Elimination communication: housebreak your baby

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I first wrote about this nearly 3 years ago, but it was only recently discovered by the mainstream media. I think it might be time for a review.

Freud would have a field day with these people.

I’m talking about proponents of EC, elimination communication, the goofiest obsession of the many goofy obsessions of the natural childbirth and attachment parenting crowd. They began obsessing about excrement when cloth diapers came back into vogue, arguing that cloth diapers are better for babies and better for the environment. It turns out that neither of these claims are true. Indeed, those busily preening themselves for their prescience in rejecting disposal diapers forgot to include the environmental impact of sanitizing reusable cloth diapers, an impact that may be worse than the problem of landfills containing used Pampers and Huggies.

As is typical of the oneupsmanship characteristic of the NCB and AP types, fretting over what will catch your baby’s excrement is now passe. Proving your maternal superiority now means rejecting diapers altogether in favor of rigorously and continuously observing your baby for any signs of imminent excrement release and immediately holding him or her over a pot to catch the excrement. As Diaper Free Baby explains:

Full time EC’ing families are committed to trying to stay aware of as many of baby’s eliminations as they can. To this end, they may choose not to use diapers or other waterproof backup, as this can muffle a parent’s awareness of when a baby is about to or has already eliminated, and catches may be easier with trainers or underpants.

Full-time EC’ers figure out what works to help them catch eliminations when they are out and about, traveling, or EC’ing at night. They recognize that, like other aspects of parenting, EC progress is not always linear, but they recognize the value of process over results, and have a full toolbox of options to choose from to adjust to each of baby’s developmental milestones and stages.

“EC parents speak out” (not surprisingly since EC is all about them, not about their babies). According to “Rachel, mom to Simon, began EC at birth”:

By the time Simon was three and a half months old he had proven to us that EC is more than just ‘parent training.’ He started signaling his need to pee by making his own imitation of our ‘sss’ cue! We were delighted to be in such two way communication with him.

Evidently Rachel had trouble recognizing smiling and cooing as two way communication.

Sarabeth, mom to Ben, began EC at 2 1/2 months” says:

Doing EC with Ben has completely changed our relationship for the better. Before we started EC, it seemed like he often cried for no reason. With EC, I finally have an important tool to help meet his needs, and he is 100% happier.

There’s nothing like a relationship based on excrement, is there?

And “Megan, mom to Noe, began EC at 8 months”:

Responding to your baby’s elimination patterns provides many wonderful opportunities for you and your baby to communicate and to become more in-tune.

Poor Megan must be sorely lacking quality communication with her baby if she thinks excrement is a highlight.

How does a parent practice EC? First she must assiduously observe her baby to determine when he or she is preparing to “eliminate”:

… [Y]our own intuition will naturally develop around your baby’s elimination. Listening to and trusting your intuition is an important part of parenting. With a little time and practice, it can also become a very reliable tool for anticipating your baby’s elimination… [T]here are a few concrete ways you will know your intuition is telling you that your baby needs to eliminate. For example:

* a sudden thought along the lines of “She needs to pee.”
* wondering or questioning, “Does he need to go?”
* “seeing” or “hearing” the word “pee” or cueing sound (see below)
* “just knowing” that your baby needs to pee
* feeling the urge to pee yourself
* feeling a warm wet spreading over your lap or other area while baby is dry

Then mother and baby must assume the position:

When you think your baby needs to eliminate, hold her in a gentle and secure manner over your preferred receptacle. This could be the toilet, sink, potty, bucket, diaper, tree, or any other appropriate place… Generally, she will be more or less in a deep squat, cradled in your arms with her back to your tummy. The main thing is to keep her secure and to think about your aim.

Once your baby is comfortably in position, make a specific cueing sound to “invite” your baby to pee or poop. In most places where EC is practiced culturally, caregivers use a watery sound such as “psss”. This sound, along with a particular position, is used to signal or stimulate the baby’s elimination. When you are starting out, make your cueing sound every time you notice your baby peeing. Within a few days, your baby will associate the sound with the act of eliminating. By practicing EC consistently, your baby will learn to release her bladder at will upon hearing the cueing sound and/or being held in the potty position.

In other words, EC is a form of operant conditioning. The parent attempts to condition the baby to urinate or defecate in response to specific visual and auditory signals. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is. It’s the same way that pets are housebroken. In essence, EC is nothing more than “housebreaking” a baby.

EC is about, by and for parents. The parent wants the baby to urinate and defecate in a pot and attempts to condition the baby to do so. It stands in explicit contrast to a child centered approach to toilet training that elicits the child’s understanding and point of view. In fact, “elimination communication” is a misnomer. It does not involve communication of any kind, since the child is incapable of expressing his views on the subject. It treats children like dogs. Show the dog/baby what you expect, disregard what the dog/baby might prefer, bestow approval or disappointment on the dog/baby until he or she learns to do it your way.

In one way EC is about communication, but not in the way its proponents assert. Adopting EC communicates that the mother thinks her child’s bodily functions can be used as weapons in the war of maternal superiority. It communicates that the mother considers that her need to be au courant within her mothering community takes precedence over her child’s developmental needs. It communicates that the mother thinks that housebreaking her baby is an appropriate form of parenting.

EC explicitly ignores a child’s needs. Instead of allowing a baby to follow the rhythms of its own body, EC implies that urination and defecation must be closely regulated, with the constant parental scrutiny that implies. It conditions the child to believe that even her bodily functions are property of her parents and that urination and defecation must be performed on demand, at the risk of parental disapproval.

Ultimately, it demonstrates the astounding gullibility of certain women and their desperation to claim superiority over other mothers. Proponents of EC are busily housebreaking their babies with the same techniques that they would use for a dog and bragging to each other about it.

  • David Pe

    What a joke, people spend more time training their dogs then human beings.
    EC works and is worthwhile in the long run. I haven’t dealt with disgusting diapers since my baby was 8 months old. I laugh when I see my friends dealing with there toddlers messes.

    • ukay

      q.e.d.

    • Who?

      You clearly didn’t use all that spare time to study up on grammar!

  • Jusdticar Thrm

    Diapers were invented for a reason.

  • Justcurious

    I am on the fence about EC and am researching both sides of the argument in trying to make the best decision for my family. Everything I’ve read in support of EC has been pretty non judgmental about people who go with a more traditional potty training method. I found this article to be judgmental, off topic, and without any substantive argument to support the author’s opinions. Quite surprised at the angry tone here.

    This is the only article I’ve read on this site, but certainly won’t be pursuing it as a source of credible information in the future.

    • Field Commongrass

      many angry and oblivious EC-mombies and dirty carpets later you’ll understand the judgemental tone.

  • FlyingBook

    Even doctors support this:

    https://www.babble.com/toddler/dangers-potty-training-early/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-hodges-md/potty-training_b_1424826.html

    And to be honest:
    Everyone in his right mind should know that forcing your baby to behave like an adult and “control” something it can’t control, putting pressure on it isn’t healthy at all!

  • Spenwright

    Wow…Harvard and Boston didn’t teach Amy a thing about arguments. Everyone: this is called a Strawman Fallacy.

    #1 It is completely possible to be a proponent of EC without being obsessed with EC.

    #2 It is possible to be a proponent of EC without being a proponent of cloth diapers.

    #3 It is possible to be a proponent of EC and not even be a mother, let alone a mother desperate to claim superiority.

    #4 EC does not necessarily involve rigorously and continuously observing your baby or responding immediately by holding them over a pot.

    #5 EC does not even have to be about communication at all…it can just be a better way to deal with excrement (and it is).

    Here are some realities that Amy neglected to mention, due to her ignorance on the subject:

    #1 I’ve done EC (at least a form of it) with my daughter since she was about a week old. Much like breastfeeding, she was very attentive at a young age while she would eliminate. She would often make full eye contact for extended periods of time…very special. Was she also communicating in other ways? Sure. But why not have more? With EC you can turn her excrements into something better than scraping poop around.

    I’ve never seen it as much of a burden. It’s front-loaded, since you’re doing extra work in the beginning, but she’s five-months now and I barely have to pay attention to her bathroom habits at all. Once a day I take her to poop. Sometimes I take her again before bed because it helps her sleep if she’s all emptied. I don’t have to wait for her cues. She goes at more or less the same time every day..so easy. No obsessions that I can see.

    I do take her to pee more often, but again I do it off of timing. I take her when she wakes up (all of twenty seconds), I take her after about an hour, and I take her before she goes down for a nap. Not that big of a deal, and I get to enjoy her without a pee-smelling diaper the rest of the time,.

    #2 I don’t use cloth diapers. I use disposables sometimes and I use way less than most parents…probably average about 1-2 every 24 hours for a five month-old. Sounds better for the environment to me.

    #3 I’m a father. Guess what, fathers take care of babies too! Thanks for the recognition, Amy! And I always thought women would be less sexist.

    #4 Like I already said, it barely takes any effort these days, but the benefits are huge. I don’t take a diaper bag when I leave the house because I know she isn’t going to poop. I don’t have to worry about blow-outs on her clothing. She’s never had diaper rash in her entire life. I also use no baby wipes (again, better for environment) because she eliminates in the sink. After she’s done, I just give her a little rinse. Easy.

    #5 Do I think she communicates her elimination needs to me? Sometimes, but it doesn’t really matter if she does or doesn’t. The fact is that I massively prefer EC to non-EC. Why would I want to wipe of poop? Why would I want to have to smell pee-filled diapers? Why would I want to have to worry about when she’s going to poop and whether I need an extra change of clothes when I go out?

    Amy, you are an arrogant fool. It would be nice to live in a world where MDs could at least have basic reasoning skills. Thanks for nothing Harvard and Boston.

  • Ettina

    Have you taken a look at the research? Before disposable diapers, EC was *normal* – in many countries it still is. If you’re going to criticize something, you should at least check your facts first.
    As for it being like training a dog, so what? Having recently housebroken a dog, I can tell you that it was definitely not abusive in any way. I simply cleaned up her messes without comment and tried to guess when she needed to go and hung out with her outside, and when she went outside I gave her lots of praise.
    Yes, it was more about my desire not to clean up dog pee than what my dog wanted. So what? Do you think I should have put diapers on my dog instead? The only dogs I know of who wear diapers have disabilities that make them physically incapable of holding it. And I seriously doubt my dog would have preferred a diaper to just asking me to let her out when she needs to go. Do babies prefer diapers to using a potty? I’ve heard many parents say their baby complains about having a dirty diaper. If those kids had the *option* of using a potty, I’m sure many would prefer that. (And you can totally let the kid decide. EC doesn’t necessarily mean you never use a diaper, just that you put the kid on a potty when you think they might need to go.)

    • BanesofTomorrow

      yes EC is “normal” for mothers who don’t want to have any kind of freedom and are totally tangled up in “motherhood”.
      Dictated by the bodily fluids fo their children.

      Emancipation?
      Who need that when we can have a “Natural” way?

      If you really want to see a civilization build upon EC, take a look at rural China, India or Africa where kids with holes in their pants shit everywhere on everything.

  • Me

    We have done EC for the last 3 years with our kids and I can’t describe how much I hate it. I’ve been against it since day one. It has given us cranky kids, stress, constant washing and 3 years of broken sleep. It all looks very impressive to some, watching a little one wee on cue, but it’s definitely not based on the child until they’re able to control their own muscles because by that point they start to make much clearer communication of their distress. If it has a benefit in letting the older child above 1 year know that they can complain when they’re dirty or know that they want to go. I don’t believe for a second that even the smallest child likes sitting in poo and pee and I’ve seen the non EC parents have a habit of letting their kids sit in their waste for hours on end, but all this needs is a nappy change. In my opinion, It has been a nonsense trying EC with children under 1 year. Everyone gets really stressed and bad tempered. They’re ready when ready which in our experience is a lot younger than 2-3, but more like 1-2. I believe that the major psychological benefit is helping children not to be scared or ashamed of using the potty when they’re 2-3, which seems to be s very common problem. EC kids have become used to a potty long before embarrassment sets in and then other parents start battling with kids rejecting potty training. As you can read I have mixed views on EC. I see a long term benefit of EC and comfort with the potty, but EC with tiny ones or any kids under 1 years old is complete horse manure and has probably been the cause of more arguments than anything else.

  • Libre Crin

    Am I the only one who gets reminded of the anti-masturbation-campaigns in the 90’s or 80’s?
    Where parents let their children sleep on coconut-mats and had an observing eye on them 24/7?

    EC is the same deluded idea for me!

    Every child we raised became more or less potty trained by themself!
    Without ruining the carpet of our friends!

  • Libre Crin

    thanks for this!
    Had do do with so many EC-parents.
    They are the equivalent to helicopter-parents and cult-like behavior!

    Guess who has to clean the carpet when you invite them home!

    We aren’t meeting them anymore, in fact we left the parental meetings completely and are doing it our own way.

    Just because diapering isn’t the most fun thing in raising your children, doesn’t mean you can communicate it away!

    I remember

  • foreign mum

    To add to my earlier comment, I’m sorry for anyone who feels that they need to compete that they are a better mom or someone being put down by competitive moms ( prob like the good doc here ). It doesn’t really matter what others think of you as a mom, so long as you are doing what you think is right, and that’s between you and your kid.
    Also for those of you who are looking for actual info that may give a good reason not to EC, look in to the medical aspects, written by a Gastoenterologist. That might be helpful, although I’ve done some reading and most of the medical issues brought up are concerns for all children being toilet trained at all ages, and can be avoided as long as you know what your looking for.

  • foreign mum

    I agree with some of the points made, but then again I also still see the tremendous gain from ec. Like everything in life, its what we make of it, and yes there are extremes on both ends. Yes, it is a lot like training a dog, whether you like it or not, at that age most baby’s behavior is animal like! And yes it is very much for the parents as well, but not just. If I live in a country were there is a monopoly on the diaper industry and prices are outrages, and I cant afford to buy normal baby food for my child because I’m using that money to buy diapers, then ec is a life saver!! lets not forget that (of course depending on the approach) ec being done at such an age can eliminate the trauma of toilet training for both child and parents ( which I have witnessed first hand through the modern toilet training processes). I myself have not yet tried it, but lets face it, diapers, both cloth and disposable, are a relatively modern invention. How do you think they managed before diapers?!
    All in all, whether or not this is a good technique or not all depends on the parents and their attitude. Its not for everyone, and that should be ok. Live and let live, each to their own.

    • Loema Paloma

      you see the gain for YOURSELF, not the child!
      It’s about self-centered mindsets, not caring for your
      child!

  • Open Minded Traveler (dot) com

    Wow, this gal is quite the hater. If she didn’t use so much opinion I would be more inclined to read the article and move on with life. But seriously, any mom that is trying to do EC is way to busy to be “one-upping” other moms. I am trying to teach my baby to do EC right now. And while I am still in the early stages I already know that he doesn’t like sitting on a wet towel after he pees. That right there tells me he has the intelligence to decide to tell me ahead of time. Now I just need to try to catch him. And if after a week or two it just doesn’t work out, at least I tried. To just speak so harshly about an opposing theory other than your own “Dr. Amy” is just hateful.

    • Memento Whori

      its fun and everything until someone pees on your leg.

  • anonMom

    Every baby is different. My little guy was always so upset when he
    eliminated in his diaper that I tried EC just to help him. Now when he
    needs to eliminate he’ll cry or grunt a little while looking me straight
    in the eye. When I bring him to the sink to eliminate he will be
    instantly happier. He will often smile as he is pooping! Compare this to
    how he cries when we miss his cue… I wouldn’t do this if it didn’t
    make him happy. It may not be for every child, but please don’t judge those of us that are able to EC.

