This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year’s carnival will run from Sunday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 9th. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.
|Turns out, I've never taken a photo of my son |
on the potty. I guess I was too busy
assisting him to snap one! (Photo by tornatore.)
Some background information about EC, if you're unfamiliar:
Elimination Communication is widely practiced around the world, particularly in developing countries where diapering would be impractical (or is prohibitively expensive). Caregivers can leave their babies diaper-less and/or naked on the bottom (or in some cases, they're dressed in special clothing with a split in the crotch for easy elimination). The caregiver learns the baby's cues for when she needs to pee or poop, and then they take the baby to an appropriate place (a toilet, a sink, a baby potty, a bowl, outdoors, etc.) to do their business. Caregivers often have a signal that they give the baby when it's time to go: a sound or word, a sign or gesture, a specific way of touching the baby, or a combination of these. EC can be practiced from birth, or can be started any time later. (I started EC with Daniel when he was about ten weeks old.)
EC emphasizes communication between the caregiver and the child. It uses timing (after naps and mealtimes are good times to try the potty), cues (from the baby) and signals (from the caregiver), and caregiver intuition facilitate the process. Each baby is different in how she communicates her elimination needs, so this practice involves patience and flexibility on the part of the caregiver. EC is sometimes called "natural infant hygiene" or "infant potty training," though it is not potty training in the traditional sense. There are not rewards (for "catches") or punishments (for "misses") it is simply a way to attend to your child's elimination needs that involves paying attention and subsequently responding to your baby's cues and natural daily rhythms.
I read some about EC before I was even pregnant, and it intrigued me that in developing countries, babies are carried around diaper-less, and yet, their mothers aren't covered in baby excrement. (Some brief examples of EC can be seen in the movie Babies, where both the baby from Namibia and the baby from Mongolia are shown being toileted by different methods by their caregivers.) During my reading, I was fascinated by the assertion that in the United States (and other industrialized, diaper-using countries) we essentially teach our babies to pee and poop in diapers, and then have to un-teach them to do that when they're older. Diapering is (understandably) considered a barbaric and backwards practice by people of cultures who are accustomed to seeing and practicing EC all the time.
|Ten-week-old Phoebe, peeing on the potty |
for the first time! (Photo courtesy of ekwetzel.)
So even after all that information, why the heck would I bother taking my baby to the potty (even some of the time) when he'll just go in his diaper anyway?
Seven Reasons to EC (Even Part-Time!)
- It's free! It doesn't cost a penny more than using the toilet regularly (and it can cost even less if you frequently potty your baby outside).
- It actually saves both time and money: every catch means one less diaper to change now and then wash later. The fewer diapers we use in a week, the less frequently I have to wash, and less washing cuts down on the overall (time and money) cost of diapering.
- It's the ultimate in environmentally friendly choices: no matter how you choose to diaper the rest of the time (cloth, disposables, hybrids, etc.) fewer soiled diapers means less impact on the environment.
- Less time spent in a soiled diaper and more time spent with skin open to air means less diaper rash (and other diaper-related issues).
- It's fun! No, really. The first time you have a successful catch, it's pretty exciting. You just communicated with your baby! (Plus, I'm a sucker for a good experiment, and seeing EC work is fascinating.)
- It's an intimate bond with your child. Any time you're helping someone with their toileting needs, you're attending to a very private part of their life. The communication aspect of EC is really rewarding and connective.
- It's what I would want someone to do for me if I was unable to verbally communicate my elimination needs. That's what it comes down to for me: it feels like the most respectful way to help my kiddo with his toileting needs until he's able to do it without help.
How about you? What do you think about elimination communication? Have you ever tried it? Do you think I'm a little too far out there now? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Visit Natural Parents Network for the most up-to-date news on the Freedom of Cloth Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:
- Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
- Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents' individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering "style" that best suits their families.
- Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
- Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
- Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
- Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
- Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become "greener" overall.