When my daughter was only six weeks old, and I was just getting started with EC, we went through a ‘potty strike’ that lasted about a week. She would arch her back, signaling that she was finished or didn’t have to go, and then two seconds later, she would pee in her diaper. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and thought I had ruined my chances of having any luck with EC. The issue resolved itself and later on, I had figured out that I had been a little bit too over zealous in offering the potty. After ECing two children and talking to countless of other mothers about EC, I figured out some key issues that one might have while ECing a newborn:
Slow Down and Observe
Observing your child is the key to successful EC. Often after even just a day or two of careful observation, you will start to get the hang of when they are about to go. It’s not always possible to watch the subtle cues of a child one hundred percent of the time. Especially if you’re learning EC and you have other children to tend to. But, it doesn’t take long to get on track. If you’re having trouble knowing when to take your baby, the first thing to try is by placing them on some sort of a mat or towel without their nappy on. You can even do this on their change table, if you have one. Give them some undivided attention (as much as you can) until they eliminate. Watch for signs that preclude the elimination, which may include, kicking, grunting, and different facial expressions.
Offer the potty less
It is true that newborns eliminate frequently, but sometimes we, as parents, can get a little bit too enthusiastic and start offering the potty too much! Try to find a balance. By not offering too much, you may end up missing something here and there, but you will find that babies can hold their bladders and bowels for much longer than we give them credit for.
Provide enough diaper-free time after a trip to the potty
We’ve all seen toddlers struggling at diaper changes and the same goes for newborns, it’s just they are less mobile. The indignation of having a diaper put on, just after being taken to the potty can annoy even a newborn! If you can, try and offer some diaper free time directly after they eliminate. They will enjoy the freedom.
Baby has stopped Cueing
Newborn babies will cue, verbally and physically, when they have to go. However, if their elimination needs are not met early on, they will often stop giving as many signals that they have to go and may stop showing signs all together. It then will require a little extra observation on the parent’s behalf to get things going again. Interestingly, Dunstan’s baby language states that when a newborn baby has gas, he or she will make a ‘eairh’ sound (along with many other communication sounds). Dunstan also states that a baby will stop making this sounds at around 3 months of age, if the sounds do not elicit a response from the caregivers.
They may be too tense or frustrated or overstimulated.
When babies get frustrated, it may benefit them to be allowed to cry, in a loving an supportive environment (never alone in another room). If a baby resists every time they are taken to go to the toilet, it could very well be a sign that they have too much stress and tension built up and would benefit from a release of emotions in the form of a supported cry. Imagine how frustrating it must be to be a baby, you would want to cry too sometimes and have someone caring to listen to you. You can read more on that here.
Have Fun and Relax
The most important part about EC is to remember that it’s just another way to respond to your child’s needs. While catching poos and pees can be money saving, clean and rewarding in the long term, it’s best to keep a calm and relaxed approach to the whole thing. Embrace a little mess and remember to have lots of fun with your baby!