Monday, June 29, 2009

In defense of EC: A Contrast of EC to Traditional Potty Training

One very common misconception about EC that I've been running into, is that it is potty training an infant. My husband and I held that misconception ourselves, until we started researching it. I completely understand that people will have this misconception, and I understand the reasons for it. What really bothers me, though, is comments that I get from friends and loved ones who see our communication in action. I have been told that I am pushing my child to do things he isn't ready for; I am holding standards for his development that are too high; and I am not just letting him be a baby. I feel resentment towards these attitudes, because they are far from the truth. The reason that my friends and family think this way, is because they are equating elimination communication to traditional potty training. If it were the case that I was trying to use traditional potty training with my ten month old, then I would tend to agree with them on all the negative comments they have made. But as it is, there are vast differences between what I do with my son, and potty training as western civilization knows it. I'd like to address those differences.

Potty training and elimination communication seem the same to most people, because the end result is the same: the child eliminates on the toilet instead of his or her pants. To look at the differences between the two, you have to take the "process is more important than product" approach. Then it will be clear how the two are different.

In potty training, an infant eliminates in his diaper until the age of two or three. He learns that the reason for having a diaper on is to catch the elimination, and so he learns to just go. Then at the appropriate age, the child is taught that the appropriate place to eliminate is the toilet, and he must then be untrained to go in his pants, and trained to go on the toilet. For many families in the Western world, this approach works well. For many families, it is also very frustrating for the parents as well as the child. Elimination Communication (EC) is a way to teach the child to eliminate in the toilet from birth. He never learns to eliminate in a diaper or his pants.

The biggest difference between potty training and EC is that potty training focuses almost solely on teaching the child how to independently use the toilet. It is about teaching the child to recognize when he has to eliminate (an instinct that infants are born with) and going to the toilet in time to "go potty." EC focuses on teamwork between caregivers and child. The caregivers nurture the instincts of the child, as well as the communications that the child is giving. The infant knows that he has to urinate, and gives the caregivers signals that he has to go. If those signals are ignored, they are soon extinguished. If, however, they are acknowledged and nurtured by the caregiver, the infant's ability to recognize and communicate about elimination gets stronger. When I see that Jonah has to urinate, and I take him to his potty and make the "sssss" noise along with the ASL sign for "wet," I am saying to him "yes, I know you have to go. I know you are telling me." The experience encourages him to communicate with me the next time that he has to go. I would like to give an example,although this example does dip into a post that I would like to make later this week, about my husband beginning to use EC with Jonah. Until about two weeks ago, I was the only person who could tell whether or not Jonah needed to use the bathroom. As subtle as his cues were to me, they were even more subtle and barely existent when he was with another caregiver. Last Saturday, I requested that my husband try to use EC with him. Daryl, with my help, learned to recognize Jonah's cues, and has shown Jonah that he recognizes and acknowledges them. Since then, I have noticed as well as Daryl, that Jonah's cues to Daryl have become a lot more obvious and easier to see. Because Daryl nurtured the communication, it has become stronger, and the two of them can work as a team.

Potty training also puts a lot of emphasis on shame. It teaches the child that the behavior of going to the bathroom in their pants is inappropriate (although it is what they were taught) and that if they have an accident in their pants, it causes great inconvenience and embarassment. Even the most sympathetic parents cannot eliminate this element of potty training. Several children become fearful of eliminating at all, because of the shame they begin to associate with it. Some parents think that they are avoiding this element by adding positive emphasis on the desired behavior. The child gets great praise when they go on the potty, and sometimes they even get a sticker. Prize systems are often set up, ranging from very simple to very elaborate. These add positive reinforcers into the mix, but it also introduces negative reinforcers as well. If the child goes potty in his pants, then he doesn't get a sticker or a candy. To an adult, this seems incredibly simple. But to a child, who all his life has been told "go in your pants," it is extremely difficult to suddenly remember the rules. This is what makes potty training extremely difficult in most western homes. EC, on the other hand, does not use shame and embarrasment or positive/negative reinforcers. Instead of saying "going potty in your pants is naughty! You need to go to the toilet when you go," it says "going in your pants makes you feel wet and uncomfortable. Let's work together to get you to a place that is desirable to both of us."

