The Potty Whisperer
October 18, 2006 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Potty Whispering (otherwise known as Elimination Communication or Natural Infant Hygiene) results in Diaper-Free Babies (and a more diaper-free environment). See also: 101 Reasons to EC.
posted by spock (41 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
"natural infant hygiene" like that's not an oxymoron.
posted by wilful at 8:09 PM on October 18, 2006


I can think of one good reason not to: wanting to get back my apartment's deposit. My kid is a stealth pooper...no noises, no red face. just a sudden smell that tells you he's got a present for you. I got better things to do than hold him over the toilet all day.

And those 101 reasons pretty much keep repeating the same few points in different words.

Especially since one point was "getting peed on can be funny!" Unless you're wearing your expensive new suit. Or on your way to a job interview. Or don't want to smell like urine.
posted by emjaybee at 8:24 PM on October 18, 2006


Doctor spock, I presume?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:32 PM on October 18, 2006


Yes. I'm posting from Hades.
posted by spock at 8:33 PM on October 18, 2006


You know it's Hell because we have internet access, but the only site that isn't firewalled is Metafilter.
posted by spock at 8:54 PM on October 18, 2006


sorry, didn't read the links, but while watching Nanook of the North, I wondered how the women deal with the babies they carry around on their backs inside their coats handle the situation. Someone told me that they learn to recognize the signs from the baby and it's not a problem. Good movie btw.
posted by sineater at 9:06 PM on October 18, 2006


Hmm, well the emphasis here isn't much on communication, but there’s been some pretty interesting research in infant communication. The fact is, the brain develops for speech before the physical ability to speak itself. Think of your baby as a small orangutan. There has been some success in this field, and how great is it to be able to know why your child is crying and respond, rather than guessing one thing after another and then, often, giving up.

Diaper reduction is a fine goal, but I would think that early use of language would have both emotional and cognitive benefits for the child, though that’s just my guess.

In practice, this woman does talk about removing a diaper or clothing when the baby "signals" the mother, so this is clearly a secondary measure.
posted by dreamsign at 9:11 PM on October 18, 2006


Holding it in until Mom's soft whisper in your ear prompts you to let go via elimination communication.

Yep, I just heard the sound of a million Freudian psychologists enrolling in grad school...
posted by ontic at 9:14 PM on October 18, 2006


Think of your baby as a small orangutan.

This is helpful. And well beyond the toddler stage.
posted by hal9k at 9:21 PM on October 18, 2006


If nothing else, this site is worthwhile for hosting a picture of the most freaked-out baby ever.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:22 PM on October 18, 2006


This is perhaps the dumbest thing I've read in a couple of months online.

I got a big surprise for you... babies go while they sleep. Trust me.

In the animal kingdom, the mother often licks the genitals of the offspring to stimulate passing waste, and consumes it.

Good luck with that.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:46 PM on October 18, 2006


Yeah, screw diapers. Babies should do it in their sleeves.
posted by c13 at 9:50 PM on October 18, 2006


I don't know why everyone is being so cynical. While I'm not planning on having a baby anytime soon, I've always hated the idea of using diapers due to their incredible wastefulness, and yet knowing that I would never survive cloth.

This sounds quite promising.
posted by Alex404 at 10:15 PM on October 18, 2006


How'd they do it in the 1400s and 1500s? There sure weren't any diapers around, and cloth was pretty scarce.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:30 PM on October 18, 2006


Are you kidding? There was shit everywhere in the 1400s and 1500s!
posted by mr_roboto at 10:35 PM on October 18, 2006


If nothing else, this site is worthwhile for hosting a picture of the most freaked-out baby ever.

He's not freaked out. He's just concentrating on dropping a monster shit. Mommy's smile has three seconds to live.
posted by quite unimportant at 10:38 PM on October 18, 2006


I've always hated the idea of using diapers due to their incredible wastefulness, and yet knowing that I would never survive cloth.

I don't understand why people insist that cloth is such a big deal. It isn't. My son is now potty trained (except at night) and apart from times we were travelling - when we used the Moltex Öko's (biodegradable/compostable) disposables - he has been in cloth nappies since birth. There are a lot of schemes out there who are willing to assist people in the move away from the "disposable" nappy insanity and the costs involved are far from extortionate.

