Cloth Diapers & Infant Potty Training

fb_butterT.jpgCrazy Cloth Diaper People

Cloth diapers? Hah! All these years, I thought it was something of the past, gone with dinosaurs and people who had no electricity and running water. I knew some crazy people out there used them still but they were stupid senseless hippie people or perhaps poverty-stricken people. Not educated modern people who knew how to think and read and write.

Fast-forward a few years. While I was pregnant, I read a lot about babies, almost every day. And here and there, the topic of cloth diapers would crop up. But the thought of putting my hands in poop every day was too much for me and I would skip over them with a shudder.

Sarah, The Crazy Cloth Diaper Person Who Made Too Much Sense & Was Too Convincing & Scared/Guilted Me Into Cloth Diapers

Then, this summer, I came across what Sarah Mosley wrote about them on Rachel‘s blog.

No one knows yet, but it’s been estimated that disposables take over 200 years to decompose. The average child goes through 6,000-9,000 before they are toilet trained. We shouldn’t be treating Creation that way.

Besides contributing to turning Creation into a toxic dung heap, there are also many health issues at stake.

MALE INFERTILITY Disposable diapers could be the cause of the sharp rise in male infertility over the past 25 years. It is thought that disposable diapers heat up boys’ testicles to such a degree that it stops them from developing normally.

SODIUM POLYACRYLATE, which is linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome and can therefore no longer be used in tampons, is the super absorbent gel in disposable diapers. You can find the little “gel balls” on the skin of your baby’s bottom. It is interesting to note that employees in factories manufacturing sodium polyacrylate suffer from female organ problems, slow healing wounds, fatigue and weight loss.

TBT (TRIBULYTIN)
In May 2000 Greenpeace found TBT in Pampers® Baby Dry in Germany. TBT is one of the most toxic substances ever made. It harms the immune system and impairs the hormonal system. There is speculation that it could cause boys to become sterile.

DIOXIN Traces of the carcinogen Dioxin have been found in disposable diapers. Dioxin causes liver disease, immune system suppression and genetic damage. It is a byproduct of bleaching with chlorine gas and is banned in most countries. Unfortunately, the USA still allows it.

ASTHMA In 1998 a study showed that childhood respiratory problems, including asthma, might be linked to inhaling the mixture of chemicals emitted from disposable diapers.

UTI INFECTIONS IN BABY GIRLS also seem on the rise with an increased use of disposable diapers.

BABIES POORLY DEVELOPED OUTER SKIN LAYER ABSORBS ABOUT 48 CHEMICALS if you use disposable diapers & wipes and standard baby products. This can be greatly reduced by using cloth diapers and natural baby products.

You really should use cloth next time. It’s inexpensive, responsible, healthy, not much work, and also a bit of fun.

I Googled like crazy to check up what she wrote. They were actually factually true. Argh. I then knew that it would be wrong to not use cloth diapers. At least wrong for me. I would feel guilty for putting dangerous toxic substances so close to my precious baby’s sensitive parts.

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The “Crazy-Ass Mommy Group”

God, with His impeccably providential timing, put me in a local mommy group (aka “crazy-ass mommy group” by some who don’t enjoy what we do) where I met and immediately hit it off with Jessica. She sells FuzziBunz and Happy Heinys and I bought a bunch from her. (You can, too!) I’m SO happy with them. They are really cute, the colours are really pretty so it’s fun to match them with her outfits when we go out, they are easy to clean, and they don’t leak.

Infant Potty Training, aka Elimination Communication

But that’s not the end of my diaper story. I wash diapers every morning, but I don’t have very many to wash, because Lisa (yet another mommy from the group) lent me a book of hers called Infant Potty Training. It was over FIVE HUNDRED PAGES about potty training, people, and I read it all, quite enthralled. As I read it, I grew more and more excited. OK, I feel rather silly about being excited about pee and poop, but, hey, that’s my life now!

