Nappy-free Baby

Put your children on the potty from an early age and your life will be better

Do you want your child to sit in a nappy full of their own faeces? Do you enjoy changing dirty nappies and wiping poo from their bottom, legs and back? Do you think it reasonable to allow your child to soil themselves, rather than to give them the opportunity to relieve themselves in a potty or toilet? If you answered yes to any of the above questions then this article is not for you.

Very young children are capable of holding it until given the opportunity to use a potty, and it is very easy to build this routine into your life. It has lots of benefits and is definitely something you should do.

One to save for her 18th birthday…

Nappy-free baby is a concept I first came across (like so many things) via Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools (previously featured here). In this case it wasn’t through browsing the Cool Tools catalogue, a large printed book full of recommendations from the website and elsewhere. I highly, highly recommend the catalogue, it’s a few years out-of-date in some areas but browsing through it opens your mind up to all sorts of new opportunities, tools and things that you may not have considered before.

The basic idea is that children do not want to soil themselves, and if you give them the opportunity to poo in a potty then they will do so, rather than in their nappy. The usual advice of waiting until a child is 2 or 3 until trying to introduce the potty is advice that has been promoted by and on behalf of Pampers and similar companies to sell more nappies. Nappies are very good and effective at holding in waste so it is easy and convenient to continue to use them. This is relatively recent advice, since good disposable nappies were invented. Prior to the 1950s, it was usual to encourage young children to use a potty, since it saved on laundry. This approach is still followed in many developing countries.

So nappy-free baby (also known as elimination communication) is the idea that you pay attention to your child and give them opportunities to use a potty at appropriate times. For us, this meant that every few hours we would hold our daughter over the potty. Her very first poo was in an old ice cream tub in hospital when she was a day old. Whenever she woke up from a nap, we would hold her over the potty and change her nappy, whenever we changed her nappy we would hold her over the potty as well. When she seemed fussy but wasn’t hungry or tired, we would hold her over the potty and usually catch a poo. By watching and paying attention to your child, you can recognise the signs that they need a poo and give them the opportunity to do it in a potty, rather than in their clothes.

NB our children still wore nappies all day every day, but most of the time those nappies were completely clean and they were never filled with poo.

This might sound intimidating and a lot of work, but it really isn’t. From about 6 months until they went to nursery, both our children did all their poos in a potty – no filthy nappies, no nappy rash.

One day when our daughter was about two years old, she told us that she didn’t want to wear nappies anymore. We had about a week of accidents where she would wee herself, but she always pooed in a potty or toilet. Then after about a week she was potty trained and out of nappies during the day.

I recommend the book “Nappy-free Baby”, but it’s not really necessary. You need a potty that is suitable for a small child. On eBay you can find lots of child chamber pots from the time before nappies, or you can use a standard plastic potty. You hold your child’s thighs with their back to you and support them in a squat position. That’s about it really. You need to commit to the method for a week or so, but once you start making “catches” and putting clean nappies on your child it’s very rewarding. There are lots of blogs and forums about this, but they can be full of right-on Americans and hippies. Nappy-free baby is not just for hippies, this is the sensible approach to looking after your child that makes both of your lives better and easier.

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