Friday, July 31, 2009

Diaper Free Baby. Well, Not Yet!

I swear, once you start to put your baby on the potty, you'll never turn back. I have bought a ton of different types of diapers: custom cloth from San Francisco's East Bay Jessica here, cheapish cloth diapers from Green Mountain Diapers here, biodegradable diapers here, and
Huggies from Lucky's down the street. And, nothing compares to NO diapers at all!

When West has to go poop, he works on it for a good hour and sometimes three hours if he is on his back in bed. I was getting no sleep listening to him grunt and moan for three hours. At first, I thought that he needed to burp. So, I picked him up for a burp and he pooped. It turns out that laying flat on your back isn't the best position for pushing a poop out or a baby for that matter. Plus apparently, we can't pee or poop in our sleep. We have to be awake for the bowels to open. I believe it. If I potty West right when he wakes-up, his diaper is often dry.

It all started when Lydia told me about a friend of hers who pees her baby in her sink when she comes over for a visit. It sounds completely unladylike but putting manners aside for a moment, pee is sterile and is okay for the kitchen sink. So, no big deal?

I asked Lydia if she knew of any books on the subject and she pointed me to Diapers Free, which she remembered seeing at her pediatrician's office. I checked it out from the library and read it. Serendipitously, I received an email about an Elimination Communication (i.e. Diapers Free) workshop in San Francisco by Willow Lune. I signed up. I was curious.

I decided to do a 24-hour trial period before the workshop. My first goal was to "catch" West's nighttime poop so that I could get some sleep. So, when he woke me up in the middle of the night with his groaning and moaning, I took off his diaper and held him in a squat position over a cloth diaper. I can tell if he has to go because his penis is sticking up and looks full. Sure enough, he pooped and peed right away and we happily went back to sleep. I didn't have to clean up a sloppy mess of poop smeared all over his butt either. Now I use a potty and not the cloth diaper and I have less laundry!

Once he is over the toilet, he poops. It's like he waits for it. I don't catch a lot of his pees right now, but I am hoping to as I get use to this new method of diapering or should I say not diapering. I catch the obvious pees like after nursing and first thing in the morning.

Ah yes, I have been pooped and peed on, but it has only been once or twice and isn't much worse than a diaper blowout, which I just had to clean up this morning because I was too tired to poop West in the potty. After changing the bed and doing laundry, I'm motivated again to listen to his cues and put him on the potty. Putting West on the potty isn't much different than reminding a toddler to go to the bathroom at key transitions in the day like before leaving the house, before bed and in the morning.

The concept seems outlandish, but when I started thinking about what most of the world does for diapering babies, it totally makes sense. Most places don't have a Lucky's down the street with
Huggies. And the people living in these places don't have the money to spend on diapers. They carry their babies close to them and learn their signs for peeing and pooping.

Yes, I realize that we don't live in India or Tibet but baby instincts are the same. Babies don't want to defecate on themselves. What animal pees and poops on themselves and sits in it for hours.

When I asked Zack this question, he answered, "worms." I responded, "I think worms are insects." Actually, we are both wrong. In any case, I think that we can agree that worms are a far cry from human babies.

I mean really, the more that I think about it, the more that it grosses me out. Would I want to sit in my poop? Diapers are a convenience of modern life for adults. I bet if the babies could talk, they would have something to say about it.

West is five weeks old and wears diapers. I take them off like I would pants when he has to pee or poop. He still sits in his pee sometimes if he is sleeping but it's less now. And, I do hope to have him out of diapers by his first birthday.

Now if only I can get my three-year old out of his nighttime diaper.


Lydia said...

I witnessed West peeing and pooping on cue today. Wow! Amazing! I can't wait to try EC with my little one when it's my turn again. :-)

Thystle said...

Yeah for Thais & EC!

I heard about EC right before my son was born, read a little about it and thought it was madness. I revisited it when he was a couple of months old, after stumbling across an article about it by, of all things, a consultant to the diaper industry alerting his clients about the phenomenon. In this article, they spoke of an American woman of Indian descent who was visiting family back home. She was trying to explain diapers to her grandmother, who was aghast that we let our children sit in their own feces until we get around to changing them. It really made me see diapers in a totally different light - like how barbaric they are. I realized that I disagreed with the principal of diapers (like you say, who wants to sit in their own poop or pee) and the only thing holding me back from trying EC was fear of the unknown. Love, love, love mamahood for challenging your comfort zone!

With my son we did alot of diaper backup when out, and from a year onward he was pretty much naked when at home. He was out of diapers by 18 months. That being said I think the biggest thing to help me in my EC journey was to relax, to not think of it as potty training at all or ever and instead just respond to his needs, wherever he was on the elimination continuum.

Happy pottying!

Erin M said...

Thanks for this great post! I will be having my own baby boy in the next few weeks and am very interested in attempting this once we get into our groove.

My daughter was so easy to potty train that it is was almost effort free on my part. She always has hated being wet in a diaper and went straight to the potty fairly early. Seeing how she has responded makes your post seem even more logical. She probably would have been one of those children that would have appreciated a mom doing this with her early on.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

We've been doing this ever since my (Indian) in-laws came to visit and were shocked we were strapping bulky cotton between our 3mo old baby's legs all the time - how was she going to learn to move around right? Look how much happier she was when she was naked!

I was still really skeptical until I saw my mother in law carrying her around without a diaper with no problems at all. I read about how to potty on the internet one afternoon, then tried it. The very first time I held her up over a "potty" (for the first month, it was actually just a casserole dish) she peed within seconds.

We haven't gone back!

(And, for context, we live in a fully carpeted apartment and both work full time and although we try to recycle / take the bus when we can, we are far cries from environmentalist hippies - we're really very normal people...)

Aileen said...

All I can say is....IMPRESSIVE!

Mitzi said...

Thanks for the article and comments-it's great to hear other moms attempting this with success. My son is 8 weeks now and I heard about EC through family and thought it was crazy to "potty train" so early. So I read about it on the Internet and had a general idea of my sons cues - he would cry before a pee or poo and fuss at the breast while bf-ing. I also saw a YouTube video of a guy ec-ing his baby over a toilet seat and finally thought I'm gonna try this because not only did I recognize his cues, I noticed he would communicate this to me and his diaper stripe would turn blue indicating he was wet. First time I tried it he pee instantly and then I bought the special bowl as a regular plastic bowl was difficult to catch his man stream. I have to say it's a little difficult to catch every pee and poo. I still leave him in a diaper and catch the cues when I can. I already have a lot on my plate and I think this is a great start to going potty. I would love o have him diaper free too but I don't think I'm ready. I'm also not some big environmentalist - just another working mom who can't believe the bond I've developed with my child through breastfeeding and amazing at my new ability to understand what my baby is communicating.

Ps- I read if you return to work and take your child to daycare they will wet their diapers at daycare but I your diaper free at home they will know the difference.

missclean57 said...

5 weeks-he is too little! He should be a baby and wear diapers.Do you know this idea is New Age-is this your religion? I would understand better! He is really cute too, by the way!

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