  • sdsures

    “There’s nothing like a relationship based on excrement, is there?”

    Priceless!

  • upharah

    I think the biggest issue is being missed. No one wants to pee on themselves, let alone poop on themselves. Babies aren’t born ignorant. We belittle them and assume we have to baby talk them to be on their level. They are little living souls who are able to be taught and also can teach others at their ages. My daughter stopped pooping in her diaper about 7 months. We got her a potty and that’s what she pooped in. My son who’s now 1 month old…I would like to see where EC can take us. Potty training doesn’t work out because the parents are lazy and don’t pay attention to those cues the child makes. A toddler in diapers at 3 and pooping on themselves is not something to brag about. Saying it again, no one wants to pee or poop on themselves. In other countries they don’t use diapers they are in tune with their children and its how things should be. Americans have gotten too relaxed. Everything they invent is to make americans more relaxed and dependent on the system. Anyways I had to speak my point of not understanding how someone can justify letting a baby pee or poop on themselves like its normal.

  • SisterMorphine

    I’ve been morbidly reading the comments–and good gravy, there seem to be people really willing to go to the mat for this.

    Talk about First World problems….I had a dreaded C/S. I formula fed. I used disposable diapers. I never wore my son. I don’t even recall how my son was potty-trained, it just seemed to work itself out.

    And I am so sick of the these bloody “Mommy Wars” that I could puke.

    I viewed my primary role as a parent to guide my son, protect him from what I could, teach him as well as I could, and try to ensure that he has good judgment so from now on, he WON’T need to lean on me. What I recall most is that we, as a family, spent a lot of quantity, fun time together. Fortunately, my son is now off at college (with a full scholarship, amazingly). We’re here if he needs us, but his life is his own.

    My son is not now, nor was he ever, some “project” for me to one-up the gals at the playground. He was a human being for whom I had responsibility, and let’s just say I viewed some responsibilities as more important than cloth/disposable.

    We lived in a university town and the Mommy Wars there were unreal. “I do AP!” “I do AP and homeschool!” “I do AP, homeschool, and EC and EBF and…” blah, blah.

    Have we not reached the point where we, as parents, can just relax, focus in the important things? Much like whether or not you made the softball team, eventually all these things will just…not…matter.

    • Memento Whori

      THIS!

  • EmotionsGetYouNowhere

    Just a thought (for those who wish to be confrontational): I am looking into EC and trying to find support for both opposing sides so I can properly make a decision for my child. An article such as this that seems to be mostly based on opinion with no stated evidence or data does not tend to help people who are looking for real answers. If anyone has current data arguing against EC in a logical manner I would be very happy to have been given such information. Thank you.

  • Andy

    I am a mother of 2 children, I am a biologist (with a PhD) and I know quite a lot of things about both human physiology and parenting. The fact that a baby makes some noises / faces when poops does not mean that they intend to communicate that to you, but is a simple sign of a certain discomfort. The parents who manage to “catch” the poo did not achieve the potty training. The EC can create, in the happiest of cases, a conditional reflex – Pavlov’s dog!
    A child will achieve potty training when: a) he will be able to control his bladder and anal muscles (physiological condition) and b) he is aware of the self control. Claiming that you teach “manners” a 3 months old baby is at least weird. As an anecdote, I have a friend who is obsessed over this EC and every time I see her she is (obsessively) hearing the baby saying “caca” and forcing her to the potty. Result? Sometimes she catches a poo and she feels that her method works… Most of the time, the baby is crying and fighting her, refusing to stay on the potty. The baby is 1 year and a half by now and she is definitely far from that physiological condition that allows her to control the elimination of her urine/ feces.
    My message to the parents obsessed with EC is that they children will be ready when they will be ready (biologically) and not when the parents would like them to be ready (because they are disgusted by poo or because they want to save on diapers).

  • WorkingMom

    With two or three exceptions, my 7 month old baby hasn’t pooped in a diaper since he was ~3 months old. It helps that he only goes every 3-5 days (he’s breastfed with 2 small solids meals a day). If anything, EC is him training me, and not the other way around – I’ve learned that when he makes a particular kind of grunt and starts bearing down that it is time to whip out his baby potty. I work full time, BTW, but he almost always poops in the morning before I go to work. Who knows – maybe that’s because that’s when I do baby yoga with him?

    Dr. Amy is right, though, that I do find myself bizarrely obsessed with his poops – it just feels so awesome when I think he needs to poop and it turns out I was right! And yes, I am also cloth diapering (with hand-me-down diapers) and so I love how easy “catching” his poops makes the laundry.

  • Stacy48918

    Honestly, I’m just too lazy for this nonsense. I tried it for all of one day with my son, realized I’d be spending all my time trying to interpret every facial twitch and dressing and undressing him countless times to try and get a “catch”. No thank you.

    A friend of mine has done EC with her youngest at 18 months he’s “potty-trained”. Except that 1 too long day at the park will throw him off and she has to be extra vigilant and use a reward system for a couple days to a week to get him back on track. In the mean time he’s peeing his pants 3-6 times a day and peeing his bed at naps and bedtimes so she’s doing a ton of extra laundry. Oh, but when he “gets it” again he’s “potty trained”. Yea.

    My son stayed in pull-ups til he was ~3 1/2. When he was ready we potty trained. Stayed in pull-ups out of the house for a good while after he was dry at home. Stayed in pull-ups overnight for a good while after he was dry during the day. He’s probably had <10 accidents EVER and I've had next to no stress.

    I'm too lazy for EC nonsense. For the EC evangelists, ever think that some of us just don't WANT to or CARE if our child is "potty trained" at 18 months? It's not like my children will still be in diapers at 7. I'm just not worried about it.

  • Anna T

    Before I had my babies, I thought I’d try EC. It sounded great in theory.

    What nobody warned me of was that babies often poop WHILE they eat. The baby would latch on, the milk would begin to flow, and… BAM, a load of poop comes out. Made the EC idea totally impractical.

    Having said that, I’m all for encouraging early potty training, much earlier than is culturally acceptable nowadays. When my second baby was 1 year old, she hated the feeling of poop being smeared all over her bottom. I noticed that she’d cry and strain NOT to poop, so when I saw her doing that I’d quickly take off her diaper and put her on the potty. Very quickly she realized that she can wait a minute or two for the potty, and that it’s much pleasanter than pooping or peeing all over herself. At 18 months, she was diaper-free during the day, even on outings. It saved us a lot of money (not to mention a lot of rashes).

  • Kupo

    I’ve been ruminating on this piece since I read it a few weeks ago. My conclusion and opinion is: I disagree with you on a few points.

    1) breastfed babies poop less, so washable re-usable diapers & cloth wipes is more ecologically friendly and cost-effective (e.g. the urine laundry uses no especial powders than the usual);
    2) EC is akin to teaching societal manners and expectations, or house-proofing the baby – I am teaching table/eating manners, I am teaching hygiene manners (e.g. washing hands after touching private parts), I am teaching the baby to leave the bed/go down steps feet-first (rather than head first).

    The money we have saved by using cloth wipes has let me feel more relaxed about treating young sir with treats on our morning walks.

    Re.”bestow approval or disappointment on the dog/baby until he or she learns to do it your way.”
    Actually, like all toilet training, only approval is bestowed – disappointment should not be present at all. In psychological parlance, this may be more akin to positive operant conditioning with a fixed ratio 1:1 reward reinforcement. If we take it further, perhaps EC parents should do only variable ratio 9:1 punishment reinforcement (like in gambling) as this reinforcement schedule promotes very hard to extinguish behaviour. Or at least, it does in experimental pigeons.

    • Trixie

      Many breastfed babies poop more than FF babies. Congrats on winning the poop lottery, but your claim that it’s more ecological because breastfed babies poop less, is bullshit.

      • Cambria Douglass

        Actually that’s not true. Breastfed babies DO poop less… after 4-6 weeks their bodies become incredibly efficient at digesting breast milk there is often much less waste than a baby who
        Is fed formula. Poop is the food that hasn’t/wasn’t able to be digested… breastmilk is much much easier for our babies to digest than formula. That’s why breastfed babies poop doesn’t smell bad and is very watery vs formula baby’s poop which is thicker and More like “regular poop”. Source: I’m a mom who’s had a formula baby and a breastfed baby. I also think EC is a load of crap.

        • crazy mama, PhD

          I know this is a zombie thread but it popped up under recent comments and I just had to say HAHAHAHAHAHAHA to the idea that breastfed babies poop less or that their poop doesn’t smell bad.

          Source: my two exclusively breastfed babies.

        • MaineJen

          Tell that to my kid. He was breastfed and he pooped every two hours. Like clockwork. Liquid. Often the poop came out of the diaper, up his back, down his legs. Sometimes on me. Sometimes in the bath. Sometimes on the floor on the WAY to the changing table. Oh yeah, EC would have been a total HOOT with him. His body did not get the efficiency memo, I guess.

          My second kid was also breastfed…I thought something was wrong when she only pooped once a day. It was like a miracle.

          It’s almost like…how much you poop depends on your individual metabolism just as much as on what you eat.

  • an observer

    You are the most disgusting bitter and hateful person on the planet earth.

    • baileylamb

      That’s a little hyperbolic don’t you think?

      • The observer

        From a mother who goes out of her way for her children, no it’s not. To hear such a harmless practice such as letting little babies go to the toilet when they give me signals be criticized by someone uneducated about this practice itself, it ridiculous. I’m called desperate and stupid for trying to save the environment for my children’s future, at the best of my abilities? How dare she.
        What place in the universe does this bitch has to tell me that I should just let my children sit in their crap, instead of letting them use the toilet like everyone else? She is a disgusting bitter and hateful person, who has nothing to do with her miserable life than to parody home birth women, when we have done absolutely nothing to her, and when our babies turn out just fine, and more loved than she has ever been…

        • PrimaryCareDoc

          I can’t imagine why someone would want to parody you.

          • Trixie

            Of all the posts to parachute into, why this one? Lol

          • PrimaryCareDoc

            Seriously. An EC-ing, homesteading, humanure composting, commune-dwelling parachuter! Well played!

          • The Observer

            It’s honestly not that hard a concept, if you’re a treehugger who actually is aware that these lifestyle alternatives exist. There are plenty eco-communes all over the world, and millions of people in developed countries who live off-the-grid, solitary. Try reading, it will do you wonders.

            http://rurallivingtoday.com/farm-finances/homesteaders-life-insurance-benefits-living-off-grid/

          • Stacy21629

            And from what wartorn countries did the precious metals in the computer you’re typing on right now come from? How sustainable is that, exactly?

          • The Observer

            Bitch please, it’s a fucking recycled one; from one who was throwing it away. So you can shove your snarky remarks up your ass.

          • The Observer

            Because it was a ridiculous looking article that showed up on the Google search page. I refuse to believe that people can be this closed-minded and stupid, but people like this ‘Amy’ impress me everyday.

          • Stacy21629

            “closed-minded”
            Pot. Kettle.

            Really, lady, you’re a riot. Keep at it. I’ve got five 15-hour shifts this week, this is entertaining at 3am.

        • baileylamb

          Go on blog warrior. Seriously though there are other things you could do to help the environment, but that stuff actually is hard, and takes courage.

          If a million women like you (and I do think their are a million like you) put pressure on government, you know went to D.C. Things would change in a moment.

          So why are their no modern day suffragettes, like suburban women ready to take on the fight? Go big or go home.

          I’m tired of the people with the most political power, punking out and not stepping up to the plate.

          It’s easy to,call Dr. Amy the B word, it actually takes real motivation and moxie to actually effect policy on something that matters.

          I don’t see you calling Texaco a bitch, or those who want to gut the EPA.

        • Anj Fabian

          Encore! Encore!

          There are ad homs you haven’t used yet…

    • Stacy21629

      You say that in such a wonderfully non-bitter and hateful manner. I want to be just like you.

      • The Observer

        I guess you haven’t heard about the concept of ‘being pissed off’ or ‘being insulted’. Never the less, I wasn’t the only person who posted this exact comment.

        Kate as also said “Dr Amy, upon reading this article I find that you are a terribly hateful person.”

        Why don’t you pick on her? Or do you fear another doctor bringing attention to how stupid and small-minded you are? Just curious.

  • Kat

    Dr Amy, upon reading this article I find that you are a terribly hateful person. I’m a doctor myself, and a new mother, and I find this article insulting, unnecessarily condemning, and frankly quite ill informed. Your training is in the area of delivery of the babies, and in the care of expectant mothers. By all means practice obstetrics. But please. Please do not attempt to comment on nappying or toilet training or elimination communication, as they are areas which you evidently know very little about.

    • Gene

      Well, I’m a pediatrician and a mother of young kids and I concur with Dr Tuteur’s post above. I know quite a bit about diapering (both cloth and paper), toilet training, and EC, both as a physician and a parent. What is your area of professional expertise than gives you the right to comment?

      • the observer

        I think people take potty-training WAY too seriously. You dangle a baby in the squat position over a toilet (or in my case, a humanure toilet-bucket) the baby eliminates into it, you wipe their hinny, flush the toilet (or in my case, dump the bucket in a compost bin) and the babies toddle away. Do you honestly need professional expertise to let your baby shit? I’m just being real here. There are tribeswomen in the Amazon, in some parts of the African continent, who have never seen a potty-training book, let alone a pediatrician, and their babies shit just fine. We are talking about going to the POTTY, and you honestly think this calls for some rocket science, and some potty-training expert’s proper advice? Really? ‘Elimination Communication’ (as it is labeled) has been around since the dawn of our evolution. Before diapers, babies crapped in the dirt, and all over the world, babies STILL crap in the dirt. The only idiots who have taken toilet training to such an extent, we literally buy books, buy DVDs, and pay to seek consultation about “the right time” and “when our babies are emotionally ready” are idiot western moms, who mindlessly buy into this ludicrous market that commodifies the simple (over exaggerated) needs of a baby. These moms are the driving fuel to the diaper industry’s polluting chemical-infested manufacturing plants, contributing to their baby’s diaper rashes, infections, allergic reactions, and contributing to the the pollution of millions of tons of baby feces stuffed in chemically toxic packages dumped into our environment, ergo destroying the planet. Does your potty-training expertise has anything to say about that? Just curious.

        And for your FYI, yes pediatricians and doctors have studied and endorsed in this practice. Other experts HAVE recommended that women sit their babies upright when they see the babies are eliminating in their diapers, because it is hard for them to go to the toilet when they’re laying flat on their backs. And many experts agree that squatting is the best way for a human to go to the restroom. Just saying.

        -http://pottytrainingearly.com/further-readings-research-and-support-for-early-toilet-training-and-elimination-communication-2/

        -http://wellnessmama.com/7013/a-proper-way-to-poo-squatty-potty-review/

        • GuestB

          “And many experts agree that squatting is the best way for a human to go to the restroom.”
          According to the second link (I go to wellness momma for ALL my medical advice) those experts are none other than Dr. Mercola and Dr. Oz.
          And there you have it, folks. Just so you know the caliber of commenter you are currently dealing with.

          • The Observer

            “Medical Case Studies: Squatting is the healthy, natural way to eliminate”
            http://www.squattypotty.com/Squatty-Potty-Medical-Case-Studies-s/1819.htm

            You were saying?

          • GuestB

            Still waiting for the experts.

          • Stacy21629

            You’re referencing the SquattyPotty website? You actually want people to take you seriously? Seriously?

          • The Observer

            The ignorance kills me!

