You might say I’m crazy, or that I must not have babies of my own if I said that babies do not need diapers, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. In indigenous societies, there was less of a reliance on diapering babies as a means of infant care. Does that mean that before diapers came about, our ancestors were wallowing in baby poop? Nope, it means that they were as in touch with their babies as they were with their own bodies and the earth.
The natural way is in stark contrast to the modern western concept that potty training is something only to be attempted when the child is “ready,” which is usually around 2-4 years old. This potty training paradigm is thanks largely to clever marketing and media from the major diaper companies. In the interest of profits, these mega corps are lobbying for extended diaper use for older and older children. They often make outlandish and unsubstantiated claims, like it is “harmful” to your child to be taught to use the potty before they show “signs of readiness”.
This quote from Wikipedia illustrates this attitude: “Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, however, believes that toilet training is the child’s choice and has encouraged this view in various commercials for Pampers Size 7, a diaper for older children. Brazelton warns that enforced toilet training can cause serious long-term problems, and that it is the child’s decision when to stop wearing diapers, not the parents’.” Basically, they want you to wait until your child takes off his or her diaper, and brings it to you, demanding to use the toilet.
The alternative to modern diapering is nothing magical or elusive; one only needs to reach for their roots. Stories abound of babies being fully potty trained by 6-9 months, in this country and countless others. The most common modern terms for this knowing, this communicating and reading your babies’ needs are “elimination communication”, “natural infant hygiene” or “infant potty training”.
Believe it or not, babies have the ability to both signal their potty needs AND eliminate on command virtually from birth. Trust me, I was skeptical too at first. I learned about this while pregnant with my second child, and it just made too much sense to me for me not to at least try. I started from birth, and kept him naked (it was summer and his skin was still so sensitive and new that this made sense to me) on waterproof pads. Each time he went potty, I made a pssssss sound so that he could associate his need to potty with the sound. At two weeks, I kid you not, I thought, “what the heck, let me just give this a shot”, and I held him over the little ceramic vase I was using as his mini Potty. I said pssssss, and lo and behold, he peed! Of course, at first I thought it was just a coincidence, but this seeming coincidence made me more intrigued, and I continued in this way until I was completely convinced.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming he was potty trained at two weeks, but what I can say with confidence is he was clearly aware of and able to control his bodily functions. There were lots of accidents in those early days, and a few even into the later days, and many times I considered giving up. It is a major time commitment, watching and signaling and learning the body language of your little one. But I just could not allow myself, knowing what I knew, and seeing what I’d seen along the way, to allow my little one to have to sit in his own filth. He needed my help.
I had to get creative sometimes, as a single mom and sole breadwinner, to make this a priority, but I am grateful that I was able to make it work. I do realize how blessed I was to have flexibility and a support system which enabled this to fall into place for me. For those mothers that have to go back to work full time, sooner than later, this could mean involving the other parent or caregivers, or just practicing part-time.
I can count on one hand the number of times that my little one has had poop accidents since he was around 8-9months (and most of those times, it was because his signals and/or timing were missed). Pee accidents took longer to completely end; to be honest, it took much longer for those to end than I would have hoped, or than it did with my daughter, who was completely potty trained more closely to the traditional way at around 14 months. I had to remind myself often of all the diapers I hadn’t had to wash, and give thanks for all the poopy messes I had avoided having to clean out of all those baby folds. If I had it to do all over again, without a doubt I would.
If your interest is piqued, I encourage you to search those terms online, and peruse some blogs and forums, there is lots of great info out there on the topic. Mothering.com has some great forums on this topic, and one book I found especially helpful is Infant Potty Training by Laurie Boucke. It has practical information on hows, and whens and whys, but it also has cross cultural testimonials and perspectives on this practice.
I will also have more posts coming out about specific how-to, challenges I faced, and more. Please don’t forget to subscribe if you have not already done so, so that you don’t miss a thing!