Elimination communication defined
Elimination communication is one term for the practice of learning to recognise a baby’s cues for weeing and pooing, and supporting them to wee or poo into a potty, toilet or receptacle.
Some babies using this method don’t wear nappies at all. Other parents use nappies as a back up in case they miss cues.
As well as responding to their baby’s cues many parents condition their baby to ‘go’ on their signal.
Understanding infant cues
Infants communicate through their behaviour and through non verbal engagement from birth. Some babies using this method don’t wear nappies at all. Other parents use nappies as a back up in case they miss cues.
Understanding infant cues can reduce crying because parents that recognise their hunger cues, often feed their baby before they become distressed.
Spending time with your baby, watching them and holding them helps you to recognise what their expressions, noises, and movements can mean. Every baby is different so you may find they don’t make the same gestures or noises as another baby. This level of attentiveness also helps you to bond with your baby. It isn’t just watching them, you can chat away, and cuddle and feed, and enjoy getting to know your little one!
Elimination communication cues
How elimination communication works
1. Recognise your baby’s elimination cues
2. Respond to the cues by holding your baby over a toilet or potty. As they get older you can support them to sit on a potty or toilet.
3. (optional) Each time they wee make the same sound, ‘pshhhhh’ is common. This conditions the baby to associate the relaxation involved with weeing with this sound. They will become conditioned to wee when held in that position and the sound is made.
Conditioning can be problematic. In general, at CalmFamily, we aim to support individuals to recognise and respond to their own needs. Conditioning a baby to urinate on cue makes a baby look for external cues for their urination.
This can separate urination from the baby’s physical need and urges. Responding to a baby’s cues and offering them a ‘pottytunity‘ as some call it is responsive to a baby’s needs. Conditioning a baby to wait for an adult’s cue through the ‘pshhh’ noise makes the process adult led, rather than responsive.
Conditioning can be used sparingly, to offer babies a chance to urinate before journeys, etc. As with many approaches to infant care there are more and less responsive ways to use any technique.
Sometimes called: infant potty training, natural infant hygiene, or nappy/ diaper free.