This practice is not a new one. Many cultures throughout the world need to find ways to keep babies clean and dry without the use of diapers. It is the dominant method of baby hygiene in non-industrialized countries.
Parents who practice Elimination Communication view it primarily as a way to meet the baby's needs and enhance attachment and communication. "Toilet mastery is, of course, an inevitable consequence", writes Bauer in Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene (2001), "Yet it's no more the goal of Natural Infant Hygiene than weaning is the goal of breastfeeding."
There are a number of benefits to using the Elimination Communication method including reducing or eliminating the need for diapers, which reduces the environmental impact and save the family money. Without the use of diapers, parents don't have to deal with bouts of diaper rash and babies have a reduced risk of urinary tract infections. Many EC parents report it as a bonding experience. Elimination Communication can also lead to earlier potty training.
Timing involves identifying the infant's natural timing for elimination. Newborns typically urinate every 10 to 20 minutes, but as they get older the timing will spread out. Timing may also be based on meal and nap times.
Signals are the baby's way of communicating with the caregiver that they are going to eliminate waste. This is where it's important for the caregiver to pay close attention to their baby as each baby's signals will be different. Babies may make certain facial expressions, specific cries, grunts, squirm, pass gas, etc. It's easiest to identify these signals when baby is not wearing a diaper. As babies get older they can learn signs or words to communicate with their caregiver.
Cueing is how the caregiver communicates with the baby when it is time to use the toilet. Caregivers can use a specific sound for urinating or defecating to create two-way communication with the baby. At first the caregiver must make the sound while the baby is eliminating to create the association with the sound and action. Once the baby has made the association, the sound can be used to cue the baby to try to eliminate. Older babies may do better with word cues instead of noises. Sign language could also be used.
Intuition is simply the caregiver's gut feeling for when the baby may need to use the toilet. A subconscious awareness of baby's signals and timing, it plays a vital role in Elimination Communication.