Diaper Free

When I first discovered I was pregnant there was one issue that I couldn’t overlook as an individual who is passionate about eco friendly living – diapers. I found it very difficult to accept that there were only two options. Fill the landfill with disposable diapers or increase my daily water consumption with cloth diapers. I felt hopeless about how becoming a parent was going to affect my commitment to an eco-friendly lifestyle.

After much thought and research, I simply could not come up with another way to handle baby body waste so I laid the issue to rest and accepted that I would use cloth diapers. Several days later, I was introduced to the book, Diaper Free The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer. Imagine my surprise! I was joyful at the prospect of a different option. As I began to learn more about natural infant hygiene, my commitment to trying the practice was instinctual.

This concept of not using diapers may seem totally unbelievable to most people. However, the practice actually goes beyond simply eliminating the use of diapers and it is practiced world wide by many different cultures. The foundation of the practice is primarily honouring the fact that a newborn infant is aware of her waste functions and is capable of developing ways to communicate when her body needs to eliminate.

Some parents start the practice immediately following birth and others start the practice sometime before the baby is one year old. Initiating the practice after one year of age can be very difficult, time consuming and unproductive. The key is to start working with the baby before he loses awareness of his waste functions.

To begin the practice, hold your baby over a bowl, toilet or sink and begin talking to her about going pee or poo. Introduce a cueing sound, such as, ssss (like a hissing snake). This will help the baby to associate the sound with having an elimination moment. This is only a small introduction to the practice and there is much to learn in terms of nighttime, traveling, different holding positions and much more. So be sure to research the practice before swearing off diapers. For more information, check out: www.natural-wisdom.com or www.diaperfreebaby.org.

My experience of practicing natural infant hygiene has been very positive. My daughter was using the potty by herself, during the day at 15 months. One of the greatest benefits of this practice was the minimal amount of poopy diapers I had to change. Of course, there were accidents but on a weekly basis I was changing 2 poopy diapers or less (from the time she was 2 weeks old), pretty amazing!

A local Nanaimo mother who has been practicing diaper free since her daughter was a few weeks old comments, "Our society teaches us that babies are not aware of their waste functions. Yet, after 6 months of practicing natural infant hygiene, my daughter clearly understands her elimination process and waits to go poo until I hold her over the sink to do so. I have only changed two poopy diapers in the last 2 months!”

It is important to know that it is possible to practice natural infant hygiene and still use diapers. Each parent can work with the practice to find her own comfort level as to how much diaper use is appropriate. Regardless of how you choose to practice, be it 100% diaper free or diapers as back up, each parent can develop her own style of working with her baby’s elimination awareness and communication patterns. For those parents who seek eco friendly parenting options this is certainly a real solution that will help our planet to thrive.