My mother, and her mother, and her mother before her for generations, probably all the way back to Eden, potty trained their infants. By the time their children were old enough to walk, they were able to go to the potty themselves. It’s only “educated” mothers from “advanced” countries who train their babies to soil themselves in diapers for the first two or three or four years of their lives then try to untrain them afterwards. Most of the mothers in the world today, and almost all mothers in the history of the world have trained their infants not to. Westerners have given this a fancy shmancy name: EC (elimination communication).

baby-bjorn-little-potty-yellow.jpgThe Itty Bitty Potty

I watched Shelby, one of those super-mommies, use this little yellow potty with her baby boy and was very impressed. She knew when he needed to pee and he knew where he should pee. It didn’t seem real but I had to believe when I saw it happening, over and over again. When I decided I needed to get one, Jessica lent me hers (her daughter is done potty training), so that’s what I’ve been using. It’s so much easier than any kind of diapers. I help her sit on it and she goes. I dump and rinse. It takes just a few seconds. And best of all, her little butt stays soft and beautiful and completely rash-free.

Shameless Greed: If you click on these cute potty training product pictures, they will take you to Amazon. If you buy them then I get a bit of money that I could use to buy more cute potty training products.

Money

And while I’m on the topic of shameless greed, lemme just say that cloth diapers are WAY cheaper than their poisonous disposable counterparts. It costs more in the beginning because you have to buy a bunch, but then you don’t need to keep buying them. You just wash them.

baby-bjorn-little-potty-blue.jpgPee

It’s simple, really. Pretty much, babies pee in the morning when they wake up, they pee after they nap, and after they nurse. Then they pee a couple times in between. They let you know, too, before they pee. You just have to watch them closely. I realized after I started EC that all this time she had been telling me that she needed to pee and I just didn’t understand what she was telling me. It was exciting to be able to understand her non-verbal signs and be virtually diaper-free.

I started quite late with her, when she was 6 months old, but she picked it up in about 2 days. Some people start EC from birth, holding them over a baby potty to eliminate meconium. I don’t think I could ever do that. I’d be too tired. But with the next baby, I’d like to start at about 2 or 3 weeks old, I think.

baby-bjorn-safe-step-red.jpg So, now, when I’m at home, I don’t use the diapers very much. Baby wears panties (made for me by Sunny, another mommy in the group) or goes naked. But I always use them when we need to go somewhere in the car. Shelby’s baby doesn’t even wear diapers in the car. Argh. And he doesn’t have accidents in the car. But then, he did start EC a lot earlier and his mommy really knows what she’s doing.

If you’re willing to get up two or three times a night (which you have to do with a small baby anyway), then you can be diaper-free not only during the day but also at night. I am not committed enough to do the night thing. I tried it twice, and she did pee for me, but I was a total zombie for the rest of the day, so she goes into diapers at night.

Poop

Pooping patterns vary from baby to baby, apparently. But poop is easy. My baby almost always poops first thing in the morning. Sometimes, during the day, she suddenly stops moving and gets a faraway look in her eyes, like she has x-ray vision and can see through the wall. Then I rush her to the potty before she starts grunting. Pooping signs are a lot easier to recognize than peeing signs. I knew them from before I started EC so it wasn’t hard to just take her to the bathroom to do her business and save myself from washing poopy cloth diapers.

baby-bjorn-potty-chair-green.jpgAccidents

Yeah, they happen. When she’s not in diapers, I mostly keep her off the carpeted areas of the house so when I miss her signs, it’s easy to clean up. I don’t get upset with her for making a mess because it’s not her fault. She can’t walk to the bathroom yet. I’m sure she would if she could. The times I miss and she messes are usually when I’m on the phone or on the computer or cooking and not paying attention to her. A lot of times, the accidents are “warnings” when she lets out a little bit to let me know and holds the rest in while she calls out for me. I take her to the potty right away and then she finishes her business there. It’s pretty amazing.

Really Bad Days

Most days, baby and I have a good thing going, and what I don’t pick up on, Ben does, so one way or another, she pees and poops properly in her little potty. But sometimes there’s a REALLY BAD DAY and for one reason or another, I keep missing and she keeps messing. Then I stick her in a cloth diaper and wait for her to yell and squirm. Then I change her. And I don’t take her to her potty. I tell myself I need a break. And we take a nap together. Or do laundry. Or make a web site. Or something else. Because it’s not her fault, because she can’t walk … and it’s not mine either. That’s what I try to tell myself anyway.

baby-bjorn-toilet-trainer-yellow.jpgConnecting

There was a story in the book about a pediatrician in Africa who was treating babies. Mothers would wait in line for hours and hours with their naked babies, but each of them, when they came to him, would be clean. He was mystified about where all the waste was going, so he asked them what was going on. They said they would take them to the bush to pee and poop, then get back in the line. He asked how they knew when the babies needed to go and they burst out laughing. “How do you know when you need to go?” Mothers just know.

