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)
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.