Do you feel intimidated by the thought of being totally “diaper free?”
You don't need to be!
Even if you're using elimination communication (EC) with your baby and going “diaper free” you don't have to completely ditch diapers – there may be a time and place in your baby's life when you want to use them.
Prefolds for Newborns
You can keep a diaper under your baby in the early days. A prefold diaper is ideal because you can spread it out flat under your baby. Newborn babies sometimes leak just a little when they pass gas and a prefold keeps your lap and bed clean.
Using a prefold in this way is also good for occasional misses, or if you're learning baby's cues and not ready to use a container.
If you have a baby boy, a prefold draped lightly over him can protect from the “sprinkler effect.” You can also use small towels for these purposes.
A Solution for the Mobile Baby
Let your baby be truly diaper free as much as possible. She'll get more skin to skin contact and be able to move freely. Dresses, tiny undies, and EC-friendly clothing can help you and your baby go diaper free responsibly. ECWear makes great clothing for diaper-free babies (opens in a new tab).
But when your baby becomes mobile there may be times you want diaper backup – such as when you're watching a recipe that burns easily!
Using a cloth diaper with snaps is a good strategy. These diapers can be quickly taken off fr potty visits. You can snap them loosely so you can slide them down and hold your baby over the potty place.
Using a snap diaper without a cover lets you see as soon as your baby wets, even if you miss her cues. You can change her promptly – and hold her gently over the potty place – to help her continue to associate it with elimination.
You may want to use diapers at night. Some babies and parents don't want to go to the potty at night (a wide container at the side of the bed can make nighttime pottying an easy reality, however!) Some babies wet early in the night then stay dry until morning.
There are times for diaper backup at night. You can use prefolds to cover your non-mobile baby and a diaper without a cover on your older babies if you want to change your baby frequently. Cover your baby with a separate blanket to protect the top bedding and have them sleep on a waterproof pad or sheepskin.
Other Times to Use Diapers
You can use diaper backup when you go out with your baby. Some families feel comfortable taking their diaper free baby out. In fact, some moms report they're more aware of their babies' cues when they're out and about.
Choose a diaper that works well for your baby and go out guilt-free if that's what works for you! Change your baby as soon as he wets, and if you get the chance to, offer to potty your baby while out. You may come home with a dry diaper!
In her book Diaper Free!, Ingrid Bauer suggests that diapers may be useful in times of stress. During these times, such as sickness or grieving, you can put your baby into a diaper so you don't have to worry about missing cues. You can continue to tune into your baby and offer potty opportunities, but if you miss a cue just change your baby right away.
Bauer also suggests any time you're frustrated and may get upset with your baby for a miss, use diaper backup. EC'ing is not about “potty training” and misses may happen. If you're having a hard day or a lot of misses you use backup diapers. Heading outside may also refresh you and allow you to reconnect with your baby.
They're Only Backup
If you do find times when you need to use diaper backup, and many parents practicing EC do, continue to listen to your baby's cues. Offer to potty whenever possible.
Remember you still need to listen to your baby. Find ways to connect with your baby and be sensitive to her needs. If you get off track for a few days during sickness, travel, or other stress, take time to tune into your baby's cues again as soon as you can.
Elimination Communication is a wonderful choice that works with backup diapers – adjust to you and your baby. He'll thank you for the opportunity to connect and communicate!
(NOTE: Want proven, practical strategies to make elimination communication work for you? Use these 5 proven techniques to connect when your baby and have EC success! Get them here.)