Commenting on Kath’s EC post on Baby KERF helped me reflect more on our elimination communication (EC) journey thus far.* If you like the “journey” metaphor, I will say that, after nine months of this journey, most days it feels like we’re still trying to pull out of the garage. There have been a few periods where we made it part way down the driveway, maybe even out into the street, but then we remembered we forgot something and had to go back to the house.
While I’m trying to be patient, and understanding, and optimistic, I fall short much of the time. Despite all my best intentions to be realistic and not set my expectations too high, especially once he started daycare (where they refuse to sit him on his potty), it’s hard.
So, given my experience thus far, what would I do differently?
- Wait to start EC until baby is about 6 weeks (or more?), instead of from birth, which is when many cultures that have retained this practice start.
- During those first weeks, you can watch your baby for elimination signals and try to get a sense of his timing and patterns, but, especially if you’re a first-time mom, you’re dealing with enough other [non-literal] shit.
- As with any other baby-advice/parenting book, don’t expect YOUR child to match the description of “most other children” — you will just be frustrated.
- Sleep is more important than diaper-free! Practice EC during the daytime ONLY. My initial zeal for trying to catch Every. Single. Pee. probably contributed to some sleeping problems for bébé.
- Instead of observing a la French parents) when he gave a little cry at night or during nap times, we would rush right in, un-diaper him, and set him on the pot. Not only were these efforts usually unproductive, but they deprived him of the chance to learn to consolidate his sleep and get the rest he needed. (
The anecdotes in the EC books bias one toward thinking the practice is easy and straightforward — if you build it, they will come, and all that jazz.
And maybe it works that way for some people, but when it didn’t for us, it just created one more frustration, one more reason to question my parenting decisions and abilities, at a time that was already stressful and fraught with uncertainty, all fueled of course by sleep deprivation and my struggles with PPD.
I really, really like the idea of EC and I really want it to work. Most of it makes sense to me in theory, but in practice things just don’t fall into place. Is it because we’re only part time and the daycare situation? Because we have yet to go “cold turkey” and ditch the diapers, as some suggest?
Either way, I’m not quite ready to give up — maybe we’re just days from a developmental milestone and a big breakthrough, but I think it’s important to share a perspective that differs from that in most EC literature.
*If you’re new to the blog, you can read more about our EC journey in the “Psst, psst” series: