Friday, 26 March 2010

Natural Toilet Training

A friend of mine recently heard an interview with Mayim Bialik, an American actress who is now also a spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network, a group for parents focused on holistic, green living. One of the subjects touched on in the interview was that of 'Elimination Communication'. For those of you unsure of this term (as I was), it's essentially a form of toilet-training that involves none or minimal use of nappies. The parent has to tune into the signals their child gives when needing the toilet. Mayim had her second son trained by 11 months.

At first thought it sounds a bit crazy and extremely messy! However when you think of more primitive societies elsewhere in the world who don't have access or need for all the stuff we use with our babies and children, they obviously get by just fine and probably use a similar technique of looking for indications from the child. Same goes for when you think about many years ago before nappies were first used (back in the 1590s).

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that whatever you may think about the idea itself, it certainly gives the parent a strong incentive to develop a particular awareness of their child's toilet habits. With the reliance we have on nappies, the ease and convenience that they provide, we don't have the same incentive to toilet train our children. Often it's a case of needing to potty train because a nursery or school requires it or because your child reaches an age where it's normal to start the process.

Whilst it's not something I feel I'd be brave enough to tackle, I think it's a very interesting approach to toilet training. It encourages parents to trust and follow their instincts and to develop great awareness of their children. I definitely have admiration for those mothers like Mayim Bialik who have used Elimination Communication successfully for their babies. For me, this was something I hadn't even heard of before my friend related the interview she'd heard, but maybe that's just me! It obviously compliments the same philosophy behind attachment parenting, with a focus on a mother demonstrating sensitivity to her child's needs.

If you want to find out more, have a look at these websites here and here.

Had you heard of Elimination Communication? What are your thoughts about the approach? Can you imagine using very few nappies with your baby or none at all?


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  1. Wow! Very interesting - it's not a technique I've heard of before... Would I try it? I'm not sure if I'm brave enough either! ;)

  2. I tried it with my youngest and it works but the dedication was silly and really. I had better things to do lol

  3. It makes sense really. I guess we just put nappies on and don't give it a second thought...I don't think I would try it though with my second (due in 4 months) but I'd love to hear how it works out for those that do

  4. I bought books on it and gave it a quick try, but you really do have to be very very attentive to learn the signs. Even now with my elder child (19 months) he can tell me when he is peeing (sometimes) or pooing but often he doesn't and he certainly can't tell me in advance! If I lived in a warm country and had a garden I'd have pursued it further but I think your baby/toddler needs to spend a lot of time naked and you need to be prepared for many more accidents than I have the patience to deal with! On this note, I agree with Nat above.

  5. I've never been brave enough to go the whole hog with Elimination training but I have sat both my girls on the potty at every nappy change since the day their poos were solid... and neither of them ever pooed in the nappy again.
    After working for a big nappy manufacturer in my 20's I saw how they subtly try to encourage us to keep our kids in nappies longer & longer. Kids can do it much earlier than we give them credit for...

  6. Thanks for your comments everyone. It's really interesting to hear from those of you who have given it a go with your children. As some of you mention, being in a warm climate would certainly make the task a bit easier.

    Natural Mummy - great to have your insight as someone who worked for a big nappy manufacturer


Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!