Imagine Me Practicing EC: The Why and How

January 26, 2012


Today’s post is written by Michelle Barber of New Mercies.  You can read Part 1: Imagine Me Practicing EC and Part 2: The Who What When and Where of EC for more information.  Part 3 picks up where Part 2 left off…


Why do I practice EC?

Not only is practicing EC easier than I first imagined, it has enhanced my cloth diapering experience and ultimately my relationship with my child. Here are just a few of the benefits I have found so far:

  1. It has encouraged me to be more in tune with my baby’s needs, elimination needs and his other needs as well.
  2. It has created another opportunity to teach him, communicating to and with him. I talk to him and even share sign language for “potty” and “all done”. Sometimes, as already stated, we read while on the potty, and play a little afterward.  It makes it a very positive experience for all.
  3. EC has prolonged the life of my diapers and wipes, prefolds, covers, pockets, homemade liners (which I absolutely love) etc… The less they get soiled the easier they are to wash and clean, which alleviates a little of my load each day.
  4. EC has almost eliminated (no pun intended) the need for my diaper sprayer. Thankfully! I really dislike spraying diapers!
  5. Beyond simply being more in tune with Ezra’s needs, it is teaching me more about his person. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am learning about his personality, what focus’ him, what motivates him, what rubs him the wrong way. I know this is just a result of being more “hands on” with my child.

I really believe it is an evolution of understanding that brings us to do one or more things like cloth diapering, practicing Elimination Communication, making homemade baby food, or buying organic.

If you think back, what lead you to cloth or doing something that you feel has bettered you, your family, and/or our planet? And why do you do it? It is amazing how one good thing leads to another!


How do I practice EC?

This is also a BIG question!

The first few days I held him over the potty, with his back against my chest, holding him gently beneath his knees. Once I purchased a potty, I held him the same way just over the potty. Several days later, I began sitting him on the potty and I would bear his weight a little for him.

Ezra would not eliminate when I placed his potty on top of anything so we went to the floor of his room and this became the spot.

Then once I felt he was comfortable, I sat him on the potty only holding his sides gently. He began automatically leaning forward a little when he went. Now, I am slowly trying to let go and see if he’ll sit by himself and go, but we’re not quite there – yet.

This brings me to a challenge that I am now having where Ezra doesn’t want to sit still. Many changes have taken place in the past month. He is crawling, beginning to eat solids, using his hands to express himself, and babbling more. He’s getting more and more in touch with himself (literally) and knows what he wants.

Therefore, when he won’t sit still, I have had to resort to playing patty cake, music, reading books, etc. to keep him relaxed on the potty for as long as he will allow. I do not recommend potty time with fussing, crying or absolute refusal. So we try to keep it as relaxed as possible. Although sometimes, I must say, it is not. When it is not in a relaxed state, we try to get it there or we end our potty session.

Alternate ways of practicing EC.

As most of us know, in many other countries letting babies go diaper free is common practice. Here, in America, it is much less practiced and some of us need support and guidance to learn how to even begin. Although, I have not done extensive research, I have read that in countries like America some practice Elimination Communication full-time, some practice part-time or whenever they can.

As I understand it, the way we practice EC in my family would be considered part-time since Ezra does not go diaper free all day and we are not catching every single pee, even though we practice all day. I have chosen what I see as a happy medium and use cloth as a back-up. It works well for us. Plus, I love cloth too much to not use it at all.

With all of that said, there are different degrees of practicing EC. If you are nervous about it, take baby steps and just try doing it part-time or when you can. Also, if you need more encouragement, there may even be an EC group near you that can help.

The Key?

What is the key to our happy potty learning?

The key that I believe has made our EC experience positively successful thus far is (drumroll please) ………


Isn’t flexibility something we need for every aspect of parenting and life for that matter – the ability to bend, the openness to learn, and the willingness to go with the flow, letting our children be who God made them? I am trying to learn this very thing!

In the beginning of our ECing days, I could feel myself getting tense about missing a poop (maybe because I dislike spraying diapers). But I have to tell myself that elimination communication not about missing a cue or signal, it’s about fostering an environment that allows growth and learning naturally and healthfully; about baby to be free to control his own elimination needs, and communicating this to and with him as best we can. We typically don’t think babies have this ability…but I believe that, in a kind of astonishing way, they do.

