Diaperless babies latest alternative parenting method

The latest trend in alternative parenting is diaperless babies. The method is called elimination communication and parents recognize when their kids have to use the bathroom and teach them to go on demand.

Elimination communication allows parents to recognize when kids need to use the bathroom

Elimination communication

CBC News: Windsor at 6:00

8 years ago
Reporter Adam Burns examines a new parenting trend. 1:46

The latest trend in alternative parenting is diaperless babies.

The method is called "elimination communication." Parents recognize when their kids have to use the bathroom and in some cases teach their kids to go on demand

Some parents swear by it. Some pediatricians say it's more work than it's worth.

The method involves a parent watching his or her child for cues that indicate a bowel movement or urination is about to happen. The parent then brings the child to a sink, bowl or toilet.

Eventually, the parent can make an audible cue of their own, such as "pssst," to entice a child to go to the bathroom on cue.

Kyrsten Burns of Windsor, Ont., is using elimination communication to potty train her second child, eight-week-old Hannah. She also used it on her son, Emerson.

Burns learned about the method when she lived in Peterborough.

"I was really intrigued. I never thought I’d do it but that it was a really good concept. We slowly got into it," she said.

Burns said her son "shivered" and sometimes cried the moment before he had a bowel movement or urinated, respectively.

"He cried because he didn't like being wet," Burns said. "It was very apparent when he was about to have a bowel movement. And we were able to eliminate a diaper and that was the best thing about it."

She still uses diapers "as a backup."

Burns said there's "not necessarily a big community that does elimination communication" in Windsor.

It has been topic of discussion at Sweetheart Baby Boutique.

"Here in this store, we do get a lot of parents who are into more alternative parenting things, and so surprisingly, there's more people practising it than I would have initially thought," owner Margaret Deneau said. "It's another form of attachment, being able to communicate with your baby, understanding their needs. And it also ends up being more hygienic as well, because they end up eliminating into a toilet or into a potty, instead of into a diaper.

"It's another way to really respect the child and communicate with each other. So, you're following their cues, and they — to some extent — can follow yours, too."

The group Diaper Free Baby does have an Ontario chapter with group meetings in Barrie, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto and Ottawa.

Pediatrician Huma Kazmie is familiar with the practice. In 2003, she moved to Canada from India, where elimination communication is more common.

She said her sister used to hold her nieces and nephews over a bucket every two or three hours. Diapers, though, are more common in North America, where Kazmie's own kids were born.

"For the quality of life for the parents, use diapers," she said.

Elimination communication is hard work, Kazmie said. It's easier done by extended families.

"In nuclear families it’s more difficult," she said.

Kazmie also said there is no point in starting elimination communication before the baby is eight months old.

"By eight months, babies are indicating they have to go," Kazmie said.

Kazmie would neither recommend or condemn the practice.

"There's a whole group of people who [say], 'Oh no, we don't want any kind of vaccination, we just want to go natural,'" Kazmie said. "OK, so if you want to go natural, don't use electricity, don't use anything. Just go natural.

"But you have to always consider what is beneficial and what the risks, advantages and disadvantages are. If it is too difficult for a mother to do this training, don't push for it."