Elimination Communication: Can a Baby Really be Diaper Free?

using his Little Potty at 7-months old

Our son turned 13 months old this past Sunday.

To celebrate, he went the whole day diaper-free -- without any 'misses'!

What are misses, you ask?

Those would be when he either doesn't make it over to his
Little Potty on his own, or my husband and I miss his cues (usually facial, sometimes verbal) signaling to us that he needs our help in getting him to his Little Potty in time. There have not been too many misses over the past 13 months in our house, and usually, when they have occurred, it has been my fault (busy working or something silly like that).

Before our son was born, we planned to practice EC (
elimination communication) exclusively. But *life* happens -- birth did not go exactly as planned, and therefor the postpartum period was impacted as well. My husband deployed 1/2 way around the world 4 days post-birth, and did not return home for 4 months. I was left to figure out motherhood -- and single motherhood -- for the first time on my own.

Needless to say, our high expectations for exclusive
Diaper Freedom from the get-go did not happen as planned. Instead, we chose to use a combo of EC and cloth (which is pretty typical for many families practicing EC in modern households). When my husband returned, we both discovered how much we love the ease of cloth pocket diapers with snaps. Super comfy, cute, re-usable, very simple, and saving us oodles of $$ (although EC is even cheaper). So, along side our little stash of cloth favorites (Wonderoos, Blueberry, and Dilley Dally) we employed the use of a Little Potty, which our son loved.

Over the months our son taught us to trust in what some call 'Natural Infant Hygiene'. Skeptical friends and family members had told us prior to his birth that elimination communication is impossible and that babies don't have the ability to know when they need to 'go'. Quite frankly, they are wrong. Babies from birth feel the urge to eliminate and they 'tell' those around with tiny, sometimes subtle cues -- a grimace, a smirk, a little noise. Some babies move their body a certain way or just give you 'the look'. The cues to 'go' are similar (yet different) to those made by newborn babies when they are hungry. Babies do communicate. But it is parents who must pay attention to their baby's cues if they want to benefit from going diaper-free.

This method DOES take more attention and dedication on the part of parents - you cannot ignore your baby. As such, it certainly is not going to be the method of choice for every parent out there. But for us, an EC/cloth mix has worked fabulously well. Here we are at 13-months of age and our son excitedly shows us that he knows how to go to his Little Potty entirely on his own (during daytime hours).

For those who are curious to take a look inside this ever-growing, but old-as-time, baby hygiene method, I thought I'd share this glimpse into our own 1st experience with EC and include an excerpt below from Dr. Sarah Buckley's outstanding (go-out-and-get-it-now!) book,
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering.

By Dr. Sarah Buckley, MD 
shared on DrMomma.org with permission


  1. Hi,
    great to hear about your dry day!

    Really, though, Diaper Free is the destination, not the starting point, with EC. There is no problems using cloth backup - even if the baby doesn't 'use' the diaper.

    My Jett is 13 months, and yep he can go a whole arvo in one pair of scrummy trainers (ahh bamboo velour!!!)

    Great fun, is EC.


  2. I had NEVER even heard of this before a month or so ago, but after 4 kids, I can say from what I've seen of my own kids that it makes PERFECT sense. If i have another, I'll do this. I've TOTALLY seen the clues from all my babies when they were really little and with help and knowledge, I'm SURE this would work and be best for babies. Thanks for sharing, too late for this baby, but if I do it again, EC all the way. (It makes cloth make more sense too)

  3. yep, agree with it all. And once you go down the path of EC, once you experience the paradigm shift, you really can't fathom conventionally diapering and potty-training another baby ever again ! I am currently doing full-time EC with my 9 week old baby girl, who has been diaper-free since birth. We love EC 'round here !

  4. What an adorable photo! I didn't know he was the same age as Zonnie!

    We struggled to do full time EC too. The EC concept made sense to me, but we travel too much. So we've settled on a half-way approach. DD uses sposies while we're out and about and then is diaper free at home.

    Only recently, she's starting asking to potty while we're running errands or at school, too. I don't know how I feel about that b/c public bathrooms are a pain and gross too.

  5. That is one reason the "Little Potty" is great - it is small and light and can go in the car with us on trips. So far we haven't used public restrooms...but as long as we wash our hands afterward, I am not too worried. ;)

  6. I also love tribalbaby.org for great resources & info. And I swear by this gem for the car & out & about (no worries about gross public toilets): http://www.potette.com/ I load it with a prefold inside the bag so I don't use a plastic bag every time it gets used. I know theecstore.com carries them, but someone mentioned seeing them even at BabiesRUs. I even used it myself once in a pinch :o

  7. We also EC and love it! I highly recommend giving your baby pottytunities, whether you go totally diaper free or not. Once you start, you can't help but take baby to the potty, as the whole idea of actually wanting baby to pee and poop in a diaper suddenly seems so wrong and unnatural. Why teach baby to soil his pants when you can teach him to use the potty instead?

  8. We are also at 13 months now and have been diaper-free since 9 months. We <3 EC! Thanks for all of your amazing posts. Wondering if you would like to add my site to your list of resources below your EC posts? I'd be honored!...I created it all over the last 8 months of raising my baby. It's at http://ecsimplified.com, where you'll see videos, articles, a wealth of resources, including my new EC book (endorsed by DiaperFreeBaby). Hugs! Andrea

  9. Hi! We have been practicing EC with our 3 month old for about a month or more now. He's really starting to get it! I am amazed when he wakes from a nap and his cloth diaper is still dry. I immediately run him to the potty and he goes! We are still using cloth when out and about, and he is still using them during most naps and nighttime, but we are noticing more frequent night wakings and I am wondering if it's bc he needs to wee! The problem is it's sometimes difficult to get him back to sleep after. Any suggestions on that? His sleep is very important as he's not the best at it, so I don't want to disturb it further, but want to continue with EC.

    Thanks in advance!

  10. Never had any leak trouble with these. They are durable enough for her to play outside in and still stay dry.



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