Infant Potty Training: Can we really go diaper free?
After months of researching what the best option is for the little bubs as far as diapering is concerned I have come across quite a few options that are better for the environment than just your typical Huggies. I have asked parents about their cloth diaper experience, researched Eco-friendly diaper delivery sites like The Honest Company, and even found a compost diaper service in my hometown. But what if there was a way that we could eliminate a good chunk of the diaper waste for good, while giving our kids a head start on something they will inevitably have to learn anyway? That is why I wanted to do a research article on the controversial topic of infant potty training or Elimination Communication.
I have been hearing reports about this alternative to traditional diapers in the news a lot lately and have even seen some parodies on this topic on my late night fave, The Colbert Report, but after digging into a tad more research, I don’t believe that it is entirely out of the question. I know, I know, many of you are rolling your eyes and thinking, good luck with that, but I figured I would just share some of the things that I have learned thus far and you can make the decision for yourself!
Elimination communication, or infant potty training, is a practice in which caregivers use cues, timing and signals from their baby in order to address his or her elimination needs. Once the baby “announces” that she/he needs to go potty (by grunts, grimaces or squirming) Mom will hold her/him over a toilet or potty pronto bare-bottomed so the baby can do his business there and avoid soiling a diaper. Advocates of EC say the optimal time to start teaching your baby these skills is 0-4 months with the goal in mind that they will be potty trained roughly around their first birthday.
While this might seem completely foreign to Americans, what really grabbed my attention was that more than half the worlds children, mostly in Asia and Africa, never wear diapers and are completely potty trained by their first birthday. You may be thinking, as I did, that they probably don’t have access to diapers and this is their only alternative, which is true, but doesn’t mean this approach is not a feasible alternative to traditional toddler potty training.
There are many benefits to this third option in the diaper debate starting with a significant reduction in environmental waste. Most infants need to be changed 8-10 times a day, so infants practicing EC, while using diapers for nap time and at night, will be using significantly less diapers over their lifetime and less plastic bags to collect these soiled diapers. If you are using cloth diapers to be more Eco-conscious, this practice still uses up significant resources to launder so the diaper free practice is definitely the most Eco-friendly option.
This is also the most affordable option. Cost to the parents per year for disposable diapers is roughly $750-$1,000 so parents practicing EC can save on a good chunk of money over the first 3 years of their baby’s life. EC advocates also say that this is a healthy and more comfortable approach for the baby because it reduces the risk of diaper rash, keeps chemicals off the baby’s skin, and reduces fussiness and colic.
There are many critics of Elimination Communication that state that it is unsanitary and puts unnecessary stress on babies that are not old enough to control their bladders. In my opinion, I am going to approach this like I do everything else in prepping for parenthood, get as much information as I possibly can from reliable sources, and then make an informed and educated decision when the time comes. That is the best I can do in hopes to raise a happy, healthy baby in an Eco-conscious way!
Other sources for more info:
Happy Researching! Valen