Editor’s Note: We are pleased to add Jeremy Dyen to the fathers that contribute to Eco Child’s Play. Jeremy blogs at Stay at Home Papa: “A musician-papa shares his fatherhood, work and family experience. Here you can get attachment parenting ideas, listen to new music and more..”
Prior to our daughter Anjali’s birth, some close friends (who also had a baby on the way) asked us, “So are you using disposable diapers, cloth diapers or going diaper-free?”
We had already made plans to cloth diaper. But what of this diaper-free? Well, who knew how quickly and determinately we could learn and incorporate Elimination Communication (EC), a more appropriate name than diaper-free. Now I cannot imagine taking a different path with our daughter.
In a nutshell, EC is is a practice of using cues, timing, and intuition to facilitate an infant’s need to eliminate. The term was coined by Ingrid Bauer in her book, Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene. Although the idea is to help the infant become diaper free and “potty trained” earlier on than is typical in Western culture, emphasis is put on communication with the infant, and tending to their needs as part of baby-led parenting. You can read a detailed description and steps for getting started in my blog post Elimination Communication For Dummies.
In this post I simply want to list some of the benefits of EC:
- Environmental: If you are the least bit successful with Elimination Communication you will be doing less laundry (if you are using cloth diapers), and thus using less water and other cleaning resources. Disposable diaper users will use less diapers which means less diapers in landfills (although I would advocate against disposable altogether, but that is for another post).
- Save Money: As noted above, you will be doing less laundry with EC, thus saving on water and the energy needed to heat the water, as well as whatever detergent or cleaning solutions you use for cleaning your cloth diapers and cleaning your baby. Disposable diaper users will simply buy less diapers with EC.
- Foster Better Communication Between You and Your Child: This is at the heart of what EC is about. The key word is “communication.” I find that I am so attentive my daughters needs, not just for pottying, but in all aspects of her life. I am very communicative with her, for example by giving her cues to potty. This early communication is no doubt strengthening our bond with our daughter.
- Very Hygienic: With EC, your child will be spending very little time sitting in a soiled diaper. This leads to the next point…
- More Comfortable For Baby/Less Diaper Rash: For one, because you are so attentive to your child’s cues, they will spend very little time in a wet diaper. Either you will have caught the cues and gotten them to the potty in time, or you will have missed the cues, but you will check and change them out of a wet diaper. Furthermore, if you start early you will likely have very few poop accidents. My wife and I have only changed a poopy diaper about 5 times so far, and Anjali is 6 months old. You will have less need for diaper rash creams and treatments, again saving you money.
- Your Baby Will Likely Be “Potty-Trained” Earlier Than Non-EC-ers: Think about this: Non-EC-ers have children eliminate in their diaper for about two years, and then they tell the child to stop. Usually a struggle ensues, and some children are still not fully potty-trained until age 3! With EC, you do not need to un-train your child from eliminating in the diaper. Many babies using EC are “potty-trained” before the age of 2.
- Encourages Your Child’s Independence: We realize that even at an early age (we started successfully using EC by Anjali’s second week!), not only can infants control the muscles involved in elimination, but they can communicate about it. As they become more mobile they will be able get to the potty themselves.
- Helps Parents Tap Into Their Intuition: Many parents using EC speak of a certain intuition that kicks in. Although they are watching and listening for their child’s cues to potty, many often just have a sense that their child has to go. I for one have experienced this, as has my wife. Intuition is a fairly underplayed component of parenting in our society. But I feel it is a very important part of parenting, and I have hopes that more people will tap into it as a great resource.
I strongly advocate EC. And you don’t have to feel like you are obsessing about pottying and diapers. You will find that your attentiveness to your child becomes a normal part of your relationship with them. Furthermore, you don’t have to feel pressured to practice EC all the time. Part-time EC is very much beneficial as well.
I would love to read your comments.
Also, please visit me at www.stayathomepapa.com