Let me lay all my cards on the table. As a parent of a 3-year-old boy who has just started potty training on the late side — yes, I’m defensive. It doesn’t ease my nonstop mom guilt to hear about a parent like Katy Chatel, who taught her son to poop in an adult toilet at just 3 weeks old.
Chatel describes her potty training approach for The Washington Post. She writes, “This model of early potty training, called elimination communication, cuts down on diaper waste, expenses and rashes. It also helps parents become more in tune with their babies and bond during toilet time. The goal isn’t to force newborns to control their bowels — they can’t. In elimination communication, parents adapt to their infants, not vice versa.”
My first reaction as I reflect back to what life was like as the new mom of a 3-week-old baby is: Dang, girl. At three weeks postpartum, it was all a haze. I had achy boobs, exhaustion and the terror of caring for a new human round-the-clock to contend with. Overachieving by potty training really, really early wasn’t even on my agenda.
But that’s probably my bitterness talking. I know elimination communication is a valid form of waste management for babies, used around the world. EC Simplified calls it “the original human infant potty training method,” described as a natural alternative to diapers and conventional potty training.
Call me conventional. The situation Chatel recounts of being taught the natural parenting technique by her neighbor, who showed her how to cradle her tiny newborn over the toilet so that he could eliminate when he was ready, sounds way out of my parenting wheelhouse.
I’m not the only one. Parents in The Washington Post comments section went wild. My favorite response by far was from one clever father, who said, “I taught my kids to poop replicas of famous European sculptures that smell like Chanel, all before they could drool. I plan to include that fact on their Harvard application. They are currently working on farting all nine of the Beethoven symphonies and the works of Strauss.”
This dad makes an excellent point. None of your parenting achievements will ever make it to your child’s college application.
Chatel says, “Elimination communication has inspired me to be more in tune with my son’s needs, in general. Along with teaching him American Sign Language, it has helped improve our nonverbal communication, allowing me to respond to his feelings, thirst, hunger, and interests more easily.”
Chatel concludes by endorsing elimination communication as a way to reduce diaper waste and improve baby bonding. It’s the latter part of this statement I have a problem with. I’m glad Chatel found a method that works for her, but nonetheless, there’s no super-special parenting style that is better than another. We all have to figure out how to bond with our kids day after day, year after year, the best way we know how.
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