Elimination communication an alternative to smelly diapers? - AmericaNowNews.com


Elimination communication an alternative to smelly diapers?

Nearly half of all children in the world never wear a diaper, but parents across America are busy washing cloth diapers or discarding billions of disposable diapers in landfills every year.

What if you knew there was an environmentally-friendly way to save money, toilet-train faster, and bond with your baby? Would you dare to go -- diaper-free?

Almost by definition, diapers are smelly, soggy plastic or fabric bags.

There isn't a parent on the planet who doesn't want to finally be done with them, but there is a practice called Elimination Communication (EC) which allows you and your baby to rarely ever come in contact with a nasty diaper.

Annie and Greg Ruffino have a 19-month-old daughter named Lily. When they learned about EC, Greg said he was very open to the idea of doing away with diapers. 

"You're going to save us a ton of money and I might not have to change a lot of diapers?" he wondered.  

The idea behind EC is the ancient, world-wide art of infant potty training. You can start on day one completely diaper free, but experts say observation is key.

You'll have to try to interpret your baby's body language, their sights, sounds and movements for some kind of clue that its their time to go.

"Then, you can start to try to predict -- OK, I think she's going to pee soon," said Leigh Fransen who is a licensed midwife in South Carolina.

The next step involves holding or sitting your baby in a squatting position over a toilet, sink, bowl, backyard, or whatever else works.

While a parent mimics their child's grunts and squirms or gives the universal EC signal, soon, the child will learn to associate those sounds with the sensation they're feeling and the location.

The Ruffinos say Lily has rarely ever worn a diaper and she has never had a rash, making things more comfortable for her tush as well as the couple's wallet.

"I can count on two hands the number of dirty diapers I've changed in 19 months," Greg Ruffino said. 

Despite numerous success stories regarding the practice of EC, most pediatricians do not recommend parents start toilet training until a child is at least 24 months old.

Many believe a baby's brain just isn't hardwired prior to that time for them to be able to control their bathroom breaks.

So, attempting to catch each time a child poops, can be too much of a challenge for new parents during those first few months following a child's birth. 

"I just think its making the picture more complicated and more stressful than need be," said Dr. Anitha Leonard, a pediatrician with Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte.

Parents who try EC on a part-time basis may opt to allow their child to be diaper-free only during certain days or times and, usually, where it's carpet free.

Diapers still come in handy when children are taken to daycare, on long car rides, or in restaurants.

However, parents who are committed to doing EC full-time say using a bowl goes a long way.

"I would just carry that, pop it out, hold her over, clean it out," said Annie Ruffino. 

She said the practice of EC has made braving those pre-potty trained years as easy as one, two, three. 

Advocates for EC recommend parents start doing it -- if even only once in a while -- before their baby is six months old which is typically when a child becomes accustomed to diapers.

Of course, parents and babies should use good hand washing techniques to keep clean after each catch, and make sure any sinks and bowls are completely washed out after use.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

Additional Information: 

Dr. Anitha Leonard is a Pediatrician at Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte, NC. She recommends potty training by purchasing a child's potty, using books about the topic, allowing
the child to watch mom or dad use the toilet, show the child how to flush, wash hands and close the door. This teaches a multi-step process and not an automatic response.

Annie and Greg Ruffino are the parents to 19-month-old Lily:

  • Annie admits that starting EC was very time consuming in the beginning, but she enjoyed bonding with her baby.
  • The couple found daycares were not willing to continue EC during the day time so they found a babysitter who was able to help.
  • When traveling, Annie was flexible with her diaper use. She would sometimes hold Lily over the diaper and giver her the signal or she carried a collapsible bowl and clean out the bowl.
  • Greg was initially skeptical, until he realized how much money the family would save and how few diapers he'd need to change.

The following information is from DiaperFreeBaby.org (Source: www.diaperfreebaby.org [http://www.diaperfreebaby.org).

