The Diaper Free Baby The Natural Toilet Training Alternative

by Christine Gross-Loh

Author Christine Gross Loh Isbn 9780061229701 File size 1MB Year 2007 Pages 240 Language English File format PDF Category Family and Friendship Imagine infants free from painful diaper rash new parenthood without thousands of dollars wasted in diapering costs toilet training that is natural and noncoercive and most important happier babies and parents As Christine Gross Loh reveals in her progressive enlightening book all this is possible and more Infants are born with the ability to

Publisher :

Author : Christine Gross-Loh

ISBN : 9780061229701

Year : 2007

Language: English

File Size : 1MB

Category : Family and Friendship



the

DIAPER-

FREE
BABY
The Natural Toilet Training Alternative

Christine Gross-Loh

This book is dedicated to my two little
diaper-free babies, Benjamin and Daniel,
who, from the moment of birth,
opened my heart to all that babies
and children have to say to us.

CONTENTS
Foreword v
1. What Is EC, and Why Should
I Do It with My Baby? 1
2. Gathering Support and Making the Leap 21
3. Getting Ready to EC: Gear and
Other Fun Stuff 39
4. Newborn Bliss: Getting to Know Your Baby,
Getting Started on EC 59
5. EC’ing During Middle Infancy:
Smooth Sailing 83
6. The Joys of EC’ing Your Mobile Baby 119
7. EC’ing Your Toddler 149
8. Final Hurdles and Graduation 169
9. If Your Situation Is a Little Different 187
Resources 203
Acknowledgments 207
Index 211

About the Author
Credits
Cover
Copyright
About the Publisher

FOREWORD
By Melinda Rothstein and Rachel Milgroom,
cofounders of DiaperFreeBaby™

We both entered motherhood expecting to change years of diapers, just like every parent we had ever known. Melinda thought of
taking her one-week-old son to the bathroom when she knew he
was about to go, but dismissed it immediately as ridiculous because
she’d never known anyone who did it. Rachel was dedicated to the
idea that a child should be helped to learn to use the toilet at a young
age, but thought that meant starting at around a year old and that
anything younger would be impossible and incredibly messy. Only
after being encouraged by other parents did we start to consider an
alternative to full-time diapering.
What these other parents told us is this: Our babies are born
ready to communicate that they need to use the potty, and the time
spent taking a baby to the potty can be fun. Half of the world’s
children are out of diapers by the end of their first year, yet many of
the children in American society remain in diapers well into their
third and fourth years. We learned that it is possible to practice
elimination communication (EC) regardless of differences in
work schedule or parenting style—from a few times per week to
many times per day, one caregiver to many, starting at birth or starting later in the first year. We came to understand that parents in an

vi

Foreword

exclusively diapering culture need assistance as they shift their
mindsets about elimination and diapering.
Once we understood that babies are aware of their elimination
needs and have ways of communicating those needs, it made perfect sense to us to help them use the potty. Both of us started our
elimination communication journey with our children at approximately the same time as Christine did with her second son, Daniel.
We influenced each other’s choices and provided support to each
other as we learned. Through frequent contact via e-mail with other
families we learned practical day-to-day tips and started a local playgroup for families practicing EC. From these relationships we
learned about our infants’ innate intelligence and increased our ability to understand when they were communicating their needs.
At the time, none of us had any idea how much EC was going to
add to our lives. We definitely had no inkling that we’d be so enriched by it that we’d become involved in the effort to publicize the
practice to parents everywhere. The international EC support organization, DiaperFreeBaby™, was born out of our desire to help other
families meet for support and sharing. We knew that families would
be happy to have a way to connect with each other, but we were completely surprised by the level of international media interest.
This growing interest makes it clear that it is time for Christine’s book, and we’re thrilled that so many parents will now have the
opportunity to explore EC for their families. Christine is the perfect
person to write this book, as she has both the loving perspective of
an EC parent and the professional skill to present the information.
From our first playgroup with Christine, her perspectives on elimination communication and parenting, as well as her own gentle nature, have been indispensable to us personally and to the parenting
community as a whole. She has been totally committed to the social
movement that has occurred since we started DiaperFreeBaby support groups, including the exponential growth of the New York City
DiaperFreeBaby group that she started. Now she has written a book

