You don’t need diapers, just elimination communication!

Mayim Bialik, better known as Blossom from the 1990s TV series of the same name, is promoting Elimination Communication instead of using diapers.

Bialik, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, is a certified lactation educator, is a mother of two young boys and is writing two books on parenting, wrote about Elimination Communication on the Today Show blog.

Here is some of what she wrote:

“Elimination Communication (EC, also known as Natural Infant Hygiene) is the term for learning a baby’s innate inborn cues for pottying, responding to those cues, reinforcing them, and ultimately, helping a child not pee or poop in a diaper. Some people practice EC only at home, some practice it all the time; some start when their babies are newborns, others wait several months. Some people think that people who practice EC are crazy, and some people think that crazy is too harsh a word; preferring instead “totally out of their heads loco bonkers insane in the membrane…”

She writes that she wanted to give it a try but her husband was not into it.

“Sensing this was going to escalate into a fight, I decided to start quietly observing our first son’s behaviors when he ‘went potty.’ I read ‘Diaper Free Baby’ by Ingrid Bauer, I talked to my friend every day to report on our progress, and remarkably, a pattern emerged! By the age of 10 months – before our son could crawl, walk, or talk – he signed reliably when he had to use the potty. By 12 months of age, he stopped peeing in his cloth diaper. By 17 months he was wearing tiny underwear and, now almost 6, he has no conscious memory of ever pooping in a diaper or of wearing diapers at all…”

“My husband and I agree that we preferred to put the time in early for the results it produced, and since I was the 24/7 at-home caregiver for the formative years, it worked for us. EC is not impossible if you are not an at-home parent; however, the ‘best’ results generally speaking come from being in close consistent physical contact and communication with your child. The communication we have achieved with our sons – both of whom were very late talkers – has shown us that non-verbal cues are profound, true, and worth taking the time to learn.

She says it is a huge commitment in the early months but says it’s not elitist and is practiced all over the world. She says it has been the only way to care for baby’s hygiene for thousands of years before super-absorbent diapers were invented.

OK let me just say that I love Bialik not because of her show “Blossom” but because I saw her on an episode of TLC’s “What Not To Wear” after the birth of her first child. And she was clearly in her mommyhood phase. She was dressing practical, comfortable and pretty dowdy, and they called her out on it. She was such a good sport about it and didn’t take their money to buy new clothes saying she could afford it but would accept their advice on how to reform her ways. She was just so down to earth and just like many of the moms I was hanging out with.

I love that she’s very educated and into nursing and attachment parenting. So I am trying to be open to the Elimination Communication

I think it would be a lot of work and frustrating work. It was frustrating to guess when they needed to pee or poop for a few months in potty training much less trying to do it when they are less communicative.

With that said, I have a friend that has adopted two babies from China. And both little girls were trained at a ridiculously young age to use the bathroom when the caregiver made a whistle-type sound. It was truly amazing.

Now we never saw how much hard work went into that training or how many accidents were had while perfecting that behavior.  However, it was accomplished a very young age – much younger than Bialik’s talking about.

Bialik concludes by saying that besides not polluting the earth and not letting your baby sit in poop, it built a strong foundation of trust, love and connection between parent and child.

So what do you think of Elimination Communication? Would you give it a try? Do you think it sounds too time intensive? What do you do if you using daycare? (Sounds like you can’t do it. I don’t think any daycare would help with that – would they?) Do you think the benefits outweigh the effort?

58 comments Add your comment

Sylvania

August 5th, 2011
1:29 am

Basically, anyone can be trained to do anything, given enough time. And no, I don’t think daycare would be on-board with the idea.

penguinmom

August 5th, 2011
2:34 am

wow! I tried really hard to spend as little time as possible thinking about my baby’s ‘elimination’, just enough to change them when needed and make sure they were not having issues. Can’t even imagine watching for signs of it at really young age. Much more fun to watch for smiles and coos. That said, you do get to a point where a certain ‘look’ indicates that a diaper change is in the near future. Fortunately, if they are wearing a diaper and that ‘look’ occurs when you are unable to drop everything to rush to the potty, everything stays contained until you can take care of it (at the earliest possible opportunity not letting them sit in it forever.)