            ‘SquattyPotty’ is a business that makes squat stools so people can use the restroom in a squat position, and is recommended by MDs and professionals, especially for those who have intestinal problems. Are you put off by the name of the company or did your ignorant behind actually take the time to read what you were bashing?

            Nevertheless ,I was referring to the clear studies that are on the site, including ones made by **PhD professionals**, and **MDs**

            Why are you so illiterate? Did you READ the studies before running your uneducated mouth about the website’s name? Or are you that stupid and immature you bashed an entire credible information source simply by laughing at the name of the company? I’d expect that from a teenager, but from an adult it seems completely pathetic. Just saying.

          • Mishimoo

            Exactly, it’s a business. It is in the owner’s best interests for the site to reference studies and healthcare professionals, and because it’s a business, one can’t really take the claims and ‘proof’ on face value.

          • The Observer

            Thought so.

          • GuestB

            ??

          • The Observer

            Please read bellow you, idiot.

          • GuestB

            If you plan on insulting someone you should probably make sure your post contains no misspellings or gramatical errors. I believe that makes the insult much more effective.

          • MLE

            He/she meant for you to read the post out loud at the top of your lungs.

          • Young CC Prof

            You know, I think you’re right.

  • Erin

    You’re a Doctor? Check your bedside manner lady. You are more than welcome to have an opinion on what you believe works or doesn’t, but who the heck are you to judge other people for their choice to EC or not? I actually just learned what it is through your post and I hope no new mothers come across this and take on your apparent anger. You flat out ridicule these women for the quotes you have gathered on your website. How is it that you think that is ok? Compassion, Doc. Try it some time. First to yourself. Then you will be able to give it to others.

    • Stacy21629

      Psst. You don’t need bedside manner if you aren’t practicing medicine. Dr. Amy can say whatever she wants on her private blog. Catch up.

  • Grace

    This shallow thinking/understanding (or not understanding at all) is exactly the reason why I don’t trust doctors much. I trusted an OB with all my life with my first pregnancy and I ended up getting CS due to “fetal distress” as she said. I trusted my instinct (with my husband support) with my second pregnancy totally ignoring my OB’s (different one) advice to cut me again (because of risks and baby’s getting big etc.) and I ended up giving a successful vaginal birth.

    Anyways, I started EC when my baby was just a couple weeks old. He’s a natural. He never had diaper rash, ever. And he’s always happy and satisfied and very healthy. Not to mention we save a lot of money too for not using disposables so much (we use them only when traveling).

    EC doesn’t mean you’re conditioning the baby to do his duty on you’re cue. It is learning to communicate with the baby about his elimination needs. If he fail to pee or poop on your cue, then it’s just miscommunication (you don’t punish him or whatever). Miscommunication happens because the baby tried telling mommy he needs to go but mommy didn’t understand because she might be too busy (there’s a lot of reasons why) and baby just shrug shoulder and do his duty because its impossible for him to hold his bladder until mommy cue him or go to the toilet by himself. Clearly, it is far different from housebreaking.

    This OB/author should try thinking outside the box. I can tell she never tried EC, not even once. I don’t know what’s this OB’s problem with EC, it’s none of your business anymore.

    EC is a wonderful thing. My opinion of EC is based on my personal experience and the way my baby is developing well and being toilet independent at a young age/month is yet another reason to trust my instinct.

    Yes, I strongly agree that still mother knows best.

    • mythsayer

      OMG! The dreaded CS! Here, let me shock you. I CHOSE one. I must be evil and not fit to have a child. You, on the other hand, are brilliant…. You only didn’t succeed at killing or hurting your baby the second time around? Who WOULDN’T take that risk? Do you also turn down high blood pressure medication or cholesterol medication?

      • Grace

        Nope. The OB didn’t even ask. because i dont have the need for those medication. im very healthy and so is my baby. I have nothing to complain 🙂
        So you chose to have a CS.Well all I can say is good luck to you. Hope you are not feeling any body pain, migraine, fatigue or whatever that will make you pay a visit to the doctor. If you do, please remember me, or more appropriate, the dreaded CS 🙂

  • Rena

    Wow. I started holding my little one over a trash can when I know she’s going to poop. At first it seemed more natural to her than to me. She’s started to look at me expectantly. Hey, if she likes the idea, I’ll cooperate. Or if she poops in her diaper, no big deal. It’s not difficult to do and it’s not coercive. Not everyone who practices EC is a NCB or AP type. And what’s with bashing the obsession with excrement? It has to go somewhere. I found what works for me, I don’t care what other people do. I would hate full time ECing, but I’d also be pretty restless watching her soil herself if I can do something about it. Why do you care so much what other people are doing? No mother is going to be exactly like any other mother (or you), nor should they. Get over yourself.

  • flushing waste down the toilet is undeniably better for the environment, so I don’t see a problem with this. What did people do before diapers? Probably something along the lines of EC.

    also, there are now diapers with flushable liners, so you can flush solids and all you have to wash out is pee. Cutie Baby sells one kind.

    • MLE

      Not necessarily true in the desert…

  • Olesya

    not only do you not understand how to properly housebreak dogs, you have no idea what babies can and can not communicate in terms of their needs. Wow.

  • Beth

    Babies will actually show when they are about to go and if someone is paying attention them they can help them not poop or pee on themselves. The notion that sitting in one’s urine or feces is better or preferrable jist because a person is tiny is unfounded and illogical. Just because you dont understand a baby’s cues doesnt mean they are not making them. If babies can learn basic sign language and readily use it to communicate when they are hungry, tired, or need to go potty then how can anyone suggest they are on the same level as dogs? EC is not about training or housebreaking, its about offering an alternative to sitting in their own excrement. I agree that some parents take it to an extreme and act prideful and perfectionist but some of us are relaxed about it, still put diapers on their babies because accidents happen, and dont blog about it because its not a big deal. We are not obsessed with poop or keeping our houses clean, we are simply being mindful about what our babies would prefer. When I started ECing my daughter, i planned on just seeing if she took to it on her own, no forcing or intent to train was present. After only a few times of offering, she clearly preferred to poop in the potty and would often hold it until i would put her on the potty (i would offer after she ate, after she napped and whenever she showed signs or cues of needing to go). Peeing wasnt something she regularly cued about, but i didnt make a big deal out of it. Again, the idea wasnt to train, just offer. By the time she was 18 months she was going in her potty when she needed to, no prompting on my part, she would hold it and go in her potty at her own free will, just like anyone does. There was no actual “potty training” with bribes and all that, it was just a normal part of life. She didnt need to relearn how to use her pelvic floor muscles because they never atrophied.

  • Mum of three

    I saw this practiced in India, where disposable diapers are very costly, and cloth ones are seldom seen.

    If it makes western women happy, and they are willing to put the work in, who are you to judge? Is it for me: no, but does it bother me? No.

  • Is there really a discussion about this nonsense? People who do this are FREAKS!!! Thanks for pointing it out Dr. T!

    • The Observer

      Yep, 3/4th of the world’s freaks aren’t shitting on themselves by the time they’re five years old, only western children do this. But no, African, Asian, and South American mothers are all freaks because they take the time to take their children to the crapper instead of letting shit on themselves. You all are closed-minded idiots who need a reality check/

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Yep, 3/4th of the world’s freaks aren’t shitting on themselves by the time they’re five years old, only western children do this.

        I have two kids, aged 3 and 5, who go to daycare. The 5 yo is in a group with 4 and 5 yos, none of whom are “shitting on themselves” nor are 3/4 of the yos.

        So where do you get the idea that 1/4 of 5 yos are shitting on themselves IN THE US, much less over all the world?

        • The Observer

          Because MOST kids in the US are still wetting the bed by age 5, and in other parts of the world the children are potty-trained by age 2.

          • Stacy21629

            Have some actual stats to back up these claims? My son was potty trained day and night at 3 1/2. Dreaded diapers from day one. However did I manage.

  • MorningSparrow

    Not quite sure how this fits in with your normal rants, but ok sure. You already went on about AP so why not this as well.
    I never practiced EC, but I did cloth diaper both of my children from birth on. The whole idea that it has a great impact on the enviroment is silly. The water goes down the drain (with the feces) to the water treatment plants that are already running full tilt from us using the toilet regularly and where our childrens waste will go when they are potty trained. Not to mention that CD are a fantastic option for babies who have sensitive skin and cannot handle the scents and chemicals in the disposables. Not to mention that on most packages of disposables it states that the solid waste is to be shaken out into the toilet, since it is illegal to throw away human waste in most states and is in most of the landfill rules and regulations.
    Apart from all I stated, I never once stuck my nose in the air and felt more superior that other parents because I used cloth. I did as most parents do and did what I felt was best for my children.

  • LibrarianSarah

    mmmm bib salad.

    • Cascaritas

      Salad bar?

  • MotherFail

    Well said Amy. I absolutely agree – EC represents the absolute desperation of mother one- up(wo)manship and proves how low they will sink. The ‘natural birth’ crew claim to want to ‘educate’ all these poor, stupid women who they need to save from themselves and the evil clutches of their Doctors, but actually when the rhetoric becomes a bit too mainstream, they have to come up with an even more extreme way that they can claim superiority and sinking to the low of actually believing that you are superior for the way that your child eliminates their waste from their body just says it all really.

    I am so sick to death of this romanticism of the way things are done in ‘tribal communities’ and in developing countries. Its typical western, middle class ignorance and hypocrisy- happy to live with all the technology, science and riches that come living in a wealthy developed nation, yet this sanctimonious desire to claim superiority over others by going back to this sudo-scientific ‘natural’ state when it suits just turns my stomach sometimes.

    • The Observer

      These desperate women are actually the ones saving the environment, while hateful stupid and bitter women such as yourself, contribute to the pullution being pumped constantly into our environment, because you’re too lazy to take your child to the toilet, than to let it defecate on herself. What kind of a decent person lets their child sit in their own shit for a extended period of time, when she has clearly given signals to you that she has to go, and has made it quite clear (with her tears) that she doesn’t like sitting in her own waste? What a terrible excuse of a parent. It’s no wonder only the lazy western mothers treat their children like this, the same country with a terrible narcissist epidemic (as science is now seeing: http://www.today.com/id/30312181/ns/today-today_books/t/me-me-me-americas-narcissism-epidemic/) . If you go to China, Africa, and South America, you’d see these women adore their children; they tie them onto their backs, feed them when they are hungry, take them to the restroom when the children tell them, and answer to them when they cry. You all CONDEMN women who treat their babies like this, doesn’t that say a lot about your minds as mothers? And where your priorities really are? Quite frank, it’s extremely pathetic. I take my kid to the toilet, because she hates shitting on herself, and if I were her, I wouldn’t want to sit in my crap either. Furthermore, she will have to put up with the environmental catastrophe that my generation is putting on her, through their insistence on finding ways to live that is convenient for them, with absolutely no regard on how it will affect everyone else, including their own children in the future.

      • GuestB

        Do you work outside the home?

        • The Observer

          I’m retired, I live in a mortgage-free off-grid handsculpted home, with my partner and several other commune-dwellers, in Wales. Why?

          • GuestB

            Just wondering how you have time to hold your baby over the toilet every time they need to go. Now I know that since you do not work this is easily accomplished.

          • The Observer

            Babies’ needs work like clockwork, it’s not rocket science or random. About ten minutes after they’re done breastfeeding, they have to go pee and poo. You take them to the restroom, when they give cues (noises, whines, movements), and when you’ve properly positioned them over the toilet, you give them the signaling noise that tells them they can to the restroom now (like “Shhh” for peeing and “MmmMmm” for pooing). Then for 2 hours or so, they neither have to use the toilet or breastfeed, and you’re free to do whatever you want (I guess), until nature calls again. By 2 they can walk themselves to the restroom. You don’t have to train them to crap themselves, then UNTRAIN them crap on themselves.

            I’ve saved so much money, with this approach to toilet training it’s insane.

          • GuestB

            My point was I work full time. There is no possible way I could potty train using this method.

          • PrimaryCareDoc

            This is a Poe, right?

          • The Observer

            idk what ‘a poe’ means. From where I’m from, poe is slang for police officer.

      • MLE

        In my part of the US we are experiencing a drought. Exactly how is it better for my environment if I am flushing the toilet 10 extra times a day?

        • Ettina

          Do you not wash your hands after changing your kid’s diaper? Do you leave them in a messy diaper a long time? If neither of those is true, then you’re already using more water than you were before the kid was born.

  • Dallas

    I would much rather get a good night’s sleep instead of holding my newborn or toddler over the toilet so they can shit.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    So once again, Dr Amy makes a statement, this time about cloth diapers NOT being better for the environment or for babies, and we get people jumping in with “it was better for my baby” and “it can be better for the environment”

    Note: generalizations do not apply, nor are they implied to apply, to all situations, and exceptions do not change the conclusion of the generalization.

    These comments are no more useful than the “not all midwives are dingbats” retorts that we get in other threads.

    • Wren

      I see this as somewhat different. A) No one is hurt by cloth diapers, unlike terribly untrained midwives. B) The statement that cloth is not environmentally better is potentially either true or false depending on the situation. The same applies to cost benefits of either option. C) A blanket statement that cloth is NOT (or IS) better for babies does imply that that is true in all cases. You can argue that generalisations do not always apply to specific situations, but I think a far more reality based statement would be that neither cloth nor disposables are better for most babies.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        think a far more reality based statement would be that neither cloth nor disposables are better for most babies.

        But Dr Amy never claimed disposable diapers were better, so how is that “more reality based”?

        You apparently agree with the assessment that cloth diapers are not, overall, better for babies. That is what Dr Amy said. That does not mean, however, that they are worse.

        Saying that cloth diapers are not better for the baby or the environment is not criticizing cloth diapers. It is a counter to the claim that cloth diapers are better.

        How is “cloth diapers are not better than disposables” a criticism of cloth? Is it some sort of insult if they aren’t better than disposables? If she had said, “disposables are no worse than cloth” would that get everyone all defensive about cloth diapers? Because it is the exact same thing.

        • Wren

          If the statement were made in a vacuum, then yes, it is not something to be defensive about and is not a criticism. It wasn’t though. It was in the middle of descriptors of those who use cloth diapers as goofy and preening themselves over the choice. Context matters.

        • Life Tip

          They probably get pissed because they believe they are better parents because they use cloth. Dr. A is suggesting that they do what’s best for their family and stop acting like they are morally superior to everyone else because of their super speshul choices. How dare she?! So mean!

  • auntbea
  • take7steps

    “They began obsessing about excrement when cloth diapers came back into vogue, arguing that cloth diapers are better for babies and better for the environment.”

    EC is ridiculous but don’t hate on cloth diapers! I don’t think they are better for the environment or MOST children but both my kids are allergic to disposables (dxed by a ped with hives and such) so I am thrilled that I have various options available to me. I don’t think they are superior though. I really want to use Pampers.

  • Name

    Most EC’ers use diapers regularly. As for the convenience of it, you haven’t tried it so I don’t know why you have such hate. It’s nice not to have to wipe a poopy butt and to not have poopy diapers to dispose of or wash. I’m not begrudging anyone for keeping their kid’s butt clean in whatever way they feel is right/fits with their lifestyle. Relax. No children are being harmed by this. It’s like you want everyone to live their lives in accordance with your values. You’ll live longer if you don’t let it get to you.

    • KarenJJ

      “Most EC’ers use diapers regularly.”

      So why choose the label EC? It’s like saying you ‘baby wear’ when you carry baby in a sling a couple of times a day when it’s convenient for everyone. Doesn’t that make it more a marketing label? A tribal label? I wear my cap backwards and therefore must be a ‘hip hop person’ as my daughter calls it (no idea where she learnt that one from).