Foreword

vii

that is sure to inspire you to start practicing EC if you have not already begun.
Christine expertly shares real stories as well as practical tips and
guidance for integrating EC into your family life. We hope that you
will view this book as a DiaperFreeBaby meeting in your pocket and
hope it will enrich your life as well.

1.

What Is EC, and
Why Should I Do It
with My Baby?
Diapers. We’re so used to thinking of them as the ultimate symbol
of babyhood that the thought of a baby without diapers seems awfully strange. It’s practically a rite of passage for parents to get their
toddlers and preschoolers out of diapers. Advice abounds on getting
your two- or three-year-old to ditch those diapers and begin to learn
to go in a potty or toilet. The current trend is to let your child wait
until he is “ready,” and as a result, many parents find themselves involved in power struggles with their toddlers and preschoolers day
after day because they missed crucial earlier windows of opportunity.
The average toilet training age in the United States is now at an
all-time high at around three years old. It makes sense, actually, that
after a couple of years eliminating exclusively in diapers, a child will
be inclined to hang on to them as long as he can. How odd it is, in
fact, that our society expects a child to change gears midstream and
suddenly stop using the diaper as a toilet when he has been doing so
all his life!
Believe it or not, your child was not born wanting to go to the
bathroom in a diaper. Like other mammals, human babies are born

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The Diaper-Free Baby

with the instinct not to soil themselves. It is not a natural or pleasant
feeling for them to sit in their own waste; they are born aware of the
sensation of going to the bathroom. Even the tiniest newborn will
give off signs before and while she goes to the bathroom. This book
is going to teach you how to read those signs, how to respond to
them, and how to engage in a process of joyful communication with
your baby at a pace that feels right for your family, whether this
means once a day or more often. Through “elimination communication,” or EC, your baby will benefit as you help her retain her bodily
awareness and assist her with a basic biological need. The benefit
for you? In addition to parenting a happier baby, you’re likely
to need fewer diapers overall—great for your wallet and for the
environment!
For those who have spent time with older babies or toddlers
who seem oblivious to a dirty diaper, the idea that they are born
with the instinct not to soil themselves may seem preposterous.
Being sprayed by newborn pee and poop as soon as a diaper comes
off during diaper changes are a common occurrence throughout a
baby’s first weeks (another common rite of passage for most parents), but this happens less and less often as the baby grows older.
Why? By putting our children in diapers and changing them only
after they have gone, we condition our babies to use the diaper itself
as a toilet!
Some people might think, so what? Isn’t diapering a part of
babyhood? Aren’t diapers a sign of progress, modernity, and affluence? Perhaps that would be so if we did not expect our little ones to
stop using diapers at some point in the first few years of their lives.
Since this is the case, many parents are faced with double work:
training a child to go to the bathroom in a diaper, and then training
her to stop doing that and use a toilet instead! This means twice as
much work for parents and twice as much adjustment for the child.
The later this gets—especially if you’re waiting for all the signs of
“readiness” described by conventional toilet training experts—the

What Is EC, and Why Should I Do It with My Baby?