Do most kids really have conscious memories of wearing diapers or pooping in them?

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motherjanegoose

August 5th, 2011
7:51 am

Since I was not a 24/7 Mom, this would not have worked for me. I never wanted to be a 24/7 Mom either. ( was that short enough JJ? haha…have a nice weekend)

motherjanegoose

August 5th, 2011
7:52 am

FYI…Momsrule…see my tip for you on yesterday’s blog ;)

MomOf2Girls

August 5th, 2011
8:03 am

Interesting theory. My only real concern about it would be (it’s going to get a little gross now, sorry!) the diagnoses one makes with your baby based upon diaper contents (too loose, too hard, too much, too little, etc). When your baby is non-verbal, this is a good barometer as to the baby’s health, and while you can see what goes into the toilet, it would probably not be as easy. Other than that, if you have the time and it works, more power to you!

JJ

August 5th, 2011
8:36 am

Yawn…..I’m out of here. have a great weekend everyone.

tracey

August 5th, 2011
8:51 am

if you were with your kids 24/7, i guess it could work. however, my kids like to eat,so i went to work.

FCM

August 5th, 2011
8:57 am

TWG – She currently plays a neurophysicist on “The Big Bang Theory”….She “dates” Sheldon. Absolutely hilarious!

Kathy

August 5th, 2011
9:24 am

I am beyond the diaper stage now, so I really don’t care what Mayim Bialik says about toilet training. She is, however, FREAKING HILARIOUS as Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon’s “friend who is not a girlfriend” on Big Bang. LOVE LOVE LOVE that show.

FCM……Amy Farrah Fowler is actually a neurobiologist…bazinga!

Kawla

August 5th, 2011
9:27 am

I did a modified sort of EC. My baby still wore diapers, but the times I knew for sure that he needed to go to the bathroom (for example- always when he woke up – in the morning and from naps) I would hold him over the potty to go. I didnt stress about trying to always know so he used his diapers about half the time and the toliet about half. It saved me some $ in diapers and then when we began potty training for real, the first step was easier because he was already familiar with the concept of using the bathroom in the potty.

Lots of cultures do this- I actually got the idea from talking to a woman at church that is from Africa. Also, before disposable diapers children were trained much earlier than now. I did not put in the effort to do it full out, but thought the little I did was beneficial.

catlady

August 5th, 2011
9:49 am

My mom did something kind of like this with me, and I had HER trained by the time I was about 9 months old.

Jeff

August 5th, 2011
9:52 am

MomsRule

August 5th, 2011
11:27 am

As I am long past the diaper stage I won’t have the opportunity to give it a try but had I heard about it years ago…I might have considered it.

It does seem fairly impractical for most people in this day and age though.

@MGJ — I’ll take a look now. Thanks!

MomsRule

August 5th, 2011
11:28 am

MJG – sorry for the typo!

MomsRule

August 5th, 2011
11:33 am

@MJG, haha! the toilet paper tip is in line with today’s topic.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

August 5th, 2011
11:40 am

“OK let me just say that I love Bialik not because of her show “Blossom” but because….she was just ……like many of the moms I was hanging out with.”

I think you have that backwards…i think you love her because it makes you feel like you could be a celebrity too. I love you to death TWG, but you’re fascination borderline obsession with the celebrity culture is really kind of creepy.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

August 5th, 2011
11:41 am

I don’t know why I always slip in the “you’re” for “your”….I know better!

Lori

August 5th, 2011
11:56 am

Sounds way to intensive for me. I can’t have my eye on my kid every second of every day to see if he flinches just before he pees. Also, my baby will be in daycare, and no way they’d be on board with this. I don’t get the whole “going back to the way people did things for thousands of years” crap, either. There is a reason things changed, a reason we invented diapers….because it’s better! If it wasn’t a better method, then it wouldn’t have continued. She said the baby was 10 months old before she realized it was a sigh that was the trigger and at 17 months was in underwear (but I bet they had accidents). So this still takes a very long time to accomplish, when potty training the modern way really doesn’t take any more time, and it’s easier because your kid can communicate with you.