The time when a child uses the most nappies is from birth to 3 months. By 12 months, nappy usage decreases to something more manageable. We went through about 70 nappies a week during the first 3 months, then 55 a week and by about 12 months, we were down to 35/40. I know some who used 100+ through to 12 months, but if you ask me they were a little, er, neurotic about their didums' pee and poop. There's no doubt that there is a heck of a lot of washing to start off with BUT, there are services out there who will rent you the nappies (tip: buy your own wraps) and do the washing for you. Also, there's nothing to stop you using disposables to start with and the switching later. Its not ideal, but even a few months not throwing away nappies helps in the long run.

Moreover, in some areas of the UK, you will find that your local authority is willing to pay for your first month. Many councils are running out of landfill and it is actually cheaper for them to encourage people not to throw nappies away than it is to pay for them to be dump in landfill. Cottontails is the service for you if you live in Greater Manchester (there are many others if you don't).

Once your baby's nappy use cycle has died down to something you can readily cope with - say three nappies a day, one at night, its cheaper and easier to buy your own nappies and wash them yourself. If you buy 25 nappies, you'll only need to put a wash on every 3rd day at most. The nappies sit in a (sealed!) bucket till you have a load to wash (we added water and tea tree oil because our kid has eczma - bleach/nappy sanitisers didn't play nice).

As for poo whispering, unless you live in a yurt or a teepee, have universally brown carpets and an ability to keep a straight face on a crowded bus whilst your baby shits on a seat, it just isn't practical without nappies for about 99.999999% of people. I know some people who tried it and they didn't try it again (they went cloth).

Reading from the first link:

People ask, "How long does it take?" There is no fixed time scale, and there are different degrees and definitions of "being potty trained." Healthy babies can signal and communicate about most of their toilet needs around 25 months, some sooner, some later. There are very few hard-and-fast rules except to be relaxed and nonpunitive, and to keep baby safe and comfortable.

Well, our son was trained at 28 months using cloth nappies, so I'm really not sure what the deal is here - this seems to just be an early start potty training technique combined with "getting to know your baby" tips. On the same page they actually seem to recommend using cloth nappies:

Cloth diapers tend to speed learning, when compared to disposables, since cotton allows babies to feel and be aware of their elimination.

So, go cloth, there's next to no reason why you shouldn't.

Wow, I'm like a cloth nappy evangelist or summink!
posted by davehat at 12:03 AM on October 19, 2006 [3 favorites]


Cloth diapers need huge imputs of hot water (with energy to heat the water), detergent, and heat again to dry. This takes lots of labor from mom and/or dad. They REEK. And your kid is more likely to get rashes.

Disposables cost us about a dollar a day. They are made of paper. Their ability to absorb is downright amazing. Yes, they add bulk to the landfills, and a lot of it, but both methods of crap collection are bad for the environment. The difference between the two is not big enough to be a no-brainer.

Until we figure out better ways to deal with baby poop, including potty training our kids earlier--sounds good to me, those kids have to get changed somehow.
posted by recurve at 4:29 AM on October 19, 2006


I've found that cloth diapers actually don't smell as bad as disposables. I don't know why, but when we use disposables on our daughter she continually smells "poopy". Don't know why.

Actually, there IS another way, so long as you don't mind moss.

I suggested this to my wife, but she wouldn't have it.

Oh, and if you say anything about that weird bacterial infection that comes from peat moss, well, that comes from soil, which is where peat moss is typically dried. So nyah.
posted by SanitarySewer at 5:59 AM on October 19, 2006


I plan on teaching my kids to go the same we trained the dog, just put their face in it.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Previously

Not as if anybody could possibly forget anything like this.
posted by dr_dank at 6:28 AM on October 19, 2006


recurve: Sorry, but I'm going to have to take you to task on this. You are recycling a classic pampers/huggies sales pitch and are demonstrably wrong on at least two of your points

Cloth diapers need huge imputs of hot water (with energy to heat the water), detergent, and heat again to dry.

