Attachment Parenting

Is Anyone Else Doing Diaper Free?

Hi, I am due in February with my first child and my husband and I are going to go diaper free. Diaper free is basically listening and watching for the baby's signals and then cuing him to poop/pee with a sound. I was just wondering if anyone else is currently doing this or is planning on it.

Re: Is Anyone Else Doing Diaper Free?

  • From birth, I will be able to stay at home with the baby, so no one else will have to try to take care of my diaperless baby. haha. The key thing is recognizing the signals. When the baby knows that the parent will respond to his signals, then he will wait to go until the parent cues him.

    It is Elimination Communication. I read some books on it, and they said that one of the resons a newborn will cry is because he is trying to signal his need to go, and he has an innate sense of wanting to keep himself clean. Of course it doesn't always work, and the signals may drop off a bit when the baby is making big developmental growths, but all around this leads to a happy baby and no diapers to worry about.

  • In theory EC makes some sense. I just think it's hard for the modern family to do. And my son doesn't show any cues of elimination. Do all babies show cues? I mean, he can poop and I have absolutely zero clue.
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  • If you watch the documentary, Babies, they do show elimination in an African family. However, most people here don't want to wipe the poop with their hands or a stick and then wipe it off on their leg.
  • We did it part-time.  We also didn't start until about 4 or 5 months.  She definitely didn't cue until then, but I set her up for successes on the potty from birth.  Doing a little potty time a few minutes after she nursed or when she woke up.  We always kept it fun and she picked it up faster than I thought she would. 

    No one in my family or circle of friends had done it, so we kept it to ourselves.  I really think people believe you are crazy when they first hear about it.  ;)  You are right though, it is common outside of the US, especially in Asian countries. Both my sisters were amazed when they saw her cue and poo on the potty at 7 months.  A little tip, if you decide to do sign language, it is very helpful with this.  She started out with a grunt for her cue, and then we transitioned to the sign for "diaper" (it was the easiest and she does her own variation of it with one hand).  She would even crawl to the big potty when she had to go.  That said, she still wears a diaper at night, if we are out in public, and is only "diaper free" certain times of the day.  Even if she doesn't use it, I like that my home and furniture are not being peed on if she does have an accident.  ;)  I say pee only though, because I cannot even remember the last time she went poo in her diaper.  Like I said, we're part time, but it still worked.  She's one now, and once she stays dry through the night she'll be "potty trained." 

    It's not for everyone, but it worked for us.  :)  Let me know if you have any questions. 
  • Kate:
    Diaper free/ Elimination Communication is not the same thing as toilet training. The infants who learn EC don't try to hold their pee in because they think they have to, they just let the parent know when they have to go. If the parent misses the cue, then they pee on the floor or wherever. By the time the infants become toddlers, they know that they can go to a potty (I will have at least one in every room in the house).
    In the book Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer, she mentions quite a few different countries that she personally visited. The time to begin EC differed from country to country, some began at 3 months, and some began at 6 months, ect.
    She mentions that in China disposable diapers have been promoted so much that kaidangku (open crotch pants) have disappeared from the major cities. These types of pants are key to letting the child independently toilet themselves.

    Here is a link with some pictures of the pants. Just ignore all of the text though, because the person who wrote it is pretty misinformed.
  • Diane:
    Yay! I am so excited that there is at least one other person who is doing this! Unlike you, I have told everyone that I know that I am going to do this, and they all think I am crazy.

    I don't mind if the baby pee's on the carpet, because my husband and I will be moving out of this apartment by the time the baby is 5 months old. The apartment complex steam cleans the carpet after each renter, so they wont mind either. =]

    My sister took her baby to the toilet every time she needed to poop, and so she didn't have to have any poopy diapers since my niece was about 5-6 months old.
  • If you watch the documentary, Babies, they do show elimination in an African family. However, most people here don't want to wipe the poop with their hands or a stick and then wipe it off on their leg.
    Yeah, I'm wondering whether so much of the public health push towards modern sanitation has also given rise to more people using diapers? (not saying that EC isn't sanitary, just that particularly in places where you have a lot of people + open defecation/limited infrastructure it's a bad mix). Not to mention the marketing juggernaut that is Pampers ;-)
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  • I read diaper free baby as well.  Like many things with parenting, it's not as simple as it seems when you read about it and kids keep changing so just when you think you figure out their routine/cues- they change things up.  I did really like and connect with the book though and recommend it to people interested.

    We do this part time with my son.  Not so much the "diaper free" part (though we do give him naked time in the morning and at night), but offering him chances to use the potty when he's been dry for a while or shows cues (he often doesn't).  We are planning to do the same with baby number 2 starting around 2 months/ We are very stress free about it and it's been fun minus some messes.  He makes a psss noise on his own and puts stuff animals on his potty to go and makes the noise for them.  He sometimes tells us after he goes potty (in his diaper).  However he is by not stretch of the imagine potty trained.  There are days he goes in potty and days he uses his diaper every time  (He's in disposables when not naked.)  I am hoping that his early exposure to the potty and understanding that is what his body does will let us start the process of potty training before he turns two.  (But only in the sense that when he needs to go he uses a potty instead of a diaper. . . not so much the holding it part or through naps and at night.)

