I'm not babysitting.
April 22, 2004 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Diaper Free! Natural Infant Hygiene and Elimination Communication are terms coined by author, Ingrid Bauer, to define an ancient, natural childcare practice for contemporary parents. They describe a gentle, compassionate and practical way to care for a baby's elimination needs from infancy, with or without diapers.
posted by konolia (32 comments total)
You gotta love the baby book industry. No matter how asinine, someone, somewhere will buy the idea and then feel guilty when it fails them.
posted by ednopantz at 8:41 AM on April 22, 2004

True, that.
But I have heard elsewhere that in "primitive" societies, mothers indeed do practice this. That fascinates me.

But not enough to want to try it.
posted by konolia at 8:44 AM on April 22, 2004

What's old is new again! A lot of what Ingrid says makes sense, but like konolia, I'm not sure I could practice what Bauer preaches.
posted by shoepal at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2004

A woman I know has a diaperless baby - he's one now and has only worn a diaper about 4 times when he was just born before his mother figured out he hated it and went commando.

It's kind of cool, the intimate language between the mom and kid that can allow her to immediately know when he has to eliminate, and the subtlety of babies communication skills. However, if she didn't have the luxury of not having to work and the time available to her for attachment parenting like this, it'd be a miserable failure. You can't do this when you work 10 hours a day, so everyone who can't afford it, of course, is somehow less of a parent in the eyes of the attachment purists.
posted by tristeza at 8:56 AM on April 22, 2004

Holy cow! I'm as into 'alternative' child delivery/rearing methods as they come, and even I wouldn't do this. I think it's a noble idea, but who on earth has the time to constantly watch the child for 'elimination signals'?? You certainly couldn't work or be away from the child for any period of time without someone else there who was also as hyper-vigilant as you. What do you do if you have other kids to watch? I'm all for bonding with your child but this kind of constant attunement is certainly more than I (or my partner) would commit to.
posted by widdershins at 9:10 AM on April 22, 2004

I'm certain that you can tell, the comedy face that my 2 month old pulls shortly in advance of evacuation (not to mention the grumpy fit) means that I'm sure we could strategically locate her posterior in time to catch the explosion 9 times out of 10.

Having said that, after her comprehensive and colourful redecoration of the nursery at three in the morning last week, when we were caught half-asleep and unawares mid-nappy change, I'm not sure I'd want to risk the consequences of inattention.
posted by bifter at 9:16 AM on April 22, 2004

posted by Stoatfarm at 9:18 AM on April 22, 2004

when he was just born before his mother figured out he hated it and went commando.

I am know picturing a cigar-chomping baby dressed in camoflauge holding a M-16 shouting "you'll never take me alive ya filthy bastards!"

I find this delightful. thanks.
posted by jonmc at 9:20 AM on April 22, 2004

This would be great if it could work. But how can it work? It seems to mean that Mom (or Dad) is confined to home with baby. No trips to the grocery store, no strolls through the neighborhood, no drives in the car, no visits to relatives. I mean really, how can this work for those of us who are neither reclusive nor tribal?
posted by alms at 9:26 AM on April 22, 2004

is somehow less of a parent in the eyes of the attachment purists.
A sleep deprived, guilt ridden, friend of mine is channeling her guilt by planning to hunt down Bill Sears and break his nose. I just love the idea of a parenting guru being subjected to a beat down by enraged mothers who have had enough with the guilt tripping.
posted by ednopantz at 9:26 AM on April 22, 2004

A sleep deprived, guilt ridden, friend of mine is channeling her guilt by planning to hunt down Bill Sears and break his nose. I just love the idea of a parenting guru being subjected to a beat down by enraged mothers who have had enough with the guilt tripping.

