom counter to wipe around the sink. And I thought that number was high – I will have to change it. Thank you for correcting my math :) But you’re right, that’s still a lot of money!!

  7. This is great! Very helpful. We didn’t start doing EC until Burkley was 8 months, but I was very interested in it before then. I hope to start our future children sooner. You’re so right, laundering dipes with ECing is great. I too can tell when we’ve had a good few days versus days with more misses just by looking at the laundry. The *best* reward to me, so far, with EC, is when he signs to go potty. It’s so cute and so great to see how aware he is of his elimination needs at such a young age.

    I’m grateful for this post as well because there’s not a lot out there on positioning, (with pictures!)at least not that I remember when I was researching it a year ago. I’ve hesitated (though still done it) to put pics of Burkley ECing on my blog, just for his own privacy, but I know how helpful pictures can be for others, so I went for it, as you did. Thanks so much!

  8. Mamma Earthly   giveanearthly

    I SO wish we had ECd our daughter. I started to and even got a couple of catches, but with everything else in our lives and there only being 15 months between the two kids, we just couldn’t find the space and energy.

    Now she’s 15 months and we’re potty training both at the same time – or trying to! Unfortunately she won’t go near the potty or the toilet, but did ask to come out of the bath so she could poo (in her nappy!). It’s frustrating because I know if we’d been able to EC her she’d be there by now, and probably would have meant our son would have followed suit…

    Well done you for trying it – and let us know how it all goes!

  9. Susie

    We EC part-time and it’s great seeing the pictures since I’m a visual learner. We do the sitting on the toilet backward position. My 4-month-old son loves banging on the back of the seat cover; I keep thinking I should take a picture for his to look at on there. Wish I had seen your picture of how to nurse over the potty earlier–I couldn’t figure that position out. When he was first born, I tried nursing and holding him in cradle position over a prefold and that was a big mess.

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