Writing this post is neat for me, since I get to talk about a great little tutorial I came across and talk about a parenting strategy that I really support. The tutorial is for sewing a pair of baby pants that aren’t seamed in the crotch (aka split-crotch pants). If you’ve ever been to Asia, you may have seen a few baby butts peeking out of the pants they wear. Why do they bare their baby bums to the breeze, you ask?
Instead of diapers, these young tots learn to pay attention to their elimination needs from a very young age (more or less from birth, in fact). Their parents tune into the cues they (at first inadvertently) make, and learn quickly to recognize the signs that their babies need to eliminate. They can then give the babies the opportunity to do so over the appropriate receptacle (chamberpot, toilet, etc). The babies then, in turn, learn to wait for these opportunities to ‘go’ instead of wetting/soiling themselves, which they find inherently unpleasant (gee, I wonder why?). This process of communicating with infants and toddlers about their elimination needs is called, not surprisingly, elimination communication (EC). And it is not only the norm in Asia, but in the majority of the world.
There are many advantages to EC. Among my favourites are:
- Drastically reduced/eliminated need for diapers/nappies, reducing waste (disposable diapers) and/or laundry (cloth diapers). Coincidentally, the environment agrees that this is pretty rad.
- The development of a trusting, communicative bond between parent and child (well before the baby learns to speak, no less!). Anticipating the baby’s needs also means less crying and fussing, and happier parent-baby relationships overall.
- No traumatic potty training imposed at some arbitrary date during toddlerhood after the child has learned for 2 (or 3, 4, 5?) years that the diaper is the place to eliminate.
- No diaper rash. Hooray for healthy baby bums!
So back to the pants: Basically they make “ECing” your baby convenient by allowing you to hold the baby above the potty (see how Meg from Sew Liberated does it) while still keeping them warm and cozy in their clothes. Much easier than having to remove their bottoms/pants before each visit to the loo, don’t you think? And when the kid is old enough to be tottling about on their own, they can venture to the toilet on their own and just plop down (pardon the pun, hyuk!) to do their business. That, or if they’re outside, they can even squat/crouch down wherever they may be. Just give them a quick wipe, and they’re off to the races!
EC can be practiced full-time, where the baby is 100% diaper free, or any variation of part-time you can think of. Just during the day, just when at home, just when the mood strikes, just when it works for you, whatever suits the family best. Of course the learning effects (for both parents and baby) are most prominent the more you do it, but it can be as flexible as you make it. Which is cool, because you can try it out and see how it goes. It’s not like it’s gonna hurt. Just take that dipe off, watch, and wait!
Here are some excellent links about EC (also called “diaper/nappy free”):
- Tribal Baby – How to start EC
- Diaper Free Baby – 75 Benenfits of EC
- EC gear from Continuum Family (pottying gear and EC starter kits available)
Also check out this video of one family’s EC experience.
As they note in the video, this practice is not yet mainstream in North America (or not anymore, at least). It is, however, a growing movement. It may be time consuming in the beginning, but it will save you countless headaches (and messes) in the long-run.