Cloth diapering and EC make for a more perichoretic lifestyle. I love it. It’s not for everyone, but I know it’s for me. I enjoy being so close to my baby and knowing her so well that I can anticipate what she needs and when. You should see how happy she is when I take her to the potty. She hates going in her diaper and often cries when she has to. I am so thankful that God has given me good friends who have taught me so much. And I am having so much fun with the pretty diapers.

OK, I am going to take her potty now … and now I’m back! She peed for me! Yay!

Putting It All Together

Cloth diapering goes together with infant potty training, just like breastfeeding goes with demand feeding which goes with baby-wearing and co-sleeping. And all this work makes for a happy, calm, secure baby who smiles a lot. And all the nursing and lugging Baby around in a wrap (aka “baby-wearing”) makes a much slimmer Mama who is happy to be almost back into all her pre-pregnancy clothes.

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17 comments to Cloth Diapers & Infant Potty Training

  • Dawn

    I am so impressed. I was going to get into cloth diapers – I even made a bunch – and then my in-laws keep buying us cases of disposables…and when they’re there, you just can’t help using them. I need to re-commit, although I think I might still use sposies at night; my little guy pees gallons in his sleep. So you recommend the fuzzibuns? (Are the brand names for cloth diapers not the most adorable things ever? I bought my original stash from a website called “Punkin-butt”!)

    I was interested in EC, but was never able to instigate it. Terran gives no sign at all when he goes, no matter which one he’s doing. He is the most silent pooper I’ve ever known, lol. I wonder whether I have the stamina or patience to start now that he’s almost 10 mos.

  • I like FuzziBunz best but it’s not really fair to say that because it’s the only kind I’ve used. They’re good ’cause they are adjustable to various sizes so you can use them for a longer time and since they are plastic snaps babies can’t rip them off like they can with velcro.

    I was always interested in EC, too, from before she was born, but till I read that book, I didn’t know the history of it or how it worked and until I saw it happen in real life, I couldn’t believe it really worked. It’s not quite as thrilling as HP, LOL, but it’s pretty interesting and easy to read. 10 months is a little old, but it’s totally worth trying, I think. I didn’t believe my baby was giving me any signs till I knew what to look for. Shelby could read my baby’s signs when I didn’t even know they were there and she showed me how to look for them.

    Man, I wished we lived nearby. I’ll be visiting Orlando sometime this fall … maybe we can get together?

  • Dawn

    Oh, wow, I would love that! Let me know the dates! We’ll be traveling ourselves over certain periods, hopefully that don’t coincide.

    So I just tried catching a pee for the heck of it when Terran got up from his nap. (I know the general drill, though I still think I’ll do a little library hunting to find out more). It took about six minutes hovering over the bathroom sink and distracting him from playing with himself before he went; he was as surprised as I was!

    He’s back in his cloth dipe now, which, being just a baggy prefold, is pretty saggy, and ten minutes ago let loose again all over the floor. *sigh* I think I need to keep a pee tally to try to figure out his patterns…if he’s going to have to go once an hour, wow. My understanding is that it’s possible with older tots, just harder to establish, so we’ll see what I find out. A potty must make it a lot easier b/c of the portability factor.

  • One mom I know who potty trained her seven kids from infancy didn’t do the intuitive method thing in the book. She sort of kept a timer going and kept taking them … kind of like schedule feeding versus demand feeding. LOL.

    Baby Bjorn makes a bigger seat, too. I think it would be perfect for Terran. Take a look! I don’t know how heavy he is but it’s probably easier to have him sit on it than to hold him over a sink over and over again all day.

    Even if you don’t exactly do EC, you can start potty training him now to save yourself the trouble later. I hear it’s better to do it sooner, the younger the better, because older toddlers often make it into a power game or rebel against it. If you start now, it’ll be easier.

    I keep toys in the bathrooms for her to play with while I hold her. Then she relaxes and she pees. Sometimes, even when she wants to pee she tries too hard and can’t. When she starts playing then she can go.

    I’ll let you know the dates as soon as I know. I’m visiting my brother who’s studying at RTS in Orlando and I don’t know his school schedule yet. I’ll be there when he’s on break so we can go visit our great-grandmother who lives a couple hours away.

