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When can elimination communication begin?

EC begins at the birth of a child for some parents; others wait a few months before attempting the practice. Proponents of the method advise that parents definitely begin implementing it before the child reaches six months of age (when they’ll likely be used to diapers and reluctant to make a change).

"With EC, kids know from day one that there is an option for elimination that keeps them dry and comfortable."

“The typical Western method of training a child to be continent starts with teaching kids to ignore their need to eliminate for approximately two years, then trying to retrain them to pay attention and ‘go’ in an appropriate location,” says Wiggins. “With EC, kids know from day one that there is an option for elimination that keeps them dry and comfortable.”

“I have nothing but respect and admiration for parents that committed to raising their children that they invest this much time and effort to toilet training them,” says Hodges. However, “I have never seen a child harmed by being in diapers too long, but I have seen lives ruined by being taken out of diapers too early. Uninhibited voiding and defecating are healthy and lead to less urologic issues in children.”

Late potty training can hurt your child’s health >>

Does elimination communication cause health problems?

While having a child who knows how to use the toilet, potentially by the time she is 1 year old sounds fabulous, EC-objectors believe the practice can negatively affect a child’s physical development.

“If you are always with your child and able to make sure they void or defecate on time, it’s possible you may never have a problem. My fear is parents that aren’t capable of attachment parenting will see the reports of success with early training and, in an effort to get out of diapers sooner, train their child at a young age with inadequate follow-up,” says Hodges. “These children, when left to their own devices, will start holding their pee and poop.” And this holding while the bladder is still developing can lead to problems like UTIs, bedwetting, incontinence, frequent urination and more.

“Accidents and infections in kids are not normal. When they are present they are due to holding of pee and/or poop,” says Hodges. “While holding can cause these problems at any age, and training early does not make you hold, nor does training late prevent you from holding – you can be sure a baby in diapers is not holding, and you can more easily treat constipation in diapers, and you can more easily convey the importance of regular emptying to a child that speaks and understands.”

Should you stick with potty training?

“Just like a child will say ‘mama’ when he is ready, a child will potty train when they are ready, and by age 3, kids are ready, so why push?” says Deborah Michael, occupational therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy and mother of five. “Kids need to learn frustration-tolerance, independence, communication and they will, in developmentally-appropriate ways. Kids get trained in an easy and quick way if parents are on board and ready.”

How to know your child is ready for potty training

More articles about potty training

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How to potty train successfully
18 Best potty training books and videos

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Comments on "WTF is elimination communication?"

Anne August 21, 2012 | 12:18 PM

This is not training, no, not training in the least. Maybe the better question would by why do people assume babies are incontinent? I EC'd both my kids (it's just how it goes in other countries no name for it) and they both would signal me when they had to go. If we teach them to ignore it they will, if we listen to their need to eliminate they will communicate that needs like any other (hunger, tired, etc). This is no way in comparison to the brain damaging "training" of Dr. Ferber and I'm disgusted it was compared to that. When a childs needs are responded to it builds neural connections so if anything my children will be smarter for being listened to. It's not forced, it's not trained, it's about the child and respecting their need to use the bathroom. When we are out and about the baby signals me and I hold her over a public toilet, no big deal.

Amy July 30, 2012 | 2:53 PM

I've never heard of this, but I am intrigued. I think the hardest thing would be never being able to leave the house! I personally don't think diapers are a big deal, and obviously we are all potty trained at some point. Though I do believe baby's could learn to use the toilet at a very young age, I don't see the point in causing more stress to the parents.

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