If using diapers until you feel comfortable with potty training your child works in your family, then I am thrilled that you are able to do what is right for you and your children. Keep in mind that I, and anyone else who is practicing EC, am doing the same. We are simply using an alternate method of dealing with our child's poop.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ditching the Diapers

This past week, we had not been able to use elimination communication very much. I am not sure what it was, but we were in a diaper-dependant funk. It could have been the amount of time that Jonah and I were separated last weekend. I don't doubt at all that our communication was interrupted by this. But I also think that something else has been contributing. From what I've read, it is normal for babies to have lapses in EC after a development in mobility. Jonah has just begun to crawl, and with this milestone came a new curiosity about the world around him. Don't get me wrong, he always has been curious about exploring his surroundings, but it seems to have moved to a whole new level with his crawling. One of the signs that he gives that he needs to urinate (really, the only dominant cue that I can see) is a sudden disinterest, and stillness. But now, sometime between getting into the DVD cabinet and toppling a pile of freshly folded laundry, Jonah peed, and I saw no disinterest or stillness.

I've also noticed that Jonah and I have been less in-tune to eachother as he grows in independence. He no longer wants to be held for a bottle, and pushes me out of the way to get to a toy he wants. Like most parents, I have taken advantage of this stage to do laundry, dishes, cook a real dinner. You know, the things that all the TV housewives do. Of course Jonah is never truly alone, and I always make sure that his play environment is safe for him. But somewhere in the mix, we definitely lost sight of the relationship we had not too long ago.

On Thursday, I was thinking about how many diapers we went through. I did at least twice as much diaper laundry, I'm even willing to guess three times as much, than a normal week that we practice EC part time. Jonah's almost a year old; granted two months in infancy is quite a long time, and lots of things happen between ten and twelve months. But I thought that with all of our successes, we would have progressed a little more towards being completely diaper free. I'd like to use EC fulltime shortly after his first birthday. So what was getting in the way? I looked at the diaper pail, strangely overflowing with dirty diapers. Then it hit me. The diapers. The diapers are getting in the way.

When Jonah is in a diaper, I feel totally comfortable letting go of our communications, to focus on other tasks. I could perform these tasks while at the same time keeping in tune with my baby and watching carefully for his signals. But why bother if he's in a diaper. Even a coverless diaper will "contain" a potential mess until I tune back in. When I made this realization, I decided that on Friday we wouldn't use diapers, or at least we would use as few diapers as possible. And at that moment, I stripped Jonah of the diaper he was wearing. He played in my lap for a little while, naked as a jay bird, loving every second, and then it was time for him to go to bed. As I was carrying him, a thought came over me. He needs to pee. I sat him on the potty chair and gave him his signal "sssss" I saw the muscles in his tummy flex a little, and he grinned up at me as he went. That little grin was the boost of confidence that I needed. He is happy going on his potty. When he goes in his diaper, he cries. When he goes in his potty, he smiles. Of course I need to do this for him. I just need to make the decision and commitment to say "no more diapers today."

On Friday, when he woke up his diaper was wet. I removed it and put him on the potty, and gave him the signals to go. It was about a minute or two; he fussed a little in protest that he wasn't getting his bottle right away but soon he calmed and urinated. As it's been a little less than a week since he last peed in the potty, this excited me. We were getting back on track. He went diaperless the rest of the morning, until lunchtime. I noticed that he urinates less frequently when he is not wearing a diaper. When he wears diapers, he urinates frequently, but in smaller amounts. When he is diaperless, he doesn't go as often but has greater volume when he does go. I am pretty sure that this means he's figured out not to care when he pees in a diaper. I did put a diaper on him for lunch, but he did not go in it. I put him on the potty one more time before nap, and then a diaper for while he slept. This diaper was the only one that we dirtied before bedtime.

