Elimination communication can be a completely minimalist practice — you don't really need a lot of gear to get going with it. But some things are really helpful. Some things you'll be picking anyways (like baby clothes) and it makes sense to get gear that's EC-friendly. I'll cover some things that are helpful for getting EC going here:
Container that Goes Between Your Knees
This is one of the most basic tools for helping baby go potty. You can use the sink, bathtub, regular toilet, great outdoors, etc… but having a small bowl that fits between your legs is very helpful with a young baby. It's also helpful in the car, or when you're in a cold season. Baby stays snuggled up (compactly) to you.
I've pictured three different potty styles here. There's a simple bowl – this is just a resealable food storage container I got for a couple of dollars at the store. It's never been used for food… it's just a baby potty bowl and its about to make the rounds with its fourth baby 😉
I also have two fancier potty bowls – one is a “chamber pot” style potty (I made the potty warmer for that one) and the other is a “Top Hat” potty and potty warmer from Continuum Family. The Top Hat potty is especially easy to nestle between your legs.
Of course a little potty seat is a classic for EC, as well, and I typically start using one once baby is a few months old. We still use the potty bowls frequently, though.
Once a baby is bigger and more mobile, the little potty is nice. We also have one on the floor of our van.
Previously I'd kept little potties in each room in the house, but with Honor I decided it would stay in the bathroom because I wanted to teach her that's where we go to go 😉 (I do still keep the little potty bowls for a young infant near me).
T-Shirts & Gowns
Not all baby clothing is very practical for diaper free babies. In the newborn period I like gowns if baby is in a diaper because they keep baby warm and still let me quickly access baby's bottom to remove the diaper for changes.
Otherwise, I like a t-shirt (not a one-piece body suit). This gives me easy access to the potty area, and the shirt doesn't tend to get wet if we have a miss. It means I can keep baby diaper free for nice observation, or I can keep baby diaper-free in my lap (I use a prefold/mat combo if I do this, detailed below).
I'm a huge legwarmer fan. They're an easy way to keep little legs cozy, especially when paired with socks – and they're still very diaper-free friendly. They're also friendly to easy diaper changes if your little one is in a diaper 🙂 I pair with a t-shirt or gown for cozy potty visits.
Split pants are another great option and give a little more coverage than leg warmers. They also don't “scoot down” in the same way that leg warmers do over time. I like them for the really chilly winter days because they just keep baby warmer.
They also provide a little more complete coverage of baby's bum if your baby is walking and you're concerned about modesty. You'll still probably see little cheeks peeking out, but there is more coverage 😉
Some split pants are designed more like riding chaps, so they have a larger gap. Others are designed with overlap so there's less of a gap between the legs — it opens when you hold baby in a potty position.
I've pictured three pair of split pants here. I made the first pair using a pattern that had more of an overlap. The second set is a pair of L'il Baby Chaps from EC Wear (affiliate link). They're super-cozy flannel and Galen wore them all the time – diaper free or if I put a diaper on him during naps. The third pair is a pair I made from baby pants I got at the thrift store. I cut out the middle and just stitched arond the edges.
I haven't used diaper belts but many parents love them. It's a simple elastic band covered in soft fabric (think hair “Scrunchie”). This goes around baby's waist to secure a folded prefold diaper in place (or a flat diaper). It gives a little coverage in the diaper area but is quick and easy to change or get out of the way for going potty. Check out some diaper belt pics at EC Wear (affiliate link).
Prefold Diapers & Waterproof Mats
Prefold diapers are infinitely helpful when it comes to diaper free babies 🙂 They're helpful for keeping under your baby as you observe for elimination patterns and signals. They're also great in combination with a diaper belt or split pants for a quick “minimum coverage” solution.
My favorite way to use prefolds is combined with a waterproof mat in my lap. I put the mat in my lap, then put a prefold on that, then put baby on top of that in my lap. I'll usually drape another prefold over baby's lap and have my hand on that. In this way I can tell instantly if baby wets, and I stay dry. I have found that I'm very intiutive with my baby in my lap like this, and we rarely ever have misses.
In the earliest months my babies have tended to leave streaks on the diaper – not a full bowel movement, but “wet farts” for lack of a more delicate term. The prefold diaper takes this streaking and goes into the wash. Everything else stays clean 🙂
Diapers and Tiny Undies
Yep, I'll admit I find diapers useful with a diaper free baby 😉 I like the way Andrea Olson explains things in her EC Simplified guide – “diaper free” means you're free from the dependence on diapers… not that you never use diapers 😉
So we do use diapers when out and about, and also around the house for mobile babies. Scott likes babies to be diapered when he holds them. So they're a good tool.
Tiny undies can also be helpful around the house, in place of a diaper. They typically hold one pee “miss” but are much trimmer than a diaper, so some parents prefer them. I have quite a few pairs I made for tiny babies but can't find where they're stored, so no pics right now! You can check out a lot of pics over at EC Wear (affiliate link).
(NOTE: Want proven, practical strategies to make elimination communication work for you? Use these 5 proven techniques to connect when your baby and have EC success! Get them here.)