      • KarenJJ

        It divides parenting into ‘cliques’ IMO.

        • Name

          I used the term because it is the term used in this blog post written by Dr. Amy. I like her blog and read it regularly but I fail to see how this argument helps her goal of educating about the dangers of home birth. The anger in this post is a big turn off, IMO. It is a tabloid piece designed to get more clicks and more money for Dr. Amy.

          If I had a parenting ‘clique’ it would be the ‘do whatever works best for your family’ group. Taking a baby potty included. Dangerous practices like HB not included.

      • Rena

        Holding a baby over a potty is ECing. Wearing diapers or not has nothing to do with it.

  • Lori

    These types of posts don’t seem to match the overall mission of this blog and in my opinion do nothing to call out the reckless practices of homebirth advocates in the US. So what, they let their kid shit in a bowl? Not for me but I fail to see how they are hurting anyone.

    • Charlotte

      I love that she talks about many beliefs and practices that, although harmless, don’t have the benefits that adherents claim they do. I think if we want a logical, scientifically literate society, we need to point out why things like amber teething necklaces and homeopathic remedies don’t work. We have to fight against woo wherever we see it if we ever hope to one day live in a world that no longer falls for it. The same thinking that drives people to claim home birth is safe is the one that also drives belief in other silly parenting choices.

  • hristina beeva

    Have you listened to a nine-year-old child playing that Rachmaninoff etude? Do you think the child can discourse freely on the theory of music, the philosophy of the piece? No, he learned to play it via a simpler mechanism, and he plays it beautifully. Now, I can speak of many intricacies behind the composition, but sadly, this has not improved my motor control between my brain and fingers.

    Did anyone really cut up babies to see how their bladders connected to their nervous systems? Did anyone really believe they are totally numb there, while they are so sensitive overall?

    Truth is, neural connection can go both ways. Use your body- it will get integrated into brain activity. Nothing will remain disconnected just because a scientist said it should remain disconnected until age X. And there are many mechanisms to neurally process an event. That’s what being human is about. Yes, initially the mechanism may be a conditioned response- but it could be other things. When you speak of human neural processing, you are never sure what happens. So far, science has failed to discover the One True Mode of Processing, the regular, plain vanilla, common for all people state of awareness.

    So who is to say a baby cannot have some- just enough awareness- to save Mommy the need to change disgusting diapers.

    I’m all for the “don’t be a sucker” heuristic. If I can just flush behind baby, I much prefer it to a diaper blowout and a nervous baby (which is otherwise supposed to be numb there, but I don’t know why the hell it would fuss so…).

    I don’t know if this made my baby a puppy, but I don’t know how soiled diapers would make him more human.

    • T.

      You are confusing two unrelated things:
      1. Bowel (inside)
      2. Skin (outside)
      Nobody says babies are paralized from the waist down. But they don’t have (usually) enough control over their muscles and enough awareness to properly control bowel movements.

      And the whole “has anybody cut a baby open” is quite frankly absurd. There are other ways to measure it.

      • hristina beeva

        Yes, one way is behavior. Behavior sometimes tells us what goes on inside a person. And you’re using this measure almost every day.

        • Wren

          Since the last pro-ECer disappeared and never answered this question, perhaps you would hristina beeva.

          It is not at all unusual for the neural connection between the bladder and the brain to not be fully developed before the age of 5. This is so common that paediatricians specialising in this area generally will not even begin investigations until the age of 5. I know this from personal experience with my daughter and reading around the subject due to that experience. My daughter, 5 1/2, is just now beginning to get some of the feeling she has a full bladder, and it’s not reliable yet.

          My question is this: how exactly would one EC a baby who does not have that connection developed? What cues would a baby give if the baby did not feel fullness in the bladder and had no knowledge of needing to go until the bladder was being emptied?

          If possible, you could answer a second question for me: what exactly is the benefit in EC and how, without leaving excrement in the streets and other public places and many parents who currently work staying home, could it possibly be practiced by a significant portion of the US, the UK or similar countries?

          • Cascaritas

            You asked “how exactly would one EC a baby who does not have that connection developed?”. I would ask: Has a baby developed any connections that allows her to EC?

            Check this articles. I think you could find them interesting.

            http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347(05)66963-7/abstract

            http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347(05)60109-7/abstract

            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022534705655942

          • hristina beeva

            First of all, let me say that a newborn and a toddler are quite different from the adult brain-damaged person.

            Second, it is possible that the “real” neural connection is not developed.So what? It is possible that a child left without any behavioral pressure would develop such a connection eventually, the default mode. But the question is: why not use other mechanisms, are there no other modes? Why not use the other senses and in this way modify the behavior? In the end, it’s the behavior modification that matters, which may work just as well as that coveted “one true connection”, if there is such a thing. Yes, the link may be weaker and there may be lapses, but when it works, it works.

            My boy is four. He gets out of bed in the morning, goes to the bathroom, pees standing and even puts the toilet seat down. EC since 2 months, because he would wait for the diaper to be removed just to pee all over me. It was just the smartest thing to do. And as early as six months, he would wriggle and fuss if he needed to pee. I guess he found a way to put two events together.

            Now, there is this urban myth that only one person in 10,000 would develop perfect pitch, that it is inborn and that you can achieve this early in life, or never. Now, I do not care if I am gifted or not, but a sense of pitch is quite necessary for me. So I have a makeshift solution- sound-body synaesthesia. I don’t hear pitch, I feel it as a bodily sense. In fact, the sounds of music are almost irrelevant to me, what matters is the bodily sensation. Is that the One True Brain Connection of music? I have no idea. Others report sensing music as colors or flavors. Guitarists tune their instrument by flavor.

            Why not imagine that a baby or a toddler could use other cues beside the feeling of full bladder? The world is full of cues. Use them if it works. Anything from whistling to colorful potty to prizes. It can be fun- it need not be a humorless chore.

            As to how EC can work in an EU setting. I live in an EU country which still has the tradition to potty-train early. Even a two-year-old still pooping in diapers would be considered gross. We don’t care about the neural connections. We don’t care of Freud and theories. We just put them on the potty early enough. They use other processing mechanisms. We don’t care which, as long as it works.

            So, how about partial EC, to avoid that gross large toddler still doing it in its pants? How about the benefit of treating children not as necessarily untouchable lest we break the One True Mechanism, but as things that can be modified gently, for better results? After all, we modify their eating and sleeping patterns, their perception patterns (when is a child ready to watch cartoons, by the way?) Why not this?

            Germany had early childcare, and they placed the little ones on the potty as early as one year. IN my country, there is usually a caretaker that insists- if not on no pee accidents, at least no poopy diapers after age 2, and even then only by accident.

            As for brain-damaged patients, Dr Oliver Sachs had a patient who tended to lean to one side due to Parkinson’s. So he built a level mechanism in his eye glasses and he straightened himself out through the feedback.

            I don’t know if anyone has tried treating incontinence in such ways. But it is not theoretically impossible. Every part of you is controllable in one way or the other. Unless it’s after the fourth beer, then mostly, it’s not.

            But I, and many other women, have toddlers that are clean and the boys are kinda proud to pee by themselves. Yes, sometimes they pee against trees in the park. Nobody died yet. Nobody died in Brussels, either, where everyone seems to be pissing in the streets.

            In fact, Brussels would not be there if diapers were present, and God only knows where the capital of the EU would be. So perhaps it was EC that led to today’s grand European civilization. How’s that for a benefit?

          • You set up a lot of straw men here, and proceed to demolish them with relish. Who has said anything about one true mechanism.

            And yes, I think I am aware – very aware – that there are huge differences between a brain damaged adult and a toddler. And I, too, have read Oliver Sachs – without assuming that the stories he tells are meant to be taken as universal remedies. My point, a very minor one, is that there is a bit more to continence than conditioning and even the sensation of having a full bladder. Not one true mechanism, but a complex meshing together of several – including teaching our children a shame and discomfort that is not inbuilt.

            You are proud of your son, and nothing wrong with that. We are all proud of our children. (I am very, very proud of my mine, especially my first’s cheerful acceptance of her difficulties) Chalking every achievement up to our own wonderfulness and wisdom and superior techniques is a bit more of a problem.

          • Wren

            My 7 year old son was not EC’d but before 4 he would get out of bed and pee in the toilet in the morning. It’s great you are proud of your son, but I’m not sure I see the relevance to this discussion.

            My daughter, who is just now beginning to make real strides towards urinary continence, has not soiled herself in well over 2 years because she knows what it feels like to need to poo and takes herself to the toilet to do that. It’s not about one true connection but about the ability to feel a full bladder or not. Without the ability to feel a full bladder, yes, there are other options but why should I train my daughter to pee when she hears “psssss” or some other cue rather than wait to see if the neural connections do develop within the normal range (which they appear to be doing now, though on the late end of the range)

            Most children, without ec, do manage to achieve potty training at a reasonable age.

          • Dr Kitty

            My three year old toilets herself without adult help-undresses, flushes, wipes, dresses, washes her hands, the lot.

            She was potty trained at two and a half a
            nd was out of nappies at night only 3 months ago, with only 2 accidents since.

            They all get it eventually.
            Pushing it earlier and earlier is all about the parents and not at all about the kids.

          • SisterMorphine

            Look up “woo” in the dictionary.

            Please.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      You know, changing your baby’s diaper would eliminate the discomfort and takes a lot less work than EC.

    • That’s about the most unrealistic view of science I’ve read in awhile.

      • hristina beeva

        You’d be surprised at the exotic views of science that creep up. Realistic to what?

        I don’t know your background in science, but I’m guessing by science you mean the objective view, the search for a complete, completely described object, in easily understood, replicable terms. That’s a good view to have, and a good practice, but it’s a bitch that cognitive science won’t work that way, which leads to an amazing production of intricate arguments and counter-arguments.

        If you want to meet with this “unrealistic mode of science”, look no further than the writings of Edward F. Ricketts. Famed as Doc from Cannery Row, the poor character who sat down numerous times to write an internally consistent, complete scientific treatise on the octopus. Both Doc, and Ricketts, imply- and explicate, in the case of Ricketts, why you cannot describe the octopus as a separate, consistent thing. It’s a phenomenon, related to many others. And if you think that’s weird, most of our ecological thinking springs from that source. And if you want the problem stated another way, try Wittgenstein, who said it’s total nonsense to search for something if you know what you are searching for.

        As for discomfort, babies show it before dirtying their diaper. So obviously they are feeling something. I don’t have to know how strong the neural connections are- there are just enough for the task.

        Now, I have two choices: to search for what I already know (babies don’t control their bowels, the theory says, so my baby’s behavior could never be a sign of such feeling or control, it is a fluke)- or forget the end-all theory and notice that baby prefers to eliminate outside diaper, that he shows visible discomfort, expressed in body movements and later syllables, and realize that something is going on- something unpredicted, but usable.

        Cognitive science won’t measure things well, sadly. Nor does it have too many instruments, despite the colorful fMRA scans waved about. Also, the absurdity that you cannot cut people often- that’s an inside joke of cognitive science, the perks of learning about yourself. So, what are the other ways to measure it, except for behavior? Please enlighten me how to differentiate a baby who merely uses a Pavlovian circuit to one that does the same, but may be using other modes of neural processing and/or perception? Please do tell. The world’s leading cognitive scientists would be thankful for such a succinct, easy answer.

        In short, what the comments here mean is a sterile scientism. And no, EC is way better than changing a toddler’s full diaper. Or getting into a situation where your toddler won’t go anywhere but in a diaper.

        While you are at it, you might check out the “don’t be a sucker” heuristic. It’s useful sometimes, and there are no penalties for being unscientific if it works. In fact, for some, this is the only science worth pursuing.

        • Well if you want to find yourself theorising about the relevance of neural processing, perception, the physical v the psychological (not to mention what an MRI will and will not tell you) try dealing with the incontinence issues that come with disability!

          Aren’t advanced technologies like fMRI teaching scientists how much they don’t know?

        • theNormalDistribution

          This post reads like cargo-cult science.

  • Sue

    While we’re at it, anyone got tips for an 11 mth old female puppy (mini foxie cross jack russell) who has trouble making it through the night without peeing? Getting too cold now (in Australia) to leave the back door open, and no doggie flap. Should we sit up all night looking for elimination signals?

    • Dr Kitty

      Litter tray.

    • Bystander

      Two things come to mind: health and habit. An 11 month small breed puppy is functionally an adult. It is probably a good idea to have a vet check that there’s no underlying physical issue and then it’s on to retraining.
      Eliminate any source of scent; any dog, no matter how well housebroken, will urinate where it can smell it has urinated before. Invest in professional grade products for scent elimination. on most hard surfaces, dilute bleach works well (not for marble). If a rug is beyond salvage and has to go, so be it. Second, routine. It gets taken out on a schedule, including last thing at night and first thing in the morning. No access to water from evening to morning will accelerate the process without harm. Third, confinement. Crate the dog or put it in the bathroom overnight. Take it straight to its latrine when you let it out. Tiring it out with a good, long walk and some activity that requires some self-control and thinking on its part will help it settle.
      A few weeks of consistency and discipline on your part will result in it learning a new habit. Be very slow to give it free reign in the house. If you’d rather litter train, you will need the same consistency to establish that tray as the sole acceptable latrine.

      • Sue

        Thanks, Bystander – great tips. I’m afraid we’re too late for “Be very slow to give it free reign in the house” – we got complacent with our well-trained older dog. I think the scent elimination might be the go.

        • Bystander

          Yes, their noses do tell them where to go, in more than one sense of the term. Our most powerful lesson on that was when we brought out an old, cleaned (not with enzyme) rug that our very first dog had peed on years ago. Took it outside to air it and all our dogs came straight over and peed on it — something they’ve never done before or since to any furnishings of ours.

          I forgot to mention yesterday — if she’s spayed, it might be worth checking if she’s got spay incontinence. A bit young for it, but not impossible. It’s thankfully straightforward to treat.

    • auntbea

      Crate?

  • Dr Kitty

    Cultures which traditionally practice EC also allow their toddlers to walk around bottomless and eliminate in the street. Chinese baby legging are crotchless for this reason.

    If you’re not actually OK with human faeces and urine in your street/park/neighbourhood, you should not be OK with EC.

    I don’t actually care if you want to do it, but if you do, you better make sure that child is eliminating into a pot or toilet and you’re disposing of the waste hygienicly. “Peeing between parked cars” is not acceptable.

    Also, Gabriel, pull over and change your kid. Personally I found the modern disposables so good that my kid never complained about being wet and we had to change to big girl panties to toilet train.

    • Gabriel

      Yeah, I use diapers. I do not have a baby going around naked. I understand that there are some people on the Internet that have babies naked all day and clean their floors constantly, or urinating or defecating in public. That’s gross, and make-work for some sort of bragging rights.

      As for just pulling over, yes sometimes one must do that. But it’s quick and easy to make that a less-likely thing to have to do. I ask the older kids before a long drive to first go to the bathroom. It’s cool that I can usually do that with our baby too. We get a little farther down the road that way without having to stop.

      I examine the trappings of culture to see what is actually useful or not useful to me and decide what to do from there. To completely eschew this capability without reflection would be to choose the American model by default, which in my opinion would be as ill-informed as doing something because Ancient Chinese Wisdom. It’s a high bar to set, but I think all cultural practices need to be critically examined, including those we’re brought up with.

  • Gabriel

    Uh, we do this, but it’s a labor-saving practice. We don’t generally see practices whose apparent purpose is to chain mom to her child-rearing responsibilities as productive or redeeming.

