Elimination Communication Means Fewer Dirty Diapers to Wash

Toilet with Sesame Street Potty SeatElimination communication is the practice whereby the parent or caregiver pays attention to the cues from a baby that the baby needs to go potty. The parent or caregiver can then help the baby use the potty instead of a diaper.

When my daughter was a newborn, I tried a few times to hold her over the potty to poop. She was notorious for pooping all over the changing table. When she started pooping, I would try to run her into the bathroom, but she always finished before I could get her there. She did go pee on the potty once but never poop.

Almost a month ago, Poppy started eating solid foods at six months of age. After she had her first serving of sweet potatoes, she did not go poop for four days. When she did wake up on that fourth morning needing to go potty, she started crying and seemed a little scared because her exclusively breast milk poops had been so soft and watery but her new solid food poop was, well, more solid. She was also having a little trouble pushing, so I took her diaper off and held her over the toilet in a squat. In that position, she was then able to finish going potty more easily. I smiled at her and praised her to her put her at ease.

To help her with her constipation after starting solid foods, I started feeding her prunes. To get her cleared out, I gave her quite a bit, so her next few poops were rather watery. However, once I got the amount of prunes that she needed down, her poops became solid but soft.

When Poppy was a newborn, she gave absolutely no warning for when she was about to poop. One minute her diaper was clean, and the next second she was dirty and needing a change. Because we switched to cloth diapers when she was a little over three months old, I was having to wash breast milk poop diapers, which was fine because the breast milk poop just came out in the washer. I scraped off as much as I could with a paper towel and then threw the whole diaper in the wash. With solid poop, however, I would have to clean the poop off better to avoid damaging my washing machine.

With her new solid food diaper, Poppy started giving some warning before she pooped. Thus, when, after about a week of solid food, I noticed her stop playing with her toys and start concentrating, I decided to take her to the potty. I pulled her diaper off and set her on her potty seat. (James and I bought her a green Sesame Street potty seat after that first solid poop on the toilet in case we needed to help her go potty again.) She pooped right in the potty! I was sold on elimination communication. Poppy had an easier time going potty while in the squat position on her potty seat, and I loved that I did not have to deal with as many (if any) more dirty cloth diapers.

To date, we have helped our daughter use the big girl potty all but one time since we sorted out the prunes. I sit on the floor in front of her and hold her hands to help her keep her balance while she sits on her Sesame Street potty seat. She loves using the big girl potty and especially loves her potty seat. And, although I do not want her to grow up too fast, I do like that I have fewer dirty diapers to wash!

Have you tried elimination communication with your baby?

Image Credits

Toilet with Sesame Street Potty Seat © 2012 Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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