I'll drink to that. My wife decided that entirely ignoring Gina "contented little nazi" Ford was the way to go at an early stage, and - woohoo! - it worked. We've got a delightful and well-adjusted baby that gets up and goes to bed at a civilized time, and everyone we know that is following Gina Ford has insufferable hell-brats that never sleep.
posted by bifter at 10:11 AM on April 22, 2004

but who on earth has the time to constantly watch the child for 'elimination signals'??

could an overwhelming smell of shit be considered a signal?
posted by matteo at 10:15 AM on April 22, 2004

More Poopfilter

Seriously, enough with the potty humor already.
posted by quasistoic at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2004

could an overwhelming smell of shit be considered a signal?
If you subject your pure ,natural, little one to the tyranny of diapers, it is. But if you were a good parent and practiced natural shit all over the floor -er guided elimination, you would already be too late having failed as a parent once again.
Seriously, diapers might be no fun, but it isn't the worst thing that will ever happen to them. The Peanut doesn't like the car seat or diapering, but those are just non negotiable.
posted by ednopantz at 11:06 AM on April 22, 2004

and practiced natural shit all over the floor -er guided elimination

*slips over putrid puddle of baby crap on thread's blue floor, bonks own head, curses *
posted by matteo at 11:09 AM on April 22, 2004

We've got a delightful and well-adjusted baby that gets up and goes to bed at a civilized time, and everyone we know that is following Gina Ford has insufferable hell-brats that never sleep.

Good to know - we have a few friends who swear by that book (and claim it worked) but it did strike us as a bit...fascist, so we've been mainly ignoring it as well. Care to share your secret?
posted by jalexei at 11:12 AM on April 22, 2004

My wife and I have just decided to crap where we please, and we encourage our child to do the same. Forget elimination signals and all of this silly ambiguity: just embrace your waste and you shall be set free.
posted by xmutex at 11:34 AM on April 22, 2004

I'm not sure there is a secret Jalexei, and if there is my wife must take the credit (and she's not letting me in on it...) It really just does seem that we've tried hard to attend to her needs in a reasonable way and she's responded well (we have no great experience: my wife is a first-time and nervous, but obviously pretty good mother). She was actually very keen to do Gina Ford, but once you're actually on the front-line it quickly becomes apparent just how impractical it is.

All we really do is feed baby when she wants to be fed, clean her when she needs cleaning and make sure that she has a reasonably predictable pre-bed routine (lights down low, very quiet, minimal eye-contact and no talking to her for half an hour whilst giving a feed). Nothing more complicated than that. She sleeps through the night, usually comes to bed with us, sleeps through 8 hours before needing feeding, and sometimes even lets us go back to bed for a couple of hours at the weekend straight after her feed.

Mind you, I'm yet to be convinced that it isn't just luck of the draw: some people get noisy, wakey, pooey, attention-seeking babies, and some people don't, and no baby-regime in the world will make a whit of difference.
posted by bifter at 11:54 AM on April 22, 2004

As much as I hate diapers, I am not about to follow my baby around with a bowl, constantly on the look out for signs of evacuation. I have a friend who has a brother who went diaperless with their baby. Yes, their house is stained all over.

And who the hell is Gina Ford? My baby sleeps fine and I've never heard of her.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:17 PM on April 22, 2004

First, I confess I haven't read the link, but I've gathered quite a bit by reading your comments. I was just in China earlier this year and kids there don't wear diapers (well most don't.) They wear split pants.

So the parents (moms) watch the kids for signs and then scoop them up and carry them to the nearest gutter, potted plant, patch of dirt, etc, so they can go. Frequently followed by turning the child upside down to keep the drippy messy end from dripping until wipes can be found.

Diapers seem way better. (non-parent disclaimer here).
posted by Red58 at 12:38 PM on April 22, 2004

My boss has the world's cutest 8-month old baby, and after a week living with his grandparents (who are from India) he is potty-trained. Their method is to do the following at scheduled times (9:30am and 5pm): hold the child over the toilet, massage his abdomen, coo, and lavish praise on him when he does the deed. His incredulous parents swear that he now poops on schedule, twice daily. Doesn't work for pee, unfortunately.
posted by stonerose at 12:49 PM on April 22, 2004

Got beat to the punch on the China comment. Red 58 is bang on, with one small exception. It's generally the Grandmother, or as my wife and I called them, "Chinese Strollers". We call them that because in one child China, it seems to be grandma's that get to be the nannies, and act as human strollers carrying the infants two steps behind mom and dad.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2004

Damn hippies.
posted by Nelson at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2004

Disclaimer: I don't have a child, and have changed three diapers in the last five or so years but from reading the FAQs on the no diaper site, maybe a modification of some of the techniques would help later for patty training. The "cueing signal" for example.

I've been around a few babies, and seen the faces they make when they are going to crap, so maybe when the parents see this happening, they make the cueing signal. The baby learns to associate crapping with the noise, then when potty training time (or potty learning as I hear it's called these days) the parents could put the kid on the pot, make the noise, and ta daaaa! On cue crap-o-rama!