And disposable use a lot of energy to manufacture, so disposable use is not just a landfill issue, its a high energy/plastic using/byproduct creating//paper pulping/paper bleaching issue too. Of course, I'm not claiming that there aren't issues with heating the water for cleaning cloth nappies; however it really isn't as bad as you imply, although I grant you, most (all?) cloth nappy service service will boil wash and use a dryer due to health and safety restrictions.

On the other hand, if you only use a washing service for the heavy duty nappy use stage between 0-9 or so months - as I did - and then switch to DIY later, I think its a good compromise. After the switch my partner and I found ourselves doing low heat washes and drying the nappies on a line. FWIW, we also used an AAA rated washing machine (we our house keeper hand washes them here in Kenya - she refuses to use the washing machine out for some reason).

So, that seems like a pretty low scale energy useage jump to me - an additional 10 or so low heat washes per month using a top rated energy efficient washing machine (the wraps just go in a normal wash). Moreover, we didn't live in a hot/dry climate. We lived in Manchester, England, which proves you can line dry just about anywhere.

...[washing cloth nappies] takes lots of labor from mom and/or dad.

It's really not that bad - and there's nothing extra to do if you use a nappy service. They do the hard work for you. When your gets to a stage where your kid uses less nappies and you feel you can DIY it still isn't a big deal. I did it for over a year and - SHOCK HORROR - I'm a dad. We're not supposed to be pre-disposed (te-he) to do this sort of thing (or so I was told repeatedly by other mums at toddler drop-ins).

[cloth nappies] REEK

Poo smells... who knew? OK, granted, they can "mature" over three days, but big deal, seal the bucket, mask the smell (a few drops of tea tree oil is your friend here) then tip em in your machine pretty damn quick when the time comes.

If someone turns up once a week to deal with the cleaning for you, then its all gravy innit? Anyway, all nappies smell. If you can make one that doesn't, patent it quick!

And your kid is more likely to get rashes [with cloth nappies].

Is this from personal experience? I ask because my son gets rashes from both types of nappy (he has pretty bad eczema) but if you ask him which troubles him the most, he says it's disposables (pampers at the moment, can't get the moltex nappies in Kenya). As a matter of fact, we have had pretty long winded arguments with him about them but he's absolutely adamant that he wants cloth. This could be conditioning though, cloth is what he's used to, so what the hey, all speculation such as this is usually down to personal experience...

Disposables cost us about a dollar a day.

I'd venture that a washing service wouldn't cost that much more. In the UK, we worked out that we were paying only about £5 a week more for the serviced washes than we would buying disposables - and thats the UK (where everything is about 4 times more expensive).

Hunting around, it looks like $3 a day is a good deal for a service in the US. I grant you that's more expensive than a disposable, but if you wash your own, you'll actually save cash. If you do as we did, a bit of both, I think the personal costs would probably equal out. The environmental cost would certainly be lower.

[disposables] are made of paper.

Now that's just plain misrepresentation. They are not just made of paper. Disposable nappies contain bleach, silicates, plastics, adhesives - you name it - as well as paper pulp. Show me a nappy made only out of paper and I'll buy it. Seriously. Moltex (as linked in my prior post) are the closest to being "green" disposables - they use no bleach and use recycled paper and plastic and have a different gel-lock (what keeps the wee away) to conventional nappies. Only a handful of people use these nappies outside Germany - most being (middle class) European parents prepared to spend a little more to affect the environment a little less. Even these green nappies won't decompose in landfill - you need to use worm composting - then they'll break down in about 3-4 months. Some friends tried this and it actually worked after a fashion - it probably wouldn't work for all your nappies unless you have a small country estate and run an organic composting outfit - even then you might struggle...

[disposable nappies'] ability to absorb is downright amazing.

Although certainly a benefit and a HUGE selling point for disposables - you'll notice it's often the main selling point for huggies/pampers ads - it does, however, have a flip side; some parents risk lose any notion of when their kid is peeing. As you can see from the links in the post, this doesn't really help when it comes to potty training and can sometimes lead to kids being left to wallow in their pee a little too long (that gel only absorbs so much). This can exacerbate, for example, infant eczema.

