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Growing Group of Parents Are Ditching Diapers and Using 'Elimination Communication'

Update Date: Apr 19, 2013 01:08 PM EDT
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It is taken for granted that parenting is a sticky, smelly, messy (but enjoyable!) process. A group of New York City parents have taken that mantra to another level though. A growing group of parents have started to let their children go diaper-free - and not just for potty training. The movement is called "elimination communication", and it is catching on.

According to DNAinfo, elimination communication ditches the diaper and requires parents to watch their babies' cues. When the baby cues the parent, the parent holds the baby over a receptacle, like a toilet, sink or even a street, in order to catch the baby's waste. Many parents who believe in the method make "SSSS" noises or grunts as the babies go to the bathroom so that the babies learn to associate those sounds with feeling relieved. After the association is made, parents can make the noises to their children while holding them over a toilet, for example. After 20 seconds, the child will typically go or refuse.

Though it may seem like a method only employed by certain types of families, the New York Times reports that, among doulas, birth and child-rearing coaches, it is practically a job requirement to be able to offer diaper-free training to clients.

Parents report that they ascribe by the method for a variety of reasons. Others cited the expenses of disposable diapers or the messiness of cloth ones. Others enjoyed the fact that they were linked to other cultures where such methods are more common.

In fact, it is not always easy for parents to read babies' cues, and some experts question if it is possible or pragmatic for a three-week-old to hold his or her bowel movements. Many parents report misses and need to clean a trail of urine or poo off the floor. They report that is easier, still, than the effort needed to clean diapers.

In addition, most parents do not let their children go diaper-less all the time. During the night or when visiting establishments like restaurants, many parents employ diapers, though many forgo them when going to parks, where bushes and grass allow options for EC, or during naptime. Many children are diaperless full-time by 18 months.

It is not just in New York that EC is ascribed either. Other cities, like Chicago, and the suburbs have reported similar trends.

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