    You're absolutely right that EC (whether full or part time) is not the same as potty training.  I read a similar article as @KateLouise.    You shouldn't be asking little to hold their pee (heck, I'd even say the same for adults a lot of the time).  ECing should not be stressful for the child; no shaming or disappoint when there are "accidents"/messes, etc.

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  • If its what you want to do, hey, why not. 

    I just think back to those fleeting first days where all I wanted to do was cuddle up to my NBs, who $harted about three times during every single marathon cluster feed, which was hourly or less than hourly for weeks.  It would be a shame to add extra laundry and cleaning on your list of things to do when all you want to do is sleep/nurse/eat/pee and repeat (I mean you, the baby of course will do that too). 

    Also,  if this is the way to go, I'd advise you to have a lot of help for the first few weeks, breastfeeding a nb is very challenging and lots underestimate how hard and time consuming it is. (I presume you plan on BFing, even if you are going the FF route, its pretty much the same time commitment)  Good luck :]

    Oh, that's a really good point that I hadn't thought of. OP, I would have been COVERED in poop all the time if I had tried to do this when DD was a newborn (she would poop at least once every time she ate, generally without warning, and often projectile). We had so much trouble with latching at the beginning that I definitely didn't unlatch her while she was eat-pooping (just changed her afterwards). When she was clusterfeeding, she would routinely poop once an hour. I think at this point (4 mo), or even around 2-3 months, it would be way easier, since she's much more predictable. Every baby is different, so YMMV, but our pooping experience seemed to be pretty "normal" (as much as anything with a newborn is normal. hah.).

    Anyway all this to say that I second the suggestion to make sure you've got a lot of help and support if you want to do this in the early days - that would probably make it a lot more doable. At least enlist DH to be the laundry-doer ;-).
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  • I tried EC with my twins from about 2.5 months and we did it part time until about 6-7 months. Then I had a hard time basically doing anything--I had a rough patch in there trying to cope with everything. Now that they are one year old, I'm hoping to get back in to it once we get back from vacation in a couple of weeks. Diaper Free Baby is good encouragement, but the best resource I have come across is Andrea Olsen at She had a book called EC Simplified, but I think that might have changed.
  • I'm really interested in EC but won't be starting it until at least 4-5 months.  I can't imagine doing it with DS right now.  He pees about every hour or more and poops every 2 hours with no clue that he is going to (hence why I've gotten peed on during a few changes and have even caught poop in the diaper during a change).  Also, DS is perfectly fine with sitting in a dirty diaper.  I even CD with natural fibers and he still won't complain being in a pee-soaked prefold.

    I wouldn't be putting too much pressure on yourself to do diaper free from the beginning.  The first weeks are very hard.  BFing is probably one of the hardest things I've ever done and have already had a couple days of wanting to throw in the towel. 
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  • I tried.  DD gave NO cues for peeing, and late cues for pooping.  It really didn't go anywhere for us, but I encourage you to try it!
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  • I did part-time EC starting at 5 months but we didn't go diaper free completely. I LOVED it. DD was constipated one day, I put her on the potty and she pooped. Ever since that day, the majority of poops happened in a potty. It was not in any way potty training. DD just obviously preferred pooping on the potty. I'd take her and sit her on the potty every few hours. She picked it up real quick.

    We never had any poop accidents. The number of poopy diapers that I had to change was sooo low. I never dealt with any blow-outs or any other gross poop situations. In the beginning I didn't always catch the pee, but gradually over time we figured it out together. By the time she was one we did go diaper free a good amount at home with very few accidents. Sure, it was parent training, definitely not potty training but it became second nature and I much preferred it to changing diapers. And actual potty training ended up being so not a big deal. (She trained around 24-25 months -- I don't think EC necessarily sped up the process, but it made it much less of a big deal.)
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  • To the OP--

    This is your first child. You may be running for the nearest box of pampers once you have an actual baby in your arms. And when your arms are covered in poop. That's great that you can stay home, but you will want (and need) to leave the baby at some point, and that's something to consider when you're deciding about going diaper free.

    Bottom line, just don't make any hard and fast decisions before your baby is here. There are  things that just turn out differently than you think they will. Prepare yourself well, and know going into it that there will be changes to your plan. When that happens, be gentle with yourself. 
    Yeah, I read Babywise when I was pregnant and was sure I'd have him on a schedule by the time he was 3 months... yeah... needless to say, that didn't happen. ;)
  • Goodness gracious. Yes, the baby will occasionally miss and pee on the carpet. I'm not going to just not put a diaper on him and let him pee all over the place without cleaning it up. I'm just saying its not as big of a deal if he/I miss, because the carpet will be professionally steam cleaned 5 months after he is born. Don't get so bent out of shape guys.
  • gulickr said:
    LilyGR said:
    Thanks =]

    Most families in third world countries do this successfully. They have to do something, because diapers are way to expensive.
    While I'm sure a lot of people do this successfully, I've spent some time in developing countries, and all of the families I've met use some sort of diapers. The poorer people use cloth (what we'd consider old-school cloth, or else just rags); disposables are often seen as a luxury good (no wonder!).

    Not to say you shouldn't do EC if that's what will work for your family, but I just thought I'd clear that part up.
    I was about to write the exact same comment.  Thanks for clarifying for others.
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