New Trend: More Babies Going Diaper-Free

"Elimination communication" method potty trains your baby by 18 months old.


We all know that potty training can be tough, but there's a new trend that's kicking it up a notch, The New York Times reports. A diaper-free method of child-rearing called "elimination communication" is growing in popularity but also raising some eyebrows.

What is Elimination Communication?

This method is a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues and intuition to toilet train an infant (usually starting at 4 months of age), thus reducing the use of diapers. In addition to being environmentally friendly, the article quotes parents saying "they like feeling more in touch with their babies' most intimate functions."

Elimination communication parents describe watching for a certain cry or squirming or grimace and then making certain noises so that the infant associated those actions with that sound. Then, the parent holds the baby over the toilet or sink, according to The New York Times.

What Parents Say

One parent quoted in the report admits there are misses, "but even cleaning up a small mess on the floor is easier than laundering diapers. Toilet training is a matter of conditioning, just like Pavlov's dog."

The article's diaper-free moms say that their infants do wear diapers at night and for outings without easy access to a bathroom. The diaper-free moms shared stories of being at parties and seeing "people putting their baby over the sink." The children of the moms in the article were completely weaned off their diapers by 18 months.

What Doctors Say

However, "some pediatricians are skeptical that children younger than 1 are capable of controlling their own toileting behavior," the article says. Other critics in the article noted that parents can't walk down the street and " just let your baby poop on the sidewalk." A public health official emphasized that this practice doesn't pose a health hazard. The only real concern is hand-washing and a general sanitation issue, according to the article.

Most parents start potty training their children at around 2 years old, which means an average child will go through 5,000 diapers before reaching that stage. But there are eco-conscious ways of dealing with them without having to go diaper-less. Our Bottom Line page offers tips on finding the greenest diapering option.

But don't stress out about it! Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to diapers.

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