— sojourning, us

Tag "elimination communication"

For the past few months, we’ve somehow managed to endure all four of Elisha’s first-year molars moving into their proper places in his mouth. It wasn’t always easy. Compared to the rest of his teeth, the molars were full of more crankies, more snot, and more restless sleep than ever before.

Well, that is until his incisors started growing in.


I will admit I’ve been happy there hasn’t been much in the runny nose department, but the restless sleep and crankies come and go and come and go on a day-to-day basis. Couple this with the force of a 16-month old blooming head-first into his toddlerhood and the adventure just gets more and more whine-filled.

I can’t wait for teething to be over. It’s a series of milestones I look forward to putting behind us all. Less long nights spent nursing (yes, we’re still breastfeeding … no, I don’t have a set-in-stone date for when we’ll wean) and more time exploring new foods will be something to enjoy together. Well, we may actually be able to start the weaning process if he’s ready.

Although, I really hate that phrase, especially now that we’ve come to love elimination communication and all it’s benefits. Potty “readiness” is very different, I think, from weaning “readiness.” During the worst of his teething, Elisha will sometimes refuse to eat anything (except for a bit of fruit here and there and maybe, maybe, maybe some yogurt). I just couldn’t dream of letting him go without eating, so during the worst of his teething days, he would always without fail nurse. Yes, toddler nursing antics (upside down nursing, nursing and dancing, etc.) can sometimes be a challenge to my patience, but it has been more than worth the delay in weaning to keep him full of something nutritious and so incredibly valuable to his development.

There are definitely days I am very ready to wean. There are other days that I know it will be bittersweet.

Given Elisha’s strong personality, however, I know that he will help me set the pace. He already has started putting himself to sleep at night (after nursing) instead of nursing to sleep. Sometimes, laying him in his own bed and sitting in the office chair across the room from him (singing) is the only way he’ll go to sleep. Some nights, when he wakes, I can rock him back to sleep after he goes to the potty. Other nights, he needs to nurse again. On the teething nights, he often nurses all night, but those are getting fewer and farther between.

It’s getting better. It’s been an awesome ride so far. I’m interested in seeing what the end of teething brings into our lives. It should be exciting.

His potty readiness has also been pretty amazing. Since we’ve been practicing EC over the past 10 months, it’s been crazy to see just how much babies are capable of. While he’s not that communicative while teething, he still has so very few misses these days. I’m not confident enough to go out for long errands in training undies, but we did go to church with them last Sunday without issue. He goes all day with maybe a miss or two, and he’s often dry all night long. It’s certainly lessened the burden when it comes to diaper laundry, but I have never considered washing cloth diapers to be much of a burden to begin with. Ha!

Anyway, time just keeps flying by. I still can’t believe I have a walking, talking, drawing, imagining, playing toddler.

Elisha loves to draw

Share your thoughts?

oh no, more crazy whacked out ramblings on a Monday? really, must it go on? you ask.

well, so far, i don’t think i’m crazy, but i do have a bad habit of rambling …

i’ve written about elimination communication twice before already (here and here), but now that we’ve got over half a year’s experience of it under our belts, i thought i’d share more about it for the curious (or for those who think we’re crazy, which is more likely the case).

when i first read about EC while researching and purchasing our first (used) cloth diapers from the cloth diapering community called diaperswappers (a great place to find used cloth diapers, by the way), i’ll admit i thought it sounded really crazy, too. at first, just getting into the rhythm of parenthood was more than enough of a struggle for the hubbs and i, first-time parents as we were. however, as we got to know little E better, as we got to learn more about how he communicated with us his needs—hungry, tired, and, eventually, wet or dirty—i began to wonder if there was actually something to that EC stuff after all. since Justin was already on board with cloth diapers from the moment we found out we were expecting, i decided to share about what i’d read and see what he thought.

we bought the book, the diaper free baby, by christine gross-loh. i did most of the reading, ahem, but i did talk to hubbs about what i read (all the time, often while i was reading it …) and the basic methodology of part-time elimination communication. because i was still working full time when Eli was 6 months old, we decided to only give EC a try while i was around so Justin just kept changing diapers and washing diaper laundry as usual.

