Pregnancy

A Devout EC Mom Tells Mommyish What The Press Is Getting Wrong

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Would you recommend EC to other parents?

It’s not for everyone!  Nothing is.  But I definitely recommend it to parents who are interested.  Having been through the whole arc of baby to potty training, I can say I definitely loved getting to traditional potty training age and finding my work was almost done while most of the parents around me were trying to figure out where to begin.  Both kids have some foods that cause them to lose control of their pee.  I don’t think I ever would have figured that out if it hadn’t been for EC and my son would probably still be eating those foods and staying in diapers, at least at night.

What mistakes do you find parents often make when approaching EC?

We always want to make something a win or lose game.  We want to be perfect.  Parents tend to get focused on the idea that they have to get everything in the potty (instead of in the diaper).  That can make you crazy.  I always tell people to check in with their goals.  What are they?  EC is really more about communicating about needs rather than potty training per se.

My goals have never been to have a diaperless baby.  I just wanted the potty to be something that was always a part of their lives instead of something I tried to introduce at the age where they are the most contrary.  Everything else is a bonus.  It’s great that I’ve had to change fewer diapers and deal with less poop.  But mostly it just made potty training into a really minimal thing.  I’ve never had to figure out how to convince them what the potty is FOR.  They have always known.  It just becomes a gradual transition of shifting the responsibility of getting there from me to them.

Do you know any parents who have given up on EC? If so, what are their reasons?

Sure!  The reasons are varied.  Usually they get to potty training and regret having given up but usually it was the right choice for that family at that time.  I actually gave up with both kids at some point.  With my son because I very seriously hurt my back and being home alone with him was enough of a challenge.  Getting him to the potty was too much (I really couldn’t even lift him).  When my daughter was born she had a lot of problems nursing and it was a big adjustment for all of us to having two children.  I decided when she was about a month old that I wasn’t going to EC her.  It just felt like too much.  But both of those times we came back to EC.  It just felt gross to have them going in their diaper all the time when I knew there was another way, one that also involved less cleanup for me.

Why do you think the press is so quick to categorize EC parents as crazy helicopter parents?

Perhaps it also looks controlling?  Or about being able to brag that your child is potty trained at three months?  But it really isn’t.  It is really child-led pottying and all about following your child and their cues and their readiness.  The only difference between this and conventional potty training in the end is the idea that children can do this from birth rather than waiting till they are three.  That, and it usually doesn’t require any bribery with sticker charts or M&M’s because why do you need to bribe a child to do something they have always done?

I think there is a widespread illusion that as a parent you can choose not to deal with pee and poop by slapping on a disposable diaper and being done with ituntil potty training.  So then EC seems like some weird obsession over your precious little baby’s pee and poop. But parenting is messy no matter how you look at it and no one is prizing poop or pee here.  The diapers eventually come off of all of the babies and the process looks similar no matter when you do it.  It’s really the same amount of effort either way.  Only, with EC, instead of concentrating all that work into a two-month period I spread it all out gradually over two years.  And we wound up a year ahead of the game when it came to having potty trained children.  In the end EC seems to involve less effort from me rather than more.

As a culture we have evolved this idea that waste just leaks out of babies unpredictably.  Since we just diaper them we don’t really know any differently; we have no alternate developmental models and we generally don’t consider the development of non-western babies.  Conventional ideas about potty readiness are all based on observing diapered babies.  But my son met all those guidelines at six months, except he couldn’t pull his pants up and down.  Anyway, if your assumption is that it all just leaks out then of course you are going to think that in order for this to work you must do nothing but sit and stare at your baby all day.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  It can be really simple and actually be less effort than having to change a diaper.

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