Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yeah, I'm always experimenting on my kids

I read about elimination communication when my 4th child was a baby. I was reading an anthropological work about how African women's babies don't pee on them--they take the baby out of the sling, and the baby pees. I thought that was fascinating, but mysterious. Not something I could actually try at home.

Then, when my 5th child was a couple of months old, I read that Western parents were doing this. There were actually instructions on how to do it. There were actually books about it. I read Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer and within the month I was trying it. I'm only sorry I only heard about it with my youngest child. Like many parenting endeavors, I would find it very rewarding to try it again, with the knowledge that everything works out in the end and you don't have to get so bogged down or worried about the minutiae, the details, and the moment to moment or even day to day. That it's a long term, gentle, relaxed, gradually flowing process.

My oldest 3 children were trained by my unschooling philosophy (even though I wasn't an unschooler back then): leave them alone; they'll figure it out when they are ready. They took care of it themselves at age 3.5, 4.75 (!!!!), and 4. Once they decided, they did it at night, too, and could hold it in long enough that when they said they had to go, you had 10 minutes to find and get to a bathroom. My 4 year old decided he was no longer wearing diapers the day we were going to the Bronx Zoo. "Are you sure?" I asked him. "Today?" Yep, he was sure. And it was fine.

My youngest two are seventeen months apart. My 4th watched me as I brought my 4 month old to pee in the toilet. By 22 months he was climbing on, too. A few months after 2, he was using the toilet and before 2.5 was dry at night.

When my youngest was 17 months, he began to say "doody, doody" when he had to go. He often takes himself. I never really achieved more than 80% catching his pees (probably because he was not my first child), but by age 2 we have a lot more 100% days than days where we have a miss. (I stopped ECing at night at 7 months, when I stopped co-sleeping.) He is dry 90% of naps, and sometimes at night (I don't respond to the 4 or 5am wakeup, when he probably has to pee).

People think that all EC is is to watch your baby carefully when she has to go, and then bring her. Or learn their cues (like fussing) or base it on timing (before naps, after naps etc). But I realized something astounding-- it's more than that. There is an actual communication that goes on between caregiver and baby, and it's more than just the caregiver receives cues from the baby. The baby can also receive cues from the caregiver! When the baby hears the ssssss sound, it triggers the baby to relax and release from his or her bladder. At this age, I can ask him if he has to pee and he'll answer me yes or no. But if we are about to go out and it's been a couple of hours, then i bring him and "cue" him, and he pees. That is him responding to me, not just me bringing him when he needs to go.

I can cue him for bowel movements, too. When I got home from work in the mornings last year, I cued him and he went. Today I'm going out and my mother-in-law is babysitting, so I'd like him to have his bowel movement before she comes. (At this age, I don't usually cue him for bowel movements any more, since he's 99.9% reliable to take himself to the toilet when he has to have a bowel movement--way more reliable than peeing, which he is as liable to do in the toilet as anywhere else in the house, if I don't take him.) So I cajoled him to the toilet, and he agreed, and I cued him with a grunt noise, and he made. Again, this is not me noticing his cues, it is me cueing him.

It's really interesting. I would not have thought it possible.

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