Sunday, March 27, 2011

Put Some Pants on That Kid

I try not to post too many nakey baby shots, for obvious reasons, but you may have noticed that most of the time Kale is sans pants.  Since he was born we've been practicing elimination communication (E.C.) part time, and really its much easier to do this when baby is not wearing pants.  I don't typically talk about this unless asked-- lest I be labeled as that iconic stay-at-home-mom who cannot have a conversation without bringing up her children's sleeping and voiding patterns--but, we've had such a nice experience with this I figured it warrants a post.

If you don't know about E.C., there's tons of information on the web and on forums, and in progressive parenting magazines.  I don't claim to be any kind of E.C. expert, and actually cringe a bit at the label involved.  I'm really bothered by how being in tune with your baby can suddenly become a market for labels and all kinds of gear you "need".  While really I'm all for mainstreaming anything that will improve the parent child attachment, I am taken aback by the commercialism attached to E.C., babywearing, co-sleeping, and extended breast feeding.  Basically E.C. is watching your baby and becoming aware of when he/she is going to pee or poop, and putting him in an appropriate place to do it.  It is not early potty training as it puts no demands or expectations on the infant/toddler.

When I first heard of some parents in our area doing this I will be honest and say I thought, "sure, as if we need anything else to worry about as parents."  It was as if they were upping the good parent ante and I was sure I would not be playing along.  But, by the time I was pregnant with Kale I had met several other parents who were also doing it and I got to see their kids playing happily, without diapers.
Now, I'll just mention here, that some cloth diapers are sleek and trim (we actually bought some GroBaby Diapers during this 3rd pregnancy that are just that--and we love them) but, the diapers we used for the first two kids were definitely not.  This seems to be the norm for cloth.  In their diapers, both Juniper and Wylie  looked like they were 5 lbs larger than they really were until they were out of diapers at between 2 and 3 yrs. old.  I actually think their diapers made it hard for them to move.  It may be easier to sit up in a big puffy cloth diaper, but it must certainly inhibit rolling and climbing.  Disposable diapers do not have this drawback, but have other obvious drawbacks such as tons of waste (I won't go into details).  So anyway, when I saw those tiny kids and babies playing without diapers I thought wow, how nice that must feel to them--and really there's not much cuter than a tiny little baby bum in baby pants, without the big diaper in the way.

So, when I was pregnant with Kale I read a couple of books on the subject, and found out that my sister was also doing some part time E.C. with my niece in WA State.  I decided to give it a try.  When he was 2 days old I held him over our old Baby Bjorn potty shortly after nursing and he pooped.  I was sold.  From then on whenever it seemed like he needed to poop I'd hold him over the potty or preferably the toilet and he'd go.  Now I won't go into all kinds of nasty detail here (because really I've typed more about poop so far than I ever thought I would) but let me say it is way easier to do this than to clean up a poopy diaper--particularly for a girl (wish I'd tried this with Juniper).

Some people practice E.C. all the time and never use diapers.  Kale was in diapers all the time except when he needed to poop, until he was about 5-6 months old.  Then we started giving him opportunities to pee as well.   He is typically diaper-less for about half the day, and only at home.  Any time I am feeling to distracted we just put a diaper on him and don't worry about it.  Night times he always wears a diaper. While some babies will reliably signal that they need to pee, Kale does not usually tell us when he needs to go unless asked.  He loves to pee outside.

Why am I sharing this?  It is certainly not in order to up the parenting ante as was my first impression. None of us need that. I'm sharing because I actually think it is easier!  We wash a lot fewer diapers, and even cleaning up pee on the floor (which does happen) is quicker than doing a load of diapers.  Also, we seldom have to pin him down to put a diaper on him.  I remember this being one of the most challenging (physically and emotionally) times throughout the day with my first two children.  From the time they could crawl they would shriek and roll and yell while I tried to hold them down with one hand and diaper them with the other.  We've all been there (right?).

Another thing is that this experience has really changed my point of view about diapers.  I never considered diapers before this-- they were just what babies wore.  But people don't use diapers for their puppies.  They watch their behavior and offer them an appropriate place when it looks like its time.  Babies are not puppies, I know, but really when you think of it shouldn't we offer our babies as much respect as our dogs (and not make them sit in waste half the day).  And many places in the world don't use diapers and never have.  Now that it is no longer intimidating, the idea of not needing a diaper is so freeing to me.  I used to panic if all the diapers were dirty, or if we were out and about and I suddenly realized we had no extra diaper.  Having an understanding of Kale's rhythms allows me to be more relaxed and see diapers as a very handy convenience, but not an absolute necessity.

I'm honestly not trying to sell elimination communication.  Everyone needs to do what works best for their family.  But I did want to share that this is something that we tried, tentatively at first, and now on a regular basis, that has become a very natural, normal part of our lives.  And in hind sight I can say I wish I had done it with my first two.  Kale seems pretty happy with it too.  

Just putting it out there.

1 comment:

  1. Ha, love that last picture! I'm glad you did a post on this. I have been wondering recently whether to take the plunge and go diaper free at night, or switch to cloth for night. What do people in places where they don't use diapers do at night? I'm assuming their toddlers just get up and pee, but there must be some transition period. EC has certainly been a learning experience for all of us here, and I'm really glad we did it. I wish I had never started using pull ups when we go out, and occasionally around the apartment because that really set us back. Maybe Kale will be different, but 2 years has been hard for us, because Audrey didn't want to be reminded or encouraged to use the potty. It was hard for me, but I finally had to step back and trust her to tell me, and accept that we would have accidents. This would have all been a lot easier in our own house. Send me an e-mail if you know of any night time ideas. I will research it as well.


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