Excerpted from Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: The wisdom and science of gentle choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting by Sarah J Buckley MD www.sarahjbuckley.com
Is it really possible to raise a baby without diapers? Can our babies actually communicate their elimination needs?
Well, how do you know when your baby needs to breastfeed?
Perhaps you recognise a certain gesture or cry. Perhaps your baby is restless, fist or finger sucking, or has a newborn's blind rooting behaviour. Maybe you also consider when your baby last fed, and whether they might have a special need for the breast because of tiredness, teething or being in an unfamiliar environment. As well, you might think about your infant's activity level; the weather; his or her routine; your routine; and many other factors that you instinctively take into account when you interpret your baby's signals.
And when you offer your breast, you usually get a "Yes" from your baby, but sometimes they will decline, or be only half interested, whether or not you are reading the signals correctly.
However, gradually and gently, you and your baby learn to fit together, communicating with each other and having a mutually satisfying nursing relationship — not to mention saving on all the cost and activity that formula feeding can imply.
Now imagine the same process, but with a focus on what your baby produces, rather than what they take in. This is elimination communication (EC) — also known as elimination timing (ET), natural infant hygiene (NIH), and infant potty training (IPT), among other names — in which we learn to communicate with our babies about their elimination: peeing and pooping.
Just as our babies know their own bodies, and their needs for food and breast, they also know the bodily sensations that go with the need to pee and poop, and they can, and usually do, communicate these needs. They tell us through body language, noises (from the bottom end as well as the top), fussiness, and also by the subtler, psychic communications that result from the intimate sharing of body space between mother and baby.
Read the rest of this article here: Mothering, Mindfulness, & a Baby's Bottom
[Photo of Evangeline, 7 months, on her "puppy potty"]