Elimination Communication, also called “Natural Infant Hygiene” or “Diaper Free Baby”, is a practice of taking your baby to an appropriate potty place when she needs to go, rather than depending entirely on diapers.
Humans, like all mammals, are born with an instinct to not soil ourselves. But unlike most other mammals, we are born unable to walk and we are completely dependent on a caregiver to take us to a place where we can go. Since the 1950s, we have been “diaper training” our babies. In our culture, most of us don’t even know that long ago, all parents used to take their baby to potty. We think diapers are a necessary “part of being a baby.” But they are, in fact, a modern invention.
In many parts of the world, especially in cultures which keep their babies close and practice other attachment parenting behaviors such as co-sleeping, baby-wearing, etc, and in places where washing machines and disposable diapers are not accessible, EC is simply normal and has no special name. Different cultures practice their infant pottying differently, and there is no one right way.
Over the last few years, many parents have revived this traditional practice with adaptations for modern living, as part of a natural parenting approach because they want to:
- build a closer relationship with their baby
- support their baby’s gradual development of life skills and body awareness/autonomy
- improve their baby’s health and hygiene
- reduce the environmental impact of diapering
It’s okay to use diapers while practicing EC. While EC is often referred to as a “diaper free baby” practice, it is not necessary to literally never use diapers. In fact, letting a baby indiscriminately pee on the floor is not EC at all– and will slow down a child’s potty learning in the same way that total diaper dependence does. You can focus on the Communication part of Elimination Communication and use backup diapers or training pants full-time.
When first starting Elimination Communication, people usually begin by observing their baby eliminating. During this phase, you can’t use a disposible or waterproof diaper. For the observation period, your baby should be diaper free or in a non-waterproof diaper. This is a temporary step in the learning process. After this, being “Diaper Free” is the idea of freedom from using diapers AS a toilet, and instead using diapers or training pants”just in case.”
To learn more, please view our selection of books about Elimination Communication.