I also realized that Jonah does not need me to support him on the potty anymore! He is able to sit on it completely by himself. I am hopeful that this very successful day is a sign that we are well on our way to being diaper free with Jonah soon. I realize that not every day will be as good as this day. There are ups and there are downs. But I learned that it is possible, and it isn't as messy as I had imagined when I first set out on this "expiriment" of ours.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trick my Ride

When we went to the pediatrician for Jonah's follow up appointment, for his ears, we had a surprise. Jonah is nearly twenty pounds. My tiny little baby, who I was told would probably not reach the twenty pound mark until 16 or 18 months, is nearly twenty pounds! The nurse had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Granted, he was fully clothed, and his cloth diaper probably weighed quite a bit. That is still a huge growth spurt since his nine month visit. That is a huge growth spurt since he was hospitalized for failure to thrive four months ago. He has doubled his weight since he was five months. That is a huge accomplishment, and brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how healthy my little boy is now.

As I packed him up to leave the office, I realized that this means he has officially outgrown his infant carrier. The weight limit is twenty pounds. Now, I had seen this moment coming and prepared by buying a convertible car seat that has rear facing up to thirty six pounds. We were still using the infant carrier as a backup carseat, however. It was handy to have a second seat that was easy to get in and out of various vehicles. Gone are those days.

I'm glad. I hated the infant carrier. It came with our travel system, and that is the only reason we used it. It was difficult to get Jonah in and out, and VERY difficult to adjust the straps. The base was more trouble than it was worth, and we ended up ditching it when Jonah was about three months old. It was heavy and cumbersome, to the point where we just left it in the car 90% of the time. I was dieing to get this convertible seat! After a lot of shopping around, several trips to Babies R Us, and a lot of online price comparing, I found a Britax Boulevard at a closeout price. The pattern was being discontinued, and while it wasn't the most lovely fabric, it was in our price range.

A couple of days after I made the order, I got an email from the store saying that they ran out of that pattern, but because I bought it at a closeout price they would honor the sale and let me pick any of their in-stock patterns for the same price! The carseat came that same week. The color was darker than I expected, and I hope that it doesn't get too hot. The weather is cooler than usual this summer, and it doesn't typically get very hot here anyway, so I am not extremely worried over it. Jonah absolutely loves his new seat. It was a battle to get him into the infant carrier, and he screamed as we buckled him in and adjusted the straps. Riding in the car was not pleasant, as he'd cry in protest through the duration of the trip. With his new carseat, he laughs and plays the whole time that I'm buckling him in and checking all of the belts.He chatters away instead of screaming. He seems much more comfortable in his new carseat, which in my opinion makes it worth every penny. Some people tell me that this was a splurge, that a cheaper carseat would have been just fine. I don't agree.I think that if there's one thing that I ought to spend a lot of money on, it's a good quality carseat, with all the bells and whistles and safety features possible. I'm willing to buy a few less clothing items so that I can afford the peace of mind everytime I buckle my baby in the car.

The best thing about this carseat is that it fits rearfacing up to 36 lbs. Now, when I purchased the seat, I thought that he'd be three before ever reaching that weight limit, as I was told that he wouldn't be 20 lbs until several months after his first birthday. I'm pretty confident that he'll be able to rear face at least until two years of age in the seat, which is the current recommendation.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Communication after Separation

This weekend, Daryl and I took a big leap in our parenting milestones. Those who know us know that we are both avid dancers. Ballroom, latin, swing; it's what we do. In fact, we met while both attending a dance workshop. We had planned on going to Cleveland for a bit of dancing, and to tie up a few more loose ends in the house we are trying to sell there. Typically, when we go to Cleveland for the weekend, we can count on my dad to babysit or we can take Jonah with us. While it was possible for us to take Jonah to the dance event, it was a very expensive evening. I could just picture it: It would start out wonderfully, Jonah bopping to the music and all of our friends making over him. But I would worry the whole night over who has him, should I go get him, is he in my sight... I probably wouldn't have danced very much. Not only that, but he would have started to get tired early. His bedtime is at 8:00 and the event started at 9:00. In the end, my husband and I would have paid quite a bit of money to go, not dance, and then leave early. No, I decided that we should leave Jonah with my dad for this one. We'd have a nice date, which is something rare these days!