The difference between the two is not big enough to be a no-brainer.

I couldn't agree more. I'll take cotton anytime. Disposables are for wimps! ;)
posted by davehat at 6:46 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Slate covered this a while ago, and they weren't impressed.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:02 AM on October 19, 2006


CBC Radio did a piece on this a while ago. The primary complaint seemed to be that it required the mom to pretty much always be with the infant; otherwise it is apparently quite difficult to get the sort of 'mind-link' required. This is common with certain native tribes for example, but certainly isn't common with working urban moms. At least one guest was fairly bitter in that the 'natural' camp tends to paint other methods as some kind of neglect, which gives working moms even more guilt then they already tend to suffer from. All in all, it seemed to be a good idea in theory, but rarely practical for most people.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:24 AM on October 19, 2006


What davehat said. Plus, if you're not squeamish, you can buy really flashy cloth diapers used (dude, just wash 'em real good - reduce reuse recycle!) Plus gDiapers are pretty interesting, and look even more enviro-friendly than Moltex Oko. Sorry, does that sound smug, Ynoxas?
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:19 AM on October 19, 2006


I guess it is pretty hard to argue with the fact that parents can feel guilt (rightly or wrongly) over some of the choices they make (and don't make) for their kids. Neglect comes in lots of forms and certainly even "stay-at-home" parents can be every bit as guilty of neglecting their kids needs, even if they are physically present.

However, it is also pretty hard to argue with the fact that being present does make possible some things that being away makes harder (or even impossible). That doesn't make those things bad and it doesn't mean that the people doing them are necessarily feeling "superior" (though they might be) or have any sort of "need" to make those who can't do those things "guilty".

We should always try to separate information (which may or may not come with "loaded" language) from the rationalizations and stuff going on between our own ears and not throw any group of people into the same "box" by imputing wrong motives to them as a group.

We make a lot of compromises in life and particularly for "convenience's" sake. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but a reexamination of the things we think of as "normal" is often helpful. Options are always good, me thinks.
posted by spock at 9:22 AM on October 19, 2006


My girls are all well out of diapers (youngest a Senior in High School) but I find even the possibility of this working as being intriguing. It has always seemed to me that if you could train a puppy, a human baby's brain would be more than capable of such training, as well. In fact, it has always seemed to me that a lot of really smart capable toddlers were stuck in diapers for far longer than was really "healthy" and that this might contribute to later bed-wetting, etc. Sometimes it is just laziness in continuing the status-quo (on either the child or parent's part).

Maybe it is just the way I think, but it is irrelevant to me what "Slate" or others think about it. I'm more interested in hearing from those who have done/tried it and seeing if there is anything that separates the successful from the unsuccessful. Only then can one evaluate whether it is going to work in their own particular set of cirucumstances. Obviously, anything that requires consistency (like learning a musical instrument, for example) isn't going to happen - or is going to take a heck of a lot longer - if that consistency is not applied, for whatever reason.

Those interested in communicating directly with those who are doing this, might check out the following forum:
MotheringDotCommune Elimination Communication Forum
or some of the other resources available.

Discussion regarding cloth vs disposable diapers are derails, but feel free. Nobody is twisting anybody's arm to do this.
posted by spock at 9:38 AM on October 19, 2006


spock: We should always try to separate information (which may or may not come with "loaded" language) from the rationalizations and stuff going on between our own ears and not throw any group of people into the same "box" by imputing wrong motives to them as a group.

I whole-heartedly agree. However, we also need to look at the biases and motivations of the information-givers to help evaluate the reliability of the information, as well as passing the sniff test (okok, pun intended...). For example, in your second link, we get:

The primary focus of Elimination Communication is not about cleaning up after baby (though that may still be required for a time). It's about tuning in to a baby's needs, being in the present moment with your child, listening deeply, and acting responsively.

This fairly strongly suggests that the writer considers not using the technique to be not listening to the baby's needs, etc. Now that could just be a little hyperbole on the writers part, or perhaps just some strong writing, but I often get the undercurrent that it is about paying better attention to your baby. This makes me wary, even if I find the topic pretty interesting. Even your comparision of this method to "conviences" is pretty prejorative.