so, for me, i began to notice how simple things were right away. we gave Elisha naked time and watched for his own cues (and occasionally had some messes). he’d get suddenly loud right before (or during) a pee. or, if he was already babbling or playing, he’d go really quiet and still. he was already a regular pooper. catching poops was the easiest part of EC—he’d go every morning after waking up for the day and sometimes a second time after his first nap or before bed after meals. occasionally, he’d go a day without going or decided he’d rather just go in the car, but eventually these things both faded and he’s able to hold it to poop on the potty all the time at 13 months (well, except for that week of diarrhea, but we won’t go there … ew).

we’re at the point now where he doesn’t actually like being wet. except when he’s playing, that is. when he’s involved in something exciting, he won’t let us know he has to go (he signs his own version of “potty,” which is pointing to his diaper area or tugging on his training pants). in the car, he lets us know he’s peed in his diaper (our stash of GroVia AIOs for going out of the house; he’s not quite ready for full-time training pants) by getting very loud.

my point is, however, we started small. (and there are so many things anyone can start small on!)

we didn’t have big expectations.

it was just something new.

a parental experiment—one that, yes, we were learning, too.

he peed on his potty after naps and then before/after meals. as Justin began to witness that Elisha did cue and actually liked the potty, he began to join in. since he could sit up, he sat on a little baby bjorn potty or we’d hold him in what’s called an in-arms position over the big potty at home or while we were out. eventually, once i was working from home, we suddenly realized we’d become full-time with EC. it just kind of happened. something casual and experimental became a part of our lives as we learned to communicate with each other. Elisha learned to sign for milk and for food right alongside the sign for potty, so it was just another part of his vocabulary. did he always tell us? no, especially when teething or hitting big milestones like walking. he spent those days mostly in diapers instead of the training pants he usually wears around the house. he’d still use the potty to poop, but he never had the time or the gumption to tell us he needed to pee when major things were going on in his mouth or in his brain.

and that’s okay with us. we’re not potty training here. we’re just communicating.

what? there’s a difference?

yes. i believe so.

i get uncomfortable when people ask me how potty training is going when they see me ask Elisha if he needs to go potty or if he’s wet. i get frustrated when people tell me they must be lazier parents than we are because we EC (or even because we use cloth diapers). i dislike it when people complain that we’re the ones being trained instead of our child(ren) when it comes to learning life skills such as going on the toilet.

yes, there are things we as parents must learn about our children. we need to learn how they tell us they’re hungry or tired and how they tell us about their elimination needs is just another part of the puzzle. i’ve learned that babies don’t necessarily like being left to sit in their own waste—they like being dry and clean just like adults do. in my opinion (please note that), the rise of a convenience-oriented disposable culture has encouraged us to lose touch with some of the amazing things God designed babies (and their parents) to do. babies quickly lose touch with the sensations of being wet or soiled in a diaper as a bad thing when they spend hours in the same one, sagging to their knees. then, once they’re two (or  later depending on the when they’re “ready” as today’s potty training standards go), we begin the process of attempting to reverse what they’ve been, uh, well, trained to do. we suddenly tell them diapers are bad and the potty is good. we bribe them to change their minds with songs and candy.

what i’ve discovered is that we can keep them aware the whole time. there are still accidents. we still spend days in diapers. but, seriously, we’re never going to have to untrain and retrain. the potty is normal, not something scary and new. being wet or dirty is not ideal, though tolerable when it happens (especially at night when he still doesn’t necessarily wake in time to go potty), and Elisha knows that. e

to me, i think it’s amazing. like crazy amazing.

babies are capable of so much more than i ever knew and becoming a parent has, indeed, taught me a lot. the difference i feel from the mainstream of our culture is that i actually enjoy being “trained” to listen to my baby, encouraged and thrilled by the bonds we build. that’s something i signed onto do when i became a parent—i signed on to wholly becoming a part of my children’s lives in order to raise them into healthy adults.

