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Our family is pretty committed to using elimination communication, which has gained a lot of news coverage lately as “diaper free babies.” I think it's good to get press coverage, but of course you're going to get a lot of people dismissing the idea right away as crazy – after all, won't there be pee and poop everywhere???
The answer is no – there won't be pee and poop everywhere, and diapers and elimination communication (“EC”) are not mutually exclusive.
I will share that I think that using diapers consistently can make it harder to listen to EC signals. I've used more diapers with Corwin than I used with Galen or Honor and I don't catch as many pees. With both Galen and Honor I sat them in my lap on a prefold diaper/waterproof mat combo, and that helped me be much more in-tune with their signals (the prefold didn't get wet often). Even in my lap, I seem less in tune with Corwin.
But I've also noted that it's related somewhat to timing, too. In the early months of last year I did catch more pees – Corwin was consistently in my lap while I taught homeschool lessons to the kids. We switch activities every half hour during our school year, so I tended to try and potty Corwin at those activity breaks. I'll do so again when we start our new school year next week, and I think that we'll catch more pees.
The point of all of this is to show you that you can use elimination communication (natural infant hygiene, infant potty training, diaper free, etc. are all terms for the same thing) and still use diapers. There may be some trade-offs in your own intuition, but you can still be very successful, especially with pooping. Poo signals are usually (usually) much clearer and it's easy to catch them. I can deal with a quick bum-wipe and emptying out a potty – better than cleaning up poopy diapers any day!
Elimination communication can be done in a way that works for your family. I agree with Andrea of Go Diaper Free – it's good to have a few “diaper free” periods over a few days to get to know your baby's signals and elimination patterns. But you can and should use diapers if that helps you.
And you can and should use EC techniques with your baby. Contrary to what modern pediatricians say, your baby is born with the desire to keep him or herself clean (human babies don't want to “soil the nest” any more than animal babies!). It is gentle and respectful to learn your baby's cues and help maintain his/her awareness. Though it may make more money for Pampers and the pediatricians being paid by Pampers to keep kids in size 6 and size 7 diapers, it does your child no favors to be soiling himself or herself at three, four, or even five years of age. It's heart-breaking when a child of that age feels pooping in a diaper is safer than a toilet.
I encourage you to look into EC, even “part time” and even if you still use diapers – not only because you don't like cleaning poopy diapers, but because your child deserves the respect and dignity he/she was born with.
Click to get more info on EC basics on NBBC's EC pages
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