Imagine Me Practicing EC – Part 1

November 26, 2011


Today’s post is written by Michelle Barber from New Mercies

Chances are if you are cloth diapering you have heard of the practice of Elimination Communication (EC). Simply stated by Wikipedia,

“Elimination Communication (EC) is a toilet training practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues and intuition to respond to an infant’s need to eliminate waste.”

If you are anything like me, you may have first heard of EC and thought “Well, that’s weird…an infant on a toilet? Isn’t it just better to let them potty in their diaper?” Keep in mind that I am an only child who grew up in the superficiality of a busy town like LA. Where you can’t eat, drive, or fill up your calendar fast enough (don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful Cali and wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else).

Thinking EC was “out there”, primitive, only for special moms and special babies, very time consuming and a really hard thing, I immediately passed on it as an option for my family.  Man, was I wrong…for passing on it that is.

It is “out there” by today’s standards. It is primitive, but that is a great thing because easy and modern isn’t always what is best for us. And, I believe, it is for every mom and every baby if they so desire. I mean, we were all created to eliminate naturally so why not start out where we’re going to end up in a few years…which is sitting on a toilet. In addition, if there is any extra time needed to practice EC it is well worth it.

So how did my perspective change and how did I get started? Accidentally, I came across references to EC multiple times as I was researching cloth diapers while pregnant with my 2nd son, Ezra. Each time totally disregarding the idea for reasons previously stated.

One morning I had been researching how to make homemade lotion, when I came across a video of a mama who made her own lotion, used cloth diapers and practiced EC with her son. She said her son was potty trained at 19 months. I was sold right then and there!

If I could make it easier for Ezra to potty train later, and avoid some of the potty training challenges I was currently experiencing with my 3 year old, Shia…then alright! This is for us! I then viewed a related video of a father demonstrating how his 3 month old son went potty. It seemed easy enough. I decided I was going to try it.

Minutes later (I’m glad it was minutes so I didn’t have time to think myself out of it), Ezra woke up and I took him right to the toilet. I held him securely over it, with his back to my chest, holding his little legs; knees gently held against his chest and said, “Do you have to pee-pee or poo-poo?” One second, two seconds, three seconds, four seconds…and…viola, his first poop & pee in the toilet!

Let me tell you I was so surprised and excited. I told him, “You pooped and pee-peed in the potty! Good job!” He smiled. I cleaned him up, jumped up and down in amazement, and called Nana to share the joy.

How easy! How fitting! It felt right. Why didn’t I know to do this with Shia? The very next day I went out and got Ezra his very own potty for around $4 bucks – easy, inexpensive, no need for the fancy or not so fancy little potties that cost over $20 dollars.

Since that day a little over 2 months ago, we’ve never looked back. Ezra has responded tremendously to the practice of EC. And what a perfect complement it has been to my cloth diapering routine.

It all began with a desire to save money and a call to do something better for our children and planet. Why not use cloth diapers starting now,” my husband and I decided after we attended a cloth diapering class. And I am so thankful for it because it has opened our eyes. It has opened up a whole new world of natural alternatives to what main stream society presents as being good for me and my family but in fact is not.

The benefits of cloth diapering, and now EC, have been endless because it has proven to me that natural living is not too hard or impossible to fit in our daily lives. Yes, it is work. Yes, there is a learning curve. And like many of you know, it takes effort and long term commitment. But the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices.

When you choose to live more naturally, you are living more purposefully and more unselfishly at whatever degree you live it. Like the saying goes…a little goes a long way.

In closing, why was I so adverse to EC in the beginning? Like anything else, we tend to avoid what is unknown to us or different. We like to stay in our comfort zone or where we know we won’t fail. But how can we make a bigger impact if we don’t take a chance and do something we may not normally do.

So whether it’s living more organically or following a lifelong dream; whatever your heart is telling you, I encourage you to branch out and try those things that may be a little “out there” for you. You just don’t know – it may positively affect your world in ways you have not imagined.

Michelle Barber

P.S. In part two, I will go into more detail of who, what, when, where, why and how we practice EC in our family, alternate ways of practicing EC, and what I believe is the ultimate key to making EC a positive experience for all.

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About Michelle Barber

Michelle is a wife and mommy (her dream come true)! Her family is her heart, and she feels that cloth diapering is a product of that love! Michelle finds solace in music, reading, writing, but mostly in her quietly beautiful times with Christ.