And an 8 month old boy being potty trained seems pretty miraculous from what I've witnessed at the homes of my friends with sons that age.
posted by jennyb at 1:49 PM on April 22, 2004

Having a nappy free kid seems like madness. My partner and I know our kid's moods very well, but anyone can spot most of his signals. The furtive grunting, firm hand grip, crimson complexion and watering eyes mostly give the game away, but even he doesn't seem to know when he's going to pee. It always seems to be such a pleasant surprise to him.

Some friends aquaintances of ours are trying the nappy free route. Seems they've been in need of a serious, probably frickin' vegan, carpet cleaning products of late.

Oh yeah, this 8 month old potty trained baby.... how exactly? I'm guessing the tot can crawl....but indicating s/he needs to pee? I don't buy it.
posted by davehat at 2:05 PM on April 22, 2004

Getting out of diapers is one of the key self-motivators for potty training; with a diaperless kid you must have to be a lot more esoteric in giving them self-motivation, not to mention the really blatant evidence when they've failed to get it right.
posted by MattD at 3:24 PM on April 22, 2004

Elimination Communication in action. Still seems a bit tree-hugging hippie-ish to me...and how do working-out-of-the-home parents manage this and attune themselves to their darlings' signals?
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:25 PM on April 22, 2004

I'll have to show this to my husband tonight so we can both have a good laugh at anyone who has the time or incentive or in-house carpet shampooer to do this.

I imagined a house smelling like pee, earthy parents wearing pee-stained homespun clothing, and kids running around buck-naked year round. Yeah, me too.

Interesting, though. I doubt I'd try it myself, but I'd at least consider the possibility when my kids are a few months older and on the verge of toilet-training anyway.
posted by tracicle at 3:42 PM on April 22, 2004

disclaimer: I've seen it in action; think it's brilliant, but haven't tried it myself.

The notion that the baby is going to pee on a moment's notice and the parent has to hurry finding a place to eliminate is not the norm. Just as most parents don't use crying (a late stage indicator) as a means to understand their child is hungry, so it is with eliminating. Car trips or visiting in other people's homes, a diaper was used, but the child still crawled over to Mom, made a baby sound, and she knew whether he was hungry or had to go. The baby was free to use the diaper in the car, but after a 30 minute ride to see us, was always dry and would pee after. When holding the baby, they'll actually squirm not wanting to go on the parent or themselves. All in all, I think it's a respectful way to treat a child.
posted by Feisty at 5:54 PM on April 22, 2004

People think we are strange because we cloth diaper. Some on my wife's natural parenting boards are into elimination communication. Not a lot mind you, but some. While I am apprehensive over going diaperless, esp. at night, I highly recommend the cloth diapering route.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 6:16 PM on April 22, 2004

My mom said, with much pride, that I was completely toilet-trained at 9 months old. Apparently, I would get really upset before "eliminating" and once she figured out that it was because I hated soiling my pants, she was able to swoop in and put me on the toilet almost every time. My older brother/ "irish twin" (14 months older), however, wasn't housebroken until he was three; he simply didn't give a shit about toilet training. I'm guessing that the effectiveness of Elimination Communication is largely dependent on the temprament of the baby.

Now, if you could combine this technique with Baby Sign, I bet it'd be pretty effective.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:23 PM on April 22, 2004

Well, my son is 16 months old, and does know a lot of sign language...and we've had some luck getting him to recognize the feeling of when he has to go...but we've only made it to the potty in time a couple of times.

I think it's probably child specific...some kids totally freak when their diaper gets wet or dirty and those kids are usually much easier to potty train...whereas other kids just don't care. The diaper could be swollen up with the volume of the Mississippi river and they just keep toddling along as though it's no big deal. Those kids often don't get potty trained until they have language skills...say late 2-3.

As to this naked baby method, I mean, more power to those who are willing to put up with the smell, the hassle and the constant vigilance...but I'd rather enjoy my boy than being always worried that he's going to pee on the cat.

And I agree with some of the earlier posts that these people tend to flock with the hard core nipple nazi's in their constant need to make mothers who choose different options feel guilty. If there's one thing that pisses me off more than anything else, it's smug self-righteousness.
posted by dejah420 at 7:24 AM on April 23, 2004

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