Melissa

August 5th, 2011
12:23 pm

We practice EC and I really don’t feel like it takes that much extra time, but it does save us a lot of money on diapers and wipes. I mean, when a kid goes to the bathroom in a diaper, you have to take time to change it afterward, right? So taking them to the toilet instead is just a trade-off, but cheaper.

I don’t feel like I have to obsessively watch my kid, either. If I miss a pee, I don’t stress about it. A commenter mentioned that this may make it harder to keep an eye on how babies are doing digestion-wise, but if you use a potty seat, I feel like it actually makes that easier, as you can quickly catch a glimpse of the whole shabang before you flush it, rather than smelling and examining squished poo as you wipe up a mess ;)

JJ

August 5th, 2011
12:43 pm

Sorry – I had to pipe in…..

My neighbor and I potty trained her granddaughter, and a neighbor girl, in one weekend. It was last summer, and the girls were playing in a kidding swimming pool we had on their driveway. When they had to go, we made them get out of the pool, and go over on to the grass. Once they were finished, we would splash water on them, before they got back into the pool. The girls loved this “Game” so much, and we did this for two days, by the end of the second day, both girls were potty trained.

Now I’m gone……

catlady

August 5th, 2011
1:13 pm

Theresa, What is attachment parenting? I am afraid to guess.

catlady

August 5th, 2011
1:16 pm

Especially since you wrote “nursing and attachment parenting.”

catlady

August 5th, 2011
1:20 pm

By the way, how did meet the teachers go?

Augusta

August 5th, 2011
1:41 pm

Attachment parenting, teaches children to be totally dependent upon the parents. It teaches how to raise a child without violence, ie spanking, etc.,and how to become a non-violent person.

In my opinion, it’s more of the pansy parenting. Helicopter Parenting 101……

Lori

August 5th, 2011
1:49 pm

Attachment parenting sounds scary. I teach my child to be independent and to learn to solve his own problems instead of crying to me about it. As a result, he is a very capable 7 year old. I can’t imaging having him depend on me for everything.

Ann

August 5th, 2011
3:14 pm

@ Augusta and @ Lori – Attachment parenting does not raise children to be dependent. They are typically very independent, confident, well behaved, social children who are sensitive to others.
The practices that Attachment parenting encourages are centuries old child wearing practices: bonding with your child in the early weeks through nurturing touch, such as wearing a sling: breastfeeding; positive discipline, and responding to a young infant’s cries. All of this is pretty basic, loving parenting that many of us probably practiced, whether you called it AP or not. The attachment parenting philosophy is that a young infant (in the first few months) is communicating their needs when crying, not trying to manipulate adults. And, that responding to cries and trying to understand the needs builds trust in the adults and their world in those first few months. Attachment parenting advocates whatever sleeping arrangements help the entire family get the most sleep, which may mean safe co-sleeping for a breastfeeding Mom, sleeping nearby or using a crib.

Helicopter parenting is a more recent phenomenon that has nothing to do with attachment parenting. The helicopter parents that I know did not practice Attachment Parenting.

Attachment parented kids are typically very independent, partly because they were happy, secure and content as infants, with their basic needs met. Contented toddlers are more independent in venturing from the parents and exploring activities because they know Mom will be there after they explore. They are not clingy.

If you read the list of basic attachment parenting principles, I would guess that most of you on this blog probably practiced half or more than half of the principles with your children.

For catlady and others who actually want to know what Attachment Parenting is, here is a link with more information:

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/attachment-parenting/what-ap-7-baby-bs

jarvis

August 5th, 2011
3:29 pm

Only one topic today, and it was about Blossom poo. :-(

JATL

August 5th, 2011
3:38 pm

I’ve read plenty on attachment parenting and it’s for nutjobs! If you want to breastfeed until kindergarten and you love co-sleeping, then it’s probably for you!

As far as EC -I agree with Lori! We’re on the go a lot and I work full time so itjust sounds like another trendy PITA thing to do.

@Augusta-I agree that a bunch of little pansies are being raised and selfish, awful acting pansies at that!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 5th, 2011
4:39 pm

ann I agree with your definition — it’s all about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing — not leaving them to cry it out. agree that they’re not manipulating you at that young age they’re telling you what they need.