    But, if you’re about to drive an hour and don’t want a baby screaming in a soaked diaper for the second half of the trip, persuading him to potty before heading out the door with this technique can make life a lot simpler and easier for everybody.

    Also, this is the norm in many parts of southeast Asia, and they certainly don’t do it in order to engage in competitive mothering. There is a practical side to this. I think you’re off base here.

  • Tacy

    I usually agree with your posts, but this one is a little off. I am Vietnamese, and a form of EC is practiced there. My mom did it with my little sister starting at 6 months (my sister was born in the US). It’s just something the Vietnamese do. To hear you equate this cultural practice to treating babies like dogs is demeaning to our culture.

    • Dr. Amy didn’t say, “Check out what Vietnamese parents do, how weird is that?” She criticized this practice as one more thing the natural child birthing movement has latched onto.

      • Hannah

        That doesn’t make it less ethnocentric.

        • Ethnocentric? This has nothing to do with culture and more to do with how this practice is being re-packaged and marketed to “natural” parents as the newest, latest and greatest thing.

  • Sue

    Did the ED community derive their methods from puppy training?

    • Therese

      I think they derived it from the third world.

    • Sue

      “oops – “ED” was a Freudian slip – or habit of typing. I meant EC, of course.

  • theNormalDistribution

    And the Fark headline reads:

    Latest hipster parent trend: going diaper-less. ‘The Onion’ wishes it
    could make things up like: “diaper-free meetups, where parents exchange
    tips like how to get a baby to urinate on the street between parked cars.”

  • Amy, I am not really sure why you are so nonplussed by the practice but your sweeping generalizations and opinions backed by your status as an “MD” are really damaging and irresponsible.

    I suggest you learn more about the topic rather than gathering quotes here and there off the internet, as you seem highly underinformed and emotionally reactive.

    Andrea Olson, MA
    EC Author, Mentor, and Educator

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Do you have any actual facts to offer? Of course not.

      • Wow, Amy, you are quite the feisty and unprofessional type, I see. Do you have any actual facts to offer on the other side, the one that says there is no sphincter control until 18 months or later? Didn’t think so.

        Plus, when you really think about without all the emotion you are attaching to this subject…when a child doesn’t *have to* use a muscle for 3 years, of course they have *no* control over it. Makes sense.

        Continue publicly acting in this manner and I don’t think anyone will take you seriously.

        • Captain Obvious

          Does constant monitoring of the child’s external cues really help the parent or the child? Seems like the parent won’t really be able to get anything else done. How can the mother go back to work and continue with EC? Does the child gain anything from this? So many other analogies are out there to just let the child be a child and why are we so obscessed in getting the child potty trained, or parentalized. Do these children do better later in life because they went through EC? Please share some of your randomized controls double blinded evidence based studies to why this is necessary? I worked all day in the yard today, how would I be able to participate in EC while working and maintaining a household?

          • Great questions. You know I am not a scientist nor do I do scientific studies on this topic. I am a scholar and have my master’s in psychology and have done 7 years of therapy for children and adults. What I can say is this: what does letting a child be a child mean, exactly? The average age for potty independence with our parents and our grandparents was 18-24 months in ONE generation we are now at 36-38 months per webMD. Half the world’s babies are potty independent by 1 year per Contemporary Pediatrics magazine. So, you can deduce by all of this that “letting a child be a child” is relative to generation and location.

            Next…you probably wouldn’t be a person who’d choose to do EC. And that’s fine. It isn’t for everybody. However, the majority of ECing parents do it part-time. They help their babies maintain sensitivity to their inborn instincts to not soil themselves, their bed, or their caregiver by offering the potty only upon waking and during a diaper change. This makes potty training later on much easier than just “popping the potty” on them and insisting they go in it. Hence, people delay potty training til it’s an unhealthy age (major medical constipation, as documented by Dr. Hodges) because it’s confusing for the child to potty train after 3-5 years of being conditioned to go in their diapers.

            The happy medium? If you’re not into EC, I can’t blame ya! Not for everyone. BUT…we can become aware that 18-24 months is a perfect age to potty train…prior to the child becoming extremely willful and independent…and not so old that the muscles are sorely underdeveloped. My friend wrote a book on potty training and it helps children of this age. The proof is in the pudding. You don’t need a double-blinded evidence-based study to know that we put off potty training because we don’t know what the heck we’re doing AND because diaper companies convince us that waiting is better. Do the math?

          • auntbea

            I see no pudding, containing proof or otherwise.

          • Cascaritas

            First time I read something about EC in the Internet, I thought it would be just not possible for me. Later I read some books and gave it a try when my daughter was 3 weeks old. To my own surprise, my baby eliminated when I set her in position. I just couldn’t believe it. Since then, EC has worked really well for us.

            Do I feel superior? No, I’m just taking my baby to the potty.
            Do I want to take my baby to the potty for 3 years? Wow, no! As soon as my baby is able to walk I’ll start potty training her.

            People doing EC are taking their babies to the potty. That’s it. It can be done.

            By the way. I’m an MD. I was more than happy to have a cesarean to deliver my baby, and I would never have a VBAC, never.

          • KarenJJ

            “People doing EC are taking their babies to the potty. That’s it. It can be done.”

            That’s exactly what I would have called it. Early potty use. Some kids would take to it and some families are able to devote time to it. Not such a big deal I would’ve thought, as long as kids aren’t being shamed or forced into it? Unless someone’s got something to sell to you…

            Actually I know of one technique I’ve heard of that was used on my generation back in the days of being toilet trained – rubbing their faces into an ‘accident’. It was only one generation ago.

          • Name

            I agree. It is not such a big deal. I take my baby potty for poops because I hate dealing with poopy diapers. I don’t have some kind of special bond or connection that is stronger than any other mom’s bond with her children.

            Unfortunately EC is the recognized term. Sometimes it is called infant potty training. that is what I googled to learn more info after a few weeks of (gross) changing my baby’s diapers. Now I just flush. But it took time. I still think that the practice sounds crazy but it works for us. People like to hate what they don’t understand.

          • auntbea

            I have no beef with the argument that EC can work. My problem is with the (unsupported) claim that EC works better. Or with the claim that I am not doing EC because I have fallen victim to the marketing schemes of the diaper people.

          • Cascaritas

            I’m haven’t claimed EC works better. It works very well for my and my daughter. I rarely change poopy diapers or scrap poop from her butt. I use disposable diapers as a back up every day.

          • Box of Salt

            “You know I am not a scientist nor do I do scientific studies on this topic”

            Yet, you wrote a book!
            Andrea Olson, MA
            EC Author, Mentor, and Educator

            “The average age for potty independence with our parents and our grandparents was 18-24 months in ONE generation we are now at 36-38 months per webMD”

            ONE generation: My parents drove me around without putting me in a car safety seat, and my parents didn’t about the structure of DNA in their college classes (both were engineers, and their studies included all science. . . think about it; I’m old). TWO generations: In my grandparent’s time, employing children at low wages was normal business practice – is that a good idea? Times change. What’s your point?

          • KarenJJ

            Plus I think what people term potty trained now might be a little different. My grandmother called potty trained when my Dad would mostly go after a meal and she had a highchair with an inbuilt potty. So he’d be strapped into the chair until he went. I think of that as ‘poo catching’. I think of toilet-trained as when my kids can tell me they need to go and take themselves to the toilet/potty and mostly do everything by themselves with a little assistance from me.

          • KarenJJ

            Have to say I don’t blame my grandma though. She had two boys less than 12 months apart, lived on a farm without electricity, had to milk a dozen cows every morning as well as all the housework/cooking and of course there were only cloth nappies which she would wash by hand every morning.

            She did what she had to do. She left school at 10 to help her family on the farm when her brothers went to war. One generation later, my Dad goes to university, gets a degree and works in an office. Two generations later her granddaughter goes to university, works in an office on a computer, has a lot of help with her small children including washing machine, dryer, disposable nappies, formula, daycare and employs someone to clean her house. Sheesh I even own my own car and the house my husband and I own is in our joint names.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Do you really not know that her point is she is afraid someone will read this and realize it is laughable nonsense and then not buy her book.

          • KarenJJ

            ” BUT…we can become aware that 18-24 months is a perfect age to potty train…prior to the child becoming extremely willful and independent”

            That’s not how it worked in my family… It was daughter’s wilfulness and independence that caused her to potty train because she flatly refused to wear a nappy (hour long tantrums etc) at 22 months.

            ” They help their babies maintain sensitivity to their inborn instincts to not soil themselves, their bed, or their caregiver by offering the potty only upon waking and during a diaper change. This makes potty training later on much easier than just “popping the potty” on them and insisting they go in it.”

            What is the difference in this scenario? Isn’t toilet training just popping them on the potty and seeing if they go? It’s like “baby-wearing” vs carrying baby around in a sling. A marketting term that aims to confuse and divide parents that have essentially chosen the same damn thing.

          • Sue

            ” Half the world’s babies are potty independent by 1 year per Contemporary Pediatrics magazine.”

            Does that magazine also tell us how many of the world’s children don’t finish primary school because they have to contribute to the family income? Shold we emulate that as well?

          • Eddie

            I like the point. Just because something is normal elsewhere in the world doesn’t mean it should necessarily be normal here. My wife was surprised how late kids are potty trained here (US Midwest), compared to where she grew up (Eastern Europe). Indeed, in the United States, kids are potty trained later than used to be the norm.

            The question: Does it matter at all? Is there any lasting difference other than the money spent on diapers or diaper cleaning? Why do we care? Is it more inconvenient to the parents? Most Kindergartens and many preschools will not accept kids who are not potty trained. Other than this, why do we care when it occurs?

            With today’s diapers, my daughter felt so little discomfort/wetness that I understand why she felt no hurry to potty train. I’m sure this is a big part of the delay.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I’ve come to the point that I don’t even know what “potty trained” means. I can safely say that my 4 year old is potty trained, because he uses the potty for everything all by himself, including during the night. But what of our 2 year old? He wears underwear all the time during the day, and pees in the potty, with accidents only very rarely (like once every couple of weeks, or so). But he refuses to poop in the potty. However, he doesn’t have poop accidents, and when he needs to poop he just insists that we put a diaper on him so he can poop (lots of kids are that way). So he has control, is aware that he needs to go (he will absolutely tell us, “I need to poop”; he’s actually better about that than telling us he needs to pee) and pees in the potty, and can even do that on his own (can pull down his pants and undies). He wears underwear to daycare, although they put a diaper on for nap time. He wears a diaper at night, still.

            Is he potty trained or not? Does it matter whether we call it that or not? Although we have tried to encourage him to poop in the potty (and bribing him), the fact that he doesn’t isn’t any sort of problem (what’s the difference between putting a diaper on him and letting him go hide in his room and sitting with him while he poops on the potty and wiping afterward? Aside from the fact that his room stinks for a while)

          • AmyM

            Also, it has come across to me like the parents are being trained, not the baby. They learn what the baby’s cues are and respond by holding them over the bowl. This would never have worked for me as I as work outside the home, but I suppose if that’s what someone wants to spend her time on, that’s her business.

            We had success waiting until my children were around 2.5yr, and were interested in using the potty and wearing big boy underpants. They both pretty much had it down in 4wks (one started a month after the other, so 2mos of potty training for us.) And they just stopped peeing overnight on their own around the same time. It worked out fine, they were done well before 3yr old, and no one was traumatized. No real backsliding either, though one had a few pee accidents for the first two weeks when they went to a new preschool.

            I saw Andrea’s comment below about other countries, and I see that when and how potty training is done seems very culturally influenced. That is kind of interesting, and I would agree that parents CAN wait too long, but even if most American children aren’t trained until age 3 or so, why does it matter?

        • MaineJen

          “If you’d like to learn more about EC, I’m happy to provide you with a free copy of my book so you can educate yourself on the realities of the practice.”
          LOL! Bingo!

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Projecting much?

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          So the answer to Dr Tuteur’s question is no, you DON’T have any actual facts to offer? “When you really think about” does not qualify as a fact.

    • Box of Salt

      Andrea Olson,
      I’d like you to explain to me how “elimination communication” would work for an infant without any sense of his/her bladder. Being able to control the muscle doesn’t matter if you don’t know when it needs to be controlled. And looking for cues that the baby needs to eliminate is fruitless as long as the baby doesn’t know the feeling, either.

      I’ll admit I’m biased – but I can also guarantee that if you had tried your approach on a child similar to mine (hit all physical milestones early and has a high pain tolerance), you would consider it a miserable failure.

      I don’t have a citation for this claim: way back when my older child was still a baby (i.e., 2004 or 2005), I attended a parenting lecture on potty training. The speaker mentioned that the neural connection between brain and bladder may not be fully developed until age 13. T H I R T E E N. As in years, not months! At the time, I though that was absurd (why I rememeber it) since I don’t remember ever wetting my own bed.

      So, Andrea, please, tell me: how does your method work with a child who is not sensitive to internal cues?

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      It seems to me that you are the one who is highly underinformed (sic) and emotionally reactive.

  • Who the hell wants to schedule their lives around bowel movements? And really….really, they are trying to sell me that they are superior because they are obsessed (yes obsessed with!) poop?

    • Gabriel

      My wife and I do use EC sometimes, but just because it’s more convenient and less messy than a diaper containing live munitions.

      In a scenario where you wake up for a nap, and your baby is doing his grunting thing that he does before a really big movement, which sounds better: 1. holding him over a pot, dumping it into the toilet, filling the pot with water from the bathroom sink, dumping that too and flushing, or 2. waiting for him to fill the diaper and possibly get poop up onto his onesie as well, take off the soiled onesie, carefully wipe him down on the changing table with baby wipes as you remove the diaper, dispose of the diaper and the wipes, put the onesie in the soiled clothes laundry, and get him dressed in a new diaper?

      It’s just holding a baby over a pot when you know he’s gotta go. That’s all this is.

      • Cascaritas

        I find that EC helps my baby to sleep through the night. I take her to the toilet before she goes to bed at night and, If I pick her up just after she wakes up in the morning, I found her disposable diaper dry. If I take my time before going to her, she pees in her diaper. I know she is not going to wake up in the middle of the night because she has pooped or peed. When she has done it, she has let me know by crying.

        I didn’t teach her to stay dry at night. She started doing it by herself when she was 3 months old. I never interrupted her sleep to eliminate, what I did was to take her to the toilet when she woke up for her only night time feeding.

      • Mac Sherbert

        See it all depends on what is easy for you. Scenario #2 is easier for me! I think my child is about poop several times a day. I can’t imagine running to the bath…pulling her clothes off all for a little gas. It’s easier FOR ME to just wait and change the diaper. I can change even the messy diapers pretty quick…123 done!

  • Wren

    I currently have a 5 1/2 year old who is not and has never been reliably dry. Investigations have shown a tiny bladder capacity, not emptying fully all the time and an irritable bladder. You have no idea how glad I am we never tried EC. I think I’d be crazy by now, rather than just frustrated. We do have a plan, including -gasp- medication, to help my daughter. 3 years of attempts to potty train (instigated by her) has been bad enough. Another 2 1/2 years of failed EC would have broken me.

    I do love cloth diapers though. My son did break out in most disposables, we found a nursery that had no problem with pocket diapers (they basically work like disposables but go back in a wet bag rather than into the trash) and I think they are cute. I probably didn’t save money on my first, saved a bit on my second and gave them away to friends who were interested and couldn’t afford a whole stash upfront, saving them money. I know some of the ones both of my kids used are still in use, 3 families on. With no additional production or distribution costs, I wonder what the environmental impact really is. I line dried them with one child but admit to getting a tumble dryer when I had two in cloth.

