Episode 15: Elimination communication with Joy MacTavish

Joy MacTavishSunit Interviews Joy MacTavish who is a holistic perinatal professional. She supports families before and after childbirth, is a certified lactation consultant, a baby wearing consultant and parenting coach.




Sunit talks about how she discovered EC. She was potty training her kids at 2 years old and her mom mentioned that she potty trained Sunit at 6 months old. This piqued Sunit’s interest so she looked into it further and realized that this is actually something that people do. Sunit just wants to introduce this to her listeners who may have never heard of this.

She talks about the fact that she just wanted to do this show so people can hear about it and decide if it’s right for them.

Joy says this practice goes back thousands of years. Diapering has increased the age of “potty independence”. There is nothing wrong with using diapers, but it is an alternative for people. Sunit reiterates that she wanted to bring awareness to this as being another one of those things that used to be normal before modern day conveniences, that is now unheard of. Diapers are normal now but they didn’t exist hundreds of years ago, just like many things we have now to think about when raising children. There is another way and Sunit just wants to bring it back into the spotlight. EC was something that was naturally done centuries ago, but has evolved to the point where diapering is normal.

Sunit asks Joy what are the benefits and disadvantages? Benefits-less reliance on diapers equals less expenses and less waste. Parents feel that they are more connected to their child’s cues.

Andrea Olson who started this movement says it can start at birth. Joy says they started at 3 weeks with her baby. She didn’t change any poopy diapers after 5 or 6 months. She couldn’t relate to fellow parents at daycare during the potty training phase because she didn’t really potty train. Her child was already transitioned. EC is birth to 18 months. Potty training is 18 months and older.

Sunit asks Joy to explain exactly what Elimination Communication means and how it actually looks. Joy says there are a variety of things that parents do. There are various ways of communicating and connecting with your child, observing cues, knowing and anticipating, etc. It requires you being very present and knowing your child’s signs and signals and keeping track of the baby’s activities and environment and time of day. There is not one right way to do it. It is what you make it. Some families do it only at certain times others do it 24/7, it can really be what you make it. No pressure. EC families graduate from diapers between 12-18 months. Traditional diapering is between 2-4.5 years. It has to fit into your routine, it does take a shift in energy.

Sunit says that she has mixed feeling about it because on the one hand she would have loved to have tried it but on the other hand, there is something to be said for handling baby stages step by step. You can take one thing at a time, like newborn stage, then sleep, then solids, then teething, then potty training. Thinking about EC from birth could feel very overwhelming to a new mom. But if there is an ambitious mom wanting to try it, it’s an option. She likes that it’s flexible though. If you are interested you can try it and make it work for their family. Sunit asks about how successful people are with this method, Joy says it depends on your expectations.

Some families are gung ho, others not so much. As long as you are ok with the progress, and don’t set an impossibly high bar, you will be happy with it. Doing EC at any level can cut down on diaper use and that alone is a great benefit.

Sunit says she just wants people to listen to this episode and be open to another way of doing things. Just being introduced to it might change how you approach things.

Sunit asks Joy for some tips to help a new or expecting mom to help avoid the overwhelm she may be feeling. Joy says mindfulness. Just breathing and being. Watching what is happening in your body and with your child. Slow down and look at what’s happening and indulge what you need. Tune out the noise and what is happening in the future and just focus on the present.

Sunit says just go with your gut. Just go back to your breath, your baby and yourself. Sunit asks about non coercive potty training. Joy says there is a lot of talk in parenting circles about potty training when the child is ready but in the EC world potty training is parent led not child led. The parent decides when the family is done with diapers, not the child. It’s gentle in the sense that it is concise and focused and no rewards or punishments. A week or two of focused time.

Sunit summarizes that it’s parent led, not stressful, and no rewards.

She asks Joy for books or resources for anyone interested.




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