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Babies Go Diaper-Free With 'Elimination Communication'
Friday, 13 July 2012 10:00  |  Written by Guest Contributor | Blog Entry

Diaperless Baby vintage photo by Beverly Kahuna “What's the deal with this potty training before she is even one?”

A dear friend of mine responded with this question when I emailed her pictures of my daughter, Asa. Included in the set were shots of her sitting on the potty reading a book. I figured people would comment on Asa reading, not on the fact that she was using a potty at what I’ve since learned is a controversial age for potty training in the United States.

Before my daughter was born, I decided without question that I would use cloth diapers. I believed it was the environmentally responsible choice, and being well aware of the toxic lifespan of the disposable diaper, I went ahead and stocked up on cotton pre-folds and Velcro diaper covers that I would wash at home myself.

At some point in my pregnancy, I came across a book called Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer. Thinking I had the diaper situation covered, it surprised me to learn that there was an even more eco-friendly solution to the diaper dilemma, one that required no participation in the ultra-wasteful $3.2 billion disposable-diaper industry, and also didn’t add to the problematic environmental impact of cloth diapering.

Diaper Free takes parents through the process of “nature’s design for infant care” (i.e., observing your baby’s natural cues for elimination and responding appropriately). Bauer uses personal experience with her own children as a foundation for other parents to begin practicing natural infant hygiene, also known as “elimination communication.”

However, the most compelling argument in the book is the fact that millions of people worldwide practice a diaper-free lifestyle. For example, mothers in India, Africa and China are so attuned to their babies that it is second nature for them to respond to the child’s elimination rhythms. In other words, diapers have never been a part of the equation in these traditional cultures.

The idea that I didn’t have to use a diaper was a revelation. And so I removed my family from the debate of disposable vs. cloth diapers, and went renegade.

I started elimination communication with Asa when she was four weeks old; I simply took her to the bathroom sink when I thought she needed to pee or poop, and if she did she would. I soon learned to read her cues, and within a short time we were in elimination harmony, with very few accidents.

As soon as Asa learned to sit up, we gifted her with a little green potty that she uses regularly at the ripe old age of 13.5 months. I don’t travel with a diaper bag when we’re out and about since Asa can use the women’s facilities (or, in a pinch, a patch of grass), and I‘ve happily saved money on the detritus of diapers. I’ve been able to forgo the wipes and ointments as well. And I’ve avoided the hidden environmental costs—manufacturing, transporting and disposing—behind purchasing these materials.

The mainstream ideals of this country are all about convenience, from our food and fuel all the way down to how we raise our children. It isn’t easy to go against the grain, and being eco-friendly in all aspects of my family’s life takes true time and effort. The rewards, however, have been worth it. My daughter is healthy, happy and enjoys the extra nurturing a diaper-free lifestyle provides. It’s another piece of our give-and take relationship with the planet, something I strive to teach her.

And a worthwhile lesson it is.

Additional resources:
The Diaper-Free Baby

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[This piece was contributed by Dawnee Dodson, a mom and filmmaker who lives in Seattle, WA. – Ed.]

Comments (3)add
Written by rossana , January 30, 2010
Very interesting! It will be easy?
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Written by Rich Bard , November 15, 2009
Great advice. I had a friend from central Asia who was horrified that American babies are forced to sit in their own waste until they have to cry, when it is so simple for an attentive parent to predict when the baby has to go.

As I've heard, it pretty much boils down to after they wake, after they eat, after they drink. At those times, bring them to the potty and they go. I used the same strategy with my puppy many years ago and he never pooped or peed inside once in his life.

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Written by Maggie , November 15, 2009
Congratulations! I am very interested in EC. My daughter is two months old and we haven't tried it yet. At a minimum, we plan to make potty time a regular part of each day as soon as she can sit on her potty.
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