Tiger — I am a tv person and love TV — FCM — I did know she was on Big Bang and love her on it. She is sooo funny with the besties stuff and them trying to analyze spreading a rumor. I love when she and sheldon are on Skype — it’s so funny.

The meet and greets went well — I brought all the forms home!!! didn’t fill out a single one at school —Rose was worried about going from walsh’s school to hers in time but other than that went well —

lots to talk about from it that I’ll use next week — Rose’s teacher ended up looping up — has entirely the same class so I am wondering what folks think on that —

Both of their classes have very high counts!! apparently AZ has less money than Georgia — Walsh has 27 kids in his class — now it is a gifted self-contained but they are gifted in different subject so you may have a strong math person and not a strong reading person — I am going to send the teacher a note and tell her I can come in an hour a week if she wants parents to help with small groups — that is such a large class!!!!

Rose’s regular class is also 27 but I think her breakout gifted classes will be smaller — they were last year. So we’ll see – those are mighty big numbers!!

I know my niece in Gwinnett has only 22 — we can also talk about the numbers and how importnat is class size next week – Michael has a theory on this that I will throw out.

Did preschool meet and greet this morning and am loving L. new preschool. The teachers have teaching certificates and seem really on the ball. Had activities for her to do when we went in and even had her write her name twice while there for projects. so i think will be good. she was happy and just walked off to explore. so have had a good last night and today.

DB

August 5th, 2011
4:42 pm

Hmm. Interesting concept, and if it works for her, more power to her. The “whistle” thing would have driven me crazy — seems a lot like Pavlov’s dog, not sure how I feel about that.

Anyway — everyone have a nice weekend. I’m in Colorado for a few days, and the weather here in Aspen is GLORIOUS — mid-70’s, 50’s in the evening, and a zillion stars in the sky. No humidity — my hair is the flattest it’s been since May!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 5th, 2011
4:45 pm

sounds lovely!!! have fun DB and enjoy the time!!

Ann

August 5th, 2011
4:48 pm

@ JATL – Why the derogatory terms just because it’s a philosophy that you don’t practice? Attachment parenting does not advocate breastfeeding until kindergarten. They advocate breastfeeding until the Mom and baby are ready to wean, which could be anywhere from 9 months and up typically. For many, the weaning happens years before kindergarten. Extreme examples of breastfeeding until kindergarten aren’t that useful in a discussion. We can all pick out extremes as odd examples, but they are not typical cases and they add nothing to the discussion, except to inflame or stir up others.

Most of the world outside the United States practices extended breastfeeding and it was practiced in the United States for centuries. The “selfish acting pansies”, though, are a more recent trend of modern society and is due to other reasons, including a lack of attentive parenting and kids not knowing what to do with themselves outside of their tv, computer, cell phone world. Well behaved, confident kids are those whose parents are involved in their upbringing, instilling good values, and independent thinking and decision making whether they use attachment parenting or not.

For the helicopter parents I know whose kids are in college, I believe the cell phone and easy access to calling their parents at any time for help in making decisions is part of the problem. When I was in college, you went to the dorm phone about once a week to call your parents. Now, these college students know they can reach their Mom or Dad any moment of the day with their cell phone and they call multiple times a day for help or talk over decisions.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 5th, 2011
5:21 pm

A second blog just for Jarvis — No seriously a really, really interesting statistically examining which high school football players are more likely to die in practice and when!!!

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2011/08/05/which-high-school-football-players-are-more-likely-to-die-in-practice/

Jake

August 5th, 2011
5:27 pm

So this would be done at public pools too?

Jake

August 5th, 2011
5:28 pm

I agree with JATL.

Reid in EAV

August 5th, 2011
6:02 pm

Different strokes for different folks. EC was and is way too intensive for us to pull off (plus we both work) but we know a stay-at-home mom who has done it and done it successfully.

And while we don’t practice Attachment Parents, we have AP folks in our church and it seems to work for them. (Breastfeeding an older kid is a bit creepy, but that’s just my cultural bias talking. There’s no proof that it’s ever hurt anyone.)

Ease off with the judgment, folks. If people find something that works, give ‘em your blessing. And if you’re curious enough, try it yourself.

catlady

August 5th, 2011
6:51 pm

Glad to hear the teacher-meeting went well. Sounds like you went to both, instead of delegating. Big plus on not worrying about the papers last night!