well, i turned out alright, you say.

so did i.

so did a lot of people who were raised in disposable diapers and with formula (not everyone can breastfeed, and i know that. but i also think a lot of women aren’t given enough support and information and end up giving up way too soon). we did grow up into adults just fine, as far as we can tell … so what’s the big deal?

i guess, in my mind, it all goes back to some of what i shared when i talked about why we chose to use cloth diapers as a family. to me, it’s about living sustainably, about being good stewards, about avoiding harmful chemicals that are completely unnecessary, and not just for our planet but for the lives entrusted into our care.

when it comes to elimination communication, i can totally understand that it’s not for everyone, but i really have my caveats about saying such things as “you do what’s good for you and i’ll do what’s good for me.” i do believe that kind of subjectivity isn’t healthy all the time, but i have learned that parenting is a rather touchy subject in which is currently better to pick your battles over than to see people get hurt. i just always want people to know that contrary to what we see around us, yes, there are options and yes, many of them work just as well if not better than the status quo.

i understand that it’s a commitment in both time and process. i do think there are definitely some interesting things to be learned, both in simply choosing cloth diapers or even giving EC a try.

not that i’m saying you (yes you) aren’t taking care of your child. i’m sure you are. well, i hope so. i just like the idea of really jumping in, and i think more people should consider other areas of their lives they could commit to making stewardly changes in, what with eating local or recycling or buying organic or wearing earth-conscious clothing … why not?

so, things are going awesome here, and none of you are a bad parent for not following the paths we’ve chosen. i just like providing some food for thought, and i hope that you’re all thinking. if you’re ever prompted to make changes, let me know, as i’m always excited to hear about other parenting adventures!

Share your thoughts?

… i’m going to just post totally unrelated photos of Elisha enjoying an apple! yaaaay! wait, you don’t want to see that? haha. too bad.

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you keep asking in your head, “hey, what about that potty? did you really go for it?”

we did. it’s going great. we haven’t had to scrub a single patch of carpet! sure, we’re not going to “catch” (that’s the EC term) every potty moment, but we’re opening up communication and helping Elisha stay aware.

yes, we’re unconventional people.

yes, we might just be a little crazy.

no, i don’t have plans for E to be completely potty trained before he is 1. he can take his time; it’s up to him. putting him on the little potty at opportune moments (after he wakes up in the morning and after naps, for example) or when he seems to show signs or “cues” (like when he reaches for his diaper or when he stops playing or when he gets fussy while eating), gives him a new association with going to the bathroom. it’s not about pressuring him to grow up too fast or fit into our standards or be a more awesome baby than he already is. it’s just about giving him guidance and letting him shine and achieve things that blow our expectations every time. he’s been doing that since in the womb, really. ever since i peed on a stick, Elisha’s been nothing short of amazing.

i’ve learned two things this weekend—Elisha doesn’t actually like to be wet (he actually gets fussier and grumpy when he is but he doesn’t outright cry about it unless he’s in the car seat), and once he’s been naked, he doesn’t want to put a diaper back on. it’s like wrestling a wild animal! he loves to crawl around bare-bottomed to the world. he had some naked time this weekend so we could watch for his signs that he needed to go potty (“observation” is the EC term).

oh, and he pooped in the potty yesterday. it was a very proud moment. we sang his praises and he grinned with his four little teeth. it was much easier to clean up than it would have been in his diaper.

and just so you understand how part-time and how relaxed we want to be about introducing the potty, this morning was not as smooth (no Mondays ever are), and we “missed” most of our potty opportunities.

it’s okay. there are no failures here.

we’re just adding another option to the mix. at least with cloth, he already gets changed often and knows what it is to feel wet. no space-age gel keeping him unaware. no hours and hours in the same diaper. while i’m the first to admit that i no longer lot of stock in evolutionary theory (i think it’s downright silly, but that’s a whole other post … please don’t leave comments about that, though …), i can agree with the basis of elimination communication thought when it says even humans are wired not to actually want to soil themselves and/or hang out in their own waste. diapers are a convenient way of helping to contain messes since babies don’t have any control over when or where they go. that’s a skill that has to be learned. i found it an interesting thought that conventional potty training is almost like “unlearning” since we train babies to go in diapers—some toddlers can get very attached to wearing them.