My dad, it turned out, had to work on Saturday. So what would we do? After much talking and debate, we decided to leave Jonah here in Toledo, with hubby's parents. It was very strange, leaving him behind. In the car, I kept looking in the back to check him, the start of panic washing over me when I couldn't see his face in the little mirror that we hung above his carseat. It would take a second to remember that he was safe, with his grandparents. It was very strange while we were out, not to have him in the sling. I felt like I literally lost about twenty pounds off of my right hip. But once I got used to walking around without him-and I was assured after several phone calls that he ate fine, he went to bed fine, and no his teeth didn't seem to bother him so I should go and have a good time-I went and had a good time! It was wonderful, I'm not going to lie. Daryl and I stayed out until after 2:00am, dancing, chatting with old friends, and I (yes, *I*) even had a drink. We were able to let loose, and not have to worry about Jonah needing us right away. It was good for us.

When we returned home, Jonah of course was ecstatic to see us. We had been away for exactly twenty four hours. He wasn't overly clingy, as I expected him to be. He seemed genuinely happy to be playing with us and spending time with us. He was a bit over hyper, but very happy. He seemed eager to show us his newfound love of crawling. Friday evening, we were encouraging him to crawl over a distance. He *could* crawl, he was just not doing it to get around to places yet. Saturday morning, he seemed like he was wanting to get more adventurous with it. By the time we returned on Sunday afternoon, he was using crawling as his main mode of transportation.

I am not sure if it was because of his new and improved mobility, or if it is because we were apart, but I found it amazingly difficult to catch his urination cues. We had a good week last week, using EC throughout the day. I was starting to see a little sooner when Jonah had to urinate, and was considering moving his potty chair to the bathroom. Sunday night, we were back to square one with urination. I could tell when he was peeing, but not fast enough to catch it with even a cloth diaper. Even today, after having been reunited with him for quite some time, we still had two poopy diapers and several wet diapers. Last week, we had one poopy diaper all week!!! (He was eliminating, but we were able to catch it in the toilet rather than his diaper) I am saddened by this setback, but I've also noticed a pattern with our EC that is two steps forward, and then one step back. I am still amazed at what we have accomplished so far. Small setbacks like this are only a little frustration amongst a whole lot of "wows."
(Jonah, showing us that he can crawl even with no pants on)

In the Garden

Studies show that giving children a connection to nature in their everyday lives can increase their IQ, and give them a higher level of confidence in exploring the world around them. I feel that it is very important to connect children to nature as young as possible. I decided that a fun way to do this was to allow Jonah to help me in my gardens. Last Thursday and Friday, jonah and I dug our fingers in the mud to plant tomatoes, peppers, and a small herb garden.

Our first garden activity was a semi-structured art project. I found a clay gnome for Jonah to paint, but instead of using the questionable paints that came with the gnome, we used our trustee non-toxic paint. I squirted some paint on the gnome, and let Jonah squish it around.We think he will do a good job of keeping the chipmunks out of the tomatoes. He looks scary enough to me!
Then, we put on sunscreen, gathered our garden tools, and headed outside. I bought Jonah a set of play garden tools, so that he could dig with me if he wanted, or just to explore. I encouraged him to put his hands in the dirt, and even to pull out some of the weeds that had already grown in our boxes. He was very timid about it at first, but soon got used to the idea of getting dirty.