  • Glad Fuzzi Bunz are working well for you! I wish I had time for EC. That’s one of the more frustrating things about having babies a year a part. It’s hard to find individual time to work on complicated skills with them, be it picking up toys and books at night, EC, or just toilet training in general. Can’t do much physical activity with them when 35 weeks pregnant. Plus, my babies weigh a billion pounds. It’s so hard to hoist them up onto the toilet! I applaud your efforts!

  • Emeth,

    Thanks for the HT to Sarah. You should give her a call when you know when you’ll be in FL. Maybe we can coordinate a meeting or something.

  • Hey! I’d really love to see you guys. I’ll be in Orlando sometime this fall.

  • Steinar

    We bought cloth diapers for Sigurd, but I’m afraid they weren’t used very long. The disposable paper ones could absorb half a swimming pool and were just too good, while the cloth diapers overflowed. While these “explosions” are managable at home, paper diapers became too convenient for us when outdoors, and we want him to be a lot outdoors. By the time he had begun to produce solid poop which cloth diapers could handle, we were too accustomed to the convenience of disposables. Disposables are too cheap here. What we’ve spent on them for a year roughly equals what we need to spend on grocery weekly.

  • Hm. I’ve never seen Norwegian cloth diapers. That would be interesting to see how they are. Or maybe just Sigurd is a heavy-duty pooper. LOL.

    Disposables are a lot more convenient, yeah…. But they scare me now. I used disposables on the plane on the way here because they absorb more and I hate changing diapers in the filthy airplane bathrooms.

    How is Therese doing?

  • Kristina

    Based on this post and previous ones, I think you’d really like the blog http://www.walkslowlylivewildly.com . It’s become one of my favorites to read- written by a very ‘crunchy’ Christian mom who advocates parenting like you do, green/simple living, etc. Some of the things she does/advocates are rather extreme for me, but her posts are always very interesting!

  • Hana

    I was inspired to go buy a Baby Bjorn potty chair at my local children’s store today. I put my baby on and she peed on the potty for the first time. My two-year-old loves it too. I used to use cloth diapers (when my older girl was a baby), but my husband made me stop. Difficult to keep up with washing them. I also didn’t have a lot of moral support from others; they thought I was crazy, misled, and so forth. I started training my first baby at 12 months and didn’t get a lot of friend-support in that either. People thought 12 months was too young. I used diaper service quality prefolds and separate wraps. It was cheaper then to do cloth, but now that we live in an apartment and can’t have our own washer/dryer, it could end up costing about the same or more. Not sure the neighbors would like our pooey diapers in the communal washing machines :)

    Is your baby able to stay dry through the night?

  • Oh, wow! Congrats on the potty and peeing!

    I got some “You’re insane” treatment, too, but thankfully I knew I wasn’t and after a while I did find some wonderfully supportive people.

    You know, when people tell you 12 months is too young, you should tell them most babies in the world are done or almost done potty training by then. LOL. You would probably enjoy that book. It tells you about how potty training is done all over the world.

    My baby’s bladder doesn’t seem to be big enough to stay dry for 8 or 9 hours. If I get up a couple of times in the night and take her potty, she’ll pee and go right back to sleep. Argh. Maybe I’m just being lazy but it’s too much work. Isn’t it enough if I take her potty during the day? *wail*

  • Thanks for the link, Kristina! It does look very interesting. I’ve added it to my feed reader and am looking forward to reading it.

  • Steinar

    Here cloth diapers are used with a sheet of rice paper. Just throw the paper along with the poop in the toilet and throw the diaper in a bin for washing later. Simpler than paper diapers, which often aren’t too easily emptied sufficiently to prevent bad trash bin smell. That’s the theory. But if many changes are like the explosion picture that you posted some months ago (Sigurd only produced liquid stuff until he was about 6 months old), disposables are better, since they absorb much better.

    Therese is doing better again, but is back to work for a few months. We managed to find a kindergarten for Sigurd, on a farm not too far from home, and there have been no problems. Usually he’s too busy in the sandbox to notice that we leave him in the morning. They have 8 kids there and they are all about the same age.

  • Jessica

    What a great post! I can’t wait to give EC a try. I am going to link this on my blog, ok?

  • [...] to time. I’ve been using cloth diapers for over 3 years now and I am still enjoying it. My cloth diapering journey started here if you want to read about [...]

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