As to the actual technique ... I'd love to see some kind of formal testing/surveying to see what effects it may have on other aspects of the parents and childrens lives. It would be pretty difficult to do (I suspect the proponents in our society fall into fairly narrow demographics), but certainly could by someone clever enough.

And, heh, posters rarely get the discussion they wanted.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:18 AM on October 19, 2006


Sorry, the mis-spellings are mine not spocks...
posted by Bovine Love at 10:19 AM on October 19, 2006


Sorry, does that sound smug, Ynoxas?
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:19 AM CST on October 19 [+] [!]


Wrong thread, but no, suggesting a reasonable substitution is not "smug". Saying "I'm superior because I only allow my child to go potty on slabs of bark harvested by native workers from indiginous trees" is smug. Just like saying "don't eat bananas unless you live in the tropics" is not a reasonable substitution. Better yet, watch the South Park episode on hybrid cars and you'll get it pretty quickly.

I think flush-and-go diapers are a fantastic idea and WAY overdue. Adults put their waste in toilets along with paper products. It seems perfectly reasonable a baby diaper could be constructed to be similarly used, at least sometimes.

Cloth diapers are a lot more work, and it takes a lot of very hot water, bleach, and a very open mind to shake the idea that they are less sanitary. Yes we wash our clothes in a washing machine, but I do not urinate and defecate in my clothes. And, if you do cloth diapers in a standard washing machine, you need to sterilize the washer before you do "regular" clothes in it. Not to mention having to be careful not to get too much solid material, etc.

So it is going to be very difficult to convince me that having to remove solid matter from the diapers before washing them and drying them and folding them and sterilizing the washer is "no more work" than disposable diapers.

And Bovine Love is dead on. This isn't REALLY about the environment, this is about "you're a terrible parent if you don't manually coax your child's bowel movements. *WE* are the good parents, because *WE* really get it".

Just like how, of course, breast feeding a baby is usually preferable to formula. But when the Nursing Nazis come at you and say stuff like "giving your baby formula is the same as giving them poison", it is very clear what their true agenda is.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:37 AM on October 19, 2006


Ynoxas:
You don't like cloth diapers. Fine. Don't muddy the issue with "it is very clear what their true agenda is" conspiracy theories. To be perfectly frank, your own agenda shows through in your last comment: your personal convenience, in the form of not having to do "too much work" for cloth diapers, is more important to you than the environment. That's fine, no problem, it's a valid choice... but you may as well admit it rather than pulling smokescreen maneuvers like "it's not REALLY about the environment". Because the disposable diaper issue is, really, about the environment. Unless landfills are the sort of thing you'd like to have more of.
posted by vorfeed at 11:19 AM on October 19, 2006


vorfeed: Let me clarify. The agenda I am referring to is the people in the original post.

I'm not saying the entire cloth diaper viewpoint is invalid, I'm saying this PARTICULAR discussion of "potty whispering" is NOT about the environment. It is about child rearing superiority, pretty much in their own words.

In short:

Disposable diapers = easy

Cloth diapers = harder, possibly more environmentally conscious (and well intentioned)

Potty Whispering = a crock
posted by Ynoxas at 12:15 PM on October 19, 2006


Ynoxas: And, if you do cloth diapers in a standard washing machine, you need to sterilize the washer before you do "regular" clothes in it.

well, er...

...actually no. You don't. I mean, why would you do that? Fair enough if you do, I guess, but "need" doesn't come in to it for everyone - its not like you eat your dinner off your clothes, is it?

Gotta say though, despite my eulogy earlier, the gDiapers flush and go looks good to me - I mean, its not like I MUST use cloth nappies, just that it is the best way my partner and I found (after exhaustive research) to balance our conscience on the matter. I'm going to look in to these further, thanks for the heads up DenOfSizer - davehat 3.0 may well end up in these (or similar).

spock - thread modding is generally pointless on mefi - things rarely end up where an OP wants them.

Getting back on topic for you though, trying this "potty whispering" (an awful holywoodisation of a term) without nappies seems impractical in households where parents work. Many poor mothers who live around where I live use this sort of technique as nappies are too expensive for most people.

