What is EC? It's gentle, gradual baby potty training!
Elimination Communication (EC) is a gentle method of teaching a baby to use the potty. Rather than relying completely on diapers, the parent offers the baby opportunities to use the potty or toilet. These opportunities to use the potty are called "pottytunities". If it turns out the baby does not need to go at the moment, that is okay, the parent can offer again later.
EC (also called Natural Infant Hygiene, Infant Potty Training, or Baby Led Potty Training) may sound strange to a Westerner who is hearing the concept for the first time, but it is a common practice in many countries. Have you ever wondered what people did before diapers were invented?
When I first read about EC, I was a bit skeptical, and wanted to try it for myself. I learned two pieces of information that made me realize EC was worth a try: (1) even newborn babies are aware of their need to eliminate, and (2) babies prefer not to soil themselves. So, if my baby knew when he was about to pee, and could somehow let me know, we could catch the pee in a potty! I started practicing EC with my son when he was about one-month-old, and low and behold, it worked! I would remove my son's diaper, hold him over a little potty, make the cue sound "psss" and he would pee!
As anyone who has practiced EC knowns, it is an ever changing journey, and not always straight forward, but at the heart of EC is communication between a baby and their caregiver. Babies signal their need to eliminate (although those signals change with developmental phases, and may disappear at times), and parents notice the signals and respond by offering pottytunities. But even if a baby's signals are imperceptible, a parent can still offer chances to use the potty based upon natural timing, transitions throughout the day, or intuition.
Babies who practice EC are not necessarily diaper free, as many of them wear diapers as backup. But they learn from an early age that the diaper is not the only option. They may gradually transition over time to potty independence, or may graduate from EC through a potty training experience.