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

      You may want to read the book “It’s No Accident” by Dr. Steve Hodges. I have learned *so* much about potty issues from it.

      • Wren

        I will have a look for it.

        We’ve been working with a behavioural specialist at the school and the community paediatrician for over a year now. Finally getting a physical reason for all of this is actually really nice. It explains why none of the behavioural approaches have worked consistently and why the things that worked so well with her brother failed totally.

        • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

          Feel free to facebook me if you want to discuss more. I am practically a lay pediatric urologist and gastroenterologist at this point 😉

  • The Other One

    I remember a thread on another website a year or so ago about EC. The moms were complaining that they were spending exorbitant amounts of money on carpet cleaning products designed for removing pee/poop stains from pets. Several of them said that they went through a gallon or more of the cleaner each month. One removed all the carpeting in her home so that it would be more “friendly” for her EC kids. Ugh. There’s a reason people use diapers.

    • Bystander

      (Politely evil). Or there’s the really traditional way to get rid of baby poop: a puppy! Dogs love the high-protein waste of a milk-fed baby. You may find your attitude to said canine becoming more traditional, too – at arm’s length.*
      (Thankfully this may be a bridge too far for even the stupidest faux natural, neo primitivist.)

      *Strangely enough, people living in more traditional cultures glom onto evil mod cons with great avidity as soon as they can afford it. Wonder why…

  • “Indeed, those busily preening themselves for their prescience in
    rejecting disposal diapers forgot to include the environmental impact of
    sanitizing reusable cloth diapers, an impact that may be worse than the
    problem of landfills containing used Pampers and Huggies.”

    Does anyone have any resources regarding this? I’d be interested to hear the opposing argument for cloth nappies and every Google search I do just returns ultra-biased pro cloth nappy websites.

    • LukesCook

      http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Document.aspx?Document=WR0705_7589_FRP.pdf

      Cloth are ultra trendy here in South Africa. Even though we’re a water-scarce country with dirty (coal-burning) electricity and loads of landfill space. Maybe because it’s ultra cheap to have someone wash them for you, so you can feel self-righteous at no added inconvenience to yourself.

    • Hannah

      The non-download version of LukesCook’s link, below, from the Environment Agency (UK):

      http://a0768b4a8a31e106d8b0-50dc802554eb38a24458b98ff72d550b.r19.cf3.rackcdn.com/scho0808boir-e-e.pdf

      TL;DR version: It all depends upon what your arrangements for washing and drying are and can vary from substantially less environmentally detrimental to significantly more, depending on those considerations.

      • Hannah

        Having looked at it again, the headline result is Table 4.8 on p29, which shows different environmental impacts of various nappy laundering scenarios, compared to disposables as a baseline.

    • DiomedesV

      My understanding is that if you’re using a diaper service, then cloth diapers come out way ahead. The problem is that home washers are not equipped to clean diapers efficiently.

      • One resource I read claimed that cloth nappies are quite environmentally friendly *if* you have a washing machine with a high energy rating. I know quite a few low-income families who either use public clothes laundering services or have washing machines with very low energy ratings because it’s all they could afford. Energy efficient washing machines aren’t cheap by many peoples’ standards.

        At the end of the day, I don’t really care how anyone else deal’s with their child’s excrement, whether it be EC, cloth or disposable nappies… the judgement on either side seems like somewhat of a misplaced, rather petty continuation of “the mummy wars”.

        The only time I get peeved is when I hear the cloth nappy brigade argue in similar fashion to the extremist lactivists that cloth nappying is easy and cheap for everyone, and if that you don’t do it it’s because you’re a lazy, bad mother. That’s a whole lot of classist, ablest crapola.

        • Hannah

          Washing machine efficiency was one factor, but the big nos are tumble drying and washing at a high temperature.

  • R T

    Cloth diapers are better for my baby! Every time I use disposable diapers for an extended time period he gets a diaper rash. I go back to using cloth diapers and the rash goes away. It’s frustrating because I coupon and I have a huge stash of disposable diapers I got for free! If I use disposable diapers for more than two days in a row he gets a nasty diaper rash!

    • Jessica

      Donate the disposables to a women’s shelter or other charities that assist struggling families.

      • R T

        I donate to the family shelters regularly!

    • Box of Salt

      R T – it may be the diaper brand, not the fact they’re disposables. If I were you, I’d give your stash away to someone whose baby tolerates them, and if you want to try disposables again buy different ones.

      I don’t recall having rash problems with any particular type with my first baby, but I do recall avoiding certain brands because of the perfume on them, and I can imagine that it might contribute to rash for some babies.

      • Wren

        It very well might be particular brands are worse. My son had huge issues with Huggies but could wear Pampers for longer. Overnight he’d get a rash in either, so I tended to do a very heavy duty cloth diaper with a wool cover. My daughter could wear anything without a rash, but instead is allergic to most sunscreens. Kids vary.

        • AmyM

          Yeah, we found the boys couldn’t tolerate the Target brand, they would get a rash around the waistband. However, they never had issues with any other brand (and thanks to gifts, we tried Luvs, Huggies, Pampers, BJs, and Kirklands at some point.)They weren’t real prone to diaper rash—the only time they got it was if they had diarrhea, and then the diarrhea irritated their bums pretty badly. But, desitin and/or A&D helped, and otherwise, we pretty much had to wait for the stomach trouble to go away. As for overnights, we started using Huggies overnights (yes they were more expensive, totally worth it for the lack of changing clothing and sheets at 2am) when the boys were probably 4?mos old….worked wonders. It was very rare to find a leak once those were in play–we used one size up than they were wearing in regular diapers.

      • R T

        Pampers are the worst as far as the rash goes, but its all disposables! Before he was born I stocked up on cloth diapers and then I started learning how to coupon. I have about 1,000 disposables now, all different brands. We’ve tried them all and he gets a rash at some point with them all! If we only use the disposables when we are out if the house he’s okay. We just can’t use them for more than a few changes in a row and absolutely not over night. I’m thinking its the fragrance in them because he also got a rash from an all organic baby lotion containing “natural” fragrances. I switched to a fragrance free lotion and no problems!

  • Antigonos CNM

    Traditionally, the Chinese have never used diapers. Just put the kids in slit pants, and hope they’ll be outside when they need to go.

    Of course, toilet training is based on the assumption that children have the necessary muscular and neurological control to be able to control their eliminations at will. That really has nothing to do with communication itself. Anyone with a weak bladder, as many of us older ladies know, or severe diarrhea, know that communication cannot always trump irrepressible bodily urges.

    • Box of Salt

      “severe diarrhea”

      I wonder: how many of the folks using EC have declined the rotovirus vaccine?

      • Jennifer2

        Pretty sure I have PTSD from the effects of the rotavirus vaccine. Cannot imagine what it would have been like with full-on rotavirus infection and without very well-fitted cloth diaper covers (disposables were useless against the runny, yellow explosions). *shudders*

    • mollyb

      A friend of mine adopted a little girl from China last year. She’s the same age as my daughter and I was shocked to see her at 13 months old head to the bathroom, pull down her pants, climb up on the big potty and use it without any prompting.

      • T.

        This probably has more to do with institutions than with her being chinese. I heard about Romenian children who were taught the same at about that age. The methods, however, are kind of horrorific.

        On the other side, if you have 1 staff member for every 30 kids, you need them to learn to go to the bathroom fast.

        • mollyb

          No, I certainly didn’t consider it some kind of talent inherent to only Chinese children. I assume if her child was physically capable of it, mine was too. But the amount of work required to train a child that young to use the potty was not appealing to me and I was, and am, happy to stick with diapers.

      • Hannah

        It is true that most children are probably capable of being potty trained earlier than is now the norm in the UK/US, and indeed that has been the norm for most of human history and globally. Having said that, before the baby is mobile seems to offer very little advantage, for a lot of effort.

      • Lovleanjel

        My friends adopted their daughter from China. When they visited the orphanage, they saw how diaper changing worked – on command the babies rolled to one side off their nappies, then another command they rolled onto the fresh one. They were not taught to do this in a pleasant fashion.

  • CNM

    I understand the issue with ‘natural’ parenting folk getting high and mighty with their ‘superior’ parenting techniques. But I will say this- I am a CNM who has worked in rural hospitals all over the world. When my daughter was a baby we were living abroad and did ‘EC”, not really on purpose but because that is what all the moms in this rural third world country with no trash disposal system did (obviously they probably all would have loved a disposable diaper if that was an option). My husband and I used to laugh and say we arrived at it out of laziness because we didn’t want to wash cloth diapers. But the reality is that the ‘EC’ was so effective with my daughter that it actually seemed easier than changing poopy diapers. So yeah, if I had another kid I would probably do ‘EC’- not out of any sense of superiority, but just because it worked and I feel like at the end of the day, you have to deal with your kids excrement no matter what- be it changing diapers or wiping it off the floor. Pick your poison, it ALL sucks! I guess my point is Amy, I love your blog but sometimes, just sometimes posts like these make us all out to be bumbling idiots, when the reality is there are many ways of arriving at a ‘practice’ and not all of them involve reading natural parenting blogs.

    • Antigonos CNM

      Just as children walk and talk at differing ages, I think some children gain the necessary muscular control more easily and at an earlier age than other children. My son virtually toilet-trained himself, announcing to me that he didn’t want to wear a diaper any more, while my girls took longer.

      I am of a similar opinion about nearly all the NCB assertions. Women who have quick, efficient labors often don’t need any pain relief, and just assume that everyone else labors the same way.

      • Box of Salt

        “some children gain the necessary muscular control more easily and at an earlier age than other children”

        It’s not just muscle control – it’s also the nerve connection between bladder and brain. There’s a huge variety on how quickly this develops.

        Then there’s the child’s ability to withstand discomfort. Potty training my older, pain-tolerant, child was a nightmare. On the other hand, the younger one – when we started I put a change of clothes in the back of the car in case of accident, and ended up removing it months later because it had been outgrown.

        • Wren

          Yes! I’m particularly sensitive on this issue, but there is more to potty training, however you approach it, than muscle control and housebreaking. At 5 1/2 my daughter is just now getting the feeling that she needs to urinate and it’s only sometimes. She was very concerned when she first started feeling it and came to me in tears.

          • FormerPhysicist

            Yes, my older two used to wake with night terrors because of that feeling. And it started before they were potty-trained. About 3 months before. Youngest – she gets restless, but doesn’t wake screaming.

          • auntbea

            That’s so sad. 🙁

          • LibrarianSarah

            Fortunately, children don’t usually remember their night terrors. It can be a lot more stressful for parents and siblings then for the kids actually experiencing them. Less sad?

          • B

            Do you remember your dreams?

            Didn’t think so.

            Night terrors are actually different from dreaming – and even more subconscious than regular dreams.

            Oh, and I have a kid who talks in his sleep and doesn’t remember a thing. Totally normal.

            The take home message? Make sure your kids get enough sleep. That problem needs to be solved first.

          • LibrarianSarah

            I said that children don’t usually remember night terrors. So I am not sure who you are arguing with.

          • FormerPhysicist

            Also, once we learned to pick them asleep off their beds and hold them on the potty when we went to bed, the night terrors stopped. Like, were prevented, not just getting them calmed. It’s rather odd that they used the potty mostly asleep before they were reliably using it awake, but it was true.

            I now recommend this “intervention” to every parent of a child with night terrors. The worst that will happen is that you will wake your child at your bedtime instead of being woken by the terrors later. Or strain your back, I guess. But it’s a pretty risk-free intervention.

            ETA: And if it doesn’t work for your kid, you stop after a few days of trying.

          • auntbea

            Mostly. I could still use some ice cream though.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Couldn’t we all.

        • AmyP

          “It’s not just muscle control – it’s also the nerve connection between bladder and brain. There’s a huge variety on how quickly this develops.”

          Yes, indeed.

          We have a bit of autism in the family. My oldest is a girl and diagnosed as mildly autistic and only potty-trained at nearly 4. Her younger brother is not autistic (we had him tested), but he did have certain autistic features, including sensory peculiarities. He didn’t potty train until nearly 4.5. It required herculean effort in his case, and with both children, there was a huge amount of bribery needed to get them on board. Both trained finally just days or weeks before they were going to preK, where the school was not going to tolerate frequent accidents.

          When I see a potty-trained 2-year-old (and there are plenty), it just blows my mind.

          There is a huge range in results. Some children never potty train, ever.

          • AmyP

            One more thing–although my older kids took nearly half a decade to potty train, once they got it, they got it. They were both dry at night almost immediately. So, unlike the EC mom in this story wringing her hands over her backsliding four-year-old, I was basically home and dry by the time my oldest was 4. And a good thing, too, because she was in full-day school at that point. (She did have about a month of daily accidents a year later, when she was turning 5, but I think I was being punished for the fact that we’d moved and she was ticked off by all the changes in her life. Also, as I said, she’s mildly autistic.)

            Interestingly, my middle child was basically totally potty trained at preschool about a year before he was dry at home. The institutional setting is good for that sort of thing.

    • CSM

      Hehe, same here, with my first child there were no disposables and no washing machines, so I tried my best to figure out when she needed to go in order to spare myself from handwashing her poop off of layers of cheesecloth. With my second however – disposables AND a washing machine, baby! Woot! Although my first started potty a little earlier, the big picture is that they both are now grown up, smart and healthy kids.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Is it just my monitor or does the above picture feature pink toilet paper? I miss colored toilet paper. There’s nothing like a 1950s bathroom where the tub, toilet, sink, tile and toilet paper are all in the same matching pastel shade.

    • Wren

      That certainly beats the avocado bathrooms of the 70s.
      And we have pink toilet paper in the bathroom right now. Do they no longer make it where you are?

      • Box of Salt

        We had an avocado kitchen, matching the 1950s mustard paint color on the walls.

    • Elle

      Must be Mary Kay.

    • Lori

      Lol, I remember my friend had pale blue, scented toilet paper at her house and I was always harping my mom, “can we buy toilet paper like Heidi has?”

  • RPhMom

    I first read about about EC on KellyMom when DS was born (late 09). Went to one EC Mom meeting in my area as I was desperate for mom friends. Most moms already knew each other from AP meetings, LLL, etc. I wasn’t sold on EC and frankly wasn’t impressed by the leader’s 2.5 yo, who would poop and pee on the pot with reminders. Her mom didn’t consider her an official EC grad until she was 3+ bc it was then that she no longer needed reminders. Seemed a whole lot of work to end up in the same place as everyone else at about the same time. I left the meeting early and never went back bc those women started talking about how all their kids weren’t vaccinated at all!!! I felt horrible exposing my 5 mo that!

    • Box of Salt

      And my question is answered!
      Perhaps I should have read more of the comment before adding my 2cents to Antigonos’ post above.

  • Natalie

    This is so ridiculous.

    I have a friend that had a homebirth, but not JUST any old homebirth, no. She refused ALL prenatal care, including ultrasound and doppler heart monitoring (because ultrasound can cause decreased bone density. whaaat!?!). I had nightmares about her trying to vaginally homebirth a baby with hydrocephalus.

    Thank goodness her and the baby are fine.

    Of course, she started using “Elimination Communication” with her newborn, holding that poor one week old naked and cold over the toilet for twenty minutes at a time.

    Here’s some anecdotal evidence on how it’s worked out so far. She posted this a few weeks ago on her facebook: “My daughter is 4 and still having accidents every day. Any tips or ideas on how this would happen?”

    hmm… interesting… Maybe all that baby-poop-face watching didn’t work?