  • DiaperFreeBaby is a free support group network that promotes a natural
    approach to elimination needs (Elimination Communication, Natural Infant
    Hygiene, Infant Potty Training) by observing baby's signs and providing cue
    sounds without diaper use.
  • Elimination Communication is NOT potty training.
  • EC starts in early infancy, preferably.
  • Exclusive dependence on diapers during the first year of a child's life can
    influence the ability to control the bladder and bowels.
  • There is no expectation to completely avoid the use of diapers. Whatever
    system works best and does not cause undue stress on either party.
  • Babies are aware of their elimination needs from birth and communicate them
    vocally and with bodily signals.
  • Within the first few months of life, babies can consciously release their
    bladders and bowels.
  • Communication is the focus and EC should be gentle, non-coercive and based on the baby's needs.
  • EC can be done using diapers all of the time, some of the time or not at all.
    This offers a more environmentally-sound option to disposables.
  • EC can be done full-time or part-time.                                
    • Full-Time: many choose not to use diapers so that there is no interference
      with the parent's awareness of when baby needs to eliminate. Catches are easier
      with underpants.
    • Part-Time: may use a diaper backup along with diaper-free periods (once a day
      or several times a week). Used in a stress-free environment like a carpet-free
      room or outdoors.
    • Occasional: may begin with typical elimination times (right after waking up) or by simply sitting baby on a potty during a diaper change.

Step One:

  • When observation is key. Look for timing patterns and rhythms. Most
    babies need to pee upon waking up, 0-15 minutes after nursing, at regular
    morning intervals, less frequently in the afternoon and either
    before/during/after nursing at night.
  • Signals include: squirming, fussing, tense face, raised eyebrows, frowning,
    concentrating, pausing, agitating, waking up, reaching for you, reaching for
  • Signals for older baby: rolling or walking to toilet, struggling to get out of
    car seat or sling, moving off bed/couch, holding genitals.
  • Use your intuition to anticipate elimination.           

Step Two:                               

  • Hold baby in a gentle, secure manner over a receptacle (toilet, sink, potty,
    bucket, diaper, tree, etc). Baby should be in a deep squat, in your arms with
    back to your tummy.
  • Make a cueing sound to "invite" your baby to pee or poop. For
    example, a water sound like "psssss."
  • The sound plus position is used to signal elimination.
  • Make sure to use the cue sound ever time you see baby peeing so your baby will
    learn to release upon hearing the sound or being held in the position.
  • Never try to force elimination.

The following information is from HowStuffWorks.com (Source: http://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/baby-health/newborn-development/elimination-communication.htm).

  • Diapers leave two choices: washing dirty ones for 2+ years or add to the 22
    billion disposables that go into landfills each year.
  • About half of the world's children (mostly in Asia or Africa) never wear
    diapers or are fully toilet trained by a year old.
  • Chinese children wear split-bottom pants.
  • Elimination Communication is more environmentally friendly and less expensive
    than diapers.
  • Advocates of EC say there is no diaper rash and more bonding with baby.
  • Many EC users say their child is "toilet independent" by two years old
    versus traditional toilet training which starts around three.
  • The key is learning baby's body language, starting at birth. When baby grunts
    or squirms, the parent reads the signals and holds them over a toilet.
  • Timing: most baby's have an elimination schedule with regular intervals throughout
    the day.
  • Verbal Cues: baby communicates to you, you communicate a sound back as the
    baby uses the toilet. Soon the baby will realize the connection between the
    sound and the experience.
  • Its best to start before the baby is six months old or else they become
    accustomed to diapers.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says babies can't fully control bladder and
    bowel movements until about 18 months old (when toilet training typically
  • EC advocates say babies ARE communicative and
    have more bodily control than the medical world believes. 

The following information is from WebMD (Source: [http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/bye-bye-diapers?page=2).

  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there's no "right"
    age to toilet train. Starting before age 2 is not recommended since readiness
    and physical development needs to occur between 18 months and 2.5 years.
  • EC is embraced in at least 75 countries.
  • Doctors worry parents may have unrealistic expectations and children can end
    up constipated or soiled if they are pressured into toilet learning before they
    are ready.
  • A study in Pediatrics showed the average age for toileting in girls is about
    32 months and boys is about 35 months.

The following information is from the New York Times (Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/nyregion/babys-latest-going-diaperless-at-home-or-even-in-the-park.html?_r=0).

  • Some pediatricians say children under a year old can't control their toileting
  • Many EC parents still use diapers at night, for car trips, restaurants, etc.
    but say their baby is off diapers by 18 months.
  • Parents and babies should use good hand washing to maintain sanitation.
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