Elimination Communication and Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers

Babies -> diapers? When we found out that we are going to have a baby, the thought of having to make tons of unrecyclable waste made me feel really uneasy. What to talk about all the money that I’d rather spend somewhere else than for absorbing pee and poo. I was lucky enough to discover the world of modern reusable cloth diapers and out of many different options found ones that seemed the most practical to me. We collected our own set of diapers and have already been using them for 3 months (update: more than 5 months) and still very happy about the choice that we made. The cost for an entire set is probably what many new parents spend on diapers a month and we are still planning to use the same ones for another few months until our babe totally grows out of them (and will keep them for future babes).

Elimination communication

An even more fun discovery while being pregnant was elimination communication. Me and my husband spent nice time watching videos on YouTube where people were sharing their experiences about how their babies, literally newborns, were using the bathroom on a potty and not in a diaper and how by the age of one year or even younger, they would be completely out of diapers. The first evening of our son’s life, after he slept and ate and still seemed a little fussy, my husband said “maybe he wants to use the bathroom?”. We took his diaper off and he lifted him up over the sink with his knees up to the chest. Sure enough, he peed and pooped. The satisfaction on his little wrinkly face was a really gratifying feedback that proved that what we learnt was true and encouraged us to continue the lookout for his signals. Our son is now three months old (update: almost 6 months) and he has had only a handful of unfortunate occasions of pooping in his diaper. He still sometimes pees in his diaper but usually because we’re not reacting fast enough.

Diaper or no diaper?

Some people call elimination communication a no diaper method but it’s actually pretty important to use diapers because it helps a baby to understand that if he pees, he’s going to be wet and if he’s naked then he might just pee without telling because he feels free and maybe he thinks that he is not going to get wet.

Cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers?

It seems to me that elimination communication would be more effective with cloth diapers because if a baby pees on a cloth diaper they can feel it and that motivates them to tell their need to use the bathroom next time. Moreover, the conventional disposable diapers are supposed to absorb so well that the baby might always feel dry and then it kind of confuses them and numbs their instinct of wanting to be clean and dry.

Is it worth it? (a hint – absolutely yes!)

I have only experienced this with one baby but from what I read, all or at least most newborns communicate this need of elimination from birth but if they’re being kept in diapers all the time and no one responds to their signals, they just learn to pee and poop in diapers (aka on themselves) then later they have to be untaught from doing that and learning how to use a potty might become a pretty difficult task.

I’m actually pretty surprised that so few people in the western culture know about the way babies communicate their need to eliminate, and I have a feeling that in the past more people knew about it, but the marketing of disposable diapers did a great job telling people that babies are just meant to live in a diaper and they’re not smart enough to know when they need to use the bathroom (funny enough, everyone knows that if you give a sandbox to a baby cat, they’re gonna know what to do).

For anyone who has or is planning to have a baby I highly recommend to research elimination communication not only for use of less diapers but mostly for strengthening the bond with the baby by effectively responding to their needs. It requires attention, dedication and a bucket, but it’s well worth it. There’s a lot more to be said on the topic, and if someone is interested to learn more about it, I´ll be glad to share. <3

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