After the weeds were clear and the soil was stirred up a bit, I showed Jonah the tomato plants. He loves to touch things, and it always amazes me at how gentle he is. He ever so gingerly strokes whatever it is that he wants to feel. I hold my breath, waiting for him to give a good yank, but he never does. My sweet gentle little boy! When I showed him the plants, of course he wanted to touch the leaves and look at the stems. I let him explore the plants, but I was also cautious about howmuch freedom I gave to him with the plants. I do, after all, want the tomatoes to grow! I then planted them in the box, and showed Jonah the watering can. He loved putting his hand in the stream of water, and when I put it down for him to explore, he stuck his hand right in the can! I let him play for a little while longer, exploring our new tomato garden, before going on to other parts of the garden.We have been checking the plants everyday and watering them. The larger plants already have fruit on them! Jonah loves touching the smooth green tomatoes, and looking at the little yellow flowers on the plants. I think that planting the tomatoes will become an event that Jonah and I will enjoy for years down the road!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Surviving Our First Ear Infection

About a month ago, Jonah got really snotty. He was teething, and I know that happens. Well then he stopped drinking his bottles, and the snot started to get really yucky, and I could just tell that it was going into his ears. I have a radar for these types of things. After working with infants for eight years, there are certain things that I can spot a mile away- namely yeast infections, rotavirus, and ear infections. Just one of those things that I know it when I see it.

So, I called my doctor. This was on a Tuesday, and our regular doctor takes every Tuesday off. So I said I'd be willing to see a different doctor in the practice, as I was planning on being out of town for the rest of the week. The doctor came in and checked his ears. She said they're all clear. I asked her to please check them again, because I was sure he was getting an infection. She obliged and said nope, he's just got a bad cold. I laughed about being "one of those mommies" but in the back of my mind I was still sure that he was getting an ear infection.

After two weeks, Jonah continued to be miserable, and I kept saying that I can't believe his ears were clear. I took him in for his regular nine month check up, and guess what. Go ahead, just guess. Full blown double ear infection. I told the pediatrician that I had just brought him two weeks ago because I suspected an ear infection. She looked at his chart and said "Oh yes, you had the doctor check twice." HA it said that on his charts!? I wonder if it said "crazy mother thinks she knows better than me and made me check twice." I wanted to write next to it "I was right." Our regular pedi said that Mommy intuition is usually right, and to continue to bring him in if I think something is wrong.

And so, Jonah had his first full dose of bubble gum flavored amoxicillan. He has gotten really good about taking medicines. I was so worried that I'd have a kid who won't take medicine and spits it out. Not Jonah! He loves it. Even his reflux medicine, which everyone told me tastes like anise.

Yesterday was our follow up appointment to make sure that the medicine cleared up the infection completely. His ears are 100% clear again. That was easier than I thought it would be. In my family, ear infections are known for being stubborn; lingering through a number of medications before the right one is found. Hopefully we won't have many more of these, and if we do have another one hopefully it will be as easy as this one! We celebrated our victory by going to Wendys for a Frosty. I think it is something worth celebrating, just a little bit!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hello Sunshine! or A Gentle Approach to Pools

Finally, summer is here in Northwest Ohio! After being thoroughly jealous of everyone else's warm and sunny weather, we finally got our turn. For one day, anyway. Yes, sandwiched between the cool, rainy, gloomy 50 F weather, we had one sunny day this week that was 75 F! On days like this, a very dear friend comes out to play. I'd like to introduce you to Max:I bought Max last week, on sale at Target. I had originally wanted to get a water table. I had used them at the day care that I worked at, and then saw that Target carried them. I didn't buy it right away of course, I had to sleep on it before purchasing. Well, it turns out that they are very popular around here. Every Target in the Toledo area is sold out of them! The reason that I was more keen on the idea of the water table rather than the pool, is because this is how Jonah feels about being in water:I decided to turn of the spout squirting from Max's head, and try a gentler approach to introducing Jonah to the benefits of making friends with Max. First, I sat him next to Max, and splashed in the water myself. I encouraged him to put his hands in with mine. I added toys that I knew he would want to reach in and get. Slowly but surely, he started to get used to the water.

Next, I held him as he sat on the edge of the pool, dipping his feet in. I encouraged him to splash with his feet, but he did not like that, so we stopped and sat next to the pool, splashing with our hands again. After a few more minutes I sat him back on the edge, dipping his feet in. He seemed okay with it this time, so I moved forward and sat him in the pool. He sat and played with his toys this time, and towards the end he even seemed like he was having fun!
I am hoping that this same approach will help us with bathtime.

