Baby Elimination Communication: Why & How to Do It

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If you’ve just had a baby, you can relate to this — a lot of time each day is spent changing your baby’s diapers. Sometimes, it leaves you wondering if that is all babies ever do! Pooping and peeing is essential part of the early years of a child’s life. This gets better over time once your child learns to control their elimination process, but until then, it’s all on you. Parents often resort to diapers until a specific age, after which the baby is potty trained in a toilet.

However, another technique includes the minimal use of diapers. It’s called Elimination Communication. This technique seems to be gaining momentum, but what exactly is it, and why should you be doing it? Let’s find out:


1. So What Is Elimination Communication?

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Elimination communication is essentially a practice in which you, as a parent or caregiver, will use sound cues or timing to understand your baby’s need to pee or poop. Once you recognize that your baby needs to eliminate bodily waste, you help your child defecate or urinate in the toilet, potty, or a designated waste receptacle, instead of letting your baby pass motion or pee in their diapers.

This does not mean diapers are not used – they still are but as a backup. It takes time to toilet train babies, so misses are bound to happen, which is why having a diaper as a backup is essential.

What’s worth noting is that elimination communication, as the name suggests, primarily focuses on the “communication” between you and your baby. It is believed that through the practice of elimination communication, you become more attuned to your baby’s innate needs and requirements (1).

2. What’s In It For You And Your Baby?

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Elimination communication works in favor of you and your baby, which is why many people are beginning to use this technique to toilet train their kids. In fact, in certain cultures, this is the norm. Let’s look into a few benefits associated with elimination communication (2), (3)):

  • You build that connection you have with your baby, and vice versa. Through this process, your baby learns to trust you and you, in turn, learn to understand your child by observing bodily cues.
  • You make the world greener! The disposal of diapers can have a massive impact on the environment. By opting out of diapers (unless necessary) and relying on elimination communication, you’re doing the planet a huge favor.
  • Elimination communication is easy on your pockets as well. You won’t be spending a lot of money on disposable diapers — we can all agree that diapers cost a bomb!
  • It is so much cleaner than using diapers because, unlike the latter, your baby doesn’t have to sit in a soiled diaper. This, in turn, can prevent diaper rash, infections, and general discomfort.
  • In a way, it can help boost your baby’s self-esteem. When your baby provides certain clues, you respond to them and immediately address their need to pee or poo. It shows that you are listening to your child, you value your child’s needs, and that you are here to help your child. This doesn’t happen when your baby is in a diaper.
  • It’s much more comfortable than a diaper. Diapers are pretty heavy, more so when your baby soils them. With elimination communication, your baby doesn’t have to walk around in bulky diapers anymore.

3. How To Get Started?

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Are you sold on the idea of using elimination communication? If yes, here’s how you go about it:

4. Observe

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Elimination communication largely depends on cues, so watch out for them. Babies often pee or poop shortly after they’ve been fed or when they are just waking up. Similarly, if your baby is squirming and in distress, the chances are that they want to urinate or defecate. Paying attention to all this can help you be ready.

5. Help With Your Own Cues

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When you know that your baby needs to pee or poop, you could start making certain sounds that your little one will associate with elimination. For example, make a “psss” sound to signal your child to pee and a “hmm” sound when your child has to poop.

6. Keep A Tab On The Timings

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Yes, babies are on a constant pee and poop cycle, but it will get a bit easier once you keep a tab on the timings. You could make a note of it on your phone or in a book — the idea is to be aware of when your child is most likely to poop so you can watch out for cues. If required, do not shy away from attaching a poster-like marker chart right up near your study desk. Soon with practice, your little one’s poop timings will become second nature to you, and you will be ready even without referring to the chart.

7. Easy Accessibility Is Key

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Make sure you keep the potty or waste receptacle nearby. You don’t want your baby to make a mess before you even reach the potty. It also makes it easier for your little one to get there independently if you’re not around.

Elimination communication takes a lot of time and patience from your end. You will have to observe your child’s habits and watch out for cues — this does not happen overnight. But it can benefit both you and your child, so give it a go. If and when you succeed at training your little one to react perfectly to your cues, you will feel like you are in seventh heaven. After all, who likes cleaning after a leaked and messy diaper for months together even when it’s your own child. Elimination communication will save you such daily chagrin, and before you know it, you will have great communication with your little one. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Disposable diaper overuse is associated with primary enuresis in children
  2. What’s potty about early toilet training?
  3. Among healthy children what toilet-training strategy is most effective and prevents fewer adverse events (stool withholding and dysfunctional voiding)?
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