Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sister-Bug and Elimination Communication

*Elimination Communication is about helping our little ones use the potty from infancy, because we believe that they can, given the opportunity, communicate these needs with their care givers. 

We started out her infancy without (with few) diapers, potty at the ready. I believed, really believed we could make the Elimination Communication thing work. And once we were into the stride of parenting two kids, it seemed to be going fine. We got used to changing our pants and hers.

There was something so magical about communicating that closely with such a tiny creature. As she learned to sit up, and could hold herself on her own potty, I looked forward to putting away the diapers. At six months, at least 70% of her daytime pees, and all her poops made it into the potty/toilet/sink/grass. She started to have dry nights - squirming to wake me once or twice to pee in our sleep. I would haul the potty up onto the bed, she would pee, we'd go back to sleep. I'm pretty sure I completely slept through that process many times.

Reading on the potty at 8 months... right before the Strike.
Then, around nine months, she went on a strike. I laughed and wiped up the pee. Several weeks later I sighed and wiped up the poop. Dry nights stopped. Potty wiggles stopped. Communication on her end ceased. I did some checking around and found that it is normal and that most kids sort it out around ten months. No problem there.

She was still striking at eleven months. Not only was she refusing to pee in the potty, but... When I would sense she needed to pee I would pop her onto the potty or over a convenient receptacle. We'd sing and laugh and relax, enjoy ourselves, and Not Pee. So I would take her off the potty, she would look at me, and pee. Smart little twerp, right?

Added to that, we were moving during those couple of months. Into diapers she went.

My personal theory was that I should approach EC as a game and if I didn't want to play the game, I shouldn't. I was sick of the obviously intentional pee-on-Mama wrinkle she was experimenting with. I stopped playing.

If we hadn't been moving, I probably would have played somewhat differently. It's hard to say. But regardless, she went into full time diapers. And there she stayed until the summer. As it warmed up and we took our layers off, I made the potty available. I gave her gummy bears if she peed or pooped in the potty. She started to show interest - more in using the potty than in the treat which was encouraging.

It's been up and down since them. She loves her underwear. She switched to wearing diapers about half her waking hours through the fall. When she was in undies, about half her pee and poop were making it into the potty. Sometimes she would remember that I owe her a gummy bear. Often I would sigh and clean up the floor, pants, sheets...

She chooses each morning if we are doing diapers or undies. Yesterday undies (but only the frog ones) and today a diaper. We often switch mid day. And I let her know, when we have to get out a diaper, that it is usually because my mind isn't able to keep up with her. I encourage her to check for dry pants.

And she pees her dolls in her little potty, holding them over it and making her cue noise. It's adorable.

In the last two weeks, even with the Holiday Mayhem, I think she has been in three diapers during the day. She has peed on the floor maybe twice. She has been catching her own pee and poop, letting me know when she needs to go, and getting to the potty.

Last week she stopped using the little Bjorn potty and will only "pee big girl potty". Also, she likes privacy and has taken on pulling her own pants up. It's all her. I was here to support her toward this independence and I think that the early EC work we did with her has made a big difference in her ability to comfortably navigate the needs of her body.

So that is my experience with EC. I'll try it with the next kid too (when it shows up eventually), though not a rigorously as I did with Sister-Bug. I'm learning more relaxation around my expectations of myself as a parent. Some of that learning I got from EC.

I still see it as a game, and I love that my 21 month old is ready, on her own steam, to put her diapers away.

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