View all posts by Michelle Barber

30 Responses to “Imagine Me Practicing EC – Part 1”

  1. Mommagina Says:

    We started practicing Elimination Communication with my second son at 1 week old. I started with catching the ones that occurred right after he woke for the day or from a nap. He is now five weeks old and I am catching almost every pee and poo he has during the day. This is saving me tons of laundry since I keep him in cloth. I can’t wait to get him some little undies and look forward to having him going to the potty himself by 18 months. This has been so much easier than I thought it would be and wish I had known about it with my first son.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and how you got started. More people need to be practicing EC!


  2. Jen Says:

    Has part 2 of this come out yet? I have been anxiously checking my e-mail every day waiting for it to show!


  3. anna Says:

    I have to thank you for introducing me with EC. I stumble upon it while reading your newsletter. I read and research and was very eager to start EC on my 4 month old baby. On second attempt I manage to ‘catch’ his first poop. Now its been 5 days and baby learn so quick. Big thanks to you Autumn!!


  4. Tenaj Says:


    This is wonderful! What an accomplishment for you! Not only to step out of the norm, but to do it successfully! I applaud you.

    As you know I’m a mother of 2. When I had my first child, 5.5 years ago, I stepped out of the norm, for my family, and… breastfed! LOL! And did so successfully for 1.5 years. As my daughter got older she began to have constipation issues with solid foods. So I looked up a few things and learned from a convalescent website it’s easier to poop when your in a seated position than it is when laying down. Go figure! LOL! So I took tip and sat her on the potty. She may have been 6 months old. I knew nothing of ECing at that point.

    Due to the constipation potty time was a little traumatic at first, but then we began to get the hang of it. We eliminated poopy diapers first, but she was fully potty trained by the time she was one, give or take a month or two.

    My second child, just turned 3 and I can proudly say he too is potty trained. But, again, he’s 3. He made it just before his birthday. I can’t help but wonder if ECing would’ve drastically shortened the length of time. And with the added belief of boys being harder to potty train… Well, with him, I will never know.

    I am praying for another child. I look forward to learning how to “properly” EC with the new addition. Not to mention cloth diaper. Please believe I will be reaching out to you for help, advice, and the occasional “Way to go! You can do it!”

    Looking forward to reading part 2.


  5. Singingdoc Says:

    My family gets a kick out of the term “EC” because in India and several other developing countries, “EC” is the norm because there just aren’t the resources to diaper children all the time. In fact, children are often left undiapered and go where they go and on the marble flooring it’s easy enough to clean up after them. I was a naysayer initially, thinking “how silly” to try to potty train a child, but once I realized that it wasn’t really potty training, but simply paying attention to a child’s cues, it suddenly clicked. Now we practice EC whenever we can and I can give a name to the “shh” sounds and “ssss” sounds we used to make when DS was young to encourage him to go when we were doing diaper changes. It’s a bit of a challenge and at times frustrating, because if we go on a vacation, or now with the time change, DS doesn’t do his morning #2 when I hope he will, and then it’s off to work anyway. For a week I was able to catch his “time to poo” cues but this week has been more of a challenge. But I try not to let myself feel down about it. I used to think that it was crazy that the little Indian kids I saw would say “sss” whenever they had to go to the bathroom. How gross, I thought, to call attention to that so everyone else knew it. But now, as a first time mom, bring on the “sss” sound, my little baby, and make my life easier!!


  6. Liz H Says:

    Really interesting. So, is 13 months too old to start? Changing diapers isn’t really that bad for me, I really am only tempted because of my never ending saga with horrid horrid diaper rash and I will do pretty much anything to clear it up. Perhaps less exposure to poo would solve the problem. Since this is my first, I have no concept of potty training, so I’m not sure how hard it is!


    • michelle Says:

      Hi Liz!

      I’ve read that there is a “window” where your baby is more apt to respond to ECing but I say go ahead and try. My 5 month old definitely has less diaper rash since the poo barely touches his skin (other than the few misses that we still have :)!

      As far as 13 months old being too old, in my opinion it is not too late because when my now 3 1/2 year old was a little over 1 years old, he began to get curious and would sit on the potty. But he wouldn’t communicate he had to go and at the time I thought that is what he had to do in order to start potty training. I was a green momma so I missed the opportunity then. If I new about EC with my first son…I would have started ECing even at 1 years old.


