The First 5 Days
I was skeptical about elimination communication (EC), but I decided to give it a go when my 7-month-old, Chet, started on solids and his bowel movements got messy. Here's the (poop!) scoop.
Day 1: The first step is observation. I place Chet au naturel on a pad-covered play mat and watch. I know that a red face and grunts mean a poop is imminent. But I get no such signal for number one. I carry him to the sink every 20 minutes or so, but he only pees on the floor en route.
Day 2: I take Chet to the bathroom after his nap and feedings, but he just won't go in the sink. I hold him over the basin until he wails in frustration and then return him to his play mat. Almost on cue, he takes a whiz. As a result, his play mat smells like a week-old litter box. The only thing that kills the odor: a special solution I have for the dog's accidents.
Day 3: Success -- with Chet's BM! After noting the telltale grunts, I sit him on the toilet between my legs, facing outward, and there he poops. However, his urine stream hits the edge of the toilet seat and splatters on his bare legs and my jeans.
Day 4: A major setback today: While I'm pumping, I put Chet into his activity gym. As I watch him from a distance, he stealth-poops, and boy, is it messy! While I clean it up, he pees on the floor.
Day 5: Proponents say that infant potty training is supposed to help you bond with your baby, but I'm not feeling it. We've had a little success today, but I think both Chet and I are frustrated. I try to remind myself that a little pee on the floor is not the end of the world.
The Second 5 Days
Day 6: Five pees and two BMs in the bathroom today! However, this newfound success may have something to do with the fact that we spend most of the day hanging out just outside the bathroom door. It's rather depressing.
Day 7: I need to finish some work today, but I am wary of letting Chet play naked in his gym. So I put him back into his diaper, which I leave on when I later tidy up the house and return a few calls. But only a few minutes into my second call, I realize that all I have to talk about is my son's bathroom habits. Is that why it's called elimination communication?
Day 8: Last night, I decided to let Chet go sans diaper through the night. I took him to the sink both before and after his one feeding, and he peed each time! When he wakes up this morning, his crib is dry. Today also goes pretty well, but I realize we have not left the house once this week. We are both a little stir-crazy.
Day 9: We go for a walk and he stays dry. But I am tense and keep taking Chet out of the stroller to hold him over shrubs when I think no one is looking! We're getting better at this, but it isn't coming any more naturally.
Day 10: We hit a major snag: Chet hasn't gone in the toilet once today and I can't understand why. Worse, we've run out of our preferred cleaning solution (which is on back-order) and the couch now reeks of pee. The EC literature tells me to be patient, that there will be days like this, but I'm at the end of my tether. I break down into tears. A few hours (and two more accidents) later, I decide it's time to put Chet back in his diaper. I can totally understand the appeal of having Chet trained, but for the next year or two, we'll continue to rely on diapers.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2006.
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