Recently, our housekeeper's daughter and her 16 month old son came to live with us whilst the boy recovered from illness (severe malnutrition). Initially, he did not wear nappies, but after about the 25th time he peed in our house, we bought him a batch (wraps, nappy + liners). His mum was cool about it, although her mum rightly pointed out that Brian peeing on the (dirt) floor of a mud hut was not as big a big deal and so he didn't fully appreciate the difference between peeing indoors or outdoors - he went when he needed to, just like most other 16 month old kids. However, at home Brian's mother would often catch him before he peed and put him outside to finish the deed since she was with him 24/7.

As a matter of fact, the real problems started once Brian had started to recover somewhat, since his mother then began helping around the house assisting her mother (our housekeeper), thus leaving the kids - our 2 year old son, Brian's 2 year old uncle who also lives with us, and Brian - footloose and fancy free around the house and compound a lot of the time. This is where the pee problem problem arose - she was frequently unable to pick up on Brian's signals, so he peed where ever he stood when he needed to go. This was fine outside, not so (for us) inside.

So, to stop rambling and actually say something about this method of potty training, coz that what this is, not a nappy alternative; I say, in an "ideal world situation" (one parent giving 100% care), this is a very nice idea.

BUT, its not going to work for everyone - especially not the sort of person these schemes seem to target; the middle class, ecologically concerned, working mother who's sensitive to memes concerning what's "best" for mum, baby and the environment. It's not that I think that people who advocate the idea are wrong, nor that the idea itself is wrong, just that it is almost totally impractical for most people it targets.

"How not to add to landfill if you can help it" is a subject that my partner and I and the majority of our friends (with and without kids) talk about/have researched and generally really give a shit about (wink wink) - hence my verbosity on the matter.

*on preview* Ynoxas, I agree with your second comment 95%; if you can drop the "possibly", then it's 100%.

I'm a beer or two down by now (wishing it was a Timmy Taylor, alas its yet another bloody night of Tusker), so this is the last I have to say on this or any matter tonight :)
posted by davehat at 1:14 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


davehat: Um... I'm trying hard to think of how to answer your first statement. The diapers are full of human waste. Do you wash your hands in the toilet, as long as it has been flushed? I would consider it "quite" important to make sure that any possible contaimination from fecal matter be prohibited from regular outerwear. Well, underwear too.

Seriously, if you use a standard washing machine to do cloth diapers, you might want to strongly consider a very small very short empty cycle through the washer with a stout dose of bleach or other more fancy sanitizer.

Regarding "possible" environmental impact, I'm actually somewhat concerned about what a poster upthread mentioned regarding cloth diapers... increased water usage, hot water usage, detergent, bleach, whatever "sanitizer" of any kind necessary... less landfill space, absolutely! But overall? I'm not sure it is necessarily as clear-cut as it appears at first blush.

However, because of my skepticism over claims that cloth diapers are "not that hard", I applaud you for having the fortitude to do it. For us, it was really not even a serious consideration.

Despite my probable appearance in this thread, I do care about such things, and I did go so far as to find a diaper service and price the diapers themselves. My wife said "no way" almost immediately.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:16 PM on October 19, 2006


Plus gDiapers are pretty interesting,

I'm waiting for the nano iDiapers. Solid state FTW.
posted by Sparx at 2:17 PM on October 19, 2006


Seriously, if you use a standard washing machine to do cloth diapers, you might want to strongly consider a very small very short empty cycle through the washer with a stout dose of bleach or other more fancy sanitizer.

Uhm... If I'm reading that right you seem to think that the waste from a teeny human reared on breastmilk alone is a big and smelly as a fullgrown adults. This is simply not the case, and there is no problem washing even really messy cloth diapers in a small home washing machine without any "cleansing between washes", just kick the temperature up to 90 C and let her rip.
I speak from recent experience, having used Imsevimse cloth diapers and only a crummy small load washing machine (no dryer!) in the house. Do a full load every two to three days, hang overnight to dry. No problem. Don't ever use bleach or fabric softener when washing the diapers though, you'll ruin their "soakability".
posted by dabitch at 4:09 PM on October 19, 2006


I've used gDiapers with my fourteen-month-old daughter and they definitely work as advertized. The only tricky bit is that we change her in her room, so then you've got to stash the baby somewhere while you go dispose of the diaper insert.

