Is EC the best approach to potty training?

Shutterstock.com/ Tomsickova Tatyana

If you have recently had a child and have already had enough of all the diaper and bum cleaning nightmares then you may be thinking about potty training. Of course, depending on the child and method used the time it takes to learn how to use the toilet can vary from 18 months to 3 years old. There are a lot of factors that influence how long it will take but one of the biggest influencers is the method used. A lot of success has been seen from a method called Elimination Communication or EC for short.

Elimination Communication is basically the idea that you must pay close attention to your child and start to understand when they are about to need to use the bathroom. You then use these cues to inform them that they need to go and they sit on the potty. The idea is that you come to know your child’s bodily movement patterns incredibly well. You then teach your children these patterns so they can self recognize. From there you both start to understand better and can prepare and act accordingly. 

This method is incredibly successful in Asian cultures where a child often spends a lot of time in direct contact with a mother. In Western culture, it is more common for a child to spend time in a pram or car seat. Here, parents miss the initial clues that a child is ready to pass a bodily movement. They often realize too late. In Asian cultures, children are often kept very close to parents and this allows the visual clues to be picked up on faster.

Elimination Communication has proved so successful in some circumstances that there are many reports of successful potty training before a child turns one year old. However, these are rare circumstances and this often depends not just on the method but on the child being ready as well.

The key to successful EC though is to pay a lot of attention to your child. If you have them buried in a pram or if you are using a mobile all the time you will likely miss the pattern that is taking place. Skin on skin contact with your baby is often the best way to know and pick up on these patterns as it can reveal some signals that are not always captured visually. 

Once you understand the pattern of your baby and the bodily movement, you then need to start to signal to your child what it means. For example, if your child makes a certain noise or movement that means it will soon need to go, you could make a noise before placing them over a potty. As they get older visual clues may even work well, you could make the letter T symbol and then place them on the potty. Soon they may understand this very well and start making the T symbol to you when it is time to go.

Experts in potty training and child-raising suggest that the key to success is not having a brilliant kid who can potty train themselves. Success is having an interested parent who spends so much time close to their baby that they know what every movement means. 

Some of the most common signs a child will make is something like its face going red, a change in facial expression, a rumbling in the belly, a hand movement towards its genitals, or something else entirely. Every child is different and unraveling the patterns you witness will be the key to your success. EC is just one method of potty training that is available to parents and while the time it takes is often very quick it is by no means the easy method. It requires a lot of effort to connect with your baby on this level. The good side is that you get to connect with your baby on an incredible level.