When I was pregnant with my older daughter, some four years ago, just about every prospect of becoming a parent sounded appealing to me. Every prospect, except one… I absolutely could not get my head around, the fact that I could be changing diapers for at least the next two, three and possibly four years. It just didn’t make sense to me. Was there a more natural way? What did the cave woman do when their babies had to poo and pee? Did they just crap all over the cave?
I couldn’t find any answer and probably didn’t even know where to ask or even how to articulate a question about more natural ‘toileting’ because I had never been exposed to any other way. Babies in our society, pooed in diapers, and that… was that… right???
Luckily, my diaper changing fears echoed throughout the universe and I stumbled across ‘Elimination Communication’ (EC). In other words, taking your baby to relieve themselves in a designated place. It made perfect sense to me, and within only a week after my daughter’s birth (after a bit of hesitation and initial fears), I started practicing EC with her, or taking her to ‘go’ when she had to ‘go’.
After I caught my first poo in a bucket, there was no turning back! That was it!!! The solution to my fears! Babies didn’t have to poo in diapers (although, I do use diapers as a back up sometimes). Here are the main reasons why I have practiced EC with my two kids and why I wouldn’t have it any other way:
1. Nobody wants to sit in their own poo!
Ever notice how most babies, (newborns especially) always pee as soon as you take the diaper off? It’s because they don’t want to sit in it! Imagine you couldn’t talk. Imagine you couldn’t walk. Imagine you could barely move your head and all you could do is lay there and drool. Now, imagine you were in this scenario and you had to go to the toilet? What would you do? How would you feel? You would feel pretty helpless and pathetic, for sure. So, of course, you would just go where you lay, because, well… you can’t hold on to it forever and nobody knows that the grunting, squirming, kicking, fussing is because you have to relieve yourself.
2. Babies Are People Too!
Almost everyone assumes that babies don’t care about where they eliminate or that they have no awareness or control over their bladders and bowels. But, babies can’t use words! So, how fair is it for us to assume that they don’t know any better and that they are happy to just poo and pee wherever they wish? Contrary to popular belief, babies DO let us know when they have to go! They fuss and squirm and kick and grunt. But, very soon after a baby is born (like within a few months), if their elimination cues are not acknowledged, then they will just stop bothering trying to show their carers when they have to go…. So then, yes… they will go wherever they please because that’s what they’re used to and that’s what they know. Pooping and peeing in a diaper has been their only option from birth, so OF COURSE that’s where they go! But, just because they do it, doesn’t mean they ‘like‘ it… It’s just that they’ve never been given any other option!
3. Reduces the Fuss in a Fussy Baby
I can’t even count how many times my girls were being fussy and it was because they had to poo. Maybe fussing on the boob, or fussing before they had to go to bed. 99% of the time, if they were cranky, and I took them to go, they would do a gigantic poo or pee and be finished with the fuss. The other 1% of the time, they were usually fussing because they were both tired AND had to poo, but had to use the loo first before they could fall asleep. Could you fall asleep if you had to go? As soon as I offered the potty, they were happy to go to sleep . Also, holding the baby in the ‘classic’ EC position is great for a baby’s digestion and helps with gas and constipation. ‘Unexplained fussing‘, pulling on and off, biting and squirming while on the breast are all signs that a baby has to go!
2. Babies are Not Roaming Toilets!
Nothing is worse than when I go to pick up a cute little baby only to realize that it has a soggy diaper that is full of pee. Babies are supposed to be cute and clean! Disposables may absorb the liquid and eliminate the smell of urine (believe me, urine actually reeks), but if a baby’s got pee in his or her diaper… it’s still pee… It’s being carried around with them everywhere they go. Pretty gross, if you ask me. Ok, I’m certainly not perfect. Sometimes I miss a pee and if we’re out of the house, it usually lands in a diaper. However, the second I become aware that the diaper is wet, I change it immediately. Even if you can’t smell it and the baby can’t ‘feel’ it, it’s still gross. It’s urine. It belongs in the toilet, not on a beautiful baby.
3. Hygiene and Rash Prevention
An Indian friend of mine told me how they take babies to go in her country. She showed me that the best way of keeping a baby’s bottom clean and rash free requires absolutely NO RASH CREAM, no wipes or anything else. You hold the baby over a potty/sink/receptacle to eliminate. When they’re finished, splash with water, then pat dry with a designated towel and air dry for a sec. It’s so clean and so rash preventative that it’s just silly! Don’t give the rash cream and baby wipe companies your money! Just keep your baby’s bottom clean and dry! I love how clean my baby’s bottoms are… it’s really nice, especially when I see the cottage cheese dimples on their chubby bottoms and I know that it’s clean enough to blow a raspberry on at almost any given time.
4. Saves Money, Good for the Environment, Saves Time
Whether you’re using cloth or disposables, diapers are expensive! Washing is a pain and uses lots of water and disposables fill up the landfills. By doing EC, I dramatically cut down on waste and save time on doing washing (I use full time cloth). EC also saves you time! EC actually means that you don’t have to stop and clean up a poo disaster! You can time things better and don’t have to worry about ‘untimely‘ diaper changes. Also.. my older one was completely toilet trained by the time she was 14 months old, day and night! Talk about saving time trying to deal with potty training later down the track! My second one is 12 months now and probably following the same course of action as her big sis.
5. Building Trust and Communication
I kid you not, when I would take both of my girls to the toilet, as newborns, they would look at me, as if to say, ‘Ohhhh… thanks mom, I really had to go!‘. There’s so very few ways to communicate with a small baby. When you take them to the toilet, it’s just one extra way of connecting with them and building that trusting relationship by letting them know that you’re there. EC is just one more way of responding to your baby’s needs… and responding to their needs makes them happy! I feed them when they’re hungry, hold them when they want a cuddle, put them to sleep when they’re tired and also take them to the toilet when they have to go!
I’m certainly not tooting my own horn about how great I am for taking my kids to the loo. It’s a very natural thing and 2/3 of the babies in this world go without diapers, so EC is not a new idea. It’s not a trend. It’s the way I like to keep my babies clean and happy. Diapers are certainly convenient to have around, but I wouldn’t say they should be the norm!