3

more of an adjustment it can be for your child, and the more diaper
changes, diapers, and diapering accessories you’ve gone through in
the meantime. (If your child is training around age three, this means
up to nine thousand diaper changes and diapers, over three thousand
dollars in diapers alone [not to mention wipes and other accessories], and according to a New York Times article on elimination
communication, a contribution to the twenty-two billion single-use,
disposable diapers in U.S. landfills per year, to be exact!)
Of course, many children sail through conventional potty training just fine. But there are countless others who have trouble recognizing which muscles to use to hold or release pee or who just find it
physically and emotionally difficult to let go of the diaper they have
been used to all their lives. Even after some children become aware
of the elimination sensation, they are still so accustomed to diapers
that they actually request a diaper to put on before they go to the
bathroom! Others simply take a long time to train, and their parents
resort to pleading, bribes, stickers, M&Ms, videos, musical potties,
and other such gimmicks. Still other children suffer from excruciating diaper rash, fiercely resist diaper changes, or otherwise find diapering to be an unpleasant experience the whole way through. They
develop negative associations with anything having to do with diapering and elimination itself.
You’re probably reading this book because you hope to avoid
these scenarios, and EC fits in with your parenting philosophy and
resonates with you for financial, environmental, or personal reasons.
Read on to learn more about EC and why I recommend you consider practicing it with your baby.

ELIMINATION COMMUNICATION:
A GENTLE ALTERNATIVE
Imagine what it would be like if your baby was so accustomed to
the concept of using a toilet as, well, a toilet, that when it did come

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The Diaper-Free Baby

time to become completely toilet-independent, she took the process
completely for granted, so that the transition was utterly smooth.
Imagine if this toilet independence came about without bribes,
struggles, resistance, or tantrums and was instead a natural, completely gentle, noncoercive process that your baby was fully participating in, so that as an infant, she would be able to let you know
when she had to go to the bathroom, and by the time she was walking, she could toddle over to the toilet by herself just like she might
toddle over to the kitchen if she were hungry. That’s what happens
in many families who practice EC with their babies.
EC is a lost art in our society. It is still practiced throughout the
world, mostly in countries where disposable diapers are considered a
luxury if they are available at all. In fact, there are many people out
there who think that we are odd for relying on diapers so much. It’s
really diapers that are the new phenomenon—not EC. In the United
States, some version of early potty training was practiced up until
disposable diaper use became more widespread in the 1960s and
’70s. Before this time, most children were out of diapers by age two,
if not earlier. EC is still practiced in at least seventy-five countries,
including China, India, Greenland, and Russia, and in many
other parts of Africa, South America, and Asia. Because the children
from many of these cultures have
never had to lose the bodily awareness they were born with—mothers or caregivers simply hold babies
away from them when they sense
they need to go—most of them are
toilet-independent incredibly early
from our society’s point of view.
One study states that 50 percent
of the world’s children are toilet

What Is EC, and Why Should I Do It with My Baby?

5

trained by the age of one. Many internationally adopting parents are
“startled” to find that their babies arrive already able to use the toilet,
according to the New York Times. With statistics like these, the idea
that toilet training shouldn’t begin until age two or three, when the
child meets the conditions of an arbitrary checklist for “readiness,”
seems more and more absurd.
But it’s common for parents to be skeptical even in the face of all
this evidence. Even if EC works and children are physically and
emotionally capable of doing this, it still sounds utterly overwhelming for new parents in our society. We live in homes with carpets,
we’re constantly on the go, parents go back to work when babies are
merely weeks old, and children are often in the care of nannies or
day-care providers or relatives. How can EC really work in a modern
Western society such as ours?
I’m here to say that EC can be accomplished. If EC is something you’d like to try, you are about to hear from many parents just
like you who have done it with great success. This book is filled with
their reassuring voices and the rich variety of their personal experiences. You’ll learn how to practice EC in the way that is best for your
family situation and preferences, with plenty of options to make it
work for anyone in any situation. Whether you are a stay-at-home
mom or dad or you are separated from your baby for long hours because of work, whether you use cloth diapers or disposable ones,
whether you’re starting with a tiny newborn or are coming to this
with a baby who is six months, ten months, or well over a year old,
there are guidelines in this book that will work for you.

