When I was pregnant I had nightmares I didn’t have any diapers for my son when he was born. It’s a typical anxiety dream pregnant mothers have. Worrying we’re not prepared.
But it’s symbolic of how ingrained diapers have become in modern parenthood. Babies and diapers just go together. From diaper “cakes” at baby showers to the rite of passage toilet training represents. Our culture has become diaper dependent. And our babies diaper trained.
As an environmentally and health conscious mother-to-be I thought my only choice was cloth OR disposable. I cringed at the thought of my baby’s diapers sitting in landfill for 500 years. And I was concerned about the chemicals in disposables and the potential links with conditions like asthma, allergies and cancer.
And then I read about EC. It blew my mind. And made total sense – of course babies are born with the ability to eliminate properly. To go to the potty. I needed to learn more so I devoured all the information I could. And I couldn’t un-know what I’d learnt. I couldn’t ignore it. As unconventional as it sounded I had to try it.
Could we really have a baby without the dirty diapers? And with this knowledge how could I NOT give my baby this natural gift?
So, I told Mr G. and bless him, at 36 weeks pregnant he’d have agreed to just about any crazy idea I suggested. So when our little man was born we started practicing EC. At the start he peed and pooped in an open diaper. And when he developed good neck control we tried him on the potty.
I remember it vividly. On a sunny Monday morning I sat our little man on the potty. I cued for a pee and to my absolute amazement he peed. I shouted for Mr G. to come and see – we were insanely proud parents. That was over two years ago. In the time since, EC has enriched our connection with our little boy beyond belief. It’s been one of the most rewarding parenting choices we’ve made.
Maybe you’d like to try EC but you’re a little nervous about it . You may not know many other parents who have tried it. Or what to expect. And using diapers feels familiar. Normal. Easy.
So, let me share some of our experiences of the life-changing benefits we’ve revelled in and maybe you’ll join us…
01. OH THE FUN YOU’LL HAVE…
Sitting on the potty with our little man as a baby had us in fits of laughter with his “potty talk”. We used to call each other in to see the new potty exclusive expressions he’d come up with.
One of my favourite EC experiences was on a hike when our little man was 10 weeks old. He needed to pee, so I took his diaper off and held him between my legs. As I sat breathing in the mountain views he peed immediately. He was still perfecting his aim so I got a little on my knee but it was such a thrill to have our cave baby peeing in the woods. Oh, and for the hikers among you, no dirty diapers to “carry out”.
02. IT’S NATURAL
Have you heard parents or doctors suggesting to wait to potty train until your child is showing signs of being “ready”? What does that mean? According to the Pampers and Huggies marketing team “ready” is some time around 36 months. But, in our grandparents day, most babies were potty trained by 12 months. So, what happened?
Are babies less “ready” these days? Are we taking an evolutionary step backwards?
No, babies are born ready. In most of the world, babies don’t wear diapers. Instead, they spend all day with their mothers being carried or nursed. And mothers naturally take care of their babies elimination needs as part of parenting, without giving it a second thought.
Doctors talk about babies needing to develop control over their bladders but that would assume babies are born incontinent, which they’re not. That wouldn’t make biological sense. Babies are born with full control over all of their bodily functions and they know when they need to urinate. It’s parents who need to dial into their babies needs and respond to their elimination cues. And it’s a lot easier than you’d think. It couldn’t get more natural than that.
03. IT RESPECTS YOUR CHILD
I try as often as I can to walk in my baby’s booties. So, when I think about the alternative to EC which is soiling oneself, it feels dirty and unnecessary. With the knowledge our babies can eliminate in the potty, giving them the freedom to do so demonstrates our respect for them. Our actions as parents speak louder than words and EC shows our babies we value their non-verbal communication and respond accordingly.
In our time with EC, we’ve had a lot of misses. Babies do pee and poop a lot and it’s impossible to catch them all. In our first year I’m guessing we had, at most, one dirty diaper per month. And we caught approximately 80% of his pees in the potty.
Through EC, I’m respecting my young son’s needs and I think he knows that. I’m convinced it’s strengthening our bond and his trust in us as parents, that we’ll look after his needs whenever we possibly can.
04. IT’S GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
The debates about disposable versus cloth are trumped by the ability to simply flush. Having said that, we still used diapers as a safety net. We used a combination of G Diapers (cloth) and Seventh Generation (disposable).
Estimates suggest half the weekly waste from households with a child in disposable diapers is diapers. EC cuts that dramatically. Throw cloth diapers into the mix and waste becomes negligible.
05. IT’S CHEAP
Even though we still used cloth and disposable diapers we’ve used a fraction of what we’d need to if we relied solely on diapers. Some days, even at 6 months, our little man would sleep in a disposable diaper and be dry in the morning. EC is saving us a small fortune.
06. YOU WON’T NEED TO POTTY TRAIN A TODDLER
It’s easier to teach a baby to pee on the potty than to potty train a toddler. Babies are born with the ability to sense their elimination needs. They’re totally continent.
Babies don’t argue or negotiate like a toddler can. No power struggles with a 3 month old.
Toddlers, on the other hand, are more interested in running around and exploring than potty training. And after three years of having their elimination cues ignored a toddler needs to be retrained to use the potty. They’ve effectively been diaper trained.
07. NO POO-SPLOSIONS OR DIAPER RASH
When I first overheard a mum say the word “poo-plosion” it took a few seconds for me to realise what she meant. I’m thrilled to say we’ve never experienced one. And no diaper rash, either. I cleaned through our bathroom cupboards when my little man was a year old and came across some unopened diaper rash cream. We’ve never needed it. Not once.
Baby girls commonly get urinary tract infections from contamination with faeces which can be avoided by using EC. It breaks my heart when I see friend’s babies with red welts on their bottoms. All caused from sitting in dirty diapers.
08. DADDY CAN DO IT
Dads often feel left out in the newborn and young baby stage as most things need to be done by mum. EC is something Dad can do – its one of Mr G.’s favorite things and it doesn’t feel like a chore at all.
WILL YOU GIVE IT A GO?
From a global perspective EC is the standard. Most babies are potty independent as early as six months. Yet, in the West the average age for potty training is three years. We like to think we’re ahead of the curve but in this case we seem… less civilized.
So, from parent to parent, I hope sharing some of our EC experiences will make your more confident and curious to give it a go. You won’t regret it. Feel free to email me with any questions or leave a comment below.
Do you EC with your baby? Are you interested in trying it? I’d love to hear your comments and questions!