Babywearing and Elimination Communication
Elimination communication is about observing the signals of your baby, which is possible right from birth.
You can use a diaper as a backup. It’s not about early potty training, you’re helping your baby eliminate to keep themselves dry and clean.
Sometimes I receive questions about babywearing diaper free babies. As I couldn’t answer out of personal experience, my suggestion would be that carries like the kangaroo & a rebozo or a ringsling might be a good option because it’s easy to get your baby out quickly.
When I got some questions about EC & babywearing on cold winterdays, outside, I’ve been trying to find some more information.
As I didn’t have any experience with elimination communication I decided to get some help from more experienced parents ( & babywearing consultants).
I’m very thankful that they are willing to share some information on my blog!
Ever since he was born my second son has been a EC child. It came naturally to us and I was surprised at how easy it was to read his signs. We use cloth diapers (gDiapers and Windelmanufaktur) as backups when we are out.
I quickly realized that it did not matter to him how fast I got him out of the wrap or carrier once he signalised. He was always patient enough to wait for me to both realize that he had to pee and then to finally get him out. So my main problem with EC and carrying was and still is my own impatience. I just hated wrapping and unwrapping and rewrapping him every 15 to 20 minutes (he peed A LOT during those first few weeks) and I started to talk myself into something like “Again, really?” just because I didn’t want to tie a FWCC for the gazillionth time that day. That let to multiple “accidents”, ruining our communication and leaving both of us frustrated.
So the most important part for combining EC and carrying a newborn or still very small baby was not to find quick ways to get him out, but to put him back in again. For me a simple rebozo front carry with or without a slip knot that I could pre-tie worked best for front carries. I am not much of a Ring Sling person, otherwise that would have been a great possibility as well. For back carries I preferred a simple ruck or better still a Mei Tai (I use a Girasol MySol or my custom made MeiTai 22). I left the belt closed and just slid him to the front (with a hip scoot) and back again when he was done. Now that he is a little older and hasn’t got to pee that often, I use whatever carry I fancy that day, especially when I expect him to sleep for a while.
He was born end of May, so I had no problem with clothes during the summer and wore him almost exclusively on my back when we went out. But ever since it got cold I moved him to my front. I just don’t like having to take off my coat outside when it is cold, so the most practical solution for us is to use a Mei Tai or a front cross carry. I am just unzipping my coat (I use a Kumja with my winter coat), open the knot under his bum halfway to widen the straps/passes a little, take him out, let him pee, put him back in, tighten the straps/passes and retie the knot. That means minimal exposure to the cold weather for him and not having to take off my coat for me. The only thing that works almost as well for us when it comes to back carrying (given it is not THAT cold outside) is using a Mei Tai over a sufficiently tight coat for me and an additional babywearing cover for him. The downside is that I need to find a place where I can put the cover while he is peeing and I am redoing the Mei Tai. So for now we are enjoying front cuddles as long as it is cold outside.
– Katharina Hofmann
‘Is there someone who can tell me more about elimination communication (EC) & babywearing?’ was what Wrapyouinlove asked… I’m a babywearing consultant and mother of two diaper free and worn babies. Here I would like to share something about our diaper free life and give some answer to the most common questions about EC.
Babywearing and EC – how?
It’s easy! I honestly wouldn’t know how I would have managed it with a stroller. With a diaper free baby it’s all about communication. I have to look for signs my baby gives, when my baby seems to be fussing a lot, when my child looks at me or starts to bear down. That’s easiest when my child is skin to skin, close to me. I can recognize every movement and react immediately by holding her of to eliminate.
It might be good to know that babies don’t want to wet their parents. They can wait (as long as their small baby bladder allows them to wait). With a newborn this period is still very short, but after a few weeks or months this can already be a few minutes. It’s important for them to get a signal that says ‘yes, I will hold you off to eliminate, soon!’.
