Getting Started & Best Tips
Posted to the Natural Infant Hygiene yahoo! group 4/7/04
by Eugenia Fitzgerald.
Used with permission.

#1 Set yourself up for Success & Go for the Easiest Catches First

It's commonly known among parents who ec that babies will pee upon waking. You can benefit from this by making waking pees your first catches. When baby wakes up, take him to the potty & you may be rewarded with a nice pee. Take this opportunity to establish the cue for going potty: "ssss," "go potty," or whatever works for you. Soon baby will know that the cue is the signal to go potty.

#2 Wear your Baby

Face it & it's hard to read your baby's subtle cues, especially if he's playing on the floor while you're getting dinner ready. Wear your baby in a sling while you move around the house, and you'll be able to detect every squirm and sound. For best results, wear your baby in a carrier that's easy to take baby into and out of, such as a pouch or a sling & anything more complicated than that will take too much time and foil your attempts to respond to your baby in a timely manner. Avoid dressing baby in complicated clothing & footed pajamas, though they're cute, are impossible to get baby in and out of easily. Go for easy on/off pants, underpants, a long t-shirt or gown, or better yet, nothing at all. When baby is naked in the sling, you're naturally more motivated to tune into his cues (although a small cloth between you and baby can come in handy).

#3 Make the Switch to Cloth

Disposable diapers are engineered to pull wetness away from baby's skin, so that he always feels relatively dry, even after peeing. This is not necessarily an advantage to ec'ing moms. Many prefer to use cloth instead so that baby does not lose the association between the act of eliminating and the resulting wet sensation. And face it & in most cases, we're inclined to change a wet cloth diaper sooner than a soiled disposable.

Cloth diapering doesn't have to be hard. Most moms who practice ec choose to put their babies in cloth with no cover when around the house, because it affords just enough protection to the furniture, and both mom and baby know immediately when baby has pottied. Then the diaper can be promptly changed and mom can use that opportunity to bring baby's attention to the act of potty and a wet diaper.

#4 Use the Clock if You Have To

In the beginning, it's hard to read baby's cues, and perhaps even harder to trust that we can actually do so. At times like these, a judicious use of the clock can help. Note the interval of time that passes between two pees, and watch the clock, or set a timer, for that interval. At the same time, keep an eye on your baby, noting any sounds or gestures which may indicate the need to go. When the interval is up, offer the potty. If baby goes, set the timer for the same interval. If he refuses, set it for half as long again, and then offer again, noting all along any signals from baby for future reference. However, because babies don't pee according to a schedule, it's still essential to tune into baby's cues and to try to understand his elimination patterns in relation to the time of day, and to his feeding and sleeping patterns.

#5 When the Going Gets Tough

It is common to become over-focused on results. Moms just starting out with ec will sometimes beat themselves up for missing a pee (or several!). At times like this it is important to realize that this is a process & a process of deepening awareness for both you and your child. Sometimes it can be helpful to remember that this is just as much about communication as it is about helping baby to learn to use the potty. Even a miss is an opportunity to learn about baby's patterns, and to communicate about elimination. At the same time, recognize when it's time to take a break. It is okay to put your child in a diaper and come back to it at a later time. As long as you come back to it, and as long as you maintain a gentle awareness of your little one's elimination patterns, your connection will not be lost. Seek out support from forums like this one when the going gets tough, or when you have questions or doubts. Read or reread one of the excellent books on infant pottying. Come back to it when you feel refreshed.

Click here to read another good "Getting Started" article.