When our child was born, we decided to follow the idea of elimination communication. We read the book Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene which gave us a new perspective on the nappy topic and helped us prepare for this way of handling the child’s elimination. Below you find our reflection on the first and second years of our baby and our parenthood experimenting with the diaper-free approach.
For the record, we all slept in the same bed throughout the whole period. The baby didn’t go to daycare, most of the day she spent with us. Occasionally we left her with other families. We discussed our approach with the parents to make sure they were comfortable with it.
Things went well
- It’s amazing to see that the baby can signal the need of elimination from day one. We regularly offered her to eliminate over a sink/toilet/metallic potty/sunny meadow since the very beginning. We are proud that we even caught half of the meconium in the potty.
- The poo almost always goes into the potty or in nature. The baby is 13 months old now. She says kaka when she needs to poop and waits until we offer her the potty.
- We have somewhat worse statistics with the pee. About every second time when we offer her to pee, she still has a dry nappy.
- Being aligned with the baby help to read their signs. However, sometimes we go out of sync. In these cases, having routines (offering to pee when leaving home, getting out of the car, arriving somewhere) help you remember that it’s potty time, and the baby will slowly also learn that their basic needs are being taken care of.
- Around 7 months of age we introduced a potty where the baby could sit on her own. There was no need for “toilet training”. She immediately knew what it was for and used it appropriately.
- Summer is great, you can let the baby be without wearing anything. Being nature is great, you can offer to pee everywhere.
- Elimination communication is really a language you develop between you and the baby. You help them be conscious of their body functions. On top of that, seeing the baby’s pee and poo every time gives you direct feedback on how they just are. It’s stupid to discard this natural analysis.
Things to change or improve
- We used textile diapers. We washed them every 2 days. However for drying them, in the coastal climate (humid and cool) where we lived, we would have either had to buy tons of washable nappies (lots of money if you want organic cotton) or used a drying machine. We had chosen the latter. Not fully earth care though.
- In general, the nights were often hard. Our sleep pattern was much disturbed. We observed that our baby was waking up for the need to pee during the night too (she wakes up and cries). We decided to offer her to pee even at these hours, and then put back the baby on the mother’s boob, so that the mother wouldn’t wake up entirely.
- Around 8 month age, the baby started to hate it (cries) that she was taken out from the bed to pee. Her cry then would wake up everyone. At this point, we were already quite sleep deprived, so we needed to change something. For a while, it worked that we put a thick layer of cloth nappy on her. But many times she would pee so much that it would still leak and the nappy would also become very cold on her bottom. We decided to use semi-biodegradable disposable diapers for the night. Not fully earth care. Helped a lot though to get more rest.
- Nappies are not for babies. It’s a comforting tool for the parents. We see why parents would choose to put a disposable diaper on the baby one in the morning and one for the night. It’s just too convenient. Especially if people live in the cities, don’t share the same bed with their baby, or the baby is put into daycare very early on, there’s little room for elimination communication. We are grateful that our diaper-free journey was a bonding experience for all of us.
- Ana wishes that next time for the first month we don’t use nappies at all just soakers. She also prefers that we start using disposable diapers for the night much sooner so that everyone gets enough rest.
- I wish to find a way to get rid of disposable nappies completely but be able to sleep well too.
- We are soon going to try to leave the nappies completely. We expect that we will need to wash her clothes way more often. We also expect that she would learn that it’s better to pee in the potty and then we can close the nappy chapter.
Things went well
Around the age of 13 months, we dropped nappies for the day and kept using them only for the nights. Practically speaking, we decided to wash pants instead of diapers. We stopped using nappies even for the night at age of 2.
Our child tells us if she needs to pee or poop. Even better, if we are at home, she goes to her potty on her own and does her job. She knows how to wipe her vulva. We only need to help her wash the bum after she pooped.
It rarely still happens that she pees in the pants (like once a week). Usually this is connected to some emotional disturbance.
She uses a potty and prefers to use the potty over the adult toilet with the child adapter. When we traveled somewhere, we used to bring the potty with us to offer a familiar environment for her to eliminate.
Creating a pee routine worked out well. We encourage her to pee before leaving home, when arriving somewhere, before going to bed, after waking up, etc. Sometimes she just didn’t want to (although often she needed to). In these cases, we asked her to just try and see if it comes.
When we arrived at a new place, we’d tell or show her the place where she can pee. If we left her with someone, we’d tell her who was the adult she needed to ask for help if she needed to go to the toilet.
In general, we prefer loose, comfortable clothing on her. This is especially important to make it simple and quick to offer her to pee. Now that she can go to the potty on her own, it became even more of a priority that she can remove her pants alone.
Things to change or improve
We felt a bit divided or even guilty about using disposable (though mostly biodegradable) nappies for the night. However disposable nappies were the only solution we found to soak up the pee during the night. Washable soakers always leaked.
We need to work on ourselves to better handle moments when we are exhausted and she just pees in her pants in the middle of the carpet right after you just asked her if she needed to pee.
Temporarily remove carpets or use rugs that are easy to put in the washing machine.
Our child is completely diaper free by now.
We switched from washable nappies to pants during the day, and eventually dropped the diapers even for the night. Washing pants instead of diapers are just fine. In fact, our child demands that she doesn’t wear a nappy anymore.
Creating the right environment makes things easy for both the parents and the child. She wears clothes that are easy to remove. When we go out, we carry a bunch of extra pants with us. We have a pee routine that we adults follow too. She has a potty within reach. In case the potty is not available, we let her know about the toilet options in advance. During the day, there’s no play on the bed (in case accidentally she’d pee).
We are all happy with the results. We would follow a similar approach with our next child too.