    • Elle

      That’s what all these “mommy blogs” need. A five-year follow-up. And a ten year too. I bet that people might be surprised to see that, despite all the pride and arrogance in their “superior” methods, they will still have to deal with a lot of the same issues down the road that “normal” parents have… surprise, surprise!

  • JustAPasserBy

    I think that this is more in alignment with classical rather than operant conditioning. Elimination is the unconditioned response. The unconditioned stimulus (the “psss” sound) is paired with the unconditioned response (again, elimination) until the the response becomes conditioned – (ie> someone makes a “psss” sound and the child eliminates). Classical or operant conditioning aside, the whole ‘elimination communication’ thing is nuts.

    We’re considering cloth diapers for our soon-to-be first born. I’m not sure what to think about the environmental aspects – what’s worse? Disposable diapers in a landfill or the water and detergent to wash cloth diapers. I’m still figuring out the cost aspects too – disposables will end up costing more money, but cloth will end up costing more time. Decisions, decision.

    • JustAPasserBy

      Oh, and the cloth diapering sanctimommies are the worst. I don’t understand the martyrdom. We have an “alternative parenting” store (whatever that means) that sells lots of cloth diapers of various brands. I really liked visiting the store and seeing what was available first hand rather than relying on online reviews. We won’t purchase there though – they offer things like home birth support groups, and other things that we just refuse to provide any financial support to.

    • AmyM

      Once I was reading a thread on some mommy forum about cloth diapering v disposables, and someone posted an article published by a cloth diaper vendor which broke down the prices by type of cloth diaper and included laundry costs. They tacked disposables on to the end, but clearly picked the most expensive brand in the smallest package. I used their calculations to figure out how much I was really spending on disposables (I was buying generics from BJs: cost between 12-18cents/diaper, based on size) and surprisingly there was one type of cloth system that was cheaper and one type that was equivalent and all the rest were MORE expensive according to the vendor’s own calculations. I don’t know how accurate it was and I wish I could find it again to link for you.

      I did also work out how much different disposables were, if you went through the Amazon Subscribe and Save….this also saves money, with Target being the least expensive brand available via Amazon, at 12 cents/diaper, 124 diapers/box in Size 4. I have twins, so this was very important to us, to save as much as possible…including time, since we both work. My twins are now 4 and have been potty trained a while (normal, not EC) but I still remember trying to find the best deal on diapers.

      • Pepper

        I went through this exact same process before my daughter was born nine months ago – I also can’t remember where I got the vendor information from, but I found a couple of example costings, and compared them to the disposables I would actually use, rather than the disposables they used for their own comparisons. I could also rely on experience from a previous child to do more accurate estimations of how many changes were required per day. In our case, disposables were just clearly less expensive, even with some pretty conservative assumptions.

        On the environmental front (as long as I was calculating, figured I would look into that too), the conclusion I arrived at, was that it seems to boil down to: do you live in a climate that will require you to use an electric clothes dryer on a regular basis? If so, the environmental balance probably tilts in favour of disposables… We don’t actually own a dryer – we have sunny weather often enough that I time my laundry to good drying days. But I didn’t fancy holding onto dirty nappies for the three or four days – and sometimes longer – that often pass before we get a sunny one. So disposables won out on that front as well…

        • Wren

          I live in the UK, so my kids’ diapers (and everything else) were dried on an airing rack or the radiators most days up until we got a dryer. On the environmental front most of what I’ve seen seems to be basically a wash between the two options for one child. For a family planning to have more than one, it seems to be slightly in favour of cloth once manufacturing and distribution costs are taken into account, especially if you buy cloth diapers produced locally from local materials. I had some not so cute ones (but very absorbent) made locally to me from recycled towels. With locally made wool soakers I think those were pretty good. I offset that by buying cute diapers from Australia though, so no smugness from me on that front.

          • Pepper

            Yeah if we were in a colder climate, where we were consistently running heating and could dry on that if the sun weren’t available, that would make sense too – but we’re in a warm climate (Australia); it’s just that now that our drought has broken for the moment, we’re getting rain most days, even when the day is mostly sunny…

            I should say I have nothing at all against cloth nappies – I used them with my son eight nine ago, but they were bought by someone else, so it was certainly less expensive to use those particular cloth nappies 🙂 I quite liked using them as well, although they were nowhere near as cute as the ones you can find today – just plain, unbleached fabric, although they were “modern” cloth nappies, so fitted, etc. If I still had those, I probably would’ve used them for my daughter, but they were long since passed on to other people.

            I also suspect the direct costs of disposables vs. cloth will depend a lot on where someone is. Australia tends to have terrible price markups for just about everything, but I can source disposables in bulk fairly inexpensively (and my daughter fortunately doesn’t have sensitive skin or other issues that would lead to a more expensive brand choice, which just boils down to luck really). Cloth nappies, by contrast, are more niche markets – you can get some quite inexpensive ones on Ebay, but asking around they seem to have a reliable lifespan of about a year, so when I ran my cost calculations, I used those as the inexpensive cloth nappy comparison, but still came out ahead on bulk cheapie disposables… But I could easily see this working out differently in a different location, with a different family size, etc.

            (God I feel so boring: I honestly set up a spreadsheet to work out comparative nappy prices!!! In my defence, I’m the main income earner for my family, and I wanted to take a year’s maternity leave, so we’ve been pinching pennies in a serious way…)

          • Wren

            Makes sense to me.
            I do love the Itti Bitti nappies, which I believe are Australian, though. Cute, fitted, fit well even under clothes and they have fuzzy ones!

            I have to say, the thing I loved most about cloth was that I never ran out. I had to wash when the bucket was full and that was that. I’m totally the type to forget to pick more up when I’m running low. It’s one reason I personally preferred breast feeding to formula. I never ran out. When I had two in cloth and used adjustable sized pocket diapers. I could use them on either one, with just a couple of snaps.

      • Box of Salt

        The cost discussion as promoted above (by the cloth diaper industry) assumes that water is not a valuable resource.

        I live in So Cal and my children were in diapers during drought years (i.e., even less water than usual).

        If you are concerned about environmental impact, you need to consider *both* the landfill on one hand, and the potable water used for laundering on the other.

    • Allie P

      I cloth diapered for a while — they are really cute, I have an HE washer, we don’t live in a drought area, and I felt better about my diapers not ending up in a landfill. But then it became too much of a hassle. I have a very heavy night wetter and NOTHING I tried (and believe me, I tried everything) would make it through the night, and she had a long “peanut butter consistency” period that meant I scraping was a horrific experience. Since we weren’t doing it at night I stopped seeing what we were missing by not doing daytime. So I gave up.

      But they are REALLY adorable. Anyone want to buy some? Super cute, very cheap.

      Still feel bad about the diapers, but on the flip side, she seems to be one of the lucky kids who was very motivated to PT early. Correction: I am the lucky one. Even before she was 2 she wanted to pee on the potty. She’s 2.5 and only wears diapers at night, though half the time, those are dry, too.

    • fiftyfifty1

      No, it’s clearly operant conditioning: When parents practice EC they are positively reinforced on crunchy parenting sites. But when they display undesired behavior such as allowing Grandma to babysit for once and allowing her to put a diaper the baby, they receive negative reinforcement (withdrawl of praise). This goes on until the desired behavior of holding the naked baby over a bowl is firmly established. Also, as predicted by the model, it has been observed that if parents are removed from the reinforcing crunchy environment, the EC behavior displays rapid Response Extinction.

      Just kidding. No you are right, Amy’s original example is classical conditioning.

    • Jessica

      I personally am not bothered by the extra time spent on washing the diapers, but two or three loads of laundry a week doesn’t phase me. We use flats made of diaper flannel, which are really easy to care for. The most time intensive part is folding them and that takes 10 minutes at the most, and I usually do it while watching TV. If you choose more modern cloth diapers (pretty much anything other than prefolds/flats and covers), they will be really easy to put on baby, but much trickier to wash.

    • Elaine

      The environmental thing seems a bit of a wash to me too, but I cloth diaper because I hate throwing money in the trash. The initial investment is more but the ongoing investment is less. Every week a kid who’s recalcitrant to potty train stays in disposables is another $5-10 or however much in diapers. If I get that stubborn kid who isn’t out of diapers until 3 1/2 that really adds up. It doesn’t cost nearly that much per week to run a couple of loads of laundry. And I do hope for a second kid and probably won’t need to buy any new cloth diapers.

  • thankfulmom

    Even with washing cloth diapers, it is still less expensive. I bought them for my preemie because I wanted her to have a comfortable diaper and the fleece lined pocket diapers are so cute and just as absorbent. I have used disposables this winter because I’m busier during the winter with school. With summer weather coming my little one will most likely be back in her cute cloth diapers.

    I think diaper choices are simply a matter of preference and not something to be smug about or a reason to be bashed.

    EC, not something I’d ever want to invest the time in.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Meh. I don’t have any objections to it for the child’s sake. It doesn’t seem abusive or dangerous. It does require a lot of effort on the part of the mother however (I’m assuming it’s almost always the mother, too bad Alan isn’t around to weigh in). You couldn’t work outside the home and do this. I suppose it’s another example of SAH Make-Work. But not worse than any other example, just funnier.

    • Awesomemom

      I don’t know why some SAHM need to make up work, there is plenty of stuff to do and with extra time maybe they could get a real hobby that would get them out of the house and around other sane people. I like knitting because it is awesome to get out of the house and knit with a group of knitting friends all of whom are different than me so I don’t end up in a crazy echo chamber where teaching my kid to poo in the back yard would sound like an awesome idea.

    • mom4474

      Yeah, that was my first thought. I’m trying to imagine the look on my day care provider’s face when I tell her, “We aren’t using diapers anymore, so you’re going to need to start ‘sensing’ when he has to go potty. I know you’re super busy with the other kids (including my two toddlers) but that’s just the kind of mom I am. There will be accidents, but don’t you think the rewards and benefits of being so in tune with my son’s needs will make up for the time you have to spend cleaning a few stains out of your carpeting?” Even if I did stay at home, I can think of a million better ways to spend my time (that are much more beneficial to my kids) than this.

      • fiftyfifty1

        You let your kids go to some place that has carpeting???!!!

        • mom4474

          Yeah, but my kids are already doomed. They’re formula fed, delivered through c-sections, not sleeping in a “family bed”, they don’t eat all organic food, and both of their parents work outside the home. At that point, what difference does a little carpeting make? 😉

          • Antigonos CNM

            And isn’t it amazing how well they are surviving all this abusive behavior you’re subjecting them to? 🙂

  • T.

    Am I the only one wondering if in the future this babies, become children and adult, will have problem “eliminating” by themselves, without the cueing sounds?

    I just have this image of people in their school years, or later, who needs a recording of somebody hissing “pss” to pee.

    And I do not want to know how it is the sound to poop.

    • LukesCook

      Or who will pee involuntarily if they hear a similar sound.

      • T.

        Oh god, am I an horrible person because I find this hilarious? 😀

        • Antigonos CNM

          No, YOU’RE normal. It’s the EC folks who are weird, frankly.

          I feel the same way about breast feeding and the cloth/disposable diaper issue: you do what works best for you, and to hell with everyone else who gives [generally unsolicited] advice on the “correct way”. I had three children very close together, one was entirely breastfed, one was entirely bottlefed, and one got both me and supplement [long story how this turned out]. All three wore cloth diapers because [1] at the time, where I lived, there wasn’t any other practical option, and [2] having made the initial investment in cloth, it seemed uneconomical to do otherwise when the two others arrived. All three adults are now happy, healthy, successful, and potty trained. My daughter, who has only one child, and won’t have another for a few years, opted for disposables, after doing the math. IMO, that’s fine too.

          It seems to me that the only quality all these “mothering extremists” lack is common sense.

    • Anne

      And I do not want to know how it is the sound to poop.

      Clearly you are not spending enough time in the company of 6 yo boys.

      Or you are…

  • In defense of cloth diapers, I personally am using them because they are MUCH more affordable. I got mine from a trusted friend and spent only $50 on enough diapers to last me a very long time (they are adjustable pre-folds), and it’s only going to add another load or two of laundry a week to the amount of laundry I do anyways. I think it’s a little harsh to compare cloth diapers to something like EC, which is just ridiculous. Most very young kids don’t even recognize the feeling of needing to eliminate yet, it takes time. I think EC sets parents and children up for disappointment and potty training issues later on.

    • Jessica

      I agree. I have posted before in defense of cloth diapers, which we’ve been using since my son was eight weeks old (he’s now 10 months). It’s a decision I’ve never regretted – a load of laundry every couple of days is not a significant amount of time, we haven’t seen increases in our utility costs/usage, and we’ve not had the issues with leaks/blowouts that we did when we were using disposables. I work full time and cloth has not been an inconvenience or difficult to fit into our lifestyle at all. EC, on the other hand, is only possible if someone is ALWAYS with her baby, waiting with bated breath for baby to eliminate. How does one get anything else done?

      • Thank you! I’m glad you agree. I just found it a little frustrating to have cloth diaper use compared to people using the EC method. I’d never subject my baby (or myself) to a practice that would probably just end up in frustration. Just because I choose to use reusable diapers doesn’t mean I’m some fanatical crazy. It works out well for our family. I definitely don’t fault or judge those who use disposables though, we did with my first son because we couldn’t afford the expensive pre-folds or a diaper service.

    • auntbea

      No one is against cloth diapers. They are against people who are sure that cloth diapers are the mark of an enlightened mother.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “I think it’s a little harsh to compare cloth diapers to something like EC”

      But I think it’s a useful comparison in a way. There are lots of similarities:

      -Both are touted as being less expensive than the mainstream choice. But both are “less expensive” only if you discount the opportunity cost to the mother.

      -Both can limit a woman’s ability to work outside the home. Where I live, daycare centers have policies against cloth diapers, and most home daycare providers won’t take them either. And it would be almost impossible to find a provider willing to do EC.

      -Both users of cloth and EC make claims that they are doing it “for the good of the baby”. For instance, you read tons of claims about how cloth diapers are “more comfortable” or how cloth diapers prevent diaper rash, but studies don’t back this up. And EC mothers claim it is better for baby because it promotes bonding. So both the cloth arguments and the EC arguments are, in effect, concern trolling against the mainstream choice.

      So a lot of the same themes are there, it’s just a matter of degree. I do agree however that EC exploits these themes to a degree that makes it ridiculous, while cloth is not that extreme.

      • You make cloth diapers sound like some crazy new-age ideal, but cloth diapers have obviously been around a lot longer. They certainly aren’t right for everyone, and certainly would post extra challenges to a working mom. I think for the right people, it is way easier and way more cost effective, not to mention more environmentally friendly. I use all-natural detergent that is both gentle and not harmful to the environment and it literally only adds a couple loads a week. I just felt that I needed to defend cloth diapers as a viable choice for people who are able to make it work.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Ok, fair enough. But all your arguments are even more valid for EC. EC is even better for the environment. It requires no detergent at all. And if cloth diapering is MUCH more affordable, why then EC must be MUCH MUCH more affordable. And EC must not be some “crazy new age ideal” because it has been around even longer in the history of humankind than cloth diapers.
          But you called EC “ridiculous”, and said comparing it to cloth diapering is “harsh”. I don’t get it.
          It seems to me that comparing different ways of doing things is a perfectly valid human activity. Especially if we really are willing to lay out not just the pros but also the cons of each and all methods.

  • Lisa

    I don’t really care where other people expect their babies to eliminate, as long as they’re kept clean.