"But wait!" you say! "What is that adorable piece of cloth on Jonah's bottom?" I thought you'd never ask! This is Jonah's swim diaper, a Swimmi, made by Bummis. It is a size medium, in the turtle print.A swim diaper was one of those baby items that I've been dreading for a long time. Disposable diapers and water literally make me nauseous. The plain disposable diapers absorb so much water that they pop, and all the absorbant jelly chemical comes out. That is what makes me ill. I don't know why; it has always grossed me out. The disposable swim diapers are a little less nauseating, but I've still always just found them gross. When I found summer getting closer and closer, I knew we would have to find a way to use cloth diapers in water. Little did I know that the cloth diaper companies have ALREADY found a way for me! I love this diaper. It is a simple waterproof cover, lined with what looks like the inner net-like lining of male swim trunks. You don't add an insert or prefold or fitted, just put it on as-is, and it contains everything. I was leary about it containing the pee at first, but I allowed Jonah to pee in it and it didn't soak through. The only drawback to this particular swim diaper brand, is that it has aplix instead of snaps. There is a brand called motherease that has snap closures, preventing the child from streaking (and dumping possible diaper contents into the pool... ewww) and also I've heard that the aplix tabs get stuck on parents' bathing suits as they hold their child. I may get a motherease swim diaper in the future, but for his first swim diaper of course I had to go with the cute turtle print! I'm wondering now if I wasted money on his cute monkey swim trunks, since I just want to show off his cute turtle tush!

A Summary of EC To-Date

Many people have asked me for a post consolidating the steps that Jonah and I have taken to get to where we are with elimination communication (EC). It has taken me a while to gather enough descent pictures, and to organize our steps in the "how-to" format that everyone seems to be asking me for. Before I go into how we personalized our EC experience to fit the needs of our family and our lifestyle, I would like to give a few credits. The basis of our EC methods was taken from the book, Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer. This book was an invaluable asset as I was planning the logistics of EC within our lifestyle. We do not do things exactly as she describes, because many of her methods are impractical with our lifestyle. Night time EC, for example, just does not work for us the way she described in her book. However, reading about her experiences, I was able to make a model of our own EC methods, and shape the routine that we have today. I would also like to point out that all of the photos shared here have been taken in a way that show none of my son's "little parts." This means that, while some of the shots are candid photos of our lives, many of them were staged for the purpose of this instructional post. Therefor, some of the pictures are not exactly as they are when we are actually catching an elimination. For example, Jonah does not wear a prefold while sitting on the potty. I simply wanted to give a model of the ways in which I hold Jonah over the potty and toilet.

When we first began elimination communication, Jonah had just begun to roll over. He was stationary, for the most part, and stayed where we put him. This made it extremely easy to observe and track his elimination patterns. Everyday, I would start a log. It was just kept on a sheet of notebook paper. At the top, I put the date. Then I listed the following:
  • Wake time for the day
  • Diaper change- wet, poopy, or both
  • First elimination of the day- time and type
  • First feeding of the day, start and finish time (I was exclusively nursing at that time)
I then would continue to write down the times of each feeding, both start and finish time, naptimes, and eliminations. This is what I refer to as the observation stage. At first, I would lay Jonah on the floor, naked, with prefolds and sometimes a fleece blanket underneath him. Here is a photo taken during these early stages of EC.

From the beginning, everytime I would see him eliminating, I would make a sound. I would say "ssss" as he peed, and say "poopoo!" in a high and quick voice as he started a bowel movement. These sounds were to become my signal to him that I am ready to catch his elimination, and most of all, the acknowledgement of his cues. His cues were very subtle at first: facial expressions, very subtle grunting noises and movement of his stomach muscles, and a sudden momentary disinterest in his surroundings.

As I got more comfortable with his communications, I was able to predict when he was going to eliminate and "catch" it in a cloth diaper, held loosely underneath him and up between his legs. I created kind of a scoop with the diaper, so that the eliminations did not get smooshed to his skin, but were contained in the diaper still. For bowel movements, I lifted his bum up just a little bit.