EC HISTORY AND SUPPORT GROUPS
Although parents in our society have easy access to diapers and use
them liberally with their babies and toddlers, this isn’t the case for
everyone. In much of the world, elimination communication is still
the norm, as it always has been. Some of the most ardent advocates

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The Diaper-Free Baby

of EC have been influenced and inspired by time spent in a country
where EC is the cultural norm.
Laurie Boucke, Linda Penn (Natec), and Ingrid Bauer all came
to EC through their contacts with other cultures and went on to
write on the subject for Western audiences. Bauer refers to infant
pottying as “Natural Infant Hygiene” (NIH) and also coined the
term elimination communication. Boucke, who has written several
books, including Infant Potty Training, and is coauthoring several
forthcoming medical studies on EC, says, “For years, I’ve emphasized that it’s really important for parents to be presented with more
than one option so they can make an informed decision” about
whether to use diapers exclusively or to learn to recognize baby’s
elimination signals and assist her in using a potty or toilet.
EC became more well known through such advocacy, but only a
relatively small group of Western parents were familiar with the concept. Most parents who embraced EC were drawn to it because of its
close connection with attachment parenting principles.
Recently, however, the word has been spreading rapidly. Growing numbers of parents have been gathering in support groups to assist each other in the practice of EC. These support groups are so
inspiring! In addition to groups people have started on their own,
many groups have been formed under the umbrella of a wonderful
nonprofit organization called DiaperFreeBaby. Founded in 2004 by
two of my close friends, Melinda Rothstein and Rachel Milgroom,
DiaperFreeBaby’s membership has just ballooned. At the end of its
second year there were support groups or practicing families in
nearly every state as well as in fourteen countries, and growth has
continued to be exponential thanks to sustained public and media
interest in EC.
I myself participated in one of the first EC support groups with
Melinda, Rachel, and a few other friends. During our monthly
meetings, we all came together with our babies and shared tips,
which was a really great experience for us. It became obvious that

What Is EC, and Why Should I Do It with My Baby?

7

parents all over the country who sought EC guidance would love to
share their experiences with each other, and thanks to Melinda and
Rachel’s dream of bringing this camaraderie to parents everywhere,
DiaperFreeBaby was born.
I am now a Mentor for my local support group. Mentors bring
parents together in a forum where they can talk to each other about
the daily practice of EC. This sort of forum is so important when
you are practicing something that isn’t all that commonly done. I
urge you to go to a local meeting if you can. You will see adorable babies gently being assisted to use the potty; and you will also be introduced to real EC’ing gear, such as portable potties, split crotch
pants, tiny training pants, and so forth—all designed to make
EC’ing easier for parents in our society. Best of all, however, you will
meet other parents like yourself.
But if you are not near an active support group or just want more
guidance at home, this book was written just for you. I encourage
you to think of it as your own portable support group, filled with the
voices of many parents at all stages of the EC journey! And, of
course, I hope that my own story will serve as inspiration to you as
well.

MY JOURNEY TO EC
Chances are you’re reading this book because you’ve heard the media
buzz about all these parents taking their babies to the potty. Maybe
you think it’s far-fetched but are intrigued and wondering if this is
something you can really do.
I know how it feels. I was also one of those intrigued but doubtful parents when I first learned about EC while expecting my first
son, Benjamin. Like most people who use diapers, my primary concern was to get the most absorbent diapers I could find—diapers
that could withstand several hours without leaking. I’d heard about
diaper changes, and I dreaded them. When I heard that there were

