Elimination Communication (EC) is a practice where parents or caregivers become more aware of their child’s natural cues, signals, and rhythm for eliminating waste. They then provide appropriate opportunities for the infant to use the toilet or other designated areas for elimination. EC, often utilized by parents with infants and toddlers, is aimed at reducing the reliance on diapers and promoting a cleaner, more environmentally friendly approach to toilet training.

Key Takeaways

  1. Elimination Communication (EC) is an approach to infant care that emphasizes understanding and responding to a baby’s natural cues for elimination needs, essentially helping the baby to use the toilet from an early age, rather than relying on diapers.
  2. EC is based on the premise that babies are born with an innate ability to signal when they need to eliminate, and parents or caregivers can learn to interpret these signals, fostering a stronger bond and early communication between them and the infant.
  3. EC is not a fixed method or quick fix, and it may not entirely eliminate the need for diapers. However, it helps reduce waste, decreases diaper dependence, and can make potty training smoother and easier in the long run by establishing a routine and rapport between the infant and their caregiver.


Elimination Communication (EC) is an important parenting term because it refers to a unique method of toilet training that emphasizes understanding and responding to a baby’s natural bodily signals for needing to eliminate waste.

It involves careful observation of the baby’s cues, such as facial expressions, noises, and body movements, and fostering a close bond between the caregiver and the child.

By practicing EC, parents can potentially reduce their reliance on diapers, contributing to a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.

Moreover, it encourages early communication and fosters trust between the child and the caregiver, paving the way for a strong and healthy relationship as the child grows.


Elimination Communication (EC) is a unique and fascinating approach to early infant hygiene that fosters a strong bond between parent and child, while also reducing reliance on diapers. The main purpose of EC is to help parents and caregivers understand and respond to their baby’s natural cues for elimination needs, allowing their infant to maintain their natural awareness around bladder and bowel functioning.

This communication between baby and caregiver results in a heightened sense of connection, trust, and understanding of the infant’s bodily needs. By addressing these needs in a timely and appropriate manner, caregivers help to promote independence and self-confidence in their child as they navigate the early stages of development.

EC is not only beneficial for the child, but it is also considered an environmentally friendly practice, aiming to minimize unnecessary waste from excessive diaper usage. Typically introduced in the first weeks or months of a child’s life, elimination communication utilizes timing, signals, cues, and intuition to determine when a baby needs to use the bathroom, and encourages the parent to guide the child towards appropriate methods of elimination.

With consistency, patience, and an open-minded approach, parents are able to provide their child with a strong foundation for toilet learning and instill a level of self-awareness that may benefit them as they grow older. Overall, elimination communication allows parents to respect and support their infant’s natural instincts, fostering harmonious development and a positive relationship with their baby.

Examples of Elimination Communication

Elimination Communication (EC) is a practice in which parents work to understand and respond to their babies’ natural cues for when they need to eliminate waste, reducing or even eliminating the need for diapers. Here are three real-world examples of this technique in action:

In many indigenous cultures and rural communities, EC is traditionally used to help maintain hygiene and cleanliness. For instance, in the Vietnamese countryside, parents practice EC by holding their babies over a small hole in the ground when they sense their infants are about to urinate or defecate. This method not only reduces the need for diapers but also helps maintain the natural connection between parents and their infant’s bodily needs.

A family in California decides to practice EC with their newborn daughter after learning about the technique at a parenting workshop. They begin by observing her cues, such as sudden stillness or facial expressions, which may indicate the need to eliminate. They then hold her over a potty or the toilet, and make a gentle “sssss” sound to signal that it is time to go. This method helps establish a trusting communication between the parents and the baby, leading to diaper-free days and nights as she grows older.

A daycare center in New York City embraces the concept of EC and incorporates it into its daily routines. The caregivers work closely with parents to understand each child’s cues and establish consistent patterns for toileting. By utilizing EC, they help reduce diaper waste, maintain a cleaner environment, and encourage early toilet training for toddlers, making the transition to preschool smoother for both parents and children.

Elimination Communication FAQ

1. What is Elimination Communication?

Elimination Communication (EC) is a natural, gentle, and non-coercive process where a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address a baby’s need to eliminate waste. Instead of relying on diapers, parents learn to recognize and respond to their baby’s natural bodily functions, aiding in their elimination needs.

2. At what age can I start practicing Elimination Communication with my baby?

It is recommended to start practicing EC as early as possible, typically between 0-18 months. However, you can still introduce EC to your child at any age, but the process may take longer as they may have already developed a reliance on diapers.

3. Do I need any special equipment for Elimination Communication?

While not essential, some parents utilize specific equipment to assist with EC, such as a small potty, baby-sized toilet seat, or waterproof pads for floor time. The primary tools required for EC are your presence, observation skills, and consistency.

4. How do I know if my baby needs to eliminate?

Initially, you can watch for common signals such as squirming, fussing, or a sudden pause in their movement. As you practice EC, you’ll develop a stronger sense of your baby’s specific cues and timing. Keep in mind that each baby is different, and their signals may change as they grow.

5. What if my baby isn’t giving any signs, or I can’t interpret them?

Don’t worry if you don’t catch all the cues at first. It’s a learning process for both you and your baby. You can also rely on timing, offering regular potty opportunities (e.g., upon waking, before/after meals), and observing any patterns in your baby’s elimination habits to increase your success.

6. Can I still use diapers while practicing Elimination Communication?

Yes, you can! Some parents choose to use cloth diapers or training pants as a backup, especially during the learning process or when they can’t fully commit to EC (e.g., while traveling). Others opt for a diaper-free approach during specific times of the day to solidify their EC practice.

Related Parenting Terms

  • Infant potty training
  • Natural infant hygiene
  • Cue-based elimination
  • Diaper-free baby
  • Early potty learning

Sources for More Information