In my attempt to become a crunchy granola mama, I decided to forgo diapers altogether once my son was born and instead hop on the Elimination Communication train. However due to some birthing complications I was unable to focus on my son’s elimination needs and instead focused on healing from that event which meant that I relied heavily on disposables for the first few months. I intended to switch to cloth diapering as quickly as possible to forgo using the paper variety altogether but even that plan was a fail and I shall now share with you my diapering woes.
I really wanted to go diaper-free. I really did. I read countless accounts of other women doing it, even purchasing a book on the subject and blabbing to everyone exactly how and why I wanted to do this. By all reasoning, it sounded like a good idea at the time. I even managed to convince my husband to play along with me. We were enthusiastic and prepared for this challenge but it really was not to be. I didn’t end up having the gentle homebirth I desired and this fouled up more than one issue but I truly believed that we would get back on this EC train as soon as I was able. But then life happened and I got distracted.
After a couple months of disposables, I really started feeling the self-imposed mama-guilt creeping up on me and decided to at least switch to cloth diapers so that it would make the transition to diaper-free easier. I purchases some pre-folds and diaper covers and tried to get my son to wear them but that was a fail. Since I was not used to tying them, it took a while every diaper change for me to fasten them on him properly and he wasn’t too impressed with this. Especially since he peed every 15-20 minutes and refused to sit in a wet diaper (which is understandable, really). After one day of spending almost the entire time trying to change a fussy baby, I gave up and whipped out the disposables again. Everyone was much happier after this. I suppose I could have kept practicing but I was fed up and I am not renowned for my patience.
Fast forward a couple more months, my friend sells me some adorable Kawaii cloth diapers that have fabulous animal prints on them and are super fuzzy, and I fall in love with cloth diapering again. Extra bonus: my son loved them. He also looked like some jungle deity in them and went photo crazy. I only had ten of them however so I needed to wash the batch of them every day, which meant a total cost of 28$ a week due to what our apartment building charges for the laundry. This was not exactly affordable for us, since disposables only cost us about 45$/month (thank you Costco!). Add to this that because they are so bunchy, my son didn’t fit in most of his clothes because he is already taller than most babies his age and was already stretching the fabric as it is. He was also not fitting into his car seat with them either so we had to switch to disposables when we went out anyways (later switching to a convertible seat fixed this problem though). I didn’t want to impose on my friend with haunting her house at least twice a week to do laundry with her machines even if I purchased more diapers to last a few days, so I reverted back to disposables. You understand my discouragement then?
I have a love/hate relationship with his diapers right now. I love how convenient, light and form fitting they are, and how I can just toss out poopy diapers without needing to tend to them. However I dislike that they are not bio-degradable, smell all chemically, and desensitise my son to his elimination cues. I have noticed the slow decent into apathy when it comes to his elimination cues as time wore on, despite my changing him at every pee/poo that I noticed him doing. At first he would cry when he relived himself, signalling me for a change. Then he would only shudder when peeing and make scrunchy faces and grunting when having a bowel movement. Now, he hardly reacts to a pee, and sometimes even forgoes reacting to pooing unless it’s a doozy and needs to concentrate more. The icing on the cake is how now, even when having some naked bum time, he will pee on himself or others and not even notice. What the hell? WHO PEES ON THEMSELVES AND DOESN”T NOTICE? Babies who have become desensitized to their own body’s cues, that’s who.
Unlike popular belief, babies are born with the ability to learn to relieve themselves in a receptacle, much like adults do. With consistent care they can develop the muscles to retain their bladders even at night and not relieve themselves until a verbal cue is given. I HAVE SEEN THIS. It is a cultural tradition to essentially teach our children to ignore their body’s signals only to be re-trained later. It is learned apathy. I have noticed myself my son being more aware of his needs at birth than he is now at ten months because of the use of diapers. Especially with disposables since they wick away moisture, deadening the uncomfortable sensation that signals something has happened. Because of this, some parents even forgo changing their children immediately after their babies’ relieve themselves, allowing them to sit in their soiled diapers until it is more convenient for them to change them. In no other instance than in infancy is it socially acceptable to shit yourself and sit in it blissfully unaware. It is pretty messed up when you think about it.
Which is why I am re-enforcing my efforts to re-teach my son about his body’s needs. It isn’t going to be easy since I’ve essentially taught him to forget his cues and just pee willy-nilly, but it is worth it. Here is my plan:
· Now that it is getting warmer, I will be doing much more naked bum time. Even if it means cleaning up little puddles everywhere until he notices he’s the one creating them.
· I am going to attempt to catch his morning poos in a receptacle to start with. I purchased a baby bjorn potty that so far Leo does not even like to sit on WITH a diaper but I think it’s because it’s cold so I need to figure out a way to combat that. I will try holding him over the toilet or a bowl or something until then.
· I will purchase more cloth diapers that we like so that I can afford to use them by not doing laundry every day. I might even try and convince my friend to allow me to clean her home during my laundry days as an exchange to assuage my pride (hint hint).
· I’ve been using verbal cues since my son was born to help him associate relieving himself with them and will continue to use them (as often as I notice him doing so anyways). While urinating I say: “fait pipi!” and while defecating I say: “fait caca!”. He looks like he concentrates more when I say them so perhaps it does something, otherwise I just look like an idiot telling my baby to pee and poo.
Eventually I would like to move to catching all his pees and poos, and only using cloth diapers at night. Then I want to eliminate diapers at night and catch them then too. THEN I want to stop using diapers when we go out too. OH THE AMBITION! All this depends on how my son can re-learn to notice his cues. It seems to me that potty training is more difficult as they get older rather than starting from the beginning. It’s almost like delaying the inevitable with added learned indifference. I’m still kicking myself over this obviously. I’m in for an interesting ride. Wish me luck!