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The Diaper-Free Baby

parents out there who practiced something called “elimination communication,” I was, frankly, shocked. The very notion that a tiny
baby could use the potty seemed ludicrous and completely odd to
me, even though I myself had actually watched three-month-old
infants being pottied when I was studying abroad! That is how ingrained the idea that toilet learning is reserved for two- to threeyear-olds is in our society. I ignored the newborn spray, tried to get
through those diaper changes, and stocked my bulging diaper bag
with tons of diapers and wipes whenever I was on the go.
Yet over time I found that I was aware of my baby’s elimination
patterns. I realized that as he grew older, he often went hours in the
afternoon with a dry diaper. I observed that he would wet more frequently in the mornings, and that he was very obvious about when
he was having a bowel movement. Even so, it really didn’t occur to
me to put him on the potty at those times even though I knew about
EC. I’m not sure why not, except that maybe in my mind, I saw it as
something that would be totally time-consuming and impractical,
and I knew absolutely no one who was doing it. In the end, it was my
child himself who led me to EC.
When Benjamin was just over a year old, my mother (who grew
up in Korea) bought him a potty. My first reaction was complete indignation! I thought I, a hip, modern parent, knew better than she,
and that “better” now meant waiting until he was two or three, not
starting with a preverbal thirteen-month-old! I even thought that
early pottying could be harmful somehow. But before returning the
potty to my mom, I decided to sit little Benjamin on it just for fun,
because it seemed so cute, and he was certainly fascinated. Well, he
peed in the potty right away!
I was astounded! And even more astounded when he repeated
this every time I sat him on it throughout that day and the next. I
began to realize that he had been waiting for me to understand that
he wanted to go to the bathroom outside of a diaper. He had been
watching all of us using toilets and was eager to join in. I finally

What Is EC, and Why Should I Do It with My Baby?

9

tapped into all the EC resources I’d taken note of, adapted those
methods for my “late-start” EC’ing baby, found some support online, and within a week or two, he was completely out of diapers.
Now, Benjamin’s story is a bit unusual. It’s rare for a child to retain that bodily awareness for so long, and I often hesitate to share
this story because of how young Benjamin was when he “graduated”
(became completely toilet-independent with no “misses”—ECspeak for accidents). While getting out of diapers earlier than the
U.S. average is something that happens with a lot of EC’ed children,
it’s not the main point of EC at all, and I wouldn’t want parents to
embark on this journey with that primary goal. You see, this method
is not about getting your baby potty trained sooner than anyone
else’s child. It’s about the process of communication, not the result.
There’s no time frame, no deadline as to when your child should be
fully out of diapers.
But I do share this story with people because it highlights a couple of things: children can be ready much earlier than we think;
EC can totally enhance their self-esteem and sense of independence
by allowing them to use a toilet when they are so young and imitative
(rather than when they are going through the resistant and strongwilled twos); and because it really shows that, contrary to popular
belief, early pottying doesn’t mean that it will be a messy, drawn-out,

My son Daniel,
one year old,
on the toilet

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The Diaper-Free Baby

and stressful experience. The gentle principles of EC made for the
most seamless, beautifully bonding toileting experience I could ever
have hoped to have with my toddler!
With my second son, Daniel, we started practicing EC when he
was around three weeks old. Now, the important thing I like to point
out about my experience with him is that even if you begin with a
tiny baby, this doesn’t mean you’re going to be a slave to his signals
and whims to use the toilet all the time. EC turns this mentality on
its head; recognizing your child’s need to go to the bathroom is truly
no different from recognizing his sleep or hunger cues, as you’re
going to learn from reading this book. It’s no different from what
any loving and attentive parent would do to try to figure out what his
or her baby is communicating.
Because Daniel had health issues during part of his infancy, I
made a conscious decision to put EC on the back burner with him
and practice it only occasionally. Thus, we did it very part-time—as
little as once a week for the first few months of his life. Later we
ramped up to catching poops only, with just an occasional pee, and
finally practiced it more full-time when he was a bit older. He graduated at around seventeen months. Even following EC part-time, I
like to point out, results in a baby who is not completely diaper
trained and who recognizes that you are going to assist him with his
desire not to sit in his own waste. You are still engaging in the important process of EC—communication—with your baby. He has the
opportunity to retain his awareness of the muscles that control his
elimination and the ability to let you know when he has to go.
Even with just my own two sons, I’ve had a real variety of EC
experiences: early-start, late-start, full-time, part-time. Between
my story and those of the many inspiring parents featured in this
book, I am certain that you will find something that works for your
family.

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