Elimination Communication (EC), otherwise known as the “Diaper-Free Baby” movement, is increasing in popularity despite criticism and misconceptions.
Why are more and more parents rejecting the convenience of modern diapering? Here are 12 great reasons to consider letting your baby go diaper-free — even just some of the time:
1. EC’d Babies are Potty Independent Sooner
Early toilet training is not the goal of EC. It is a method of dealing with your baby’s elimination while they are not yet able to be fully independent, providing them with a cleaner option than sitting in their own waste all the time. However, while early training is not the goal, it is often a happy by-product. EC’d babies are never diaper-trained; they are used to having clean, dry bottoms, and the potty is a regular part of life for them, not something new they need to be ‘introduced’ to. The transition to potty independence as they gain more conscious control of their bodies is pretty much automatic. There is no need to wait for vague “signs of readiness”, your baby simply takes over the process when they are ready to.
2. Use Fewer Diapers — Earth-Friendly and Cheaper
Whether you’re using cloth or disposable diapers, if you practice EC you will use fewer of them. How few? That depends on how fully you commit to EC, but even just occasional “potty-tunities” will save hundreds of diapers in the long run. If you ‘catch’ just one pee each day over two years before potty-training, you will save over 700 diapers. That’s a lot of washing, or a lot of landfill saved… plus a good wad of cash. And of course, since EC’d babies usually are potty-trained sooner, you use fewer diapers that way as well! Any way you look at it, diaper-free is the best choice for the Earth.
3. Lighter Diaper Bag
A typical cloth-diapered baby’s diaper bag for an outing might contain several pocket diapers, or prefolds with snappis and covers, or some bulky all-in-ones; a box of wipes, a dry towel, a changing pad, a large wetbag, and a couple changes of clothes in case of blowout. The EC’d baby might have one spare diaper, or trim training pants, or even underwear; a change of clothes, and a small wetbag. Parents consistently find that EC’d babies will ‘hold it’ for a surprisingly long time on outings, so less ‘just in case’ gear is necessary. Rather than a large diaper bag, you can often get away with just using your regular purse or tote bag.
4. Reduce Diaper Rash
Diapers trap moisture and heat next to baby’s skin, an environment perfect for breeding yeasts and bacteria. Rashes can also be caused by irritation from the diaper material itself, detergents used, or the acidity of urine or feces. When you have no diapers, you have no diaper rash.
5. No Blowouts
You know that poo that was just so enormous and vigorous that it escaped the diaper and went all down your baby’s legs and up their back? The one that had you wondering where this tiny baby had stored it all before letting it go? EC’d babies do that too… but straight into the toilet. Ahhhh… so easy! Which leads us to:
6. Cleanup is So Easy
Sure, you have to clean poop out of a potty sometimes. But that’s much easier than scrubbing dried-on poo out of all of your baby’s delicate, tiny little folds. The fairly liquid poo of the breast-fed newborn can be easily dealt with by holding your baby over the sink and just rinsing it down the drain. Even as your baby becomes a toddler and poo becomes more substantial, cleanup after a poo generally consists of a quick wipe with a single piece of toilet paper. Wet wipes? Who needs ’em?
7. Strengthen Bonding and Trust
EC is, in large part, about respect for your baby. Babies are born with an instinct to not soil themselves, and to eliminate while uncovered (as every parent has experienced during diaper changes!) Working with their natural instincts rather than against them – by forcing them to relieve themselves into ‘wearable toilets’ and sit in it for an average of three years – greatly strengthens the bonds of security and trust between you and your baby.
8. EC Explains Mystery Waking and Fussiness
It’s 2am, your baby is awake and crying. He’s not hungry. He’s not cold. He’s not hurt. What’s the problem? Maybe he needs to pee! Sudden, unexplained fussiness during the day is also often a signal that a baby needs to eliminate. Whether they have conscious control of their bladder and bowels yet or not, it’s still an uncomfortable feeling when you “have to go,” and babies will communicate this discomfort the only way they know how to – by fussing. Parents who practice EC have one more tool in their toolbox for helping a fussy baby. “Hungry? Lonely? Tired? Hurt? Aha… potty time!”
9. You’ll Think Your Infant is a Genius
Let’s face it. In our society, we’ve become pretty hard-wired to believe that babies are incapable of controlling their bladder and bowels until they’re at least 2.5 or 3 years old. When you sit your 3-month old on a potty and they cooperatively go, right on cue, with a smile on their little face… you will believe that this is the most intelligent baby in the history of the world. Of course, your baby won’t think there’s anything so special about her great accomplishment. She’s just doing what she’s born to do!
10. No Diaper Change Battles With Your Toddler
Toddlers are notorious for not wanting to cooperate with diaper changes. EC’d toddlers still go through periods of resistance as they work their way towards independence. Diapered toddlers fight for control where they have none. Since they have always been directly involved with the pottying process, EC’d toddlers focus on merely shifting the control, in stages. As parents respond appropriately, the battles are generally shorter-lived and less severe.
11. Baby Bums in Undies are Just So Cute!
Need I say more?
12. It Can’t Hurt to Try It!
I was a complete skeptic when I thought about trying EC when my daughter was 3 weeks old. It sounded absolutely nutty, insane, ridiculous. But we figured, what was the worst that could happen? If we try it and it doesn’t work, then we’re no worse off than when we started, we just continue using diapers like we would have anyway. But if by some bizarre chance it did work, then there were all the potential advantages I’ve described in this list – many of which hadn’t even occurred to me at that time. Even if it turned out to be just a big fraud, at least we wouldn’t be left doubting if we had missed out on something that could have been great for our little girl, for us, and for the planet. At least we’d know.
Every day we are grateful that we tried it. From that first day when we held her over the sink and she peed and pood almost right away, we haven’t looked back.
Even if your baby is no longer a newborn, it’s not too late to give it a try. Don’t just take my word for it: learn more about Elimination Communication, and see for yourself.
[This post was written by Heather Dunham]
Jamie Ervin says
Great post… I think EC is the absolute most Earth Friendly way to raise a baby (not to mention the benefits to child and parents!)
Carlota Bindner says
Awesome article, it is something I have just started reading a book on elimination communication. I wish I had known about elimination communication for when I had my first daughter who is now 15 months old. But I am planning on giving it a try with my 2 month old.
Wow, I never thought of it as 700 diapers saved. That’s a lot! My 8 month old regularly uses the potty every morning which totally cracks me up. Great topic!
Sharon Hicks says
That’s my girl !! 🙂 As the Grandma of the darling little girl in the article, I’ve seen it in action, and wish I had known about it when my own children were born.
Are there any techniques to use on a 3.5 year old? He just plainly states that he doesn’t want underwear or to go potty and lately, he doesn’t like his diaper to be changed. I wish I would have known when he was an infant…
Jennifer Lance says
Philip, My son was the same way. We just let him run around bare bottom in the house. When the urge came, he had to make a choice, and he didn’t want to mess on the floor, so he went to the potty. I swear by the bare bottom method.
Carrie at NaturalMomsTalkRadio says
I discovered EC when my second child was 8 months old, and did it with him, then practiced it part time with the next two. It was awesome and taught me so much about how amazing babies are!