Any parent will probably tell you that potty-training is no picnic. With the process comes months (or years) of misunderstandings, mistakes, and messes, both for you and for your tot. But what if we told you that your child could start to learn toilet independence much earlier than the American average of 3 years old?
Baby elimination communication (also known as infant potty-training) is the practice of learning your baby's potty cues and preempting a dirty diaper by delivering your baby to the toilet. This doesn't mean that your child will never have to use diapers again, but it will mean freedom from a dependence on diapers. That might sound weird, but in most unindustrialized countries, EC doesn't even have a name because it's the norm!
EC has many benefits beyond the obvious — fewer diapers and cleaner bottoms. It's also a great way to foster trust between a parent and child, as well as for a baby to gain self-esteem. When a baby realizes he or she can have needs met by expressing those needs, the baby gains a sense of autonomy. EC can also help explain other sorts of fussy behavior — sleeping and feeding issues can all be indicators that a baby needs to eliminate.
Getting started with EC begins with observation. Give your baby diaper-free time to learn their natural potty times, and note any cues that might be given when the need to eliminate arises. Keep a potty nearby (whether it's a real toilet, a potty chair, a sink, a Tupperware container, or any other small container), so that when your baby shows signs of needing to go, he or she can be quickly deposited on the seat. You may even begin to introduce cues when your baby is actively using the bathroom so they will associate those cues with evacuation.
Besides something for your baby to eliminate into, some other tools that may be useful are a waterproof mat, crotchless pants, infant nightgowns, and other clothing that's easy to remove. It takes more time and dedication (at least initially) and will come with its own messes while you're still learning, but elimination communication might be the best choice for both you and your baby in the long run.