They're considerably more expensive than Pampers and somewhat more expensive than the no-chlorine eco-friendly (seventh generation) disposables. On the other hand, no poop in the landfill.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:54 PM on October 19, 2006


Ynoxas: The diapers are full of human waste. Do you wash your hands in the toilet, as long as it has been flushed?

Wash hands in a toilet? I'm not getting your analogy due to it not being, well analogous...

However, something has just dawned on me; you do know that you flush the poo down the toilet, right? I mean, I'm not advocating putting whole turds in the washing machine - that would, indeed, be crazy and would no doubt clog up the machine. A cloth nappy has three parts, a plastic "wrap" or outer layer (goes in a normal wash), a cloth nappy (washed separately in a hot wash) and a paper lining (disposable). The paper lining keeps some of the wee away from the bottom and also means that when you change a nappy with solids in it, you just take the whole thing to the loo, remove the wrap, then dangle the rest in the toilet and press flush. Solids, and the paper lining, go down the loo, nappy goes in a sealed bucket. Most, if not all of the poo is gone and the nappy is ready for washing.

Also, though one can wash nappies on a 60C cycle - obviously, one doesn't have to; if you think doing so is unhygienic, or you have a particularly soiled load - do a 90C wash, there's nothing wrong with the odd hot wash, especially if you are only doing a few over a month. However, we thought 90C was overkill about 80% of the time since most washing powders today have all kinds of enzymes in them that literally eat shit, even on a medium wash. Even some modern non-bio powders can get medium soiled nappies clean without a hot wash.

I know reusable nappies aren't for everyone, but the argument that cloth is equally/nearly as bad for the environment as disposables just doesn't wash - so to speak. Comparing the environmental impact of each as being merely being landfill VS energy consumption/chemicals is misguided since most people who uses this argument - including the commenter you refer to - neatly forget the environmental impact of disposable manufacture and the energy/chemicals involved therein. If you include this, then the balance tips towards cloth a little more heavily.

So, anyway, I'll get off my hobby horse now, please don't feel like I'm trying to berate anyone into doing things my way. Do what's best for you. Just be aware of the facts and make a decision you are comfortable with.

Most importantly, if nappy washing is going to get in the way of your relationship with your baby, then forget about it and do something else.

leahwren: On the other hand, no poop in the landfill.

FWIW, the poop's not the problem. gDiapers sound cool, but are rather expensive at present. If there's a UK equivalent, I can see it being an attractive proposition.
posted by davehat at 11:54 PM on October 19, 2006


Some friends of mine are raising their (now 12-month-old) baby diaperless using these methods and are very happy with it. I'm sure it's not for everyone, but they've proven that it's great for them.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:09 AM on October 20, 2006


davehat: I think I'm using a very different interpretation of "cloth diaper" than what you mean.

I'm thinking of the cotton diapers that were used before disposables were available. Literally, a cloth, folded into a triangular shape, attached with a safety pin, but modernized a bit.

So with a "true" cloth diaper, even if the feces were dumped in the toilet, then there would still be "fecal matter" on the cloth itself.

So, throwing that cloth into a standard washing machine would, of course, release the fecal matter to the entire load.

What you're talking about sounds infinitely more sane.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:23 AM on October 20, 2006


On the other hand, no poop in the landfill.

If you read the packaging of disposable diapers thoroughly, you'd find that their makers intend for them to be treated in the same fashion as cloth -- solid waste is to be disposed of in a toilet, and then the diaper is to be thrown away. The common practice of tossing a nasty little chemical-plastic-shit sandwich of diaper, disposable wipes and the diaper contents into the trash (or worse, into some device that wraps it in even more plastic as a chain of chemical-plastic-shit sandwich sausage links) is not how the product is meant to be discarded. It's just the lazy route.
posted by Dreama at 12:45 PM on October 20, 2006


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