    • StephT Says:

      Liz, it’s definitely not too late. My daughter took a 4 or 5 month break from ECing because I was lazy/we were moving etc… She’s 14 months right now and LOVES being on the potty. When she sees me put her little seat on the toilet she starts smiling. My opinion is that it wont hurt to try and if you succeed then your child will be unafraid to potty train when the time comes :)


  7. Katariina Says:

    EC is great :) And itsn’t not potty training, so when your child is 16-18 months old you are not ECing but potty training.

    Saying that child is potty trained by age of 22 months is little late, don’t you think? Most of the kids that aren’t ECd are ready to be potty trained by then. We started with morning-potty (because the nigt diaper was dry) and few random times in the day (when my LO didn’t do anything in the potty). Then by the age of 15 month, he started to cue me when was the right time. After that he was diperless during the day ang night, only one diaper while sleeping outside during day-nap. And we got rid of that with 1,5 months and he is 100% diaper free now, at the age of 18 months. (Both older sisters were diaperless by the age of 22 months, both mostly on disposables)
    My point is – let child feel wet, let them be without diapers, change the diaper when it’s wet ASAP so child understands that wet diaper isn’t okay. Put them on the potty when he/she starts to sit on his own, let them get used to it. Praie the child when he managed to pee in the potty, clap hands, dance etc. Itäs for their own good to be out of diapers :) And they love it!


    • Cristy Says:

      I would agree that most kids are ready to start potty training around 2 as well, however in my experience with other friend’s kids the vast majority are still in diapers around 4-5 yrs old. The story I am hearing is that the parents are fighting the kids to get them out of diapers before school starts next year… (kindergarten)


  8. Cristy Says:

    We ECd our 1st the majority of the time. He self potty trained (daytime) a couple months before he turned 2.

    Part time ECd our 2nd and he also self potty trained (daytime) before he turned 2. I am sure that a large part of it was that he wanted to copy his big brother who was using the potty chair (they are 13 months apart)

    We did not do any EC with our 3rd who was 15 months younger then our 2nd child. He is 1.5 now but shows absolutly zero interest in the potty chairs and has no clue what we are telling him when we try to take him to the potty. By this age the 2nd child was already trying to mimic sitting on the potty chair while brother went so I am interested to see when he starts to show some interest.

    I am currently part time ECing our 4th who is 2 weeks old. We take him to the bathroom every morning where he poos and pees and then randomly through the day I will give him a chance to go again-which he usually does.


    • Cristy Says:

      I should note- by saying that they self potty trained a couple months before they turned 2 I mean that they were taking themselves to the bathroom, taking their own pants down and going without even coming to me for help. Previous to that they had been telling me that they had to go and asking me to bring them to go potty-so *technically* they were potty trained much younger.


  9. Lori Says:

    I am excited to read part 2! My son is 16 months. Is that too late to start? I’m hoping that the newness of having his own potty will help decrease our “time for a clean diaper” battles. Although, with an active toddler, I’m assuming it will be harder to catch his cues and be successful with it. Can’t wait for part 2!


  10. Kelsie Harris Says:

    Thanks so much for the post. I hadn’t heard of EC until my son was probably 9 months old and I got the impression that most parents begin practicing it earlier than that so I wasn’t sure how successful we would be if we started now. He is now 11 months old and I did buy him a potty and I tried placing him on it several times throughout the day, but he never went to the bathroom in the potty so I got discouraged and haven’t been trying it lately. I’d like to get back to it, but I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. I’m not really sure how to read his cues. I only know he’s pooping when he has already started and I only know he’s peed when I have checked his diaper and it’s wet. I can’t wait for part 2!


    • Kayla Says:

      There are several good books out there, and the forum at is great! There are lots of people who start that late. It does take a little bit of work to get it when you’ve started that late, try keeping a journal for a day or two, just to get used to his schedule. Good luck! :)


    • Michelle Says:

      Hi Kelsie,

      I know what if feels like to not know what you are doing. When I first began EC with my son, I decided I was going to ease into it. I wasn’t going to force him, I wasn’t going to force myself. I almost had a time a few weeks ago where I thought Ezra didn’t want to use the potty anymore. When I would put him on the potty, he’d try to stand up right away. It kind of scared me cause we were doing so well. So when he’d try standing up, I’d talk to him and ask him if he had to poo or pee. He’d just insist on standing up so I let him. I held him up and walked him around. He was having fun so it was fine. That’s when I began reading on the potty with him. It kept his attention while calming him down a little. He was simply becoming more active and curious. The first time I let him read on the potty he sat down and pooped with ease.

      I’m sure I’ll have more challenges as he gets older and goes through different stages but I will try to find ways to encourage him and communicate to him in his language fit to his personality – and if it means taking a break thats ok too. It’s all about what is best for baby.