You’ve made your offer on helping in Walsh’s room. Now just wait and see if the teacher calls. Chill on this. It takes a while for teachers to get a feel for the class and how a parent might help, and how that might affect the chemistry of the class for your child and others. She might want you to help in some other way besides that which you suggested.

John

August 5th, 2011
6:55 pm

Come on now, do ANY kids after a certain age (let’s say 6) have any conscious memory of ever wearing or pooping in a diaper?

Sam

August 6th, 2011
11:05 am

Mayim Bialik has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and she’s writing PARENTING BOOKS?! Get this woman out of the house and to a science lab, quick.

[...] You don&#39t require diapers, just elimination communication! She was such a excellent sport about it and didn&#39t take their funds to acquire new clothes saying she could afford it but would accept their assistance on how to reform her methods. She was just so down to earth and just like a lot of of the moms I was hanging out with. … Read much more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

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TCS

August 7th, 2011
2:59 pm

I think EC sounds like an excellent idea, as does what I’ve heard about teaching babies some basic sign language so they can better communicate when they’re hungry, bored, etc. I don’t see how anyone could find any negatives in getting children to use toilets as early as possible. Much more sanitary, and cheaper too!

Maria

August 7th, 2011
4:38 pm

We used EC with our first child, but not every day. He did end up being potty-trained at an early age for a boy (just before age 2). We had friends who used EC and their daughter was diaper-free at about 18 months old… When we had our 2nd, I had gone back to work so we didn’t use it with her as much. Having lived overseas, we had seen mothers doing EC with their children so it was not that outrageous of an idea for us.

Chas Foster Kane

August 7th, 2011
4:48 pm

By all means eliminate diapers — and the rotten babies in them.

MES Mom

August 7th, 2011
5:49 pm

My father was born in the ATL in 1947, he had 4 younger sibs within the next 5 years. They all did this and my sweet grandmother loves to point it out. They were all “going potty” (an old timey basin) by 10 months. It’s truly an accomplishment but I want to be focused on something other than my children’s elimination signals. Pampers for us!!

Southern Mother

August 7th, 2011
5:57 pm

My mom swears that I was potty trained before I was a year old. She said I walked at around 8 months old and that that helped with the training. I have an older sister who was being potty trained at the same time (she’s three years older), so maybe that’s why it was easier. She said that she would put those thicker training underwear on me but that I didn’t like for them to feel wet or dirty. She also used cloth diapers on all of her children except for my brother (the youngest), so I don’t know if that had anything to do with it either. As the mother of two children who definitely were difficult to train, I can hardly believe that I was potty trained so early!

Shellbell

August 7th, 2011
6:28 pm

Raise them how you like. Besides, how many of you still go in your underwear? Almost everyone eventually learns to use the potty!

judy

August 7th, 2011
6:30 pm

i just want to say my daughter toilet trained really early basically she would crawl as a baby to her potty chair to go use it and was never in a diaper after the age of 18 mos as she was totally toilet trained by that time next i have to say my grandson her son i started potty training at 6 mos and he too was toilet trained at 18 mos and was out of diapers my youngest daughter i didn’t take the time with her like i did the oldest and she refused to let me put her son on a potty at 8 mos when they moved in with me so he was like 3 yrs old before getting trained the oldest her youngest son also is not potty trained because she thought i was being mean putting him on potty after she moved back in again so he’s 2 and still in diapers and has no interest in toilet training still sleeps with a bottle in his mouth when i tried and argued that was a huge mistake letting him have a bottle as he sleeps but she won’t listen just to let you know her oldest son has never left my house in his almost 5 yrs of life when she moved out she took the baby and left his older brother yes he’s spoiled but very loved i love my grandson dearly and would never give him up for anything i raised him from a new born his mom had no idea how to raise a baby at that time when she moved out with his brother she got her first real lesson in raising a child because his brother i took full responsability for and still do he’s with me right now and his mom and brother are gone but this is a daily thing that happens

ellen

August 7th, 2011
6:40 pm

In third world countries, EC is the only option. And they clearly make it work!