nom nom nom

i’m not saying they need to be eliminated all together, though (heehee, pun intended). or that using them is wrong. obviously. what would i do with all our cute cloth diaper fluff? i love it!

i’m just really enjoying the option of offering a potty to Elisha this early. some people start at birth! while it’s never too late (or, apparently too early) to start working in some elimination communication into your daily routine, i can see that we’ll have challenges along the way because of our own timing. it’s kind of exciting to see him take to it now that he’s aware of his own body or now that he’s starting to express more of himself. he does let us know what he needs, but we often don’t recognize when or understand what he’s trying to say. we haven’t been in close communication about his potty needs because we’ve been happy to let him use his diapers. now that we can encourage him to express his needs instead of simply relieving himself without a hint or a care, he might be willing to strike up the conversation again. now that his wordless expressions are being noticed, it opens a new door for us in our relationship as parents and child.

wow. i’m feelin’ kind of crunchy as i write about a seven-month old using a little potty and cloth diapers and a bit of attachment parenting (though, i won’t go there at the moment, either). i even had granola for breakfast. look out!

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we’re aware of how much we’re outside of the mainstream, expected culture of things. we’re okay with that. we’re okay with the surprised looks and funny questions. we go home and are happy together at the end of the day. are cloth diapers for everyone? no, unfortunately not, but they’re definitely an option that every parent should actually consider. is elimination communication for everyone? no, but it’s certainly something worth looking into, even casually, at any stage of babyhood.

the bottom line is this: we’re having fun. we’re learning. we’re growing closer together as we go along on this journey. we want to be good, responsible parents as much as we want to be good, responsible stewards of all we’ve been given.

Share your thoughts?

… but i think it’ll work.

we’ll be purchasing this book and this potty (obviously not in pink) this weekend. we already use cloth diapers, but i’ve been curious about elimination communication since i first started researching cloth diaper brands and practices. i will admit i was skeptical of the idea of EC when i read about it, especially because i knew i would be returning to work leaving Elisha in my husband’s care while away. even if EC sounded like something we both were interested in, neither of us were really sure we could EC full time.

now, 7 months into parenthood, we’ve talked about it on and off with idle curiosity. does it work? is it possible? even now? Eli has very definite cues, at least when he’s going to poop in the morning. he’s had his fair share of ninja poops, for sure, but he generally only goes once a day before i go to work. it’s possible we could learn together how to “catch” that in a potty instead of in a diaper. wouldn’t that be amazing but crazy? i agree.

i know how much he hates to be in a dirty diaper. as soon as he goes, he reaches for me and wants cleaned up.

now, he could sit in a wet diaper all day, but from what i’ve read about EC, this is something that can be “relearned.” no one really likes to be wet, but babies learn to consider it normal because diapering is part of our culture.

i mean, how long do most babies sit around in a disposable with all of its absorbent gel? hours! in cloth, Elisha hardly ever sits around long in any diaper, but he still doesn’t often complain when wet. sometimes, he’ll be a bit more fussy or reluctant to sit down, but he doesn’t cry as soon as he wets.

part of elimination communication is learning your baby’s signals—their “cues” to let you in on the fact that they’ve either gone, are about to go, or feel the urge. you as the parent react to those signals with cues of your own once your child is over a potty—making a sound they learn to associate with using the bathroom.

i think that’s pretty brilliant.

of course we’d still use our cloth diapers on outings and at night. we’ll probably only really get to attempt EC part-time or occasionally. i think opening up that communication between us and Elisha will help with potty learning down the road.

wow, i wrote more than i thought i would.

it’s okay to think we’re crazy for even considering this—i think most people are crazy for NOT even considering cloth diapers! so, we’re even if you use disposables.

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