    What I don’t get is why attachment parents put so little value on sleep. A baby who needs to wake up to pee at night, or requires milk as a sleep cue (not talking about wee babies who still have a nutritional need to feed every few hours) or doesn’t sleep well in a shared bed isn’t going to be getting all the rest his/her body and mind need to develop properly. Why is the baby’s need for sleep so disregarded?

  • me

    IDK. I don’t EC. I simply don’t have the time or patience. And anyone who thinks they are “superior” for practicing EC is obviously an idiot. But this piece seems kind of ridiculous and unnecessarily pugnacious. If parents decide to try this method for managing excrement, so be it. It’s really no different than using baby sign language and lots of mothers (even “mainstream” ones) do that (again, not something I do, I don’t have the time or the patience). Baby sign language involves the very same principles: give a signal (a hand sign, a “psss” noise) right before or while the baby is doing the behavior that you want him/her to associate with the signal and eventually they will associate the two things and they will “communicate” by giving the signal to convey that they need to urinate/defecate or that they are “hungry”, “want more”, or are “done” etc.

    I guess I’m wondering why you aren’t bashing the baby sign language people for treating their kids like “dogs”. It’s really no different. Of course, neither is traditional potty training – you take them “out” frequently at first, hourly is best. Praise them to high heaven when they “do their business” in the appropriate spot. Offer rewards for the appropriate behavior. Teach them to let you know when they have to go. I hate to say it, but it really is remarkably akin to training a puppy. Pretty much all “positive reinforcement” modes of discipline follow this same approach, and it is exactly what you do when housebreaking an animal.

    Maybe I’m odd, but having had numerous dogs and cats (and various other forms of livestock) since I was a small child, it is eerily familiar to “housebreak” my own children; the methods and principles are the same: praise for desired behavior, consistency, and gentle, but firm, discipline for undesirable behavior. Aside from the ECers who seem to think that they are doing something different than those who wait until their child is old enough to walk and talk before embarking on potty training (aside from doing it earlier) and that it somehow makes them “better” parents, I see nothing wrong with ECing. If you have the time and realize that you will be potty training that child for years rather than months and are okay with that, have at it….

    Not sure why so much derision and I’m really confused as to why you present positive reinforcement as “housebreaking” and treat it as tho it’s a bad thing. I know it’s uncomfortable for many people to look at it this way, but we ARE animals. We do need to be “housetrained” as children. Whether it happens starting in infancy or starting in toddler-hood doesn’t seem to make much difference. It’s still the same principles and methods involved. Sorry for the rambling… I’m just not sure whether to see this post as, ‘well duh, we ALL “house-train” our children as tho they were dogs, so why use that as an “insult” to the ECers. stick with the whole “superiority” nonsense if you want to poke fun’ or ‘if you are going to deride this group for “housebreaking” their kids, you should include anyone who uses positive reinforcement to change their child’s behavior for any reason and at any age, since that is the precise method you use to housebreak a dog.’

    • auntbea

      My friend is a pediatrician and when parents complain that her approach to child discipline sounds like training a dog, she tells the parents that modern approaches to dog training were based on means of successfully training children.

      • me

        It makes sense. Your average dog has a mental capacity similar to that of a two-three year old human. What works with Sparky the Labrador will generally work with Little Johnny the Toddler and vice versa 😉 Until they are old enough to reason and understand abstract concepts, much of what you do to teach children how to behave appropriately is tantamount to “housebreaking” them, lol.

        • auntbea

          I think the one big difference on this issue is that puppies are born more or less able to sense that they have to pee (if not necessarily where they are supposed to do that). As far as I understand it, takes humans a few years to figure this out, which means I don’t understand how an infant could be communicating this information.

          • me

            To me a big difference is that a young puppy can, you know, WALK. lol. They can walk over to the door and bark/scratch to let you know they need to go out. A young baby cannot walk to the bathroom.

            I see no harm in EC, the major drawback in my mind is the amount of time you are going to be spending “potty training”. And I’m not even referring to the amount of hours in a given day, but the number of years that must be spent. The way I look at it, regardless of when you start (6 days, 6 weeks, 18 mos, 3 years) you won’t see true self sufficiency in the bathroom (going, without reminders, night and day, doing the whole shit and shebang – pun intended – by themselves (including wiping *properly* and washing hands *properly*) with no assistance) until at least age 3-3 1/2. I can’t understand starting prior to age 2 1/2, personally. I just don’t want to deal with having to help someone in the bathroom for more than about 6 months. I know plenty of people who claim that their 18 month old is “potty trained”. I always wonder how much assistance this “potty trained” child requires, lol. If they need any assistance, are they truly “potty trained”? If they need pull ups at night or when out of the house are they truly “potty trained”? In my mind, no, they are not.

            So, I guess I’m on the other end of the spectrum as the ECers. I won’t discourage a younger toddler from using the potty if they want to, but I don’t take the diapers away and switch to underwear until they are truly old enough to do 90% of their “business” solo… I’ve found it worked well for my two older children, and, honestly, it’s easier to change a few diapers a day than it is to clean up umpteen accidents, constantly remind them to go, help them with their clothes, help them wipe, help them wash their hands, yada, yada, yada. Then again, I am a SHAM 😉

          • Laura

            ME: You are hardly a “SHAM” ! Lol! You are a SAHM! I like your take on things, too. With 6 girls, they all potty trained pretty late. The earliest two of my girls were independent potty-ers was 2 3/4 years old. The rest of them, well, maybe 4 till they stopped having accidents. The EC things sounds incredibly labor intensive. No thanks!

          • I think that’s the point. I mean, you can diaper if that works for your family, but I prefer to spend a little more time actually LISTENING to my child, instead of letting them sit in their own urine or feces. Honestly, it’s much easier and if you just educated yourself about it I think you’d agree. /sanctimommy

          • Antigonos CNM

            Moreover, talk about creating obsessive-compulsive behavior in a child who is physically unable to restrain him/herself because they haven’t got the necessary motor ability yet.

          • Awesomemom

            I love this! My 3 almost 4 year old kid is still having a lot of accidents and we started last summer. It is depressing to me that we are coming up on a year of trying to get him to consistently pee in the potty and not shit his pants. I could not imagine choosing to do it for several years. I hate potty training and am considering just leaving my youngest in diapers until she is 30 or so because after doing my three boys I am so done.

          • GuestM

            Awesomemom, my almost 3 year old daughter won’t even sit on the potty. At least you’re getting there. Everyone tells me she’ll do it when she feels like it. So I’m heading to reluctant acceptance, because I refuse to spend my entire life focusing on bowel movements:) And of course, it doesn’t help that my older one trained in two days at age 2. Talk about differences in kids.

          • My daughter was quite laid back about toilet training. First grandchild, a fastidious, calm child, announced about two and a half that she didn’t want to wear nappies and took “control” from then on. The youngest, a rebellious little dynamo, was not so obliging and would have nothing to do with potties. She got there about a year later. Figuring out what is physical and what is oppositional is really pretty difficult. And isn’t recognising the signs easier with some children than others? In my day, the psychological consequences of too rigid conditioning were a concern. Was it Freud who blamed most adult ills on toilet training? Can’t remember.

          • PrudentPlanner

            I thought I would practice EC with my daughter; I had seen it successfully used in china during my formative years. When I explained the ec process to disbelieving relatives, I compared it to knowing when to take the dog out. It is housebreaking a baby. But it’s quite effective. My daughter knows when she must pee- she gets progressively more agitated untill we take her to the bathroom.

            I have never expected 100% success from her (I am happy to catch 2-4 pees a day). I want to keep “the lines of communication open” for the time when we begin to potty train in earnest. And on the plus side, the clean-up is a breeze.

          • Prudent planner

            I forgot to say, she wears disposable diapers and normal clothes. I just try to remind myself that “fussing for no reason=needs to pee”, then I take her to the bathroom as needed. EC is just one of our soothing tools, and us usually the last thing we try: pick her up, is she dry? shhhh her, pat her, offer the breast… ‘oh, does she need to pee?’.

            Also, I think regular exposure to the toilet with EC will prevent her from developing a ‘fear of the potty’ at a vital moment in the real toilet training process.

    • Bystander

      Problem: the age at which puppies are housebroken is more akin to a two year old child, not a baby. Puppies have no ability to independently eliminate until the age of 4 weeks when they start eating solid food in earnest — their mothers have to come lick them to stimulate them to urinate and defecate.

      When they first start being able to eliminate, they do so immediately after eating — practically in the same place. It’s not until 6-7 weeks that they start gaining the ability to find a ‘proper’ spot to go and later still to get the control to ‘hold it’ awhile, which is when they go to new homes.

      EC of an infant is as silly as housebreaking a four week old puppy. But guess it’s entertaining, from the outside. 😀

      • fiftyfifty1

        -” their mothers have to come lick them to stimulate them to urinate and defecate”

        Oh please, let’s not tempt Tao’s Law on this one….

    • Allie P

      I was and a also all about the baby sign language, especially for that in between phase where the kid is only understood by, say, his parents. My nephew was speech delayed and sign language was a GODSEND whenever I babysat him. I don’t know how I would have got through it otherwise. No words I could understand, but he was able to sign that he was hungry, that he wanted a drink, a toy, more me making the dog do tricks for treats…

      Baby signing, I heart you.

      • Mathi Bear

        I also did baby sign, and continue to sign with my daughter as a second language (I am not fluent, but minimally conversant in sign, it’s enough for now). It really did help out when she was very small, and even now it helps when she gets too flustered to ‘use her words’ (she just turned 3). I don’t think baby-sign is a good comparison to EC. Sign is a real language they can use the rest of their life, and forming the signs seems to help with manual dexterity. EC is just mommy-one-upsmanship.

        • me

          It wasn’t my intent to “knock” baby sign language. Yes, if you teach them ASL to the point of fluency and continue practicing it long enough for them to remain fluent, it is a second language that they can put on their resume, so to speak. However, it does not mean you are better bonded, or a better mom, or that your child is somehow better than if you had not done it. And since most people who teach their babies sign language only teach enough to identify basic needs (“hungry”, “thirsty”, “more”, “done”, even “pee” or “poop”), they are really not learning a “second language” in any useful or meaningful way. Can it be helpful? Sure. I’ve even seen claims that babies who learn sign language will become verbal sooner (kinda like the claim that EC’d babies will potty train sooner). How much sooner? Is it enough to warrant the time and effort needed to teach it? Well, that’s debatable and really a personal decision (much like EC).

          But just as I’ve seen ECers claim to be oh so superior, I’ve also seen the same attitude from the BSL people. That’s why I compared the two. Obviously not everyone who bothers with these things looks at it that way. And, again, while you see it as more useful than, say, teaching your dog to bark when he has to go out, or whine at his food dish when he is hungry, the basic principles are the same. And even dogs who make you “guess” are good dogs, their owners are good owners, and I can’t imagine claiming that since my dog let’s me know when he needs to go out that I am somehow “better” bonded to him than the next person and their dog. That’s all I was getting at.

          If you want to teach your kid BSL, rock on. If you want to do EC, rock on. Just don’t pretend that it’s some sign of “better” parenting…. you simply had the time/patience/inclination to teach your kids a parlor trick.

    • Sue

      “me” – this piece needs to be seen in the context of the overall aims of Amy’s blog – railing against the competitiveness of the radical end of the AP movement, and especially those aspect that enslave the parent (generally the mother, but also Alan) to the bodily needs of the child.

      To me, this is a bit like “hothousing” by introducing intellectual training in utero – well before the child is cognitively capable of responding.

      • me

        I get that, it was just her comparing it to “housebreaking” a dog that kind of irked me. She obviously meant that as an insult. But it is something we ALL do, to a certain extent, no matter how much we try to church it up. She also seems to be suggesting some sort of *harm* is being done to these kids by being ‘treated like dogs’ and that sort of claim requires some evidence. Is there anything out there, study-wise, to suggest that ECing actually *harms* kids? If not, she shouldn’t suggest or imply that it does. Is it funny? Does it seem like a stupid waste of time? Sure. But that doesn’t mean there is any real harm in it. Rather than suggesting that the ECers are harming their kids by “treating them like dogs”, maybe stay focused on how ridiculous it is to think that holding you baby over a bowl 20 hours a day makes you better bonded, or a better parent than someone who diapers. And yes, focusing on how labor intensive it is and how impractical it would be for your average mom to do makes sense. But the suggestion that it is harmful for the child, meh, that seems like a stretch. A lot of what we do as parents is simply teaching our kids to behave in ways that we want them to, rather than what they would prefer. Is that really harmful, or is that simply parenting?

        • One of the things I realised fairly early is that theories of child-rearing have more to do with fashion than science. Out with the old, and in with the new on a cyclical basis.

          The reason early toilet training went out of fashion is that it WAS widely believed to be harmful. In the 60s and 70s Freud and various Freudian offshoots came back into fashion – and he had quite a lot to say on the subject of toilet training as part of the psycho-sexual development of an infant. I found this potted version of his view:

          “If parents take an approach that is too lenient, Freud suggested that an anal-expulsive personality could develop in which the individual has a messy, wasteful or destructive personality. If parents are too strict or begin toilet training too early, Freud believed that an anal-retentive personality develops in which the individual is stringent, orderly, rigid and obsessive.”

          Once Bowlby and AP came along, a whole new lot of experts wrote a whole new lot of child care manuals, and the pendulum swung in a different direction.

          Conditioned by my own influences, I find the idea of a 3 month old being toilet trained weird. But who knows, and in some senses, who cares? Idiosyncratic creatures, children.

          My husband is a very fastidious, somewhat anal character, and I have sometimes wondered about his mother’s approach!

        • Eddie

          My take is that the intent is irony: The same people that feel so superior would be outraged to understand that they are essentially using operant conditioning the same way you’d housebreak a dog. It’s not that it’s a bad or harmful thing. It’s that some advocates act as if it’s human magic when it’s really well understood for decades and something that works in pretty much any mammal and many other animals.

          I read a year or two or three back an article by a lady who learned about the techniques used by Hollywood folks to get animals to do stunts. She applied the same techniques to her husband with positive results.

        • Sue

          “me” – perhaps I read it differently – the entire spin for me was about how this was a combination of enslavement and martyrdom for the parent – I doubt it does any harm to the kid.

          “maybe stay focused on how ridiculous it is to think that holding you baby over a bowl 20 hours a day makes you better bonded, or a better parent than someone who diapers.” Yep – exactly!

  • Something From Nothing

    I find this astonishing. How do these people accomplish anything if their entire day is taken up by watching their baby for cues? Has anybody done research on the prevalence of psychological fallout around elimination? It is most definitely operant conditioning and a lot of the comments suggest that these parents feel superior, like they’ve figured out something the rest of us have missed because diaper companies have brainwashed us to fear our child’s excrement. Wow. I didn’t fear it, but I sure had better things to do than hold my infant over a bowl all day, and I sure didn’t want it on my clothes / furniture / car seats. If a parent wants to invest time in potty training an infant, go ahead, but leave the smug superiority it of it. Sme of us have better things to do.

    • fiftyfifty1

      I hope that’s not a clip-in car seat you are talking about! My heart breaks for your child.

      • Something From Nothing

        Did I miscommunicate? Your heart breaks for my child? Did you take from my comment that I used EC? And let her go in her car seat? I guess I’m confused by your reply.

        • auntbea

          She was being sarcastic/channeling a guy we had here for a while who waxed poetic about the trauma of car seats.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Ah sorry. I am mocking a former commenter here (Alan) who went on a rant about how the sight of a child riding in a clip-in carseat in a grocery store cart was “heartbreaking” for him because he believed the child would suffer from not being held in its parent’s arms.