At this point, I started putting prefolds and fitteds on him, coverless and pantsless. I would see his communications, loosen the diaper, and use it to catch the elimination. Not only was it faster and more convenient to use his diapers without a cover (no cover to remove or to get in the way of catching an elimination) but I also was able to see nearly right away when I'd missed a communication, and make an effort to assess what Jonah was doing in the moments before.
At about this time, I decided that I was getting good enough at predicting and catching eliminations, that I could begin to introduce the potty. When I saw my son's cues that he had to go, I took him to the toilet. The first few times, I put him on the seat, facing me the way that a toddler would be trained to use the toilet. I would sit him like this, holding him at his armpits, and then make the proper signal noise. Jonah would just look at me and smile. He would not eliminate. Five minutes after I would give up, he would eliminate while we were playing. I came to the conclusion that the act of scooping him up and taking him into the bathroom, which to him was a strange and exciting new place to be, distracted him from the need to go. It made him "forget" that he was about to pee! So, I ordered a Baby Bjorn Potty Chair.
I chose this potty for several reasons. The first was that it was recommended to me by a friend who uses EC, and several of the online reviews that I read were about how well it works with very young infants. Another reason I picked it is because it has a very high back, almost like Jonah's Bumbo chair. And finally, the actual potty bowl is very desirable. I know that sounds funny, but it is just the right size to use as a travel potty (without the larger part of the potty chair) and the splash guard is attatched to it. All of these things make it perfect for us.

After the potty arrived, I kept it at the edge of our play area. Out of the way, so Jonah wouldn't be tempted to play with it, but also handy enough that I could just place Jonah on it when I saw his cues. This caused very little disruption in the flow of things, and he began using the potty regularly.

Later, I began taking Jonah to his diaper changing table when I saw that he had to poop. I started doing this, because it was getting to be a hassle to clean the poop out of the potty chair. It would stick to the bottom or sides, wherever it hit, make a terrible splash when I emptied it into the toilet, and I'd have to sterilize the potty. It seemed much easier to place him on the changing table, give him a signal, and catch the poop in a prefold.Washing a prefold is much easier than sterilizing the potty, especially when we increased the amounts of solids Jonah was eating, inadvertantly increasing the number of bowel movements he had in a day.

This is really when I began to see my signals working. I realized, as he was laying in front of me,his whole body visible, that he would wait to bear down until I said "poopoo!" in my high and quick voice. That is when I decided to try the big toilet for bowel movements again, because Jonah was definitely understanding the connection between my signal and his eliminations. If I used the big toilet, then I would't have to clean or sterilize anything! I could just flush it right down.

I changed a few things when I took him to the toilet this time. Instead of having him awkwardly sit on the toilet facing me, I decided to facilitate the elimination by keeping his knees tucked towards his chest. I had started using this position to help him pass bowel movements on the changing table, so it made sense to me that the same position would be helpful over the toilet. I place his head, neck, and upper back against my chest, and hold him by the knees, with his knees tucked to his chest. He is very secure this way, and after some practice I was able to hold him with one hand while I added the sign for "potty" to my signal "poopoo!"For obvious reasons, I cannot use this position when he pees. There have been a couple of times that he has peed during or immediately after pooping, and I had quite the mess to clean up, because as you can see in the pictures his "aim" isn't quite towards the bowl here. I still use the potty chair to catch his pees. He can sit less awkwardly on the potty chair, and everything goes where it's supposed to go without making a mess. Also, it is much harder for me to read his cues for urinating in enough time to actually make it to a big potty. The potty chair can travel with us throughout the house, and we place it at the perfect distance for us to get there before the fountain starts running, so to speak.
It hasn't been perfect, and it is still far from being 100% elimination communication. We have days where we don't catch any eliminations. We have days where we are cleaning up puddles all day long, and days where my clothes get soaked with urine while he is in the sling. But we also have days that we are very in tune with eachother. Days where every bowel movement are caught in the toilet. Days where he can sit naked in the sling all day, and I know just when he has to go to his potty. Those days make all of the other days worth it. 100% worth it.