      Thanks so much for your comment!


  11. StephT Says:

    We EC with our DD, primarily for her poops lol. We did a lot of ECing when she was a NB, but as she got older it was harder for us to catch her signals and then we lost our timing. We had a lot going on for a few months with moving so we took a break for a few months and picked it back up when she was 10 months or so.
    Obviously we can’t catch every poop in the potty- sometimes we are running errands or at a friend’s house (she refuses to use anyone else’s toilet) … But for the days we stay at home, there are no poopy diapers and I LOVE it! She likes her potty time too. We have one of the little potty training seats that sits on top of our toilet. she loves sitting on the potty and playing with toys. It’s our “make funny faces” time. I recommend ECing to everyone!


    • Michelle Says:

      Hi StephT,

      I love your comment! My son won’t use anyone else’s toilet also. He will poop in his diaper but seems to wait till we get home when he can. It sounds unbelievable but it just seems like he’s already controling himself. Anyhow, I love that it’s your “make funny faces” time. That’s one thing that I think makes ECing so successful…having FUN!


      • StephT Says:

        Michelle, Thank you! My daughter has “held” a poop at least one time that I know of LOL! I was visiting a friend’s house and I noticed her straining a bit so I hurried to the bathroom with her but she refused to use their potty! It was a few more hours before we were home but sure enough, as soon as I put her on HER potty, she pooped! LOL


  12. monica Says:

    we’ve been ec-ing our daughter since she was about 2 months old. at one point when she was around 6-8 months, she was wetting only 1-2 cloth diapers a day, didn’t have any poop diapers, and would wake up dry on most mornings. once i weaned her from nursing at night, she began to drink from a sippy cup and that led to wetting at night since we didn’t bother to wake her to potty. around 18 months, she became very independent and would refuse to use the potty. we didn’t force her since we didn’t want her to have a fear or aversion to the potty. she was also having issues with constipation and would hide out to poop in her diaper rather than sit on the toilet. just past two years old, she is mostly in undies during the day and diapers at night but will sometimes wake to potty. at this point, she will tell us when she needs to pee or poop, though we do remind her a couple times a day.


  13. Jillian Says:

    We’ve been doing EC since one month old! I always put him on the toilet after a feed or a nap. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made, and has rewarded us greatly. Actually, it was EC that led me to cloth diapering. :) loving this post!


  14. Emily D Says:

    Michelle, I am so excited you are guest posting on this issue! I’m the person you responded to a few weeks ago re EC. In the past week and a half, I’ve caught 2 poops and 4 pees! Enough to keep me motivated, but I look forward to getting some more tips- esp with a toddler to keep me busy, just like you!


    • Michelle Says:

      Hi Emily!

      I am so excited! As I read your comment, I am smiling from ear to ear :) 2 poops and 4 pees is excellent! I am actually working on my part 2 now that Thanksgiving is over. I do have some ideas that have worked for me that may help. And I would love for you to let me know if you have any helpful hints as well! Way to go!


  15. Anita Says:

    We have done this with our daughter since she was 11 months , after a friend told me how she was doing this with daughter since 2 months. We started later have not been fully dedicated, but I can honestly say it has been very easy and amazingly successful. My daughter is 22 months almost potty trained, my friends daughter is the same age and hasn’t had an accident in months! :)


  16. Rachael Says:

    I’m excited to read your part 2 on EC. My primary info of it comes from living in China, where it is standard to practice EC. But, there are some down sides that can come with it, as I’ve seen and read. That the parent must make sure to take the child at set times to the bathroom even through ages 7 and 8, because the child doesn’t really learn down to control their bladder and bowels all that well, due, I guess, to some influence by the parents or some such. Also, that the parents will end up having to wake (or many parents do) the child sometime in the night to go to the bathroom through 9 or 10, as the child doesn’t learn the sensation of “I gotta go”. Perhaps this is just the way the Chinese tend to do it, or these are occasional consequences that any child will suffer however they are potty trained.

    I certainly like the general idea, though, especially as I’m home full time with Peanut and not washing poopy diapers would be nice!


    • Katariina Says:

      I guess that’s not so different from those whos kids are still in night-time diapers at age 6-7-8. Difference is between where does the kid with bladder controll issues do his/her “thing”, right? And with all the dry-feeling that dispoables offer, the bladder issues are more and more to come… Just like the time in diapers is getting longer with every year. That’s very concerning!


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