In addition to being flexible, here are some random tips that I have found helpful:

  • Follow your intuition. I find it is an amazing gift God has given us.
  • Avoid putting baby on potty when crying, fussy, or agitated.
  • Praise baby when baby eliminates, stating what baby has eliminated.
  • Rubbing the tummy (over & under belly button) in a clockwise across-down-back-and then up motion (like a rectangle) may help move the bowels when baby is unable to poop. I learned this from a message video. It has worked well for me with both of my boys, whether ECing or not.
  • Rubbing or patting baby’s lower back gently may also help with moving bowels.
  • Make a sound for pee and poop to help encourage your baby to eliminate (occasionally this works for Ezra the rest of the time he just finds it funny).
  • Remember that the process of reaching milestones may change your baby’s elimination cues or signals, and therefore may increase misses. As you adjust to your baby’s needs you’ll catch more pees and poops and regain a rhythm or schedule.
  • Keep it light and try to have fun with baby. When it’s early in the morning I know this one’s a tough one ?

I hope sharing my EC experience has been helpful.

With all that is possible in practicing Elimination Communication, my family has found (and accepted) what works great for us. And that is what I recommend for you! No pressure. Only love.

, , , , ,

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

10 Responses to “Imagine Me Practicing EC: The Why and How”

  1. Katie Says:

    I practiced EC with my son from 4.5 mos. He was out of diapers at night by 6 mos and durning the day by 8.5 mos. He had a night-time potty pause around 12 mos when I almost gave up, but when he became fully mobile (he was learning to walk at that time) he went back to being reliable. It was great – I saved a ton on diapers. Also, I worked full-time and both my care-givers thought I was crazy at first. It only took about a week and each of them was convinced and practiced with him.

    Thank you for spreading the word!!


    • Michelle Barber Says:

      Katie – That is amazing! I need to learn from you. Once Ezra turned 8 months – he’s been even more active and fusses now on the potty. What was once quite easy is now a challenge. I’m not sure why? How did you do it? I’d love to know!


  2. Ranela Says:

    Michelle, You’ve really done a great job explaining and sharing your EC experience. I like how you describe the way you hold the baby because they way I was holding my daughter was awkward and she hated it. Maybe I’ll try the way you’re doing it. I also just let her sit on the potty at 6 mos by herself with slight support from me and she screamed and yelled until she finished. I like your approach better. :) less crying, more comfortable, more fun. Thanks


    • Michelle Says:

      Thanks Ranela! It makes me so happy to be of help! I’m constantly trying to figure out how to keep it comfortable for EZ. He’s getting more and more active:) Keep it up. Sounds like your doing a great job Ranela!!!


  3. Jenica Says:

    Great post!-I also practice part-time but since my daughter starting walking she won’t poop in the potty. She’s too busy trying to see everything! she will pee though. Probably since since it’s over more quickly, and has less effort involved so she can do something else sooner!. But the environment of getting and keeping her relaxed and making a good mommy-baby moment is important for me as well. I’m going to try the massage trick and see if it helps move her bowels on the potty. I miss the days of not needing to spray the diapers!


    • Michelle Says:

      Thanks Jenica!

      Just today, EZ didn’t want to sit on the potty and he hadn’t pooped for over 36 hours, he kept passing gas, he was squirmy when I was trying to nurse him and he was tired and hungry so there was only one thing keeping him from relaxing… he needed to poop.

      When I put him on the potty, I really struggled to help him relax. We read books and I had to get really animated. When that trick ran out of luck, I had to try something else…finally I held him close to me (holding his knees loosely to his chest) and I told him, “Ezra, lets go poo poo. Do you need to go poo poo?” And then (no exageration) he got quiet, peed and pooped a little. Began squirming again, I continued to talk to him and I just held him for a few more seconds, he finished pooping, I tried to congratulate him, he began to whine like “ok already you can take me off now” and we were done. Sometimes it’s rough finding that balance. All I can say is, I’m learning as I go. Oh and I did the massage and I think it did help too :)


  4. Michelle Barber Says:

    Yes! I feel the same way! Thanks for sharing :)


  5. Shiree Martin Says:

    LOVE your post! I feel the same way about ECing. We are definitely part time but flexibility has been most important. My little one just started walking and it switching over to 2 naps and we have not had much luck lately. But it’s less about the poop and pee and more about creating that environment you talked about in your post. I love creating an environment for her to learn this skill. It is more of a philosophy than a practice, you know? I think you do!


Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Sharing is caring!