I’ve worn my first child mainly in the Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC). There was no doubt about the fact that I would wear my baby. As I didn’t knew much about it, I stuck to this one carry I’ve learned. Every time I wrapped this long wrap (a size 6) around me and my baby. Astonishing but true, my baby could wait until she was unwrapped and I held her over a potty to eliminate.
My second child was mainly worn in a ringsling the first months, as it was summertime and a ringsling is airy and it’s less fabric compared to a (long) wrap. Getting the baby out and putting the baby back in is quick & easy.
I have to say I can’t give an advice for a carry or carrier specifically for wearing a diaper free baby. Those seconds, which it takes to get the baby out, she can wait.
What about the nights?
A lot of parents who start with EC, only practice it during the day. At night they use diapers for their baby. Although it’s even easier during the night!
We don’t pee during our sleep, the same goes for babies.
We wake up, when we have to go. My baby sleeps next to me (in our familybed). When it starts fussing, I will wake up. I can hold the baby over a potty and nurse at the same time. Most times she wants to nurse and by suckling she will go back to sleep quickly. I take my child of the potty, remove her from my breast and she will go back to sleep relieved.
By the way, this fact also helps when it comes to babywearing: During sleep, babies don’t pee. Newborn babies sleep a lot, especially in a carrier or wrap. My children would sleep more and longer when they were worn.
If my child would wake up, I take her out of the wrap and hold her over (a potty) to eliminate.
How do I dress my EC baby?
This is (in my opinion) most complicated, or at least the thing were my main focus is. What clothes will I put on my baby, so it’s easy and quick to hold her over?
Offcourse you can dress your child as usual, put on a normal diaper as a backup and undress it when it needs to go. But there are some techniques when it comes to pants who make it easy to open it without completely undressing.
With our first child we’ve used Wollaspa (http://www.abhala.de/splitpantsinfos). This system with buttoned up backup-holders is what I’ve also used for their pyjamas (I’ve adjusted ”normal” suits by making an opening in the crotch and add buttons similar to the wollaspa system.)
For our second child I’ve sewn my own splitpants, after designing the pattern myself. With these splitpants both sides overlap in a way were the split doesn’t open up when the child moves (someday I will publish an ebook for this pattern).
A backup is important. There will be moments where it’s not possible to hold the baby over (for example: when we’re in the car or the child is in the bike trailer), or there will be moments when we don’t pay enough attention to the signs because we’re watching the other kids too or the potatoes are boiling over… We use cloth diapers and terry clothes (cut, folded and put in the pants). You could even use disposable diapers as a backup.
EC during winter time – outside
With a small child I don’t spend a lot of time outside when it’s cold. But still it can happen that my child has to pee right in that exact period. I think it’s okay to hold my baby over quickly, even when it’s cold. Her butt will only be exposed to the cold for a brief moment. When it’s done, she will be covered and warm again. For longer sessions (yes, my little baby will need time and peace when she needs to poo) and to nurse we will be back inside, where it’s warm.
The most important thing for a diaper free life is the courage to start it. And the composure that it isn’t going to ”function”, because a baby doesn’t ”function”.
Everything else will arise as a result.
Enjoy communicating with your children!
– Annedore Althausen
And the splitpants Ebook really will be released one day 😉
I’ve learned that EC is very individual, there’s not just one favorite carry or carrier. Although the consensus is that redoing a carry several times a day can get frustrating, especially when you’re using a long wrap. Using a pre-tied carry, a carry with a slipknot, a ringsling or carrier can makes things easier. Babywearing can be a great advantage as your child will be close to you which makes it easier to recognize their signals.
You don’t need to aim for a completely diaper free lifestyle. If you feel like it’s too hard to practice it outside during winter, don’t. Put a (cloth) diaper on your child, or put a muslin (folded) between your baby and the wrap/carrier.
After reading and learning about this topic, I’m definitely interested in giving it a try!
Thank you !
– Hedwych / Wrap you in love